If the Feb. 19 rally to end the war in Ukraine fails it will not be a success for other antiwar organizations that disagree with the Libertarian Party. It will only show that internal divisions can unravel every hope.
By Diana Johnstone
Special to Consortium News
A bunch of people who disagree with each other on a lot of things have actually gotten together to organize a big antiwar rally in Washington next Sunday. I say, Bravo!
In a nation as divided as the United States is today, a large rally of people who agree with each other on everything is hardly imaginable.
A rally by people who disagree with each other gives hope that a movement to stop war can grow, and even shake the political system paralyzed by the military industrial congressional complex and confusion spread by its servile media.
Abroad, the United States has exploited deep political enmities to provoke a war in Ukraine intended to split Europe definitively, cutting Russia off totally from Germany and the EU, cementing permanent U.S. control of Western Europe.
This divisive policy is pursued in all sorts of sneaky ways that make it hard to uncover and explain. The war in Ukraine creates division between those who have understood what it’s all about and those who haven’t. A large movement is needed to spread discussion, understanding and opposition.
While supporting the war machine’s foreign policy of divide and rule, in recent years the American political class has also fostered internal divisions to an unprecedented extent — some of them real, some of them more or less artificial.
The degree of internal animosity echoes the international hatred fostered by U.S. President Joe Biden’s geopolitical mindset. WE are the GOOD (democracy), THEY are BAD (not communism any more, rather, “autocracy”).
At home, Democrats and Republicans, left and right are two different species, one species born good and the other bad. The bad are inherently bad, with a contagious badness, so we must not meet and try to persuade them. We must have nothing to do with them, and a political apartheid might be the solution. A sort of moral/political racism, creating total division between US and THEM reigns both at home and abroad.
In such an atmosphere, it is no wonder that the Feb. 19 rally “Rage Against the War Machine,” its organizers and its speakers, are being attacked for not being good enough.
Organizers & Speakers
The main announced organizers of the Rage rally are two relatively weak political organizations: the People’s Party and the Libertarian Party. Their weakness should be a positive signal. Inasmuch as neither has the strength to manage a really significant antiwar movement alone, these sponsors are voluntarily offering the movement as a gift to all who take it up. So grab it!
Inevitably, however, the rally itself is being attacked, even by some opponents of the current war, on grounds of the political deficiencies of the organizers.
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Could veteran activists be so petty as to be jealous that somebody else got there first? I hope not.
Veteran socialist and antiwar militant Jeff Mackler has strongly condemned the rally as “reactionary” mainly because it is backed by the Libertarian Party. Its success would be a defeat for all enemies of the capitalist system, he has claimed. At one point he observes:
“The Libertarians’ call for a return to a capitalist society where ‘free competition’ prevails is pure fantasy.”
For one thing, that policy has nothing to do with the demands of the rally. For another, if Libertarian Party socio-economic policies are indeed pure fantasy, totally inapplicable in today’s world, they are nothing to worry about.
Come to the rally, try to find a Libertarian and argue. Libertarians are against spending billions for war, this is a point of agreement that could start a fruitful discussion.
Leftist militants who believe a man can be transformed into a woman should have no trouble believing that a libertarian might be transformed into a socialist. Such miracles do occur.
Guilt by Association
Besides that, the presence of the People’s Party makes it clear that the Libertarians’ extreme free market policies are irrelevant to the rally.
The Libertarian Party quickly demonstrated its incapacity to lead the movement very far by its failure to support an important announced speaker against personal attacks — to the dismay, incidentally, of leading libertarians. But the bandwagon rolls on.
Some critics of the rally trot out a favorite cliché of the self-righteous left according to which we must stay away in order not to “legitimize” rightwing participants. This “legitimize” threat is merely the other side of the “guilt by association” coin. Both are used to evade discussion of serious matters by treating political convictions as if they were incurable contagious diseases.
It is perfectly childish to claim that anyone is “legitimized” (or guilty) by random association, such as participation in an antiwar demonstration.
The Feb. 19 speakers’ list is very long, perhaps even too long for the time allotted. But the point is precisely to show a range of viewpoints.
