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Anti-Imperialists Burn An American Flag in Oakland To Protest The US Massacre Of Iraqis
by asdfas
Saturday Apr 5th, 2003 6:04 PM
Do symbolic acts have any effect? Can we stop the US murder of Iraqi civilians through peaceful marches carrying signs? We must take protests to a new level and get in the way of the US war machine; feeling morally justified in our beliefs is one thing but saving lives take more than mere self-righteousness.
"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"
-M Savio
§Burning Flag
by asdfas Saturday Apr 5th, 2003 6:04 PM
§Burning Flag
by asdfas Saturday Apr 5th, 2003 6:04 PM
So far the peace or anti-war movement in this country has mirrored the same strategies and tactics of past historical anti-war causes. By far the most important example to reference is that of the Vietnam anti-war movement in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. Well over a million people participated in this effort, engaging in a variety of tactics and strategies in an attempt to stop the war, or even to prevent its further escalation. From public education to picketing, boycotts to lobbying, marches to massive civil disobedience, to even outright suicide in the numerous cases of individuals lighting themselves on fire in protest, the Movement was extremely diverse. There was even a decent contingency of property destruction that occurred, no doubt condemned by the mainstream corporate peace organizations.

With all this activity, with the incredible amount of participation, one would assume this would have been more than enough to stop the war, to pressure the federal government to pull out of Southeast Asia. Furthermore, when soldiers such as Ron Kovic, returned from the war angry and disillusioned and formed organizations such as the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, even more intense pressure was placed on the U.S. government. But it was not enough. None of the strategies and tactics applied during the Vietnam anti-war movement in the United States were enough, either individually or combined, to stop the U.S. government’s military horrors. At the height of the Movement, Nixon’s response was not to stop the war but to initiate his policy of Vietnamization. This ingenious plan allowed the U.S. government to weaken the anti-war movement while continuing on with the war for another five years. When the peace accords were finally signed in Paris in 1973, they were more a result of the incredible success of the Viet Cong than any realistic effectiveness of the anti-war cause.

Each of the anti-war movements that have surfaced in the United States since then have attempted to mirror, to an absolutist extent, the strategies and tactics that failed during the Vietnam anti-war struggle. In fact these same strategies and tactics have been used in nearly all U.S. anti-war movements throughout history and the fact remains, never in U.S. history has any anti-war or peace movement actually prevented or ceased a U.S. military operation or war. And yet continuously, anti-war movements in the United States fall into the same mold of ineffective activism that stands absolutely no chance of threatening or challenging the power structure of the U.S. government.

In the current day, protests in select locations such as Washington, DC, New York, San Francisco, Los Angles, Portland, and more are considered successful due only to the numbers of people in attendance. The common argument is stated in defense of these activities that the message is getting out into the media and thus people in this country and around the world are learning that not everyone supports Bush’s war. Yet, from a strategical standpoint there is absolutely no realistic foundation to the belief that this form of public education can and will have any effect on the government’s decision to use military force in Iraq. Again, glancing back to the Vietnam period when the protests were even larger, when more people gathered and the tactics were even broader than those utilized today, Nixon refused to listen to the public and continued on with the war.

During the past few weeks cries have emerged from the “progressive” sectors of U.S. society concerning Bush’s statement that the anti-war movement is a mere focus group and would not effect his ultimate decision. This should provide at least some indication that the large parties – which some might call protests or rallies – are not capable of generating the needed pressure which could actually force the government to stop. If it hasn’t ever occurred throughout U.S. history and, arguably, the U.S. government is more powerful now than ever, there is no precedent on which to base this faulty behavior and activity. Yet, the large mainstream peace groups continue to give caring U.S. people false hope, that if they get involved in the movement there is actually a chance they can help stop the war.

If we are going to become serious about stopping this war, and even the U.S. led atrocities of tomorrow, we must be realistic about our strategies and tactics and actually begin to utilize those methodologies which can and will challenge the power structure of the country. Yes, I am speaking of direct action, but not the generalized version spouted freely today and used to describe primarily conscience serving endeavors. An action is direct if it actually gets in the way, prevents, or stops an injustice from occurring. Unfortunately, the government sanctioned peace parades do not fit into this description. Even though public education is an inherent necessity of any movement, the time for public education by relying upon corporate media’s interpretation of your events has long since passed – if it was ever valuable.

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 U.S. society particularly how it relates to consumerism and the economy. Marches, picketing, rallies, parties, benefits, civil disobedience and even property destruction are pointless, and perhaps even counterproductive, unless they serve to severely disrupt the functioning of the political system and its economy. An atmosphere of severe unrest, if manufactured properly, will force the U.S. government to place military resources in the streets of the United States, will threaten the economy (the chief motive behind this military excursion) of the United States, and ultimately create a political atmosphere unfavorable for Bush to continue on with the war.

