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Venezuela shows that protest can be a defence of privilege

Street action is now regularly used with western backing to target elected governments in the interests of elites

If we didn’t know it before, the upsurge in global protest in the past couple of years has driven home the lesson that mass demonstrations can have entirely different social and political meanings. Just because they wear bandannas and build barricades and have genuine grievances doesn’t automatically mean protesters are fighting for democracy or social justice.

From Ukraine to Thailand and Egypt to Venezuela, large-scale protests have aimed at, or succeeded in, ousting elected governments in the past year. In some countries, mass protests have been led by working class organisations, targeting austerity and corporate power. In others, predominantly middle class unrest has been the lever to restore ousted elites.

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