Recently a man and his wife moved from another city to Boston and contacted me through Axis of Logic. We invited them to have dinner with us in our home. He shared his frustration with the anti-war movement - or lack of it - when he arrived in Boston. When he arrived in Boston, he expected to see throngs of people in the street, protesting the war in Iraq and was sorely disappointed. I invited him to an emergency protest in downtown Boston on the following day. Only a couple hundred people showed up and again ... the frustration, not only for this man, but for many. Since 9/11/01, I have participated in many protests against the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq - in Boston, New York and Washington DC. In some of these larger, planned protests, tens of thousands, perhaps a hundred thousand came out to protest the war. The energy and sense of power in joining others in the street who are of like-mind can be infectious. But then we go home and watch empire continue its killing.
When Are We Going To "Do Something"?
People have asked me many times, "When are we going to do something?" - "Where is the Anti-War Movement?"; "Where is it heading"; "Where are the students?" or "Why aren’t we confronting the government like we/they did back in the Sixties?" Some look to the large international anti-war organization - The International Action Center (IAC), founded by Ramsey Clark and the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) to get things moving. Others look to the other major anti-war organization in the U.S. - United For Justice and Peace. Some of the leaders in these organizations also believe the movement will begin with them. Some of the wiser leaders in these organizations recognize that we in America are only a small part of the world-wide revolution against empire.
The Democratic Party
There are others who believe that the solution to American hegemony and imperialism lies in the Democratic Party. They are either too young, or they forget about our brothers and sisters who were beaten and locked up when they protested the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. They cannot seem to acknowledge that the Democratic Party is in full service to empire and only pays lip-service to the people they want to elect them. These good-hearted folks seem to view the Democratic Party as a political party of, by and for the people. They recall with affection Lyndon B. Johnson’s "Great Society". But they forget that LBJ continued killing Vietnamese and American soldiers for 5 years after he took office following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. They also forget about JFK’s commitment to make war on the Vietnamese people. They don’t seem to be able to reply when confronted with the fact that William Jefferson Clinton bears substantial responsibility for the deaths of a million Iraqis as a result of the sanctions and weekly missile attacks on Iraq during his 8 years in office. Now they place their faith in John Kerry - the man who has already called for 40,000 additional U.S. troops to occupy Iraq; urged Zapatero to keep Spanish troops in Iraq; voted for the war; voted for the Patriot Act and supports the U.S. funded rebels against democratically elected Hugo Chavez in Venezuela - the man who is full service to the American-led, Corporate Global Empire. The beast is the beast, no matter what mask covers it’s face this time.
Thankfully, Zapatero has thumbed his nose at Kerry and pulled the Spain’s troops out of Iraq yesterday, following Kerry’s insistence that the Spanish troops remain. Why can so many "Democrats" not see this?, I ask. The only answer that avails is that it is difficult for people to let go of the illusion ... the one that offers a sense of security. It is difficult to give up illusions of security. Until we understand the nature, size and power of the Corporate Global Empire, we will never understand the place the Democratic Party occupies within empire. The Democratic Party and John Kerry are cut from the same cloth as George W. Bush. Their first commitment is to empire, not the people. Our commitment is to help confront and overthrow the empire. Our position is not a popular one among Republicans or Democrats here in America, but popularity does not factor into the development of our world view. That having been said, our position is in solidarity with the massive world backlash against empire.
Can Phenomenon Be Replicated?
By definition it cannot.
Phenomenon: "1. An observable fact or event. 2. An outward sign of the working of a law or nature. 3. An extraordinary person or thing" (Merriam Webster Dictionary).
Perhaps the biggest mistake we make in the Anti-War Movement is to expect a recurrence of the phenomena that occurred in the era of the Vietnam War. A phenomenon does not and can never be replicated. An example of this can be seen in the attempts to revive, or replicate what happened at Woodstock on August 15, 16, and 17, 1969. Perhaps for nostalgia, perhaps for money - there have been attempts to replicate Woodstock but Woodstock can never happen again. Woodstock was "an outward sign of the working of a law or nature". The reason the planning was so abysmal was that nobody expected 400,000 people to converge on a small town in upstate New York to hear a concert. It wasn’t prescribed. It wasn't expected. It was a phenomenon. Many are frustrated because their expectations of the movement are not recurring. David Stills wrote over 30 years ago:
"Don't let the past remind us of what we are not now".
Don't let the past prescribe your thinking about what we are now, what we will be in the future ... or the new revolution, already underway.
Revolution is in the Air. It is also on the Ground
"Revolutions are not made; they come".
- Wendell Phillips in 1859
Revolution is a scary word. For many people, the term conjures up thoughts of bloody revolutions of the past in other countries. They think of what they’ve been told about the cultural revolution in China, under the leadership of Mao or the revolution in Iran that led to Iran’s oppressive theocracy under the Ruling Clerics. "Better the devil you know than the one you don’t know", they say. People are afraid.
