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Monday, Mar. 20, 2006 at 1:39 PM
Los Angeles- This past Saturday the 18th, thousands habitually marched through Hollywood to once again condemn the War on Iraq, after 3 and a half years of failed attempts at ending it. The following is a report back from a member of the Southern California Anarchist Federation (SCAF), seeking to further open the debate on building a long-term movement for radical social change, beyond simply ending the war on Iraq.
Written by Eric,
After 3 years of business as usual for the war machine, we, as the anti war movement, are not gaining ground. If the war were to end sometime soon, it would not be due, in any part, to mass opposition or action against the war, but rather a war that can no longer be seen as profitable to the United States government. We believe the time is now to collectively strategize not just against this war but all wars, from the US imperialist war on Iraq to the LAPD’s fascistic war on our communities.
The end result of our stance was a call for an open discussion after the march on building the Anti War movement, to a point where we can take significant action, beyond disempowering marches and protests.
We flyered throughout the march with the call for the discussion, and when I personally flyered, people whom at first were turned off to see another dry flyer, seemed to be more interested in hearing about the discussion. We billed it as an “Open Anti War Strategizing Discussion, In The Streets,” and about ten different participants passed out close to 1000 flyers among demonstrators.
At the end of the march, we gathered among the red and black flags at the rear of the rally, since we had no chance at hosting a discussion anywhere near the main stage which was the original gathering point, and most likely led many people to be confused and not attend the discussion.
Anywhere from 50 to 75 people attended or engaged in the discussion, which lasted around an hour and hosted many ideas. It would not be possible for me to include all topics discussed, but many reoccurring themes were heard.
Most all those who voiced an opinion on the march, said that it was disempowering, and they saw no real change coming out of these repetitious demos. Others suggested that we erroneously continue to ‘preach to the choir’ and that these protests are always organized in the white, middle class area of West Hollywood. Many whom attended the discussion were already radicals, but there were also many families, students, and non-affiliated participants who were very excited to see this discussion going on. Blacks, whites, Latinos, and others were actively involved in the discussion, and this was not your typical white dominated leftist event.
It is important to note, that the majority of people who spoke were not affiliated with SCAF, but attended the discussion on their own. One man, in his late 40’s raised his hand and had this to say, “I have been attending these protests for 30 years, and never have I seen a discussion like this going on.” Another young woman pointed out that she is sick of hearing ANSWER ask for our money, when it is people that will stop the war, not money. Many frustrations were discussed, but along with alternative forms of organizing that we can take in the future. An older man said that “We need to stop this bullshit, we need a general strike!”
In fair criticism, I would not say our discussion came to any real concise conclusion, though many agreed that building consciousness, not just based in class, but a consciousness against all oppressive institutions, is a very important step for us to take as a movement. We discussed leaving marches behind for community work that activates people to struggle for their own issues. The original flyer was to “Discuss … Resisting the war abroad, and the war at home.” I believe we did just that and this is just a start in building a whole new movement that is serious about fighting the war.
As a member of the radical left I’m very energized after conversing with many diverse people on the street, and hearing that I’m not alone in my attitude about our so called “opposition” to this war. I am calling on all those who want to start organizing in a much more serious way, to call for discussions like the one, on the streets, to build alternatives to the mass organizations which are dominating the Anti-War Movement. Events like this, not only empower people, but also can inspire ideas that will spark a whole new movement made up of real people, on the streets, fighting for real change.
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