Apparently the World is Going to Have to Wait
Last night we attended the "Bush Step Down" demonstration in Seattle. We woke this morning anxiously anticipating the dawning of a new era. Imagine our disappointment as we opened the morning paper. Isn't it time we started addressing these "actions" with some critical thought?
We keep reading and hearing that due to the United States' behaviors the world is in dire straits. Our government is corrupt, the war is wrong, the environment is being destroyed, Bush is an awful liar, our liberties and freedoms are jeopardized. However, we see no critical dialogue on the topic of intervening and attempting to stop these atrocities. We'd like to start a conversation about effective action, using the war in Iraq as a focus.
For an action to be considered effective it must get in the way, prevent, or stop an injustice from occurring. We'd like to state a few things we don't consider to be effective action.
First, the time for marches and protests has passed. We've attended all of the anti-war, anti-globalization, anti-bush, anti-anti marches in the last several years. Frankly, we're a bit discouraged. As fun as the marches are, with all the powerful speakers and awesome artists, we see no indication that the military onslaught has been slowed or that our government has been dissuaded from any of its atrocious behaviors. The president in office was elected on a platform that clearly stated his desire to make war and destroy the world. Public opinion, no matter how many people gather to express it, will not derail the destruction. Stating dislike for something is not action. Marches have become mere symbols of resistance, and promoting them as ways to stop the war is misleading. These government sanctioned peace parades, entirely permitted and in bounds, will continue to be ignored by those who wield power in the political arena.
Bush-bashing is clearly not an action. We're not claiming Bush is a great guy, but we didn't get to where we are as a result of this particular administration. The Senate and House voted to give Bush power to start this war and they continue to vote, often unanimously, to fund the war. The road has been paved by Democrats and Republicans alike.
None of the advertised activist groups are engaged in activities that meet our basic definition of effective action. The primary focus of these groups seems to be education, potlucks, lobbying, and campaigning; events that have no direct link to stopping the war. It's quite apparent that many people, perhaps the majority of Americans, are unhappy with the way the U.S. engages with the world. Education and awareness-raising are no longer effective actions. People need instructions on what to DO based on this information, not more information.
Yard signs and bumper stickers. Come on, "No Iraq War". This is denial and is of no use. Again, simply stating disapproval accomplishes nothing.
In order to move forward in this discussion we need to abandon all hope that marches, political theater, potlucks, education, lobbying, e-petitions, and campaigning are useful. The only possibility of stopping this current military action is to engage in strategies and tactics which severely disrupt the war machine, the U.S. economy, and the overall functioning of the U.S. society.
We must begin with the realization that any and all tactics and strategies must be considered. Once this matter has been examined there is only one question remaining, will each of us become involved and use whatever tactics and strategies are necessary, or will we refuse and continue to engage solely in conduct which serves little purpose other than making people feel better about themselves.
Here are some general guidelines to determine if specific actions are effective. These guidelines are by no means complete; specific actions will begin to manifest only when we turn our energies away from ego serving endeavors.
An effective action will do at least one of the following:
-disrupt the flow of commerce and the functioning of the U.S. economy
-directly disrupt the lives of the legislators who are making more funding available for the war
-directly disrupt the lives of military recruiters
-directly disrupt the lives of the people working for companies who are supporting the war
-cause the U.S. military to deploy troops domestically, pulling soldiers away from the war
-create an atmosphere that does not support U.S. troops who are serving
The war we wish to stop is intense and disruptive to the lives of those involved. Stopping it will require equally intense actions that will be disruptive to our comfortable lives. If this war is to some large extent about oil, then why don't we hear anything about a boycott of oil? Is it because we are unwilling to give up driving, and to suggest to others to do the same? Would it be too inconvenient? Effective actions will be met with great resistance; even from those we would presume to be our allies.
Or perhaps we wait until the 2008 elections with the hope that some Democrat will miraculously get elected and save us?
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It is through acting and learning to act that we will open the path to insurrection. Waiting only teaches waiting; in acting one learns to act.
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