Beyond Demonstration

Note: This article was originally created as a handout to be passed around on the bus to a demonstration. Feel free to download in its original form and pass it out at upcoming actions.


The world-wide demonstrations on February 15th will be a powerful display of antiwar conviction. It is crucial that we take to the streets in massive protest and demand that war-makers acknowledge our dissent.

While authorities scramble to smother our dissent by denying permits and threatening “security concerns,” we must double our efforts to be heard and heeded. That they seek to withhold our right to march is a sign that we have their attention and they fear our potential. Let us show them they cannot silence or impede us.

The timing of this demonstration is perfect. Just weeks after huge outpourings of protestors in Washington D.C. and San Francisco rocked the nation and one day after an important weapons inspectors’ report that Bush is sure to use as a pretense for escalation, we will once again take to the streets to demand peace.

This may be our last chance to show our numbers and strength before all out war is waged against Iraq. Bush and his administration have not slowed in their march towards killing, devastation, destruction, invasion, and occupation. Now is the time to show our counter-force in record numbers. Now is the time to make it clear that we will not accept a war for oil, wealth, and power. Now we must raise our voices, our fists, and our level of protest.

Now is also a time when our so-called representatives have chosen to ignore us. At almost every level of government, politicians are turning their backs on their mandate to hear us and act with our best interests and values in mind.

Although our demonstrations will be massive and boisterous, we should not be surprised if they don’t altogether or immediately prevent an invasion of Iraq. War is not inevitable, but at this point, it certainly appears likely. We must not let a rush to war break our momentum or dampen our spirits. Instead, we have to continue our protest and express our disgust at what is being waged in our name.

It is important that we maintain our commitment to peace even as our government tells us to “support our troops.” We will recognize this for what it is: a manipulative effort by the government to quell dissent. Protesting war is not the equivalent of supporting Saddam Hussein; it is a statement that war is not an appropriate solution. Ending armed conflict is the best way to keep soldiers safe, and the proposition that “our troops” are more valuable than their victims is racist at its core.

While national and world-wide demonstrations are vital to effective antiwar organizing, there is equally important work to be done in our own communities, and there are other ways to take action.

In every town and city, we can educate people about the reasons for opposing war. Ignorance is war’s greatest ally, and each one of us can speak to our own family, friends, neighbors, and communities about why we oppose war.

Be bold and express yourself! If we want to win, we need our movement to grow. The larger we get, the harder it will be for the government to ignore us. If they refuse to acknowledge us when we rally and march, some of us need to escalate our forms of protest.

Since our society is built on the active participation of its members, the threat of massive insubordination and noncompliance will quickly get policy makers’ attention. When representatives shut themselves off to moral reasoning, defiance is a language they will respond to because it threatens the very basis of their power, something they hold dear.

Civil disobedience, worker strikes, student walkouts, sabotage, and other defiant actions can be very effective and empowering for activists. Though not everyone can afford to take the increased risks that these types of tactics pose and not all activists are comfortable with the tone of such activities, confrontational protest and direct action are important aspects of an antiwar movement.

In the long-term, the most effective way to end war is to create communities of resistance that are constantly working to avert violence and transform our society. War is just one expression of a system which promotes violence and inequality on every level.

In our own localities, addressing such issues as racism, sexism, police brutality, access to health care, libratory eduction, and participatory democracy, along with protesting the extremes of war, will help us build a strong and sustainable movement for social change.

If we fail to avert war it will not render our efforts meaningless. It will only show how unresponsive and undemocratic the government has become. If Bush chooses to ignore our protest, we will be rightly outraged, and we will continue to organize against this war, future wars, and against the undemocratic system that engenders them.

Published by UTS

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