Anti-war protests today will be non-events and ignored

That’s just the way it is now. People’s attention is elsewhere, on the economy, healthcare, jobs. There’s no focus on the wars nor have the organizers of today’s marches changed tactics to meet our changed times. So, it’ll just be preaching to the choir and I bet not much of the choir shows up this time.

And I say that as someone who helped organize multiple, sometimes huge, anti-Iraq war protests from 2004-2007.

Also, it’s now obvious that much of the anti-Iraq war sentiment at earlier protests was really anti-Bush and many liberal and progressives don’t yet want to speak out against Obama. Add to that the organizer’s insistence on dragging in most every far left issue into the mix, as they always do, and you almost guarantee the mainstream won’t show up.

New tactics are needed, tactics that genuinely reach out to the mainstream and address their concerns. That’s how to build an authentic mass movement.

  • DJ

    “What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground?” THAT was an urgent call to action.

    There are so few U.S. casualties, most of them from communities like mine that wouldn’t protest anyway, they privately mourn and publicly fly their flags at half mast. And the whole trillion-dollar cost has been financed on credit so taxes haven’t increased.

    There won’t be any real interest in ending this until war hurts us. And the White House knows this, hence they defer even the financial pain indefinitely.

    Besides, they got the heroin flowing out of Afghanistan again. Killing your pain is cheaper than ever.

    • The DC cops said the turnout for the antiwar protest yesterday was 2,500, ANSWER said 10,000. So figure maybe 5,000-6,000. Which is extremely low.

    • Where’s the quote from?

      • DJ

        Neil Young, “Ohio.”

  • What are the new tactics? I was there in DC yesterday and I’m young enough that it was the first event of its type and size that I’ve gone to. What do you suggest needs to change? How do we do it, Bob? We know what’s wrong, but not how to fix it.

    • I’ll expound on this in a coming post, but basically a primary problem is that ANSWER and UFJP are controlled by hardline Marxists. PSL controls ANSWER and Leslie Cagan is an old-line CP member now in Committees of Correspondence, a splinter group.

      That’s not my beef per se. Marxism has some good stuff in it. The problem is they basically use the antiwar groups as ways to recruit for their parties and their hardcore agenda seeps through on everything and repels the moderates. You can’t have it both ways. Either you build a genuine mass movement which includes those from all sides of the political spectrum (Hey, Ron Paul opposes the wars) or you try to limit it to those whose views agree with yours. But if you do the latter, you’ll never be effective because you are by definition self-limiting.

      I was in ANSWER for several years and also in PSL before I got purged for being ideologically impure. So, yes, I have been there.

      When I was thinking of joining Workers World (who then controlled ANSWER) I asked Peter Camejo about them. He said he’d talked to them and they were quite upfront about starting ANSWER as a way to recruit for the party. He was trying to warn me off. Four years later, I understood what he meant.

      • DJ

        Respectfully disagreeing, protests are not the only tool in the box and should not be used as such. They were an important tool 50 years ago, and surely the most visible tool, but they are not enough. Even then, they were the visible manifestation of a sometimes subtle societal change that made ending the war possible.

        Making peace requires a comprehensive strategy that changes minds. This begins at an individual level but must snowball into a critical mass. There are both push (cost/pain) and pull (ethical/moral) factors that must be emphasized. But above all, the greatest hurdle is the dehumanization of “the enemy”– it’s difficult to convince people why they should care what happens to “them” “over there.”

        It’s no accident that our government and the media make it difficult or impossible to care about “them.” Pro-war forces don’t want us to succeed. So: how can the cost of war and the ethical quandaries be highlighted in an environment that goes out of its way to prevent such realizations? Answer that and you’ll be on your way. But shouting and carrying signs without any background work won’t do the trick.

        • They were an important tool 50 years ago and 100 years ago and 250 years ago. They continue to be relevant, IMHO. They’re not the end all be all of change, but who ever claimed they are?

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