Civil unrest is the phenomenon of a country’s populace being unhappy with the state of the country and the government. Obviously, this is undesirable for governments not only because it shows their unpopularity but because, especially in the globalised, connected world of today, such unrest can spread quickly. In this article, I will assess how governments combat civil unrest.
Immediate ways of quelling unrest and government intentions
The obvious starting point is punishment and the use of force, for example fines/prison and police intervention. For example, the Royal Wedding (though it went off without major hitch) showed that policing is a very expensive matter with the total cost reportedly being £20 million, much of which involved security. It is also very tricky for policemen and women to discern appropriate force and subduing tactics, as can be seen from the division of opinion over police methods at the student protests.
Governments employ many different, more subtle approaches to dealing with unrest. Obviously, governments will try and create societies in which the citizens are content, so that there is no civil unrest to quell in the first place, but this is not always, if ever, possible.
Stopping unrest in the first place and PR/spin
Things to ‘distract’ Arguably, one of these is to provide recreational activities, especially to under-privileged areas. Of course, government will say that this is part and parcel of their governmental duty (as it should be) and/or that it is to combat obesity which is a plague on the NHS. However, cynics would say that is more as a smokescreen to distract from the ‘real’ problems in society. PR and Spin Such schemes can be used in PR or ‘political spin’. This is the way in which government and their employed spin doctors represent government actions positively, either by blocking stories or ‘spinning’ them in a positive way. For example, political spin may well be involved in the aforementioned recreational schemes. TV PR/spin can also be used in television (and other media) which is extremely influential. Thankfully, in Britain, as most of the Western world, we have freedom of press whereby TV channels are independent and can, largely, saw/show what they want. However, throughout the world, TV is used as propaganda tool. In such countries, some still see TV’s very nature as a ‘mindless’, ‘distracting’ box and as a way of controlling the population. For example, when studying Marxism, an old history teacher used to quip that all Sky Sports is is the modern ‘opiate of the masses’, as religion is in Marxist Theory.