Crowd Power


A Podemos rally in Madrid’s main square last year

A march turns dissent into resistance

Marches express an ideal. Marches are the difference between being a keyboard warrior and an activist.

I am still seeing people suggesting marches are a waste of time. Where do they get that idea? Marches and rallies have an affect on the onlooker. The statement they make is, there is a large consensus who want to make a difference in society. Marches can convince the indolent to  become active. People feel comfortable belonging to a large group, especially if it is good natured, affable, the camaraderie genuine and heartfelt.

Marches gather together people from all walks of life.

All for one and one for all, and all that.

To know the power of congregations of like-minded protestors you need only think of the Romanian crowd outside President’s Ceausescu’s palace that turned volatile. They had good reason. Their anger began a revolution. They realised Ceausescu and his wife intended to maintain a brutal, corrupt, dictatorial hold over the lives. They toppled the regime in a week that some thought invincible.

Are marches counter-productive? 

Marches are an indispensible civil liberty. Ask Podemos in Spain. Ask any number of mass movements for democracy. Marches are the energetic outcome of a restlessness to be heard. They confront the power of the state.

The British establishment knows the worth of crowds and marches only they call them patriotic parades: organise an anniversary parade or a solemn commemoration, get the faithful lined up to waft Union Jacks, and hey presto, blind patriotism is restored.

Supporters of restoring Scotland’s self-governance and self-esteem know crowd power has a health benefit – it fills people with hope, it signifies the best in human nature. Happy people are positive people. And the walk is good for your physical health too!

In addition, it demonstrates strength of support, political cohesion and resolve of purpose. Why else would the police and mainstream media persist in downgrade numbers attending as a way of undermining that unity?


An English (and tourist) march and rally, only it’s called a ‘patriotic parade’

Martin Luther King swore by the power of marches

Marches have spectacular historical precedence: Martin Luther King discovered their potency early in his campaign for equal rights; Gandhi’s Salt March some historians believe was a watershed in India’s move to independence; The Long March (October 1934 – October 1935)  of Mao Tse Tung was a march of a different sort, a military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, the forerunner of the People’s Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party) army. It altered the destiny of China.

For the participants, joining a march to BBC Scotland’s headquarters, for example, became a demonstration that symbolized the transition “from dissent to resistance.”

On internet and in newspaper we can be ignored, our anger muted. Those demonstrating outside the BBC cannot be interpreted any other way than a protest at BBC inadequacies as they relate to Scotland’s political and cultural aspirations.

To those holding power over us above and beyond that which they were given there is nothing more certain to concentrate the mind than a phalange of marchers approaching you demanding civil rights.

The crowd dynamic

There is an irresistible dynamic to physical protest.

Marches are an antidote to Westminster’s conspiracies.

In any event, no one can compete with the Government in violence, and the resort to violence, which will surely fail, will simply frighten and alienate some who can be reached. The sight of Orange Order and BNP hoodlums beating up independence supporters in Glasgow stains British patriotism indefinitely.

How do we attain civil rights? We march. We congregate. We agitate. We cry freedom.

Resistance is persuasion

Marches warn authority not to deter democracy.

A march to restore Scotland’s civil rights and constitution in Glasgow



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22 Responses to Crowd Power

  1. alharron says:

    I was going to do a post on marches myself, but you’ve covered every point I wanted to make.

    I don’t know whether this is just reluctance, or a whispering campaign deliberately attempting to sabotage the movement, but I’m all for marches.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Only common sense, Alharron, marches are a powerful weapon in the hands of civil rights activists. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to talk to people at meetings, or at hub stalls, in their living rooms, or on the internet.
    And like you, I think there’s a subversive campaign to quell enthusiasm for direct action. It just appeared out of nowhere; suddenly supposed SNP supporters think we should stick to putting leaflets in letterboxes. Did it emanate from Bella Caledonia?
    Anyhow, please go ahead with your discussion of marches. I’d be happy to read it.

  3. Scoticus says:

    Yeah, Scotland is oppressed. You could make the argument we are actually more oppressed than any other people because it is all psychological.

