|I went to the radical feeder march on January 18. The single speech, short-and-sweet, that preceded the march told me that I was in the right place.|
Speaker: "Today we're here because, Yes, we're opposed to Bush's unilateral war on Iraq and, Yes, we're opposed to the racist rounding up of immigrants, and, Yes, we want a just settlement to the war in Palestine -- but we also realize that these things are not bad policies of the government; these things are not even the result of a bad president under the unelected president of the U.S., George W. Bush.
"These things are the result of a bad system.
"These things are the result of a socio-economic system. Call it capitalism, imperialism, whatever you want to call it. I don't think the words are important. What is important is that we are in opposition to this entire socio-economic order, which is at its core racist and exploitive [not only] of the vast majority of people in the so-called third world, but of the vast majority of people in this country, who are getting screwed over by this government and this war effort....
"The priorites of this entire system are wrong and benefit an ecomomic elite at the expense of the rest of us. And we are here to point that out and we are here to say No More. Down with imperialism Down with capitalism!"
And then we were off
"radical" comes from the Latin word for "root" (radix), from which we also get "radish".
To "get radical", then, is simply to get at the root of things.
To be anti-war by being anti-system is radical because the system is indeed at the root of war.
This goes beyond the truism that "all wars are economic".
The Romans (who would've known), said: Radix omnium malorum est cupiditas -- "The root of all evil is greed". ("cupiditas" is often translated as "the love of money". Interesting that we get the word "cupid" -- as in "cupid's arrow" -- from the same word, isn't it?)
To stop war, then, means to end greed.
The best place to start with that is with yourself, of course. For most conscious people on that road, it is an ongoing process. This road -- the path to enlightenment -- is one whose end few humans ever glimpse. Since reaching that end is virtually impossible, it is not even important if you do -- if you "win" or "lose". What's important is that you make your absolute very best effort, and work as hard as you can at all times to stay on that road. There can be no break from it for indulgence or luxury; such things merely feed the cupiditas you need to stop; but then, if you're striving right, it will feel so good you won't want to stray.
A good laugh along the way helps!
My mother saw this picture and said, "I especially like the one of the upside down flag. That says it all." Indeed.
It was surprising to me to hear these words from my mother. She is what many people would consider "mainstream". But she is very unhappy with this president and this war. And, she was not "alienated" by the burning flag; quite the opposite. She picked out that photo as the one she liked "especially".
I think this offers a lesson to the organizers of the main event on Jan. 18, who are definitely concerned about what they refer to as "reaching out" to the mainstream -- an effort that all too often seems to translate into "watering down" the message.
If this anti-war movement continues this strategy it will suffer the same fate as the movements that surfaced during the Gulf War and the Vietnam War. That is, it will fail.
Did the anti-war movement help end Vietnam? Perhaps. Did it end war? No. Did it address -- significantly -- any of the other problems of The System, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia, before it withered away with the U.S. withdrawl from Southeast Asia? Some people who were there will tell you that feminism, for example, flowered into a movement in part because of the sexism of the anti-war movement, and the lack of a place in it for women.
To be truly successful, an anti-war movement must take on the root of war -- call it "capitalism", "imperialism", cupiditas, or whatever you want.
The U.S. flag has become a symbol of the whole rotten system that makes war, and torching one is an appropriate symbolic gesture. Symbols work. That is, symbols honestly inspire. Flags are not just cloth, their colors and shapes not just patterns. They represent. And not only concepts but realities.
People respect honesty. Honesty is radical. So is truth. Speak it, and they will listen. Politic and promote and you might get a big crowd for one day, but it won't last, and it won't make a difference.
The struggle against war is primarily a spiritual one. As such, materialism is a barrier.
If the anti-war movement continues to water itself down to the mainstream culture of materialism, then it will fail to attract mainstream people who will stay and work for the long term. The anti-war movement must take the righteous path, and do so openly. Then, and only then, will people from the mainstream come to the movement and swell its ranks. Only then will there be numbers to take on the entire system that makes war; that's because there'll be fewer people supporting the system in the first place.
In the cycle of death and life endless possibilities exist, and there are many paths to the light; there are, however, many barriers too, and currently the mainstream anti-war movement is stuck behind several to many of them. The radicals don't have all the answers of course, but its communities are on the right track in many ways (communal housing, dumpstering, sustainable living). Yet, we are often demonized, made to feel unwelcome, and rejected when we try to cooperate. I'm telling you now, though -- reject radical politics and dive into mainstream materialism at your own peril. You're likely to drown. It's better to get out and stay out. When you express the joy of liberation you feel, others will flock to you. People know they're trapped and they're sick of it. The anti-war movement can either join people in the cage and die in there with them (which is what it's doing now), or stand up bravely outside (even though it's not as safe) and invite everyone to come out too.
This was my favorite sign at the rally. I'll admit that this issue is somewhat of a litmus test for me when I meet people. I can't work with someone who won't believe The System is that bad. Because it is. It is that bad. Actually, it's quite worse.
And the only way to stop it is by getting radical.