However much I may disagree with this one or that one on somethings, or even on everything else, I am glad to see them getting together to stop the rush toward World War III.
When the subject is WAR, if you can join in opposition only with people who agree with you about everything else, you have lost the sense of common humanity.
The organizers’ list is short, too short. It would be great to see ANSWER, Black Alliance for Peace, Code Pink and other longstanding antiwar organizations involved. No single one of them is strong enough to build a major mass movement alone — at least, so far, none of them have proposed anything as promising as Feb. 19.
The failure of Feb. 19 would not be their success. It would be a failure for all who oppose the war, showing that internal divisions can unravel every hope.
The rally is open. Everyone can share its success by crashing the party, arousing their supporters and friends, turning the rally into the broad, wide-open mass movement that can really begin to challenge the war machine. The need for peace is nobody’s private property.
Wherever you see popular resistance to war begin to come to life, go to it and make it belong to everybody.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her latest book is Circle in the Darkness: Memoirs of a World Watcher (Clarity Press). The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness, was published by Clarity Press, with her commentary. She can be reached at [email protected] .
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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Outta the Gate, “A bunch of people who disagree with each other on a lot of things have actually gotten together to organize a big antiwar rally in Washington next Sunday. I say, Bravo!”
!!! Copy That….“B R A V I S S I M O, Diana Johnstone!!!” Absolutely, ‘For the benefit of the flowers, water the thorns, too!’
A “Cold War” mentality partnering w/senility has brought the World, to the brink of World War Three. Protest & Survive!
Diana, I commend you!
When our tool is rage to protest the raging war machine, I’m left thinking we for peace shall remain divided and weak for we can never rage ourselves to peace. This ought to be obvious since we know we cannot kill our way to peace despite the uni-war-party insistence that we can. We know the dismal failure of such mindsets. “Lift up your voice and sing ’till earth and heaven ring!” If MKL taught us anything (and I’m not sure the prophet’s words have ever sunk in), it is that love is the only way out of hate.
Maybe having armies, and a navy and rockets and all sorts of killer things—maybe that is the issue.
What if there were no armies? What if each nation had a defender—just one—and that was it. When ever nations lost their minds—the WAR would begin. A one on one until one was done and one was left standing—-the winner.
Until , of course there was another lack of sanity —and the game was played again. A war where one lost and one won and nations had to go along until there was a new ridiculous anger—- and a one on one began again.
Yes, that would be very tiring—but how much of the planet would be growing in health—as bombs and munitions are unhealthy for all living things and impossible for any planet’s future.
God bless those able and willing to participate in this rally, but it has become clear to me that Ritter is right, that only the global fallout from a conventional and decisive Russian victory could possibly curb insane American imperialism and avert nuclear war. Relentless R2P propaganda, as Diana explains in her latest book, has successfully perverted even the most noble instincts of the Western masses. Thus have we here been stripped of the capacity to save ourselves, while simultaneously being set at each other’s throats.
Concisely and accurately put, Newton Finn.
Nevertheless, attempts to achieve that outcome without multiple trillions worth of resources is a cause worth trying. Yes, libertarians would prefer to use it for tax cuts, ecologist for energy transitions, others would think about, say, re-industrialization and return of well paying jobs for people who are neither highly educated nor very lucky, but all those people may agree that avoiding the waste of resources (including human lives, already in hundred thousands) is a huge and noble cause.
In fact, the more docile the population at large is in accepting diminished material situation in the name of war, “solidarity” etc., the more remote any solution is. In the long run, we are all dead, but we should rather delay it.
US “endless war” is a euphemism for what it really is: US taxpayer enslavement to the weapons industry since WWII. In response to complaint about US sending $100+ billion to Ukraine, Ollie North recently said, not to worry, most of that money stays right here in the US, is given to weapons makers and related businesses, and provides jobs for Americans.
In the run up to the phony George W’s Iraq war, I never missed being in attendance at the many ant-war demonstrations in SF. . Even did volunteer work with the ANSWER people, many of whom were politically much further left than I cared to go. Frankly, that made me both suspicious and somewhat uncomfrtable, but I soon realized they were just as seious as I was about trying to prevent our country from the self destruction of a God awful war. How could I not respect and cooperate with them for that.
