imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Why is the antiwar movement so weak?

by Eric Ruder, SW online Monday, Oct. 15, 2007 at 9:37 AM

SINCE THE start of the Iraq war, antiwar sentiment has grown dramatically in the U.S. In 2003, 23 percent of the U.S. population thought the U.S. invasion was a mistake. Today, that figure stands at 58 percent.

Yet the antiwar movement had its largest mobilization before the war began, and more recent demonstrations have been smaller than those held several years previously, before public opinion had turned dramatically against the occupation.

On February 15, 2003, a few weeks before the invasion, as many as 1 million people marched through the streets of New York City--part of a weekend of protests worldwide that involved 10 million people in 600 cities.

Two and a half years later, on September 24, 2005, some 300,000 people marched in Washington at an event organized jointly by the two main national antiwar coalitions--United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER).

This fall, however, the antiwar movement has fragmented between competing calls for demonstrations. ANSWER’s Washington protest on September 15 drew just 10,000 people, and UFPJ didn’t even call a national demonstration, opting instead for regional mobilizations on October 27.

Why does the antiwar movement today seem weaker and more divided now, even though antiwar sentiment is stronger? And what can be done to take the struggle forward?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

ONE REASON has to do with the general political period in which today’s antiwar movement has developed.

Mainstream U.S. politics still bears the scars of a decades-long conservative dominance that began with the Reagan presidency in the 1980s. While opinion polls reflect a shift to the left in consciousness on key political questions, the level of social struggle has remained low, and the left is substantially weakened--both organizationally and in terms of its ideas--from the high points of the 1960s.

The movement against the Vietnam War grew up in a very different environment. It benefited enormously from the political atmosphere created by the 1960s civil rights movement.

Antiwar activists had the positive example to follow of building local grassroots organizing centers, which could feed into larger national efforts. The lunch counter sit-ins and integrated Freedom Rides showed the strength of combining civil disobedience tactics with mass action.

Also, civil rights activists found that they had to rely on their own strength as a movement instead of putting their hopes in politicians--because they were confronting a Jim Crow establishment in the South run by the Democratic Party, just as antiwar activists came up against a war run by the Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.

The civil rights struggle served as a model for how to organize and a setting for learning important political lessons. And above all, its success gave rise to the conviction that struggle did work.

Today’s antiwar movement needs to relearn those lessons, but doesn’t have anything like this kind of immediate experience to guide it.

Thus, when the U.S. government defied the massive protests of February 15, 2003 and launched the invasion of Iraq anyway, many of those who demonstrated drew the wrong conclusion that protest didn’t work--for the simple reason that there were no contemporary examples of a sustained, effective and grassroots movement to look to.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE PROCESS of rebuilding the antiwar movement has also been hampered by the weaknesses of the leading forces within it.

In its call for regional mobilizations on October 27, UFPJ stated: “To force a decisive change in government policy, we have to make the antiwar majority more active, more visible, more difficult to ignore. We have to stand up vigorously against the cynicism that says: there is nothing we can do.”

In reality, the sense that “there is nothing we can do” exists among UFPJ member organizations as a symptom of the coalition’s disorientation--to which leaders of UFPJ contributed by retreating from talk of a national mobilization this fall, and setting October 27 as a date for regional mobilizations, with Washington D.C. conspicuously absent from the list.

Meanwhile, the other main national antiwar group, ANSWER, has also found itself at a dead end. It has continued to make calls for national protests, but they are smaller and smaller.

ANSWER’s problems stem from its top-down methods that exclude other antiwar forces. Few individuals or organizations outside its core want to work with it--no more so now after ANSWER’s sponsoring organization Workers World split into competing groups.

The mood was very different after the Democrats took control of Congress in the November 2006 elections.

UFPJ had kept a low profile before the 2006 vote--as in 2004, when it rejected holding an explicitly antiwar mobilization, instead joining protests against the Republican National Convention in New York City, while tailoring its message to fit in with the pro-war campaign of John Kerry.

