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Related Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Anti-War
An Open Letter to the SC Activist Community
by Pochovilla (pochovilla [at] yahoo.com)
Monday Mar 20th, 2006 3:10 PM
We need to talk. Why? Because our tactics aren't working.
To the SC Peace Coalition. To WILPF. To the Labor radicals. To the Art n' Revolutionaries. To the MoveOn.orgers, and CodePink ladies. To anyone who's held a sign denouncing the war within the last 3 years - We need to talk. I love you all very much, and we all know each other by face if not by name; we've marched in the same marches, attended the same rallies, and chatted between cheers for what seems like years but we really need to talk. Why? Because our tactics aren't working.

The demonstration, the march, the action - while the concept retains its merit, the way we implement it has become hackneyed and impotent. We take out permits; we rally in our holding pen known as the clock tower while cars swim around us like sharks, drowning out our voices w/ honks and engine growls; we cross the street not when there are no cars but when the light tells us to; we march down Pacific and are told by our own organizers to stay on the sidewalk and not disrupt traffic; we hand out flyers to each other and talk about how the polls say this and that; how change is just around the corner - So we turn the corner and obediently head back to the clock tower, orderly, isolated, segregated from where the people are.

It's as if we're doing a walk-a-thon.

There has got to be a better way. And what I mean by that is, there has got to be a better way of thinking about and then acting against the war.

It's high time we made a connection. The machine of war isn't an abstraction halfway across the world, in fact it's right outside our homes and workplaces. When we say "No Blood for Oil" what we're really talking about is gasoline. And when we talk about gasoline, we really have to talk about cars - and if we're gonna talk about cars, we have to understand, that as long as they're allowed to dominate every aspect of our lives, oil wars will continue.

This is a crucial point to understand when we conduct our actions at the clock tower and in downtown SC for we are perpetually surrounded by, and having to yield to cars.

To me, the contradiction of rallying for peace in the face of imperialist oil wars at the clock tower while super sized SUVs encircle us is so obvious it's astounding that no one else seems to notice it. To this end, I'd like to offer the following thoughts:

1) You cannot be for peace and drive a Tundra, Sequoia, Titan, Suburban, Hummer or any of the other gas-sucking behemoths that clog our streets. So when they honk in support of our event, don’t cheer them on.

2) The people who drive these vehicles deserve a little bit of criticism for they bear at least a smidgen of responsibility for what's going on in Iraq. So when they pass us by, give them a thumbs down or a boo.

Now, I know that the majority of well-meaning but ineffectual progressives in town will argue against this point. Much of this has to do with the dominance of middle-class bourgeois values within the anti-war movement as it does w/ the misguided beliefs that we must never try to piss anyone off and must be polite in the face of violence and aggression.

The sad thing is, this kind of mentality seems to be the cause of, rather than the solution to the sorry state of the American antiwar movement. After 3 1/2 years of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the mass bloodletting perpetually getting worse, the American anti-war movement seems to have actually withered rather than grown in strength and resolve. Instead of developing a long over due critique of a system that creates war and organizing against it accordingly, certain groups in town as well as nationally are still doing teach-ins and having guest speakers.

This is not to say that the former type of events are all bad, but to say, there should be a full spectrum of tactics employed with a much much bigger picture in mind (i.e. revolution). This has not happened.

Just this past weekend, I participated in 3 separate marches - only one of which (the immigrant-rights rally on Friday) left me feeling the least bit inspired. The other two anti-war actions bordered on being embarrassingly lethargic to downright insulting as speakers advocated calling our local congressman to pass resolutions despite the fact that there's been little evidence that the 2-ruling parties are going to fix anything anytime soon.

And while the majority of well-meaning pacifists within our ranks would like to pretend that a guy driving a Hummer can be won over to our side as easily as a guy who drives a hybrid, that we should reach out to avowed right wing Republicans, yada yada, the truth of the matter is, there are differences between us that are irreconcilable. To put it another way, buying and wearing a shirt that says, "No Enemy" and then pretending that you have no enemies is hopelessly naive at best and horribly capricious at worse.

The anarchist community understands this better than anyone. People who drive Hummers, or any large vehicle for that matter are not our friends, period. Furthermore, liberal Democrats (yes, you) and conservative Republicans have more in common than dedicated Socialists and Anarchists as the former still believe that the Capitalist system is the most just while the latter understands very clearly that a system based on profits over people is inherently destructive to humankind and mother earth.

As to the issue of the SUVs and our demonstrations - this is only one example of how our tactics and theory must evolve. Whether that means shutting down streets for a half hour or publicly shaming SUVs drivers riding alone, we need to employ much bolder methods than the ones we have been using.

Obviously, most progressives reading this are going to roll their eyes and talk about safety - Like most Americans, comfort always comes first, and the idea about shutting down a street is too "radical."

But for the other folks out there (and I know our numbers are growing) who are serious about stopping the war - nonviolent direct action is not only justified, it is a necessity. The killing has to stop. To this end we must be committed.
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
strategysaw memberTuesday Mar 21st, 2006 4:46 PM
something aboutCaliforniansTuesday Mar 21st, 2006 4:02 PM
sickeningjust one personTuesday Mar 21st, 2006 12:23 PM
Rally togetherNunyaTuesday Mar 21st, 2006 9:03 AM
I'm from California!who cares?Tuesday Mar 21st, 2006 2:00 AM
You should try...travel abroad.Tuesday Mar 21st, 2006 1:26 AM
Any Specific Actions in Mind?Robert NorseMonday Mar 20th, 2006 11:14 PM
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