Of course we failed in what we were trying to accomplish, so I suppose I could say it was a complete waste of time and effort. But I don’t feel that way at all. Actually, even though we were on the loosing side, I will never forget, nor regret, that we gave our all for a worthy cause, and, as everyone now knows, George W and his crowd were the real loosers writ large.
This is a discussion that has been going on among feminists for quite some time. The purists — those who can afford to be pure — don’t want left-wing feminists aligning with conservative women against the erasure of women and their rights. Those who cannot afford to be pure are perfectly willing to forge commonality with women they do not agree with on other issues. I voted Republican for the first time in my life because the woman running for the state senate seat (she lost) knows what a woman is and proposed a bill in the legislature (as a representative) to protect girls’ and women’s sports, for which she was called evil. I don’t agree with her on much else, but I certainly wanted to vote against the goddamn Democrat who told me how homophobic he was in high school and who now enthusiastically supports transgenderism (eugenics for gay men and lesbians). New homophobia same as the old homophobia.
I would recommend that a brief, but unvarnished history of how we got here be required reading for those of us who have protested war – endless war.
The one book I’d recommend is John Zeren’s “A People’s History of Civilization”. This rodeo has been going around for over 5,000 years. The battles against the “machine” have surged on and off, sometimes lasting decades. The trajectory and the elite in charge are always the same in ultimately remain in power.
Warning: Zeren is against civilization as it has been at the root of all of this. The pacification of the masses has been it’s aim. In his essay, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude” Étienne de La Boétie sets the stage for understanding why.
It’s time we begin to understand what we’re up against, it’s a system of power that grips the so-called world order. They’ve demonstrated they have the means to nullify such protests and frequently incite them through infiltration. The system is persistent. Protests come and go.
I’d love the peace rally to succeed. However and unfortunately, the vast majority of people I know actually support an expanding war against Russia. And these are people who in the past were usually and strongly anti-war but now think and believe it is the only way to protect freedom as they understand it — regardless of the end cost. Even if the peace rally somehow gathers thousands of supporter, it will still only represent a tiny minority with the rest having fallen into the pro-war group. I hope I am wrong. Sunday may prove me wrong, but I sincerely doubt it.
” majority of people support the war in Ukraine” I don’t think so. There is a disorganization from the left organizations for many reasons. For instance Covid 19 inflicting a great impact in our political-civil life and have been disconnected or spread our efforts. But there is clear cut about be against or in favor of proxy war. I do not care what kind of left your are, but all left and progressive should be very conscious about reject a new proxy imperialist war. Otherwise, you do not deserve be considered left even progressive person. We should reject and refuse all imperialist wars, and there is not space to justify a arm race, mobilizing the economy toward wars, and increases military budget at all. We need to be clear, Russia intervention to defend and protect from Nazi government of Ukraine, and from NATO USA full spectrum dominance, and to stop the genocides against Russia majority population in Donbas and Luhanks.
I completely disagree with this point of view. Collaboration with the Libertarians is like Biden calling the fascist Republicans his “colleagues”, when they are nothing of the kind.
Carolyn, you seem to undermine your case severely by not seeing that the war machine parties are indeed not only colleagues but kindred spirits to the core.
Au contraire, “as former POTUS Ohbama w/Joey Biden by his side, explained with remarkable clarity when Trump was elected, the relationship between these parties is like a relay race. They hand off the baton to one another because, in Obama’s own words, “ultimately, we’re all on the same team.”
The Commander N $peech, OhBama, “representative of the ruling class neglected to add the name of the team: CAPITAL.” And, OhBama, “didn’t mention that he had run a particularly good leg of the race by preparing the way for DJTRUMP.” (El Capitalismo es El Viruz).
It will fail, not because of refusal to cooperate with literal fascists and bigots, but because true leftists and true anti-war activists know you cannot hope to stop a war by putting on performative rallies featuring pro-war speakers whose records and actions in office belie their supposed anti-war rhetoric.
