What is to be Done?

In the wake of his furious denunciations precipitated by his pastor’s suggestion that the U.S. is anything other than a victim of terrorist violence, it should now be clear to even his most starry eyed acolytes that under an Obama administration the US. will remain the “leading purveyor of violence in the world today” as much as when Dr. King characterized it as such forty years ago.

That means, most notably, the U.S. Army will remain in Iraq doing what armies do: blowing up buildings, killing scores of people and getting killed themselves-financed by ever more extravagant deficit spending from the treasury.

They will continue to do so whether Senator “120,000 new troops”, Senator “obliterate Iran” or Senator “hundred years war” is installed in January 2009.

What this means for the sixty five percent of the population committed to ending the three trillion dollar genocidal fiasco is that whoever takes office will scale back and end U.S. occupation only under duress. He or she will need to be dragged kicking and screaming-by us.

Given this reality, the question for the movement remains what it has been since the failure of the huge antiwar demonstrations of 2003 and after. How do we communicate that we mean business? That when we say “no war” we mean no war.

The Language of Force

The best answer was delivered appropriately enough, on Mayday by the ILWU which effectively shut down all shipping on the West Coast, not for a fattened paycheck, but in their words, “to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U. S. troops from the Middle East.”

The ILWU understands from its illustrious radical history what the peace movement has yet to learn. Namely what forces power to concede is red ink on the balance sheets of the corporations who effectively own and operate the political system. Accessing this lever of power is talking to the bosses in the only language they understand, and for this reason is the ne plus ultra of protest.

The language which the peace movement needs to learn to speak is the language of economic force.

It needs to begin preparing to do so next Mayday. Friday May 1, 2009 should be a day without work, without shopping, neither producing for the system or consuming what it offers up. Corporate balance sheets, the EKGs of economic health, should go flat.

Those monitoring it for signs of life will be obliged to declare it comatose, reviving only on the next business day.

Can we do it?

We shouldn’t kid ourselves as to what it would require to make this work-which is the participation of a significant fraction of the total workforce, amounting to numbers in the eight figure range. Probably somewhere around 20 million workers need to stay off the job for the message to be conveyed.

And given that it is unlikely that a single day work stoppage no matter how disruptive will be sufficient to send the message, we will need to commit ourselves to systematically upping the ante with additional work stoppages. These could occur on election day 2009, followed by one week strikes beginning on May 1 and Election Day 2010.

Should troops remains in Iraq in 2011, and hundreds of billions of dollars devoted to continuing the occupation be approved, the entire months of May and November 2011 should be targeted for zeroing out.

While it is surely ambitious, it is not unrealistic that the movement can assemble the kinds of numbers necessary to induce a near death experience among the high priced bean counters who manage policy in the interests of the investor class.

It should not be forgotten that while the past five years of antiwar demonstrations are by now largely viewed as futile exercises in feel good boomer nostalgia, this was not due to low participation. Millions marched in demonstrations around the country beginning with the enormous mass action of Feb 15, 2003.

It is not wishful thinking that a Mayday work stoppage could easily involve numbers an order of magnitude higher.

For every person actively involved in a previous demonstration, one or two more will have to commit in doing nothing. No one will have to get on a bus, arrange childcare for your kids, prepare a bag lunch, call your cousin in D.C. to move the books off the living room couch for you to crash on that night. The effectiveness of a strike is a consequence not of action but of inaction, not from showing up, but from sitting it out.

What Will It Take?

Assembling these numbers will require, first and foremost, for the word to get out-repeatedly and from multiple sources- and with the internet, we now have the means to do this.

Top rated left websites such as the Huffington Post receive millions of hits. Uncompromisingly left sites like Counterpunch and Dissident Voice attract substantial and articulate activist bases. Among the traditional media, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! airs on hundreds of stations likely reaching millions. The Nation‘s circulation is in the hundreds of thousands, and reaches many more second hand. Even right-wing media have granted access to reliable leftists like Barbara Ehrenreich, published in Time, and Thomas Frank now featured on the Wall Street Journal opinion page.

