29 January 2012

New York Times to OWS - Find a Photogenic Leader

A protest in Santiago, Chile, last month [July 2011]. Students have held rallies of
up to 100,000 people and taken control of dozens of schools around the country.
Photograph © Fernando Nahuel/European Pressphoto Agency.

In the paper today is this profile of Chilean student radical Camila Vallejo Dowling. The tacit message is that charismatic leaders are essential to a recognizable political movement - even if in the Chilean case she is, ahem, a communist. I do not mean to take anything away from Dowling; she seems bright, articulate, politically astute. But two things are important to note: first a lot of the impetus for and creativity of the movement comes from elsewhere and others (even The Times grudgingly acknowledges that before insisting again on the crucial role of leadership) and, second, the movement is, in important ways, traditional, hence the "cacerlazos." The Chilean protests, in other words, involve much more than a pretty young woman [1] [2]. Camila Dowling surely would agree.

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