    So while we get baubles designed to distract us like “free” elections, education, freedom of movement etc etc it is all really a ploy to keep us mentally in shackles and stop you getting commissioned by the BBC.

    It’s an outrage.

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Do I detect an element of sarcasm in your comments?

    You switched ‘repressed’ to oppressed, a neat trick. I get the feeling from the tone of your toss-it-and-see remarks that you feel oppressed.

    Incidentally, freedom of movement was summarily and severely removed recently, or did you miss that little skirmish while enjoying a vacation in Europe? Our education system has been under attack for years by unionist politicians, our welfare system controlled by London, and our separate law system usurped by the English supreme court.

    Marches have damn all to do with me being commissioned for anything – so I presume that little dig can be categorised as a personal insult.

    PS: Contributors who hide their real e-mail address get their arses kicked off the site. Please be advised.

  5. Sorry I’m not there today. Couldn’t get the mutt looked after today: she’s getting a bit old for these big days out and she was away at Berwick all day Thursday!
    Hope all goes well, I’ll be there in spirit!

  6. smiling vulture says:

    First ever march I was at was anti-war Iraq, Glasgow. I believed Blair had to change security arrangements, fly out by helicopter because of size of crowd.

    Saw YouGov poll post Brexit, not much change independence. I feel more depressed than 2014.

    Work commitments – can’t make it march today Good luck all.

  7. Dr Jim says:

    Big march, you’re rabble rousers, Small march, you’re apathetic,
    Better to be damned for rabble rousing about something worthwhile than not caring. Either way, this is Scotland, you will be damned, so why not rejoice while you do it

  8. Ghillie says:

    ‘The British Establishment know the worth of crowds and marches’…
    So much so that they turned off the cameras or the link to the views of George Square today.
    That wee bit gathering must have REALLY bothered them = )

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    They seem to have a problem with that Live Stream link – soon as it registers a Saltire it switches itself off.

  10. Ghillie says:

    I was actually living in America, New York, as a child when the programme we were watching, I recall it was The Wild Wild West, was interupted to announce the assassination of Martin Luther King. The impact was astounding.

    Thank you for including the Freedom marches of the Black Americans in your article.

    I remember back then, folk in America either decrying the marches as dangerous, uncalled for, downright unAmerican, or realising it was the stirings of something huge that was long overdue and absolutely had to happen.

    We can now, not even begin to imagine what this world would like today if those marches had never happened.

    Our marches for Scottish Independence are every bit as potent.

    Thank you for your aricles Grouse Beater.

    You and others like Tarinaich and Wee Ginger Dug have a wonderful way with words. Folk really want to read what you have to say, because it resonates.

    You will all go down in history as voices of our future Scotland = )

  11. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you for all the kind things that you have had to say. Warm regards. 🙂

  12. Good stuff GB, nicely anticipating some of the patronising pish we’ve heard today.
    I’ve long advocated the civil rights angle as a powerful tool for the indyref movement and hope to see it wisely used in the not-too-distant future.

  13. Grouse Beater says:

    Thanks, Ian. Getting good responses – over 2,000 hits so far. Pass the essay on.

    Couldn’t get to the march, was opening a Festival exhibition , but something told me it had missed a punch. I got into some friendly banter with Wee Ginger Dug’s pet human, Paul Kavanagh, because my intuition sensed something was amiss. An hour ago I read the microphone and loudspeaker were crap!!!

    (One microphone at a major rally?)

    That’s akin to a novel with the last page missing, or a movie with no ending.

    And we knew Glasgow’s corrupt and craven Labour would switch off the camera feed so the public saw only a handful of people in the square.

    Question:- who was responsible for organising the end product?

    All marches need to end with some sort of nonviolent confrontation. You are there to put your case to somebody or a group in authority.

    The press will assemble ready to disseminate it if pre-warned some photo opportunity is imminent. Yes, it has to be organised very carefully, but if the march has not got an institution to face, a figure of authority, or some other authority symbol, it must invite a world class respected speaker to address the final assembly.