It is not lack of access which has accounted for the failure the peace movement so far but rather what the left has communicated to itself. In particular, the high profile figures who define left discourse need to go beyond their obsession with what have become increasingly garden variety “powerful indictments” or “devastating critiques” of the bipartisan corporate consensus. The history of the past five years should have shown us that the widespread assumption that these will magically bring an effective mass movement into existence is a delusion.

Once the left jettisons its juvenile obsession with critiquing the system and begins discussing seriously the strategy required to combat it, and its most malignant expression in the form of the three trillion dollar war, what the ILWU did last week will begin to be seen for the major step forward which it should represent.

It is the ball which the rest of us need to pick up and run with.

John Halle is a Professor at the Bard College Conservatory of Music and former Green Party Alderman from New Haven's Ninth Ward. Read other articles by John, or visit John's website.

31 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Arch Stanton said on May 7th, 2008 at 12:22pm #

    “What this means for the sixty five percent of the population committed to ending the three trillion dollar genocidal fiasco is that whoever takes office will scale back and end U.S. occupation only under duress. He or she will need to be dragged kicking and screaming-by us.”

    What a bummer, eh? I guess “us” better hope that “radical” unionists and anarchists don’t get tired of being witch-hunted, gassed and shot, because there’s not too many left with the balls or ovaries to pick up “the ball” and try to run with it.

  2. bozhidar balkas said on May 7th, 2008 at 2:30pm #

    archie stanton.
    yes, i agree. if activists could get 50-100mn amers to hit the streets in protest to what the ruling class is doing, hundreds of activists may be jailed or mysteriously disappear, fall out the windows, or die in crashes.
    but activists, lucky for them, may gather about 50td protesters on any day.
    and, to make matters worse, there may be in US 5mn timothy mcveighs.
    all we can do is to educate people and thus build a massive movement; and pray; there may be god. thank u

  3. Giorgio said on May 7th, 2008 at 6:12pm #

    Dear Professor John Halle,
    With due respect to ALL your academic qualifications which you undoubtdely must have, and needn’t show me because I implicitly trust you have, you know what?
    After reading your impassioned rhetoric inclusive the references to those jerks like “Senator “120,000 new troops”, Senator “obliterate Iran” or Senator “hundred years war”,” YOU failed to even write ONE word about that other Senator “I’ll bring the troops home NOW!”

    You’ve got the ball right there at your feet but you TOO BLIND to see it, pick it up and run with it! OR is it that Senator Ron Paul (just in case you still missing my point, I must name him) IS NOT “Green” enough to your likings, as if a Label is more important than Substance.

    He’s having a march on Washington sometime in the middle of this year.
    For Christ’s sake! Support this Man and MARCH with HIM!!!

  4. hp said on May 7th, 2008 at 6:39pm #

    I’m sure Ron is pleased with his promotion, Giorgio.

  5. Giorgio said on May 7th, 2008 at 7:12pm #

    And I’m doing it for FREE! Unlike the zionist Elie Wiesel who does charge a fortune and does the tearful, sad eyes thing when giving a talk on the Holocaust…
    YOU guys, progressives, dissidents, liberals, greens and what have you, will rue the day for ignoring this Man. MARK MY WORDS!

  6. Richard Scott said on May 7th, 2008 at 9:06pm #

    I could support this idea provided there were a second approach included that would, starting now, boycott a mainstream product (company) and seek to grow the boycott in concert with the strike. The longer it takes to bring the troops home – the more serious we need to become to boycott a company – we can if necessary bring a company to its knees.

  7. Myles Hoenig said on May 8th, 2008 at 3:27am #

    Excellent idea but like the peace movement itself, too little and too late.
    Why May Day of 2009? I know organizing takes a lot of time but that’s something a movement does not have, except for the peace movement who thinks a weekly 5 year long sign waving campaign in anti-war communities will ‘send a message’.
    The day to shut down America is the day before Election Day, 2008! True, one of the pro-war candidates is going to win, but give him the message that first order of business is to end the war immediately or prepare impeachment, war crimes, or masssive street demos the 4th week of January, when he’s inaugurated.

    Myles Hoenig

  8. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 8th, 2008 at 6:26am #

    Why not Monday, May 12?