Heck yeah! And also, because they have put together many, many, some large antiwar demos with the United National Antiwar Coalition.
You are blaming the people who were not invited to the event for not participating? You blame the people who were not invited to the event for criticizing the event? The term Latte Leftist certainly applies here.
Perhaps when you step back and understand that this not a serious anti-war movement, you will understand why people criticized the event and then perhaps you will build a real anti-war movement.
I think we have a real anti war movement despite of the division and different approach toward militance leftist movement. Financially the antiwar and other revolutionaries’ organizations are suffering financial problems which preclude develop strong militance as should be. One thing is the real problem that our force and efforts are been spread and disconnected and suffering a extensive decentralization from the chain of command.
Dear me, perhaps my first reply to you was just a tad too blunt to pass ‘moderation’ so I’ll give it another shot.
It’s amusing to watch leftier than thou twits pose and puff about ‘Latte Leftists’ who don’t kneel before their prescription for what constitutes true lefty behavior. Almost territorial in nature, that. I doubt that everyone who will attend the event will have received a personal invitation, though had people like you stepped up to the plate and helped organize the rally (as the People’s Party did) you likely would have had some say in who got invited to speak.
Who was “not invited to the event”? The Web site for it calls on everyone to come…
You have to be invited to speak. Everyone can attend.
Diana Johnstone is an inspiration, as always. Her main point – THE ONLY POINT – hits home very deeply.
Alas, for the last three weeks and for the foreseeable future I’m now tethered to an oxygen machine and won’t be going to DC. I was there during the last big protest before the illegal invasion of Iraq. 600K was the estimate. And I wrote letters to my local newspaper as often as they would print them, made myself a real pain in the ass to any and all who would listen about the lies being told then and the horrible consequences that were about to (and did) follow.
Today I recognize in myself one of those straining against the weight of partisan baggage trying to drag me under. I hear about GOP members of Congress lining up in opposition to more funding or support for the Ukraine killing fields, and I do and say nothing to support them. Indeed, it has become difficult to believe them on this or any other issue or matter. It just seems that whatever opposes their political opponents in this moment is a good thing – until their own embrace the same behavior or positions. All is 24/7 hypocrisy leading to dysfunction. But see, there I go again…
And of course the left/right, D/R, blue/red animosity is carefully and constantly monitored and nurtured. Perish the thought that we should, might, could come together in such a way as to make them shit their pants.
Twenty years ago today (Feb 15) the UK saw its biggest ever public protest when 2 million marched in London against the Iraq war (plus many local protests).
It didn’t change anything, of course – Tony Blair led the UK into Iraq on the back of lies and fabrications anyway, for which he has never been called to answer for, and he goes on his merry way, adding to his multi-million fortune.
Or perhaps some things did change : such as the forming of the Stop The War Coalition, one of the founders of which was Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn. It was probably momentum from the anti-war sentiments that helped Corbyn to the position of Labour leader a few years later…. of course, we all know how that ended, as the Esthablishment made sure that he was discredited and replaced with a suitable puppet in the shape of Blairite Sir Kier Starmer.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not…) news reports today state that Starmer “has unequivocally said Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election.” This ought to be the cue for Corbyn to announce a new party of the left – given that over 200,000 Labour party members have left since Starmer took over, the potential is there. But will he ? I suspect not.
However, back to protests – what I’d say is that, even if they don’t change much at a national level, they are very valuable at a personal level : they confirm that you are not alone, that others think like you.
For that reason alone, they’re worth attending.
“Tony Blair led the UK into Iraq on the back of lies and fabrications”
And in 2007 he was made “peace envoy” to the Middle East. What a bloody joke.
Shame about Jeremy Corbyn though.
oh, and it’s Sir Tony Blair, to you and I, let’s not forget that!
Mass demonstrations alone will not change the course of history — but I have it on good authority that these were not without effect on international politics: some of the Third World countries which were non-permanent members of the Security Council at the time were going to vote in favor of the US/UK resolution, because of bribery and pressure. But after millions took to the streets in many parts of the world, their governments got cold feet, and instructed their delegates to vote against it. Otherwise, there would have been a majority vote in favor in the Security Council, giving official blessing to the invasion.
