I spoke at a demo of about 20,000 people in Vancouver, very enthusiastic and engaged, and as far as I could tell, inspired to go on.
Also to audiences of several thousands, which seemed the same. The pre-war demonstrations were without historical precedent, and surely important. The anniversary demos were also without precedent, and again surely will have an impact. Obviously no one expects the same turnout in a mass effort to prevent a war and in a later mass effort to compel the occupiers to grant Iraqis authentic sovereignty, along with a host of other highly significant concerns.
Those who participate should understand that demos are doubly significant: first as a message to the rulers, but more important, as one step in the far more important process of popular mobilization and activism that goes on day after day. No one expects a few dramatic mass actions to stop a juggernaut. But they do throw a wrench in the works, raising the costs of the next move. And if they continue and grow, they can halt its course, reverse the course, and dismantle it. But only if they serve the primary function of popular mobilization, bringing people together, energizing them, increasing their commitment to engage in the constant hard work of education and organizing, and undertaking appropriate actions that range from very local to international in scope.