So how is an atmosphere of severe unrest and disruption generated? First and foremost, it must begin with our ability to look beyond the business as usual strategies and tactics that have failed miserably in the past. It must begin with our allegiance to come to terms with the realization that any and all tactics and strategies must be considered at least available for use. Next we must be willing to decipher exactly how the power of the political structure can be effectively challenged. 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 other purpose than making people feel better about themselves.

Here are some suggestions for the necessary creation of an atmosphere of unrest and disruption in the United States.

1) Attack the financial centers of the country. Using covert or black block techniques, depending on the situation, physically shut down financial centers which regulate and assist the functioning of U.S. economy. This can be done in a variety of ways from massive property destruction, to online sabotage, to physical occupation of buildings. However the latter I would shy away from, especially the open civil disobedience type of activities which purposely involve arrests. This movement needs all the assistance it can get and absolutely NO good will come from going to jail. Allowing yourself to be purposely arrested demonstrates that an individual has at least some faith in the U.S. legal system. This is completely foolish. One primary objective is to engage in serious unrest and disruption and NOT to get caught. Not getting caught means you are able to continue the struggle the next day.

2) Large scale urban rioting. With massive unrest and even state of emergencies declared in major cities across the country, the U.S. government will be forced to send U.S. troops into the domestic arena thereby taking resources and political focus away from the war. Unstable conditions in much of the country also serve as a political embarrassment for the Administration and could assist in forcing them to stop the war to deal with domestic concerns. Rioting should be focused on governmental agencies and corporations – especially those that are profiting from the war or destruction of life.

3) Attack the media centers of the country. It is the corporate media who has and continues to influence and control the minds of the mass body of people in the United States. These new media outlets cannot be utilized by the movement as they are owned by the very corporations one should be opposing. Using any means necessary, shut down the national networks of NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, etc. Not just occupations but actually engage in strategies and tactics which knock the networks off the air.

4) Spread the battle to the individuals responsible for the war and destruction of life – the very heads of government and U.S. corporations. No longer should these people be able to hide behind their occupations, living their lives in peace while they simultaneously slaughter countless people. Hit them in their personal lives, visit their homes, and make them feel personally responsible for committing massive atrocities.

5) Make it known publicly that this movement DOES NOT support U.S. troops as long as they are serving an unjust and horrifying political regime. Create an atmosphere lacking of support to assist U.S. troops at home and abroad in losing their morale and will to fight. If you are supporting the troops you are supporting this war and the very U.S. government that is the primary terrorist regime in the international arena.

6) Actively target U.S. military establishments within the United States. Again, following the above stated goal of NOT getting caught, use any means necessary to slow down the functioning of the murdering body.

7) When engaging in the above six activities, strike hard and fast and retreat in anonymity. Select another location, strike again hard and fast and quickly retreat in anonymity. Engage only in actions where you will be victorious. Do not be concerned with alienating the mainstream sectors of the movement – that mainstream has NEVER stopped a U.S. military activity or war. Do not get caught. DO NOT GET CAUGHT. Do not get sent to jail. Stay alert, keep active, and keep fighting. Remember, an action is only good (especially at this juncture in U.S. society) if it will serve to severely disrupt the political system of the country, its economy, and the corporate interests that drive this society.

These suggestions are not radical. They are merely recommendations for those that desire to actually have a chance at stopping this current military siege. As the peace or anti-war corporate organizations vocally oppose this message and its enclosed suggestions, continue to ask what realistic chance do their strategies and tactics have to actually stop this war? What historical precedent do their business as usual politics and policies have? As no peace or anti-war movement has ever stopped U.S. governmental military policies or activities using the state sanctioned and societal approved methods, what right do they have to give the caring public false hope?

Well over 500,000 Iraqi children have died since the Gulf War as a result of U.S. bombing and sanctions – not to mention thousands of innocent men and women. With the planned massive bombing campaign planned by the U.S. military, the death toll of the innocent will severely increase. And for what? The U.S. rhetorical line of “liberating the Iraqi people from dictator Saddam” is as much bullshit as our historical line of helping to spread freedom and democracy around the world. Surely Saddam is guilty of massive atrocities, but so are many other world leaders. Sure Saddam may have had or continue to have weapons of mass destruction, but so do many evil leaders of nations around the world. Just why is it we have not targeted Israel and Sharon in the same manner as Saddam? Why is it leaders of the United States have not targeted the U.S. government for its weapons of mass destruction and incredible history of terrorist and murderous atrocities? Similar to Bush Senior’s Gulf War, this is another war for U.S. corporations and for the protection and, more importantly, expansion of the U.S. economy. With the incredible oil reserves in the region and the potential for U.S. corporations to have a hand in building and ruling a future Iraq nation, the motives are quite obvious. Of course, it wouldn’t be just if the U.S. did not claim that it was taking action against a horrible dictator for humanitarian purposes.