Hatred of Trump, who at least verbally attacked the war machine and the Intelligence Agencies, and was impeached over the corrupt US Puppet state Ukraine, means that the vast majority of Democrats are pro War, pro Police State and Pro corruption in Ukraine — anything opposite of Trump. Until Trump fades away, there will be no consolidated Peace Movement.
Medea Benjamin endorsed Biden. 92% of Blacks voted for Biden. It doesn’t matter that he is a Warmonger. He is their Man and can do no wrong.
Wonder if State Media will even cover the rally?
On average, Democrats do seem to make better sheep for the party and media establishments to herd than Republicans do, though enough of them did have their eyes sufficiently open to elect Trump in 2016. Had he had better political sense he could have won again in 2020: Biden was no bargain.
If I’ve learned anything the last few years, it’s that I have more in common with Libertarians and even some Trumpers than most so-called left leaning Democrats. If we join together on important matters like illegal wars, we should be able to find common ground on others. We will learn (again) that there are more of us than there are of them!
As if it’s something on the plus side, you say Trump “at least verbally attacked the war machine and the Intelligence Agencies.” “At least?” An elected official should be impeached if he’s all talk and no action or says one thing and does another, ie, “tweet, cave, repeat.” Trump was a more vicious neocon than McCain. In 2017 he ordered a shipment of javelins to Ukraine to kill Russians–which even Obama wouldn’t do. A week after his Jan. 2017 inauguration, Trump sent tanks and other weapons to the Estonia-Russia border “to reassure NATO.” He won in 2016 by unconditionally promising a wall on day 1, by advocating normalization of relations with Russia, and generally reducing US foreign aggression. Then he did the opposite starting with making Soros business partner Jared de facto pres. Jared also ran 100% of Trump’s 2020 campaign, runs the lucrative Trump/Kushner family political profit centers, and staffs them with open borders globalists like himself. In 2017 Trump dropped 60,000 bombs per Pentagon Air Power summary. His recent headlines include calling Putin is a ‘crime against humanity’ and bragging that he stopped Putin by telling he’d bomb those pretty turets in Moscow Square. Trump forgets to mention that in Aug. 2017 the House and Senate removed all Russia decisions from him and assigned them to the Senate, thus humiliating him in front of the whole world and making it clear that he was utterly powerless. It also made clear that voters were powerless, that their vote for a supposed anti-war candidate could easily be nullified.
Medea Benjamin endorsed Biden to make a point of NOT endorsing Trump. She criticizes the ass-kisser to the war machine quite frequently.
“Hatred of Trump,”….Not so much as Never f/Ever being able to forgive DJTrump for NOT Giving Julian Assange, FREEDOM. To be prosperous & happy. The right to Live FREE!!!
“We, the People,” we’re convinced, “Justice For Julian” was hours away. We, “The Universe” waited, all night “Buhlieving” DJTrump was gonna “Make It Rain!!!” Au contraire, the following morning, DJTrump plunged his ice cold, razor sharp, dagger deep into the middle “our” heart. Making “HATE” his deliverable.
JULIAN ASSANGE was NOT on DJTrump’s List of Persons “Pardoned.”
Confirming, “Some humans ain’t human, though they walk like we do. They live and they breathe, just to turn the old screw. They screw you when you’re sleeping. They try to screw you blind. Some humans ain’t human. Some people ain’t kind.’ (John Prine-Album, “Fair & Square”)
Yes, right on the mark clearly stated, as usual;. I’ve been pestering Medea Benjamin of Code Pink on Twitter to come and bring her people…….same old battles as in the 60’s-70’s. So much energy expended just trying to get people who agree on a particular issue to work together to solve that problem.
So now we wait and see. Thanks so much for your brilliant writings,.
“To come and bring her people” …. If you spent less time on Twitter, you might know she is a featured speaker!