Nevertheless, the Democrats’ victory was seen by UFPJ as a vindication of its strategy of “[building] a bipartisan peace bloc in Congress that can set the date for troop withdrawal and force Bush and the Pentagon to end the occupation,” Judith Le Blanc, a UFPJ national co-chair and leader of the Communist Party USA, wrote in the People’s Weekly World.

But this strategy makes the movement a hostage to the politicians. Thus, when the “peace bloc in Congress” caved last May and voted for the Bush administration’s demand for 0 billion in war funding, the renewed confidence of UFPJ activists turned to demoralization. At the UFPJ national assembly in July, delegates expressed a sense of isolation, despite the reinvigoration of local activism following the November election.

Many activists felt betrayed by the Democrats’ failure to stand up to the Bush administration, but UFPJ’s failed strategic orientation--of tailoring its activities and mobilizations to a Democratic Congress it expects to at least limit, if not end, the Bush administration’s ability to prosecute the war--remained unexamined and unchanged.

The problem has emerged in an even more extreme form locally in Chicago. To plan the October 27 protest, the UFPJ affiliate Chicagoans Against War and Injustice (CAWI) held invitation-only organizing meetings that excluded other antiwar organizations.

The movement was presented with an already decided plan for a demonstration that included a speaking invitation for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley--an insult to the hundreds of antiwar marchers illegally arrested by Daley’s police on the first night of the war in 2003, and anyone who faced the intimidation tactics of riot cops at protests since.

CAWI leader Carl Davidson, a former figure in Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s, not only defended the invitation to Daley, but argued that the antiwar movement in general, and the left in particular, needed to “set certain things aside” in order to build alliances with Democrats and even Republicans willing to go against the Bush White House.

What is the antiwar movement expected to set aside? Essentially, anything that the politicians might object to--even if that means conceding on basic demands for an immediate and complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

This is the exact wrong way to go about trying to end the war. The key is building a strong grassroots movement, independent of both the Democrats and Republicans, with the power to force the politicians of both parties to abandon their support for the war.

This understanding is especially important now as leaders of the Democratic Party prepare not to end the war but “take it over” from the Bush administration after the 2008 election. At a recent debate, all three of the party’s top presidential contenders--Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards--refused to say they would have withdrawn U.S. troops from Iraq after a full four years in office.

The emphasis of the antiwar movement shouldn’t be on alliances made at the top of the political system in “building a bipartisan peace bloc in Congress,” in LeBlanc’s words--but on building a struggle from below.

That, after all, is the lesson of the 1960s and ’70s struggles--that mass action at the grassroots compelled both Democrats like Lyndon Johnson and Republicans like Richard Nixon to answer to the demands of the social struggle.

What’s needed now is a focus on building local bases of antiwar activism around basic points of unity. These local formations--at colleges and high schools, in neighborhoods and cities, on military bases and in workplaces--provide the best way to help people overcome their sense of isolation, in activities like teach-ins, speakouts and pickets, that bring opponents of the war together. And these local bases in turn can serve as the building blocks for larger national events.

The guiding principles for the movement can be simple and straightforward--like the three demands of Iraq Veterans Against the War: immediate withdrawal; a commitment to health care and other services for returning veterans; and payment of reparations to the Iraqi people for the damage inflicted by the U.S. occupation.

Strategically, the movement needs to understand that three inter-related ingredients are required to end the war--the resistance of Iraqis to the occupation, a domestic antiwar movement stepping up the pressure at home, and a revolt of U.S. soldiers that can undermine the ability of the U.S. to continue the war effort.

The interplay of these elements ended the U.S. war in Vietnam. Today, there is no shortcut to building an antiwar movement that again helps bring these different dimensions together.

[ ]

Report this post as:

Local News


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

EPA Head Scott Pruitt: Of Cages And Sirens A06 2:15PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy