The potential of the anti-racism protests

After several weeks of protests against racism and police violence in the US and Europe, protester numbers have begun to decline in many places. Has the movement already made a lasting impact, or has it lost momentum too soon? And what should we learn from it?

Open/close all quotes
Le Monde (FR) /

Improve the West, don't destroy it

The fight against racism must not degenerate into blind acts of destruction, warns Algerian writer and journalist Kamel Daoud in Le Monde:

“Monstrous when it's hungry, unfair and burdened by a destructive past, beautiful, fascinating in the darkness of the world, brilliant in the dreams and ambitions of migrants, virtuous due to its imperfect democracy, hypocritical because of its depletion of resources and its murderous colonial past, without consciousness and happy - the West is what it is: imperfect and in need of improvement. ... It must not be destroyed. Those who dream of it are those who have not been able to find a better dream than the barbarity of revenge, and who cannot overcome their deep desire to settle scores.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Mostly just optics

The protests against racism are losing momentum without bringing any fundamental changes, The Guardian warns:

“After three heady weeks the news cycle is moving on. ... It feels a bit like dawn rising on the morning after a large public gathering. The ground is littered with debris, some stragglers loiter here and there, reluctant or too tired to leave, but the street sweepers are already on the scene. Before long there will be no sign that anything happened. ... Much of the change accelerated by the past few weeks has been centred on optics - corporations making statements about changes to their boards, brands posting black squares on Instagram. We may discover that the only thing more detrimental to a cause than doing nothing is doing a tiny bit and then thinking that's enough.”

Delo (SI) /

Shaking the foundations of capitalism

The United States is in the throes of a heated discussion about its entire system, Delo believes:

“Even the US admits that its success is based on 350 years of slavery and another 150 years of systematic repression. The protests and demands for reparations and solidarity are undermining the very foundations of capitalism on which the United States is based. And that also applies to the rest of the world, for which the United States continues to be the economic and cultural centre of the universe. It's time for us to question unchecked financial capitalism now that its inventor, the United States, admits that it is based on systematic injustice. It would be good to think about what kind of society we want to be when there is no more society to take as an example.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Now united against Trump

These protests will put an end to Trump's rule, Radio Kommersant FM believes:

“They've divided society and politicised it to the extreme. And they've mobilised all the president's opponents: Democrats as well as opponents in his own party, most of the media, representatives of ethnic and sexual minorities and the ultra-left enemies of capitalism. For them, the Lord in the White House is the symbol of America's present crises and must be gotten rid of at all costs. The goal is now to mobilise their supporters and potential voters as much as possible. Nobody cares about Biden's sex scandals 30 years ago, his mistakes or his dementia. People aren't going to vote for him, but against Trump. Trump's biggest opponent is not Biden, but Trump himself.”

El País (ES) /

Importing the debate is not the solution

Spain must not just focus on the racism of others, warns writer Najat El Hachmi in El País:

“Get down on your knee to show solidarity with George Floyd and condemn racism. But don't pretend that the issue is over and done with in Spain, because we have hardly begun a public discussion about racism here. Even though we have our own colonial past, and even though more immigrants have been coming to our country than leaving it for decades, it remains difficult to address this topic in any depth, either in the media or in politics. ... I don't believe that the solution lies in taking the shortcut of importing the debate from the US. It would be better if we saw the plank in our own eye.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

This summer could be a hot one

The anti-racism protests could lead to growing unrest across the globe, Ilta-Sanomat fears:

“The onset of the economic crisis will put a damper on young people's dreams in the US and Europe. And their concerns are well founded. ... History teaches us that unemployed young people are not afraid to voice their opinions. ... What's more, in some countries dissent not triggered by events in the United States is also surfacing. Russia, for example, was extremely arbitrary in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. ... In many emerging countries the disease has not yet struck with full force. If, in addition to healthcare problems and other problems basic supplies can no longer be provided, no further spark will be needed. This could be a summer of anger.”

L'Humanité (FR) /

A chance to mobilise the youth

Society could finally develop a counter-model to Macron's politics, sociologist Éric Fassin writes in L'Humanité:

“For anti-racists as well as for the left, this is a historic opportunity that must be seized: today the time-honoured movements can reconnect with young people and working-class neighbourhoods. This is all the more important given that our young president is now addressing an aging electorate by playing - as always - on their fears. I recently called Assa Traore [sister of Adama Traoré, who was killed in police custody in 2016] 'Sister Courage'. But these young people also inspire hope that a new generation of politicians will transform anger into hope and offer an alternative to the regime of fear taking shape under the current president.”

Népszava (HU) /

Radicalism can be learned

Inspired by the protests in the US, the lower classes in Europe may also switch to collective self-defence mode, sociologist Pál Tamás observes in Népszava:

“The African-Americans in the US may be in a special situation, but the Eastern European Roma are also often unconsciously forced into similar circumstances. ... Our world is quieter than that of Atlanta or Minneapolis, but this is not due to wiser politics but rather to the general state of mind in the Carpathian Basin. The Hungarian elites and middle class have simply been luckier. ... But you can learn a lot in life. Why shouldn't radicalism be exported to the lower two-thirds of our society? It increasingly seems that in this phase of development this is the only thing that can help society.”

AbrilAbril (PT) /

The problem is capitalism

AbrilAbril sees the protests as evidence of an urgently needed change of system:

“You can't fight racism effectively without systematically attacking capitalism. Nor is it possible to work for peace or effectively combat climate change without taking action against that which wages war and destroys the planet: capitalism. Racism, police violence, xenophobia, homophobia, cultural discrimination, colonialism, terrorism, war and environmental destruction are all branches of the same tree. They are part of a system that is continuing along the path of globalisation and in which nationalisms and fascisms are responses to the ever more urgent need to ensure the survival of capitalism itself.”