I’ve long believed that populists trapped in the Democratic Party, and populists trapped in the GOP have more in common than that which divides them, including antipathy towards polarization, calumny and ridicule instead of facts and logic in political discourse, and a longing for civility and empathy. The populists of whom I write are not the woke, cancel culture, virtue signaling babies of all ages that currently control the Democratic Party, or the racists, misogynists and xenophobes who inhabit tiny fringes of the GOP. They are those disillusioned followers of Bernie Sanders, who betrayed them, and of Tulsi Gabbard and of Dennis Kucinich and of Jim Webb as well as antiwar members of the Green and other minor political parties on the left (minor only because the corporate media keeps it that way). And on the right, followers of Rand Paul, of the Tea Party wing of the GOP, of the Libertarian Party and of other compatible “minor” parties. If they were able to join electoral forces most of the world’s problems would be dealt with. Perhaps with Tulsi Gabbard as a presidential candidate but also, with a plethora of candidates vying for every single congressional seat. Something to consider if you fit the mold.
When Tulsi Gabbard drags her net into the treacherous reef-strewn shallows of the Fundamentalist right, she. especially as a multi-millionaire practicing(?) Hindu, who Army Reserve duty is in propaganda warfare, is going to find that carefully woven net full of holes.
Tulsi Gabbard is very appealing, but her recent attempts at inclusiveness do not serve her well. One hopes that elusive
and essential goal can be achieved with appeals to goals in common rather than appeals to what is divisive to commonality.
Let’s all pretend we’re happy, risking a nuclear war,
Nuking a new Hiroshima like Truman did before.
Why are those nukes all out there? Why were they never banned?
Let’s all pretend the world won’t end when nuclear weapons land.
Let’s all pretend we’re happy, grateful for what they do–
Wasting our lucre on the nuke and not the poor or you.
Let’s all pretend the Chinese want to bomb our hometown.
Let’s all pretend the world won’t end when Uncle Sam’s bomb goes down.
Nine nuclear countries now, so bring on Armageddon.
When we k’pow Moscow, we’re all gonna be dead an’
Then we’ll pretend we’re happy, watching our children die,
Their little faces all lit up by fireworks in the sky.
Maybe they’ll all forgive us (doubt it).
Maybe they’ll understand (don’t think so)–
Why we stood by and let them die–
Why didn’t we DEMAND
Governments scrap those bombs and zap
Every bomb-making gang?
It’s up to us to start a buzz–
#Don’t let the world go hang!
Get on the streets–send Biden tweets–
Never bomb Pyongyang.
India, China, get in line,
Britain and France, “Give Peace a Chance,”
Yoko and Lennon sang.
If not, my friend, you can depend
All human life on Earth will end
In avoidable nuclear bang.
Great poem George. Here’s mine in response:
Who in the end will be happy?,
Who will cry with joy?
No-one left to comfort the bereft
Another disastrous ploy.
All the creatures great and small
Will perish, as we, too
All the oceans, rivers and seas
Turn yellow instead of blue.
We hope the protests around the world
Will not fall on deaf ears
Whilst the people march and shout out loud
Their concerns and valid fears.
Thanks, Valerie. Love the poem.
It’s extremely hard to make big PROFITS using PEACE! Degenerate uman animals are unable to exist in PEACE. This seems quite obvious to me…
The wisdom and insights of Diana Johnstone are always a breath of fresh air.
I live in Canada which is a propaganda ghetto and you would hardly know the world is in a major crisis. We are a colonized country where our politicians are Washington flunkies and the media is bought and paid for. While we mind our manners as the ultimate apologists for America’s wanton belligerence the world goes to hell in a handcart.
I blog for world peace and the new world order but he ghetto has very high thick walls.
Great to have multiple disparate speakers. Missing is any sense of how the points and threads made will be woven togther. Passing patterns? What is the social fabric that needs to be untorn? How can the pattern be rendered visible and communicable? Or is everyone saying the same thing — no pattern? See multi-option technical facilitation for public debate (hxxps://bit.ly/3YPuqa5)
What the Libertarians and especially the Mises crowd fail to acknowledge is that capitalism does not equal free markets.
When the medium that enables markets is privately held, we are all tenant farmers (serfs) to the banks (feudal lords).
Capitalism and free markets are not synonymous.