  9. Rich Griffin said on May 8th, 2008 at 8:35am #

    But how do we organize it? This is always the problem. The “leaders” are always people I will never follow, sorry, but I won’t follow crazies who have hidden agendas.

    I still say: pamphleteering! Somebody help me with the money and I will do it myself. I guess we’d actually have to trust each other. Don’t bash my idea; if you don’t like it, please offer something else that is doable.

  10. Rich Griffin said on May 8th, 2008 at 8:37am #

    One of the things the left has to give up is always maligning popular culture completely. There is good work being done and we need to support it. For example: why did “Body Of War” disappear so quickly? I bet most of you didn’t go and see it, and it was extraordinary! If you wait for things to be perfect, nothing ever gets done. People get tired, and turn on the t.v. – live with it!! And work with it!! There is too often snobby elitism that dooms us to failure.

  11. evie said on May 8th, 2008 at 8:41am #

    “…ILWU which effectively shut down all shipping on the West Coast…”

    They shut down for 8 hours, the day shift.

    Hmmm, what force, taking a day off work, from a group with such a “radical history”. (Montgomery boycott 1 year 16 days.) I would bet most of the profit loss by corporate America was recouped at the malls and movies on the same day as those “boycotting” radicals.

    As for the “left” website HuffPost – I used to lurk there but they seemed such a country club tennis sweater knotted around the shoulders club. I believe Huff supports Obama, real dissenting.

    Time and WSJ opinion page? One “radical” each? As we used to say in the ’60s and ’70s when there was one black – “they got theirs.” (Also known as a token.)

    Excuse my juvenile obsession with critiquing but, shit, I might as well join the Republicans since the “left”, excuse my language, are such big pussies, or maybe they’ve been crippled the last 30+ years with only one ball to pick up and run with.

  12. hp said on May 8th, 2008 at 10:43am #

    They always were annoying for their smugness alone.

  13. Giorgio said on May 8th, 2008 at 10:52am #

    “Excuse my juvenile obsession with critiquing but, shit, I might as well join the Republicans since the “left”, excuse my language, are such big pussies….”
    You said it evie ! Join the Republicans? NO! Support Ron Paul which quite a different thing!
    Why isn’t Ron Paul, if ever, not mentioned here? Is he a leper?

  14. evie said on May 8th, 2008 at 11:51am #

    Giorgio
    I looked at Ron “the 18th century” Paul in the 1980s when he ran on the platform of supporting term limits for congress. He forgot that almost as soon as he was sworn in.

    As a practicing OB/GYN Paul accepted no Medicaid. Was he against tax funded healthcare or just culling out the poor and minorities from his practice, or both?

    Paul is a throwback to another century. He would do no more for we the little people than will Obama, Clinton, or McCain. For god sake which oilmen in his Texas district do you think keeps the little weasel in DC?

    We need to make drastic changes to the political system – putting in a few new liars every few years does not harm the status quo.

  15. dan e said on May 8th, 2008 at 12:08pm #

    Why is nothing ever done? Because most people believe in one “savior” or another, buy one snowjob or another, and even if they don’t like what they see on the news, they’re too lazy to really keep up with what’s going on, much less do enough homework to begin to understand it.

    BTW, “senator” Paul IS a leper, didn’t you notice?

  16. Mike McNiven said on May 8th, 2008 at 12:48pm #

    Mr.Halle,

    It is only fair to ask for the closure of all the US bases anywhere outside of the US borders! The G-7 imperialism, backed by the US military, is ruinning this planet and its inhabitants day by day!

  17. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 8th, 2008 at 2:45pm #

    Evie. “one ball” — Jessie Jackson?

    I tried to engage Ron Jacobs, privately by email several weeks ago, over the issue of whether “the left” became increasingly irrelevant during and after the 1970′s because they failed to understand that the American public was simply not ready for anything at all resembling the social programs proposed in Socialist Revolution and Monthly Review, for example, and which in the early 1970′s everyone on the left seemed to be rushing into print with. Ron’s short answer was that Jessie and others during the late 1970′s and on into Reagan’s presidency DID articulate a radical alternative AND this was in response to a (still) widespread sympathy by Americans for left solutions. And he said in effect that he had better things to devote his writing to than an email debate with me.