As the U.S. led military campaign gets fully under way in the very near future, the question remains… how far is the anti-war movement in the United States willing to go to stop the U.S. government and its unceasing atrocities? How far are you willing to go, what are you willing to do to stop the massive bloodshed once again caused by the U.S. government?

Comments  (Hide Comments)

These are scary times when stuff like this starts to make sense.

I wonder if the author would comment on other movements that did not use the "unrest and disruption" tactics to achieve their goals. I believe that other examples could be used to illustrate the opposite point. Namely that large and varied enough participation can force unresponsive governments to pay heed to public opinion. In particular Gandhi comes to mind, as his movement is largely credited with achieving independence for India.

Thanks for your insights.
by history buff
Saturday Apr 5th, 2003 7:44 PM
History is the propaganda of victors.
by ader
Saturday Apr 5th, 2003 7:54 PM
I am shocked that someone would burn a U.S. flag.
WITHOUT first vomiting, shitting, and pissing on it, that is.
I live for the day that there are no more of these blood stained rags on the fucking planet!
by anarchist
Saturday Apr 5th, 2003 8:09 PM
No war between nations. No peace between classes.
by aaron
Saturday Apr 5th, 2003 8:50 PM
<In particular Gandhi comes to mind, as his movement is largely credited with achieving independence for India.>

yes, and the Indian workers and peasants lives in peace and prosperity today.

time to come up with a better argument, sir.
I know the author is likely to regard me as some wimpy soft-bodied liberal, but that's the beauty of IMC -- free dialogue from all directions.

So, here i include comments i made on flag-burning just after the 2000 (s)election. Take them as you will.

pax, -X

Dec. 2000.


ok, i haven't seen any other discussion on this on this proposal yet, but-

1. i certainly feel the Republicans have essentially stolen this election,
staged a coup d'etat, and nine conservative people dressed in funky robes
have *no* right to decide the will of the people of a nation, and knew
since the very first day after the election that if and when it came to
this point, that this was exactly how i would feel -- i will never ever
*never* in the next 4 years (assuming we survive them) consider Shrubya as
my properly elected "President" and will not once ever refer to him as
that, but as El Election Thief in Chief or some other pleasantly
salubrious title (the only decent part of this entire sordid affair at all
was the Florida Supreme Court, who did all the right things and were the
only ones *actually* standing up for democracy -- i was very surprised and
impressed by them.)

2. however, given all this, i have never believed flag-burning to be
necessarily a very effective and useful stratagem in social justice
movements. it profoundly alienates many, especially those who have served
defending what they believe to be the integrity of this country -- which
is hardly worth much at this point, agreed, but i don't see that we have
to set ourselves so apart from those people, tell them their service was
worth nothing (especially WWII vets, i would say).

3. many will disagree, and given just how *totally f----- up* this
election has been, and how souring on the notion of what the US of A means
and stands for, i can understand why many will participate in a
flag-burning action across the country -- but i would rather do something
else. to show that i *believe* in the potential of this country and its
role in the world (in the very long-term), i believe in the fundamental
rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution (be it as it may written
by a bunch of white male slaveowners), and i believe in (the somewhat
ethereal and idealistic concept of) America -- and i *hell* of believe in
co-optation of the other sides' views and tactics, too.

remember -- this is being written by someone who's been arrested for
protesting US intervention in Central America and thinks the whole system
is so rotten to the core at the moment that
i welcome *all* serious social change.

4. so maybe we can do other more creative things: one of the best actions i saw along
these lines many years ago was a flag-*washing*, (in Wash. DC, during the
Persian Gulf war protests), where the guy took a dirty US flag and washed
it, giving a speech about (something like) cleaning up America, helping it
move forward to be all it could be and such things. hell, let's sing God
Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner during the washing while we're
at it! :>

en paz y justicia-
by WhizWart
Saturday Apr 5th, 2003 9:19 PM
I wouldn't say its over.....hell, Afgahnistan isn't even over. When we break up enough of the resistance, then lets talk about it being over, but don't count your chickens yet.
by Gulf War Vet
(d_kyne [at] Sunday Apr 6th, 2003 2:21 PM
How about a Desert Storm Vet, 15 years of Army Service, I would like to Burn my Uniform that has more decorations than Audie Murphy, I want to burn it for the whole world to see. I want to burn it so that every person in the world knows our troops are obeying an unlawful order.
by red black and green
Sunday Apr 6th, 2003 2:22 PM
how much do you want to bet this guy wears all black to demos hangs out with others who wear the same uniform, and carries, or hangs out with guys who fly black flags? is the irony of the ardent nationalism of the "anti-nationalist" anarchist lost on anyone?
by Ted
Sunday Apr 6th, 2003 2:34 PM
>yes, and the Indian workers and peasants lives in peace and prosperity today.