That said, I’m all for oppositional groups teaming up for things as important as preventing the nuclear annihilation of all mankind.
Thank you Diana, very clearly stated and to the point.
Refusing to respect and communicate with those with whom we have disagreements is precisely what leads to war. To refuse to make common cause when we have a critically important area of agreement because of other areas of disagreement is carrying the war mentality to heights folly!
This is a major test of what is really important to us!
Thank you Diana, very clearly stated and to the point.
Refusing to respect and communicate with those with whom we have disagreements is precisely what leads to war. To refuse to make common cause with when we have a critically important area of agreement because of other areas of disagreement is carrying the war mentality to heights folly!
This is a major test of what is really important to us!
We spent the past quarter-century talking about the need to repair those deep divisions among those not on the right wing in a desperate attempt to keep us from reaching this point. Now what? If a million people marched on DC, do you seriously think those in power will reconsider? Did you imagine at any point since Biden took office that there was even the slightest interest in “what the people think?”
It doesn’t matter if they pretend not to care about large numbers of citizens out in the streets against their wars – they do care. They have to. I was an organizer against the war in Vietnam in the 60’s and 70;’s (and civil rights, women’s liberation, environment, etc., etc.), as was Diana Johnstone, now an international activist/writer/influencer (to use a “today” word).
Anyone against the war who criticizes this demonstration because they don’t like some of the organizers is just making an excuse to do nothing at all.
Did you organize a demonstration against the war? What have you done so far to stop this war>? It took us years to get to massive sized demonstrations in D.C. and San Fran as we struggled on year after year building the antiwar movement – and we did get them out of Vietnam and Cambodia. History books do not give the American people credit, but it was, indeed, that we were out in the streets by the millions that finally made them give it up.
Definitely in support of this action. It could be a trigger for organizing against the war, NATO, etc. That said….
I have recently rethought the role/importance of mass demonstrations of public opinion in opposition to something the rulers care alot about or are deeply invested in.
Item: mass demonstrations for clemency for Sacco and Vanzetti. Got a big FU from the state.
Item: Ditto for the Rosenbergs. I believe even the Pope pleaded for their lives. Same FU from the state.
As to the Vietnam war: by the end of LBJ’s presidency there were regularly massive demos against it, reflecting major public opinion. The war went on for another 4 years. Why? And exactly WHY did the US finally withdraw? I have come to believe that public opinion played a role, even a major role, in that decision. BUT NOT THE DECISIVE ROLE.
That, I believe, was the breakdown of “morale” in the Army. Fragging was becoming routine and we now know that it was largely racial: mostly black “grunts” were fed up with being ordered to their possible deaths (by mostly young priviledged white officers) defending someone else’s democracy when they had almost none of their own at home. The anti-war messages of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and MLK among others, along with the consciousness of the black struggle overall was hitting home. Also: active-duty GIs were marching IN UNIFORM against the war. Vietnam Vets against the War (VVAW). Anti-war coffeehouses around military bases even in the South and Southwest. Desertions. Draft card burnings. Draft evasion to the point of youth fleeing the country.
The Army was on the road to rebellion and who knew there THAT might lead???
I think that this breakdown of “discipline” both within and without the Army was what convinced the rulers that continuing the war was becoming too dangerous and had to end.
Had it not been for that, I believe we’d STILL be in Vietnam. Public opinion By Itself? Nah.
Your are right that the growing unreliability of the army was decisive, but why counterpose it to the mass demonstrations? The two reinforced each other. The folks maintaining the coffee houses were the same ones organizing the marches. “Public opinion” means the opinions of the family members of soldiers, and so on.
You are confusing “public opinion” with how people answer public-opinion polls, and the like. Truly-held “opinions” will lead lesser or greater actions. And there lots of those during the Vietnam war, on the home front as well in the military. And mass demonstrations are a necessary first step, but certainly not enough, as the Iraq war showed.
Did Jeff Macklar and other leaders within the United National Antiwar Coalition ever organize any antiwar demos? Uh, yes they have. Much bigger ones than the one in DC will be. Good grief, have YOU ever been to an antiwar demo in the past 20 years? More than any other group, they have organized the most antiwar demos.