    In my opinion Ron’s subsequent writing efforts have been excellent, and I don’t hold it against him that he treated my essay on what COULD appeal to the American public, ie, the pervasive and doctrinal secrecy defining the American political economy, exactly as it was treated by all the left publications I submitted it to in the 1970′s. Well no, not “exactly.” Ron at least replied. With a couple of exceptions, the left publications in the 1970′s just ignored me.

    The essay IS dated (as well as extremely prescient.) But regarding the argument that the American public WAS receptive to the complicated and tedious arguments about social policy put out by “the left”, especially in the 1970′s but even after Reagan?

    Excuse MY language — Sheeeeeit.

  18. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 8th, 2008 at 3:01pm #

    Oh, OKAY. evie. The “ball” of opposition to the War? So I take it you’re saying that for the last 30 years, there’s been War and opposition to it has been of no avail?

    Well, I couldn’t agree with Halle more: if Americans — including the left — can’t get Americns out of Iraq, there’s no hope for ANYthing else on any progressive’s or green’s agenda. (I suggested here at DV a long time ago that Congress should pass a law mandating ALL American’s to exit forthwith from the middle east for one year, at which time those who were expressly invited to return by a middle eastern government could return to that country. But I noted that the rest of the world would only interpret the law as a subterfuge preceding the Chipmunk’s nuking the entire area — except for Israel of course, who might nuke us back.)

    The war’s the thing. Even secrecy — which Tom Burghardt has been researching and reporting on remarkably well — is secondary.

  19. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 8th, 2008 at 3:48pm #

    My one, tiny point of disagreement with Halle is that I think if any of the three major-party candidates is elected, American forces will be in Iraq until the youngest American now alive is a grandparent.

  20. evie said on May 8th, 2008 at 4:29pm #

    Lloyd,

    You mean the Jesse who led MLK out to the balcony at the right time?

    Of course there has been war the last 30 years – few Americans troops were dying so the public continued on with their self-absorbed entertainment.

    Proxy wars, sanctions, etc – Columbia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Granada, Panama, Gulf War I, Kosovo, and a few dirty little wars in Africa, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Angola, etc. There was little to no opposition b/c Joe Blow didn’t connect the death to his gas tank.

    I have never seen “widespread” sympathy for “left solutions” in the US. I believe that is solely b/c those running the left have been and are phonies and/or addle-minded aging bombers like the Weathermen, or acid head Leary. Although I did like Abbie.

    “Left” leaders who are chosen by the people find their brains splattered on the podium. Today, everyone will have to act independently together.

    As for the secrecy thing – it’s not as secreted as everyone on the left seems to think, nor is it new. The truly secret you never hear about.

    I’m curious though, what do you think will happen politically, economically, and socially if and when the US withdraws troops from the Middle East?

  21. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 8th, 2008 at 5:22pm #

    Have you been up a long time today, evie? It GWOS (Goes Without Saying) about “war the last 30 years.” “Widespread” implies only “across a wide spectrum,” not “a substantial or large proportion.” I don’t think lefties are phonies any more than I believe that Rev JJ lead Rev MLK out to be assassinated. I think lefties have been gravely mis-informed, like everyone else in the Secret Society. Plus they thought of themselves way too much as sharing problems with blacks in America, which was originally an act of courage but became a stasis-inducing paranoia and predelection for words over action or just plain confusion and resignation.

    Of course secrecy is not new. But my argument in the 70′s — when “secrecy” was tantamount to “conspiracy” in the media, and no one wanted THAT cross to bear — was that the main features of the American political economy were defined by information differentials. The real problem with arguing that secrecy is highly relevant, however, is the one you mention, the operational one, “the truly secret you never hear about.” So true. And how can you base a rational argument on the absence of evidence? (A point that has nothing to do with secrecy’s actual roles or pervasivness.)