When I speak or write about "revolution", people often recoil, asking, "But what will happen then?" "Who will be our leaders?" They demand to know what form of government would replace the one we have. Logically, their demand sounds perfectly reasonable. But phenomena does not follow the rules of logic. Phenomenon brings about change and as much as we try, we cannot always control the future. People are afraid of losing what they have - their things yes, but more so, their sense of security. They admit, "I know the government we have is not perfect, but ...". We cannot foretell the future, but what we can do is to take a stand against what we know to be wrong. In that endeavor, we join the millions around the world who are fighting to protect their national sovereignty and their right to self-determination and freedom.
"Reckless" you say? No, it is the very wealthy elite who are set on world dominion who are reckless. And their recklessness has landed them in the middle of a battle for their very existance in Iraq. We are committed to stopping their recklessness - in Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Haiti and their reckless plans for Iran, Syria, North Korea and in any other country they’ve named as their target.
Are You Waiting for Emergence of a Charismatic Leader?
People wait for the sudden appearance of "a charismatic leader" - a Ghandi, a Nelson Mandela, a Martin Luther King. Others have prescribed expectations about where and when the movement will find traction. Prescriptions are foreign to phenomena. "Prescribed Phenomena" is an oxymoron. Our national-centrism and ... perhaps our ego-centrism ... has blinded us to the fact that the movement against empire does not have to begin in America.
This revolution is not a national revolution. It is a world revolution that is in full reaction to the Bush regime’s declaration that it has commenced a new world war, ostensibly against "terrorism". The enemy is not George W. Bush. The enemy is not the Republican Party. The enemy is not America. Rather, the enemy is the Global Corporate Empire - led by the U.S. Government and fed by multi-national corporations. So it is fitting that the revolution now underway is a world revolution.
If the U.S. is leading the way for Global Corporate Empire, who is leading the way for the current revolution? It is understandable why people would think that Americans have to lead the way. We’ve "learned" that America leads the way in everything. Besides, if America is leading the Global Corporate Empire, isn’t it logical that the movement against empire should ... would begin in America? Only our myopia tells us that it must. In fact, this time, the revolution is not led by Americans at all. This movement against empire is world-wide and the heroic Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian resistance is leading the way.
What is your role? What will be your contribution?
A close friend of mine is one of the many who feel helpless, impotent in the struggle against empire. In his feeling of helplessness, he recently wrote to me of his limited, active participation in the Anti-War Movement, quoting an old master: "I chop wood. I carry water." I reflected on that saying for about a week and finally replied, "I guess for me, Axis of Logic has become my "chopping wood and carrying water" - at least for now.
How do you chop wood and carry water? Perhaps it is sometimes wearing an anti-war button on your lapel or placing a bumper sticker on your car to help heighten people’s awareness. Perhaps it is participating in a protest or writing an article. Perhaps it is standing alongside Axis of Logic's Activist of the Month Jo WildingJo Wilding and her heroic friends from Voices in the Wilderness on the battlefield in Iraq. Perhaps it is simply talking to your neighbor in the back yard or over cocktails. Perhaps it is teaching your children. Perhaps it is something else - but whatever it is, it must involve cultivating your inner spirit and becoming a better exemplar of peace, compassion and love - if it is to be true and effective.
Whatever your role, one thing is certain. If your role is to be a true and effective one, it can only come from your "true self", a phenomenon that springs spontaneously each moment of each day from your heart. We need to cultivate "true self" and tend it carefully as we would a garden. Nature provides a wonderful spawning ground for creativity and spending time with that wise old teacher is essential. That creative force within you only needs to have the door opened for the role(s) you play to spring forth. When they do, you will recognize it/them immediately. The recordings playing on the vinyl of our minds sometime tell us that our role is too small - too insignificant. Don't believe them. We sometimes think our contribution should be bigger - more visible - more powerful. Those recordings are playing on the turntable of personal insecurity or ego. Either way, they are a deception. Nothing can possibly be more significant and more powerful than the creative force that lies waiting in "true self". We must remember that the true coalition of the anti-empire movement is universal and it can only survive with our participation and the millions of others from around the world. We are not going to go away until the empire falls. Some learned analysts believe that this empire may be the shortest lived empire the world has ever known.
Support the Iraqi Guerillas Who are on the Front Lines of the War
This time, it is the Iraqi Resistance who are leading the war against the real enemy, Corporate Global Empire. They have fully engaged the enemy. They are dying for the revolution. They are losing their children for the revolution. Whether they realize it or not, they are fighting not only for their own freedom and independence, but for the freedom of the entire world - because the target of the American-led Corporate Empire is Global. We can either join our brothers and sisters in the Iraqi Resistance in their heroic, bloody battle against empire, or we can "join the other side" - as Graham Nash wrote in the album, Chicago in 1971.
IRAQ! FREEDOM, INDEPENDENCE AND SELF-DETERMINATION!