We’ve had nearly two weeks to digest the People’s Climate March, a wildly successful operation that brought more than 300,000 people from a number of diverse backgrounds and political groups to New York City. The lead-up campaign was super glossy, employing a couple dozen full-time employees, maintaining high-end online content to attract heads, and essentially inviting people to engage with the brand and buy what the organizers are selling—the march.
But in the weeks since, the manicured climate march website that was instrumental in outreach has featured little more than a masturbatory, self-congratulatory recap, complete with President Obama sound bites and claims to having made history. Similarly, the post-march press release is peppered with the tallies of the groups and dedicated parties who attended, a pissing contest that made little mention of demands, let alone set a deadline for when demands should be met. Many of the hot links to volunteer “hubs” don’t lead to actionable info either.
In other news: The day after the People’s Climate March, about 3,000 protesters descended on the Financial District in New York for an Occupy Wall Street-style direct action. Their goal: Shut down the New York Stock Exchange, and point fingers at the corporate greed that is complicit in the climate crisis. The People’s March entourage could have used its wealth of resources to promote the second action, but seemingly chose not to for branding reasons.
Perhaps the People’s March looked at the great marches of the past and decided that creating images akin to past D.C. actions is the same as spurring change. Maybe that’s how average people feel, a symptom of an ineffective education system that equates movements to marches. Or maybe this is just another example of greenwashing. Either way, some good things may come from mobilization related to the march, but otherwise it was a glorified photo op.