    I think almost as much shit will come down IN AMERICA if and when the US withdraws troops….etc….as will come down in America if the US doesn’t. But you and I have differed in posts to DV on this already, evie. I think it is fair to characterize our overseas warriors as persons whose identities are bound up with violence, and they will be the same violence-prone individuals when brought back — more or less involuntarily — from overseas. For the famous 30 years you refer to, we’ve been encouraging the immigration of the most successful (rich) and talented and industrious persons from countries drifting leftward, including Cuba, and only a small proportion of these persons had identities bound up with violence. Or better, identities bound up with having committed violence; many of them had suffered violence and attributed it to the forces of revolutionary change. Of course, once in America they’ve been perceived and treated as furreners, usually dark furreners, but talent and good training and affirmative action had its rewards. I’m not sure ethnic statistics are even available for our present-day warriors abroad, but my feeling is they are 80% or so white. They won’t be facing a furrener-problem or even a minority-problem; but most of them will not be so well-socialized and peaceable as your four children seem to be.

  22. Giorgio said on May 8th, 2008 at 6:22pm #

    evie, you say,
    “We need to make drastic changes to the political system …”

    Isn’t this precisely what Ron Paul is trying to do? Reverse the trend of empire building and interventionalism , restore civil liberties, smaller government, etc, ???
    OK, Sherry Wolf in her article “Why the Left should reject Ron Paul” besides labeling him a racist, says she does not buy his call for freedom, stating at the end:

    “When the likes of Paul shout: “We need freedom to choose!” we need to ask, “Yes, but freedom for whom?” Because the freedom to starve to death is the most dubious freedom of all.”

    This is a spurious rhetorical remark deserving any clear thinking person’s scorn and contempt as that other one bandied about just after the 9/11 WTC attack :
    THEY HATE US! They hate us! BECAUSE WE ARE FREEEEEE…

    After watching quite a few of his campaign videos, what he says, how he says it, and his general demeanour, my gut feeling is that here is a Man least likely to let a fellow man starve to death in his freedom…. OR worse, let men get killed in an immoral war…as the other presidential candidates are only too glad and hitching to do in the next 100 years, at least…

    Earlier Wolf even rants against any “opportunistic and repellent” Left-Right alliances, saying:

    “Even environmental activist and left-wing author Joshua Frank, who writes insightful and often scathing attacks on liberal Democrats’ capitulations to reactionary policies, recently penned an article citing-though not endorsing-Paul’s campaign in calling for leftist antiwar activists to reach out to form a sort of Left-Right antiwar alliance. He argues, “Whether we’re beer swilling rednecks from Knoxville or mushroom eatin’ hippies from Eugene, we need to come together,” (“Embracing a new antiwar movement”).

    So what’s wrong with that? Isn’t Politics the Art of Opportunism?
    When Donald Rumsfeld went to Iraq and smilingly pumped Saddam’s hand congratulating him for a job well done, killing Iranians like flies because it suited the US government AND then turned against him when he no longer was useful and became instead a nuisance, who winced then?
    So, do likewise with Ron Paul. Gang up with him to end the Iraq war. Once that is crossed out from the priority list, dump him and get, if you can, another more suitable champion for the next 2012 election. One who does not “advocate his noxious politics, his racism, immigrant bashing, and hostility to the values a genuine Left champions.” as she, Sherry Wolf, so charmingly puts it.

  23. evie said on May 8th, 2008 at 6:27pm #

    I still haven’t seen widespread you speak of, and I’ve lived and known a variety of places and people.

    “I think it is fair to characterize our overseas warriors as persons whose identities are bound up with violence, and they will be the same violence-prone individuals when brought back — more or less involuntarily — from overseas.”

    —So how do you explain the WWII warriors who returned from identities bound up in violence? I’ve several uncles who were WWII and their stories are horrendous but they returned home to become successful members of the community and raise families.

    —We have also encouraged and forced the migration of millions fleeing from countries who were bound up in violence, whether escaping it or perpetrating it. Here in Podunk lives a Salvadoran death squad member, and his extended family.

    We don’t need to look to returning troops to see not so well-socialized and violent behavior. Too many Americans are experiencing that in their own homes and ‘hoods regardless of their skin color or whether they ever wore a uniform. That “fear the returning troops” idea sounds like something from Whatreallyhappened.

  24. evie said on May 8th, 2008 at 6:34pm #

    Giorgio,
    I don’t believe Ron Paul. I don’t believe he would end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan – like term limits, he would claim his hands are tied, not enough support, it’s not the right time now that he has more information, etc. etc. etc.

    We need to boycott elections. Why keep playing in a rigged game.

  25. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 8th, 2008 at 8:44pm #

    Evie. I agree that war is devastating in one way or another to almost everyone who fights in one. I appreciate Paul Fussell as well as Dalton Trumbo, and I do not appreciate being preached to about the horrors of war. But WWII was very, very different from Iraq and Afghanistan. And if I have to explain to you how, I suggest that you watch the DVD “The Ground Truth” and we can forget about communicating further.

    I take it by “Salvadoran death squad member” you mean a right-wing killer in El Salvador in the 1980′s? If so, how would you say he and his extended family are “making it” in America?

    In any case, I really don’t understand whether you are simply trying to illustrate that all immigrants fleeing from leftward leaning countries to America were not rich or talented, etc, or you are denying the cumulative effect of adding hundreds of thousands of potentially repressive cops and related “security personnel” to the still growing numbers of these people already among us.

    Finally, I really wonder about your assertion that I “fear the returning troops.” Is that supposed to “emasculate” me? In fact, I said only that America would experience a lot of shit coming down because of returning warriors. (Not “troops”.) Where did I say I feared them?

    Maybe you should get some sleep and think more about my post in the morning.

  26. evie said on May 9th, 2008 at 4:33am #

    Lloyd
    Not trying to emasculate anyone. I think you imply the returning troops will become repressive cops and/or untended angry nutcases walking among us.

    The rightwing squad member and family are making it just fine as far as I know. Never sure what goes on behind closed doors.

    No attempt to “emasculate” you. Sorry you felt that way.

    I guess we should end the discussion. I have a hard time understanding people who use half-fact docudramas to shape their views. Rememer the first casualty of war (truth) applies to both sides.

  27. Gary Lapon said on May 9th, 2008 at 7:44am #

    evie,

    I wouldn’t underestimate the power of the dockworkers, or the cost of shutting down West Coast ports on May 1, even for 8 hours. The other side certainly doesn’t:

    http://brie.berkeley.edu/publications/ships%202002%20final.pdf

    In 2000, some $242 billion worth of goods went through West Coast ports, or about $663 million per day. So that one strike stopped the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars. There is more to it than that, though. A strike for even a few days longer could literally shut down major US industries, which depend on a steady stream of industrial inputs flowing through those ports. “Just-in-time” production has cut part inventories to next to nothing in many industries (like auto) in order to cut costs and raise money, so a strike at a single parts plant or at a transportation bottleneck (like the ports) and shut down the whole operation. Until someone figures out how to make a car without an axle, that is.

    Beyond that, the ILWU strike was not enought to end the war (obviously), but it did have an impact and it was an important step for the anti-war movement. Dockworkers in Iraq struck in solidarity with the ILWU. The movement that ended the Vietnam war became a major force in large part because Tet proved that the war was a struggle for national liberation, and many people began to see themselves as having more in common with the Vietnamese people than with their own ruling class. The anti-war movement isn’t at that point yet, but actions that express solidarity and cooperation between Iraqi and US workers are a step towards that.

    The US ruling class is set on controlling Middle East oil. The continuation of their global hegemony (which is currently slipped) depends on it. So they’re not going to give up easily. We need to make the cost of staying in Iraq (from their perspective) and Afghanistan greater than the cost of leaving. A general strike, which Halle suggests, in concert with the Iraqi resistance and GI resistance that threatens the breakdown of the US military as an effective fighting force might do that.

    But in my opinion we’re nowhere near the point where we can do that. To convince millions of people to go on a political strike, to risk the ability to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads, is no easy task. We have to convince them that we can win, that the strike will be successful. To do this, we need to be where people are at. The Internet is all well and good, but an email isn’t going to convince most people to go on strike. We need activists, rooted in workplaces, communities, and schools, discussing and debating with those around them. To do that, we need to build grassroots anti-war formations that have the political clarity necessary to build effective strategies for ending the war.

    Finally, I wouldn’t rule out protest. I think a big mistake a lot on the left are making is to say “X tactic doesn’t work so we need to try something else.” Of course, protest alone hasn’t ended the war, and never will. But I’ve met a lot of people who started organizing against the war because they went to a protest. Protests are a key place for anti-war organizations to meet new people and to grow. And we need larger organizations if we’re going to end the war. Also, it lets people who are anti-war know they’re not alone in that. Finally, it gives activists a boost of energy, from here to Iraq. We shouldn’t make principles out of tactics, nor should we discard them without attention to context. You can’t make a spark with flint or steel alone, but together…

    Professor Halle is on the right track in terms of the type of strategies it will take to end the war, but I think that rather than setting a date for a general strike we need to be building the grassroots formations that are necessary to effectively carry out such an action. We need to get more people involved in the planning process, rather than coming to them with a plan.

  28. evie said on May 9th, 2008 at 11:12am #

    Gary,
    Honestly, I feel the ’60s protestors take too much credit for “ending the war.” Vietnam ended b/c the ruling class was ready to end it. So will go the war in Iraq.

    I also believe there is and will be little active support, at grassroots or any level, for ending the war.

    The “left” does not want to shut down major industries and money for many reasons, not only would folks risk not feeding and sheltering their children, but those who are pro-war or ambilvalent will turn on those who would bring economic or political shut down. Civil chaos.

    Ending Vietnam did not make the US a better place – the ruling class has been politically, socially, and economically punishing Joe Blow ever since, and will continue to do so.

    Although I support ending war in Afghanistan and Iraq, it will be economically worse on Joe Blow, no matter how many voices claim those billions could and would be used at home – Joe knows they will not be spent to his benefit.

    Our family has been preparing for major turmoil since Bush was selected in December 2000. Image the lives saved had the “left” reacted forcefully to the maneuvering it took to install Boy Bush 8 years ago.

    Until and unless we change the corrupt capital-fascist political system the US operates under – there will be “anti-war movements” for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren…

    If you want to shut down anything – shut down D.C. and Wall Street.

  29. Mike McNiven said on May 9th, 2008 at 1:53pm #

    ” Until and unless we change the corrupt capital-fascist political system the US operates under – there will be “anti-war movements” for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren…”

    Thank you evie for saying it so clearly!

  30. evie said on May 10th, 2008 at 6:47am #

    Your welcome Mike.

  31. ashley said on May 10th, 2008 at 3:11pm #

    Let us assume for the sake of argument that the system is not going to be changed easily, let alone overnight and that therefore it is here to stay for a while. After all, it reflects the cumulative result of over two hundred years of nation-building. So it’s here.

    Let us assume that the most progressive of the establishment candidates, Obama, gets in and that he is basically as bad as you say, John. Fine.

    First: no Administration, even the most Right Wing one, will be able to continue the US Empire as such for much longer for the simple reason that the US is about to have a major financial implosion. The longer the campaign in the Middle East continues, the sooner this will happen. (So if McCain gets in, it will happen sooner.)

    Second: even though Obama is genuflecting and placing is lips on anatomically unmentionable parts of the odiferous Powers-that-Be Corpus, as a bi-racial, young, clearly optimistic and humanist individual, he would no doubt respond to concerted efforts such as the one you propose by using them as a license to inject a more decent, progressive thrust to the US body politic. In other words, he could use such protest as support providing it is offered in a constructive fashion.

    The President is sort of the link between the General Population and Executive Power with Congress in theory managing most of the main business in terms of controlling the decision about War, Budgets, Legislation and so forth. So if the People put forth concerted effort and deliver forceful messages to the President about where the country needs to be going, including for example closing 700 bases and so forth, such protest could provide a genuinely good President with the means to confront the corporatocracy established in Washington and actually begin to shift things.

    Back to Point One: no matter who is the President, which Party in power, or whatever happens, America is going to spend the next few decades dealing with no longer being #1, no longer controlling the world’s financial system. This is an absolute given no matter what insane, aggressive thing the US does or not. It will happen whether or not they dismantle the bases and whether or not we suddenly don’t need a drop of oil anymore.

    That said, the thrust of this article is correct: by confronting the underlying power structure, which is based in economics, change can be effected.