The winds of war are blowing again. This war that does not end is marching onto its next target. In most of the world, the prospect of war with Iraq is ludicrous, especially at a time in which the region is so unstable. The danger it supposedly poses to all of us is equally idiotic. Yet, the administration of war in Washington intends to invade in less than a year’s time, maybe in just weeks. More disturbing than that, polls are showing majority support in the US for the overthrow of the leader there. It seems as though Americans are falling for the state and media’s insistence that this is a war against “Saddam” and not the thousands of Iraqis that will die from this latest invasion. This is not a time for staged and passive dissent, but another battle like we saw in Seattle.
Certainly, the coalition in North America that rose to prominence in November 1999 has been quieted since the attacks on New York and Washington. Even through this era of the corporate crime wave (as though corporations have just now been caught exploiting human beings!) there has been disturbingly little effort to capitalize on the connection “average” Americans are making regarding it. There have been many organized demonstrations and local efforts to stop the wars and global capitalism, but it’s not what it needs to be.
Seattle was organized AND spontaneous. The latest calls for demonstrations by groups like the International Action Center are too hierarchical and staged. Regardless of their importance to the anti-capitalist movement, they were not a strong presence in Seattle. It could be argued that there wasn’t any one organization that presided over the first couple days of the protests. There was a coalition that continued to work after Seattle, in Washington, Genoa, and other places around the world. We need that kind of energizing and spontaneous protest that we had there. We need widespread civil disobedience, above and beyond what we saw in Seattle. In the US, except for a few exceptions, there hasn’t been the kind of direct action that inspires millions. Instead, we only see demonstrations with a few speeches and marches because we fear what the silent majority might (not) say.
Once again, this is not to argue that there hasn’t been more militant activism within the recent demonstrations, but what we saw in Seattle was different. Tens of thousands of mostly young people refused to merely take part in the afternoon AFL-CIO march and stood in resistance, shutting down that meeting. We need to shut the government down and force this issue because the economic and political elite will not do it without civil disobedience, whether it is Ghandi style or more confrontational. We changed the debate in this country in 1999. The same thing must happen again.
It seems to be that the only groups willing to really confront authority now is the Black Bloc. However effective they might be in demonstrations, there should be a wide range of displays that resist the coming slaughter. We all owe it to Iraqis and everybody else victimized by the two fascistic sides—Islamic rightists and the Christian rightists that run the White House. It’s time to show our American brothers and sisters that they don’t have to choose sides between bin-Laden and Bush. We can choose a non-violent future, a future of camaraderie, empathy, and cooperation. That dream of ours is being quickly wiped away by the Oil Men.
The organizing and coalition building will take time, but that’s the effort it’ll take to have another Seattle. This is a call out to all freedom-loving, anti-fascists! Take back our lives and our future.