>time to come up with a better argument, sir.

Aaron is no economist (is it true you are a piano mover?). Like Brazil, India's slow development has much to do with the fact that they purposely instituted an insular economy in an attempt to be self-sufficient. Without trade (exports AND imports), their economies stagnated.

by scryer
Sunday Apr 6th, 2003 2:45 PM
Remember, the tactics Gandhi used were, at the time, neither state-sanctioned nor publicly approved. He broke the rules. I agree that the current tactics, marches, etc. are not effective at changing public policy. However they can be good networking opportunities. We should remember that marching/wearing buttons/displaying bumperstickers is not enough.

However, I caution the writer of the original post that we not take on "the robes of the tyrant." There is the possibility of creating new meaning--turning away from the mainstream and living/thinking a different way. This method does not expect the mainstream to change--either by asking it, or forcing it. Instead it creates a new stream.

by Labor Guy
Sunday Apr 6th, 2003 5:35 PM
I have no problems with those who exercise their rights to freedom of speech and protest...

but - sometimes I wonder why some people feel that thoughtful and intelligent people who already oppose the war with Iraq have to be lectured by people who seem to think they own a monopoly on political thought.

this march wasn't about flag-burning and escalating to the levels this person professes - this march was about bringing the debate back, the war on Iraq is also a war on us, because every dollar spent on bombs takes away from dollars people of color, workers, and students need for housing, hospitals, and schools.

American people of color, workers, and students are also victims - something ideologues against the war seem to always miss.

and reading from the quotes of SF Chron and Oakland Trib - people in the streets who came from all walks of life to talk about the domestic impacts of the war - I am impressed how right on mark this is.

the anti-war movement forgot the Americans in the urban centres, people of color, and youth and workers in their fight - and it's finally being addressed - and we will have a bigger and stronger movement as its result.
by Anthony
Sunday Apr 6th, 2003 7:00 PM
If the S & S represtents the American people I suggest you get your hands on the senate, presidential ect flags instead and burn those. They have shown by their actions they have no love for the American people so why should they care, except for polital mileage, if you burn the people's flag. Burn their's instead.
by brown anarchist
Monday Apr 7th, 2003 10:40 AM
im glad that flag was burned it newver represented freedom or democracy and that is not my peoples flag . it has been the flag waved by white murderers as they stoled our land and enslaved our people. i was happy to see that it was burnt by people of color. that flag represents rascism and death to anyone who is not a white middle class american.
by SlavesNoMore
Monday Apr 7th, 2003 9:42 PM
Jerry Brown has clearly told the Black, Hispanic, etc., youth and workers of Oakland that participation in active anti-war activity will be met by the guns of the state. To add to the comment that mainstream anti-war organizing is not going to stop a war, I would add that only mass action by the slaves of the New Rome will have any serious impact. I propose to all serious activists, along with whatever creative and effective tactics that can be organized, that special emphasis be placed on mobilizing and organizing the youth and workers of Oakland into the struggle. This firing on the port demonstration was not a mishap in the slightest bit. Brown and the other protectors of corporate rule saw the march on Saturday, and saw the connection with actual disruption of war business. This is their deepest nightmare. They have made their message clear. It is up to all activists to bring the people of Oakland into the anti-war movement. This was left mainly to the Vietnam Vets in the earlier war, and contrary to the previous comments, this did have a serious effect on American politics, one that is still with us today. And above all, it is the fact that the inner-city youth and workers are the most dangerous force to corporate America. Got any suggestions on how to bring this force into action?
by Chris
(ChrisSH04 [at] Thursday Jan 29th, 2004 8:00 PM
I have a very simple solution to all of you protesters and people who think you have it so bad here: LEAVE! I'm sure they would treat you much nicer in Iran or North Korea. All 'ya do is bitch and complain and think that the..ahem.."people" are going to rise up or whatever..well thats just great. However, a much simpler solution would be to just leave...I mean...I've seen what you people look like--you're social outcasts anyway. Go ahead calling me a "conformist" or whatever. We all need a good laugh now and then. So...again, before i go....LEAVE! isn't it much less complicated?

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