Building a people’s movement

Excerpts from a talk by ANSWER organizer Muna Coobtee at the March 18 L.A. rally.

Only a people’s movement will change history

There is no force stronger that a strong and united movement of people. That is what changes history. That is what won Social Security, the eight hour day, the voting rights act. That is what stopped the war in Vietnam and advanced the struggle against racism and sexism in this country.

Each new demonstration brings together thousands of new activists to continue the process of building a massive militant movement that can shake loose the foundations of war and bigotry that dominate the world today. It’s time to get involved and keep building the struggle.

It’s not just Bush and his cronies. Again and again, Congress has cow-towed to the agenda of conquest against Iraq . Billions have been looted from social programs to bankroll the war. And it’s not just that they are bad people, which we know they are, it’s because the whole system is based on profit and greed and disrespect for the rights of people everywhere to live in peace and enjoy the fruits of their labor. The system has to change!

As public disgust with the current situation continues to rise, we will be hearing voices who now promise to take charge of the situation and claim to represent the will of the people. They’ll say things like: “Just vote for me, and I’ll set you free.” But we’ve heard that one before.

Some feel that if we can just replace Bush then everything will be OK and we can relax. However, we need to remember that the war against Iraq spans decades, and that both Republican and Democratic administrations have participated in bombings, invasions and 12 years of sanctions killings millions.

We can’t rely on Democratic politicians to save the day. That will suck the energy and activism out of the independent movement we are building. Like in Vietnam , it was the heroic determination of the Vietnamese and an anti-war movement of millions that brought the troops home and left Vietnam to its people.

We are building that kind of movement against war and racism that can transform society, disarm the Pentagon and win back all that has been stolen from us – from Los Angeles to Baghdad , to Manila , Port au Price, Caracas , Gaza and everywhere. Let’s keep it real and keep it in the streets.

Let’s not get sucked into the upcoming elections. There are few, if any, major candidates running anywhere who genuinely oppose the war, the invasions, and the destruction of civil liberties. Believing the Democrats will save the day is delusional.  We need to, and can, do it ourselves.

  • Muna is an exceptional speaker. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in San Francisco a while back. I highly recommend it to anyone.

    One of the problems in the San Francisco demonstration was that there are far too many speakers who believe that shouting is a substitute for saying something. There’s nothing wrong with being angry, of course (indeed, there’s something wrong with you if you aren’t angry). But giving a speech where every sentence is shouted, and is therefore given equal weight, is not only poor speaking style, but basically counterproductive. Content is all-important, of course. But style does matter. More speakers need to learn that lesson.

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