    The uncertain, the genuinely curious, those keen to learn, and possible No’s who might be swayed to Yes, understand the concept of independence restored without another march. It’s the individual civil rights we have to highlight that are missing from our tactics, and we have to confront those who keep a tight grip of them. Marches can do that extremely well, if well organised.

    Therefore, new marches need fresh objectives that people can understand without explanation, and moreover, identify with them too.

    A march is for civil rights, not only group morale.

  14. WGD was barely audible at the Wings stall, and it wasn’t a lot better even thirty feet from where he was speaking. In truth, Paul would’ve been better off with a megaphone.
    A lot complained that there was specific end-point. No ‘finale’.
    That said, genuinely grass-roots movements should reserve the right not to be predictably ‘professional’. Slickness of production and continuity did not, in the eyes of many, restore Tommy Sheridan’s credibility via the Hope Over Fear events.
    By living we learn an’ aw that, as Patrick Geddes was fond of quoting.

  15. Grouse Beater says:

    Sheridan’s problems aside, a march needs a central focus, otherwise it dissipates all that energy.

  16. I’m not disagreeing with you GB.
    Perhaps the pay-off, in this case, was the BBC once again being forced to reveal its hand. As frequently discussed yesterday, in the Square and in the CH afterwards, the PQ demos were effective because they were on the Beeb’s doorstep and had to be acknowledged.
    Methinks it won’t be long till we’re having another ‘day out’ on t’other side of the Clyde.

  17. Pingback: The March of Lions & Lambs | A Wilderness of Peace

  18. Grouse Beater says:

    A good read, Alharron. Many thanks.
    The march had scared a good few who like a nation quiet and complacent. It is confirmation the ambition is gathering adherents, not losing them..

  19. Hi SV –
    Aye, the ‘Armadillo’ gathering with the ‘two-minute rumpus’ was, and probably remains, the biggest single gathering of Scots. Ever. And that’s despite there being thousands of Scots on the march in London on the same day.

    Footage of the event is remarkably hard to find, despite there being constant helicopter presence from start to finish.

    I was told, a good few years ago, by someone well placed to know, that Strathclyde Police, on the Friday evening, had an off-the-record ‘quiet word’ with the Labour Party high heid yins, and told them in no uncertain terms that Blair’s presence in the city was liable to lead to serious unrest. They knew how big the march was going to be, despite the farcical ‘crowd estimate’ they announced on the day (and which Tommy Sheridan made such capital of in what was probably one his best speeches: ‘Strathclyde Police canny count!’)

    As a result of that ‘quiet word’, Blair was told to deliver his speech early and remove himself from Glasgow asap. He duly did, and had left the city before the march set off from Glasgow Green.

  20. Grouse Beater says:

    Blair has the look of a haunted man these days. And nice to hear the Scottish police acting like a sheriff in a western. “Leave yer guns at the jail, boys, an’ collect ’em when you leave town. Have a good time in Happyville.”

    (New essays published at midnight)

  21. alharron says:

    Thanks: I, of course, agree. Why else the desperation that the EU referendum hadn’t changed things despite *hundreds* of anecdotes from former No voters now determined Yes voters? Damage control.

  22. Sir,
    You have said what I feel should be said. I just want to add that marches also build the critical mass need to turn dissent into resistance. Marches confirm solidarity; in the sense that not only others see the injustices like you do, but they are also willing to join the dissent and resist if necessary. We can take the Catalans for example. They march in hundreds of thousands every year and it seems futile at times. Now they are at a junction like the Scots. That kind of dissent will turn into resistance, and the first manifestation was the 1 October referendum. They may not be independent yet, but they too are closer to it that ever before.
    We too are nearing that critical mass already. If you were to say that 10K would turn up in Dumfries to march for independence ten years ago, most would laugh their heads off. That figure was achieved and the earlier Glasgow one was impressive to say the least.
    As we all know very well, Westminster can only be bent by this kind of sheer might. It will either nip in the bud as it always does (which is too late already) or it will compromise at the very last minute. Those on the opposite side should take heed. Either they compromise, like they did down the centuries since 1707 or they will be overwhelmed by this.
    Personally I don’t think we are no longer in the mood to compromise anymore. Enough is enough.


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