No I don’t – but they do give a damn for how they vote – so that is the task at hand, to heal the breach enough to vote both war parties out of office
Millions of people have marched before and “nothing has fundamentally changed” – this march may be a test, to see if folks of different stripes can get together – it is a good thing to see them all in one place, but that should be just the beginning – the hard work lies ahead – can we unite under a common identity as human beings to form a Gov’t that actually gives a damn about us, all of us …
Never attended a demonstration in my life. But if we have one her in France, I may attend.
James, I hope you decide to go. Just stand on the periphery, no need to chant or hold a banner – plenty of others will do that. What the anti-war movement needs is numbers and we can all do our bit on that. And take a friend (or two).
Hey, I’m in France too, and though I’m 76 I’d definitely go. Notice that a big event is being planned in London, and that hundreds of thousands of Germans are signing a petition against the current EU leadership and its clear loyalty to NATO/US. France is distracted by the social movement right now, but once people see that it’s all related, they’ll start thinking about how Europe’s fate is in the hands of the warmongers. And maybe they’ll be ready to put on the Yellow Vest.
In my experience, people who are sincere about achieving an objective worry less about the motives of anyone participating in an action and worry more about uniting people around an issue to foment change. The reactions of those quoted by the wonderful Ms. Johnstone in her article show us they are more partisans than concerned citizens who want to make a difference. Bravo for this article!
“….Veteran socialist and antiwar militant Jeff Mackler has strongly condemned the rally as “reactionary” mainly because it is backed by the Libertarian Party. Its success would be a defeat for all enemies of the capitalist system, he has claimed. At one point he observes:
“The Libertarians’ call for a return to a capitalist society where ‘free competition’ prevails is pure fantasy.”
For one thing, that policy has nothing to do with the demands of the rally. …”
Thank you so much Ms. Johnstone for this fantastic article.
Never having heard of Jeff Mackler, I am not in the least interested in his condemnation. Political purity is for the armchair academics and does not serve actual people.
“Political purity is for the armchair academics and does not serve actual people.”
One of the best sentences I’ve read all week.
Thanks for your commentary. I have my bus ticket to DC and my sign. “Shut down the empire. Rebuild the homeland.”
I like your sign.
Most of all, I appreciate Diana Johnstone’s article. Americans in America do not appreciate the realities of geopolitics such as US incited wars of which we’ve had aplenty under Mr Biden in the name of “regime change”. They started in 2014 and he won’t stop until defeated. Blowing up something as important to major parts of Europe was a dangerous and foolish move of great importance. Biden will now seek revenge for that. It is an economic war now, as bloody or maybe more so than the Ukraine.
Why wasn’t the Forward Party brought into this Sunday event? They are becoming large, organized and surely anti-war.
Seek revenge for what?
I think he means the sabotage of the NordStream2 pipeline and the recent revelation that the US did it. Biden will want revenge for the revelation, is what I assume he means. One form that would take is making sure that none of his supporters go anywhere near this demonstration. But what do I know?
“Blowing up something as important to major parts of Europe was a dangerous and foolish move of great importance. Biden will now seek revenge for that.”
Huh?? It was Biden who authorized that act of sabotage (and terrorism, according to the official definition here in NATOland). So “revenge” would be if he committed suicide.
Excellent of you to take action and attend the protest!
I like the “Shut down the empire.” Strike the “Rebuild the homeland” What homeland are you rebuilding? The homeland that has always been a white supremacist warmongering colonizing empire? The two statements contradict one another. How about, Build a New Homeland? A homeland that genuinely embraces the ideals espoused (never enacted in law, custom, or practice) in our Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by right of birth with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (re-worded to honor all people and spiritual traditions)
Keep in mind that part of the problem is that the homeland citizens of that colonizing empire have been in ignorance (if wilful) of its true nature and of the fact that it is in contradiction with those founding principles. Also keep in mind that the violence of empire must eventually be turned towards the homeland as well, as we learn from Chalmers Jouhnson’s _Nemesis_, and that once US citizens begin to feel it they will begin to understand the true nature of the empire they have passively supported until now.