Analyzing "The Movement"-Looking Back at PPRC
I found out that the movement wasn't really there. It seemed to be there, I could watch it on television, or read about it in various magazines, but in my real life all I could find was a nonprofit organization called PPRC.
SInce September 11th, or more to the point, since October 7th, 2001 and the bombing of Afghanistan, I've been involved with what I tend to call "the movement." The Twin Towers falling, the Anthrax scare, the indiscriminate bombing of a starving country while the terrorist culprits scrammed, all of it moved me to act. I wanted to act in concert with others to expose the lies, and to eventually build something better than the corporate doomsday world I'd found myself in.
But here's what happened. I found out that the movement wasn't really there. It seemed to be there, I could watch it on television, or read about it in various magazines, but in my real life all I could find was a nonprofit organization called PPRC.
This organization had an interesting beginning, and through my involvement with the organization I learned both about how difficult it is to build an open and democratic organization, and that there are some seemingly built-in constraints muzzling most peace groups.
Primarily, however, the story of my involvement with PPRC is a story of burnout, alienation, and a growing sense of hopelessness. Still if I am going to find a way out of this abyss this story is one that I have to write. A story I have to examine, come to terms with, and eventually transcend.
"We will make no distinction between those who have committed these acts and those who harbor them," Bush said. He was essentially promising a war on every state with a criminal element. WIth this doctrine he could have declared war on Canada, Germany, France, and even Florida. After all, Al Quaeda cells existed in each of these countries.
We would go to war and stay at war until the last "terrorist" was dispatched to hell.
I'd entered into a totalitarian nightmare, a nightmare sure to bring on more attacks like what we'd suffered on 9-11 while simulataneously empowering the police appartus domestically.
"You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists."
I wasn't with them. I'd committed thought crimes already. How long would it be before the FBI arrived at my door?
I had to do something. It was a matter of using my right to free speech or standing back to witness the end of the world.
Maybe a week after the attacks I ran into a former member of the ISO, a friend and co-worker who had been transferred to another department and with whom I'd lost contact. I was glad to see him.
"What's the far left going to do? Are you organizing?" I asked him before I even said hello.
"What are we going to do?" He tapped his chin and smiled broadly. "We're going to rally around the flag," he said. "The far left isn't going to do a thing."
He explained that the group he was working with, an organization consisting of maybe 300 activists from various groups, an organization mostly dominated by former Green Party members, had just voted that the group would not criticize US Foriegn Policy.
"What?" I asked. "What group is this?"
"PPRC-Portland's Peaceful Response Coalition."
"Are they against the war? Sounds like a peace group."
"We're focussing on trying to protect the local Arab community from hate crimes," he said.
"That's a fine thing, but what about trying to protect the Afghans? The Bush administration is threatening to use nuclear weapons," I said.
"They won't use nukes."
"But, isn't just the threat of using Nukes worth criticizing?"
"We're rallying around the flag," my friend said.
It turned out that he was overstating his case. PPRC was standing in opposition to the war, but only in so much as it stood for peace. No official critique of actual policy existed within the organization, but lots of people were criticizing US foriegn policy at the various rallies.
"What about the Anarchists? What are they doing?" I like to think that I was an anarchist, liked to pretend that there was some central anarchist collective in town, and I'd point to various infoshops and bookstores as proof.
"The anarchists I know have formed an anti-authoritarian committee within PPRC and they've walked out on 2 meetings," Paul said.
This was my introduction to what I would later call "the movement." For the moment it was enough to keep me away, but without any other alternatives I soon found myself at my first PPRC rally.
More next week...
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