chapter  2
Protest Movements and Violence
ByFrances Fox Piven
Pages 10

This chapter addresses the presence of violent protest in democracies, and explains how the violent protest differs from protests in highly repressive non-democratic regimes. In democracies, we should always expect protests as a normal adjunct to political party competition, and as a part of the agenda-setting process to call attention to specific groups and issues. Social democratic parties in European countries grew out of labor movements; and more recently the Green parties in Europe arose from environmental movements. The history of the protests in Iran since the election of June 2009 and the red-shirt protests in Thailand illustrates all of these principles. Protest, even violent protest, is thus inextricably linked to the progress of democracy, whether in challenging dictatorships, or in keeping democratic regimes from neglecting the needs of their own people. The existential aspect of protest seems also to apply to some cases of violent protests in autocracies, and sometimes in democracies as well.