Mob vs. Mass

Riot cop lap dance

Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness. The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines.

One the greatest difficulties with mounting an effective protest is the variability of the quality of it’s participants and their commitment to a shared goal. Holding a protest march or a peaceful demonstration is pointless if people involved are given reign to be physically antagonistic, unrealistic in their expectations of supporter response, or even overtly and senselessly violent.

There’s a massive difference between what occurs over the weekend at a G20 protest and that of a long-standing protest like a union strike or the Arab Spring revolutions. From a success perspective, the failure of the G20 protests over the years is a clear marker of the real damage done by rampant vandalism and violence.

The problem exists between a need for quantity, and a lack of quality. Both a mob and effective change mechanisms need a numerical force. No one is going to take a handful of protesters trying to stop the seal hunt seriously. Small groups, while they may have poignant messages, maybe even celebrity endorsement, often fail to garner attention or support. The same can be said of collections of small groups that congregate at a similar moment in time and fail to align their messages. The ‘noise’ that’s created by a mish-mash of causes is a failure to differentiate symptoms from problems – but drowns out the root of those problems.

But the largest problem when control is lost. And that’s the marked difference between a massive protest and a mob action.

What this means is that the tact of those seeking change has to be effective in convincing others to change. It seems to be what the litany of recent short-term protest actions forget. It’s hard to tell the difference from the videos below without looking at the titles, or noting the hockey jerseys.

So you need people. Lots of them. A majority vote, if you want to look at it that way. That’s how democracy works. But the instant cars are being set on fire, people are being assaulted, or things are being hurled through windows of legitimate businesses, homes or at people – you’ve lost the popular vote. You’ve lost support. You’ve lost any kind of semblance of people wanting to listen to you – these actions are immature. They’re irresponsible. They’re criminal. Anyone outside these actions will condemn them. All it does is undermine the validity of your message.

But it doesn’t just stop there – it’s anything that takes away from the seriousness of your message in a political climate where we need serious people with serious answers. Part of this means boils down to some basic ‘Marketing 101′. The mass populace isn’t going to welcome your message with open arms if it comes on the visual platform of you butt-humping a riot shield. They can’t hear you if you and the person next to you are shouting about eating vegetables and they’re shouting about corporate greed. The nation can’t get behind someone that is willing to burn down the livelihood of others, nor are they going to support someone who dresses like a clown and can’t spell ‘economics.’.

It’s as basic as this: If what you’re doing requires you to cover your face to do it – then you’re doing it wrong. Majority of the issues that are being discussed come down to responsibility and accountability. If you’re participating in an action in which you don’t want to be held accountable or responsible, then you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. Don’t be Anonymous. Be a voice. Be a face. Be a contributing member of society and be recognized for it.

If you want better, you have to be better.

Anti G20 march in Toronto on Saturday


noun, adjective, verb, mobbed, mob·bing.


  1. a disorderly or riotous crowd of people.
  2. a crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence.
  3. any group or collection of persons or things.
  4. the common people; the masses; populace or multitude.
  5. a criminal gang, especially one involved in drug trafficking, extortion, etc.
  6. the Mob, Mafia
  7. Sociology . a group of persons stimulating one another to excitement and losing ordinary rational control over their activity.
  8. a flock, herd, or drove of animals: a mob of sheep.
  9. adjective

  10. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a lawless, irrational, disorderly, or riotous crowd: mob rule; mob instincts.
  11. directed at or reflecting the lowest intellectual level of the common people: mob appeal; the mob mentality.
  12. verb

  13. to crowd around noisily, as from curiosity or hostility: Spectators mobbed the courtroom.
  14. to attack in a riotous mob: The crowd mobbed the consulate.
  15. Fox Hunting . to chop (a fox).

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