By Cindy Sheehan
I would say that I belong to the classification of “protester.”
For the last seven years I have protested war, violence, injustice and economic oppression all over the world. I have been arrested about 17 times and I even ran for Congress in 2008 against a warmonger. I have camped and had camps from Crawford, Texas to Washington, DC during the current and previous US regimes. I have protested with a few people to several hundred thousands. Is there peace, yet?
No, and why? Even though I have been a mega-protester for the last seven years, I have met people who have been doing this for the last seven decades and have been arrested dozens of times.
The only thing that has changed from all this protest is that the US is in more wars and killing more people than since WWII. Our enemies have changed also: the US used to fight countries, since the Cold War we have been fighting ideologies. What a brilliant move by the war establishment! Besides our alleged “enemies,” who is anti-freedom, anti-democracy, anti-“The American Way?” It’s a cynical, yet effective move to keep this One Nation Under Surveillance in perpetual war for perpetual profit.
No matter how we in the peace and justice movements do protest, we will always be ineffective (in spite of “winning” small battles occasionally) for a few reasons:
We don’t have the monetary resources of the War/Political Machine.
No matter how effective alternative media is becoming, we don’t have the unlimited propaganda tools the War/Political Machine have.
We don’t have, and seemingly will never have, the one thing that would help overcome the other obstacles to our success: Unity.
Why can’t we in these movements put aside egos and share mailing lists and resources to become more effective?
Based on a statistical study by two University professors, Michael Heaney of the University of Michigan and Fabio Rojas of the University of Indiana, the antiwar movement lost many activists when Obama became president—because most of the antiwar movement was composed of people who affiliate and identify with the Democratic Party. I didn’t need a study to show me this—I have seen the affects since the Democrats took control of the House of Reps in 2006. But based on surveys done at rallies since January of 2009, Heaney and Rojas found: After Obama’s election as president, Democratic participation in antiwar activities plunged, falling from 37 percent in January 2009 to a low of 19 percent in November 2009. And attendance at the March 20, 2010 rally (the last one I attended) in DC was even more poorly attended!
The organizations that have/had the largest mailing lists were merely anti-Bush and not antiwar.
Now, there is a new coalition that is calling people to DC in October to do exactly what my organization, Peace of the Action, called for in 2010: “throwing our bodies on the gears” of the machine. I hope this group is successful, but what happens if they are? What happens if their protests do collapse the US Empire? What will the structure of a new government look like?
The word “Revolution” is lightly tossed around these days, from the Chevy Revolution to IHOP’s Pancake Revolution, and what happened in Egypt earlier this year was no “revolution” except in that very same marketing sense.
Hundreds of thousands of good people gathered in Tahrir (Freedom) Square in Egypt demanding an end to the Mubarek dictatorship, and all they really achieved, for all their dedication and sacrifice, was a transfer of the same crap onto a military dictatorship. Little has changed in Egypt—in fact, a recent report says that the Military Council outlawed protesting, over 7000 activists have been arrested and the military admitted to giving female protesters “virginity tests.” That’s decidedly not a revolution; in fact, it sounds a lot like the farce the US participates in every four years without the bloodshed.
Another recent victory for the (what I call) Robber Class (both political parties, wealthy, corporate media, Wall Street, bankers, the Military Industrial Complex) came in Madison, Wisconsin—again, tens of thousands of good people flocked to Madison to oppose Republican governor Scott Walker and his regime’s attacks against worker’s rights to organize. The Democrats and their lapdogs in labor and social movements co-opted that energy and Scott Walker got everything he wanted, and instead of campaigns to recall union leadership for, once again, caving into The Boss, Wisconsin activists have launched a recall campaign against the Republicans (and one Democrat).
We the people can’t seem to get it together because most of us refuse to see that neither political party is our “friend.” Instead of nurturing movements that may actually have some positive grassroots change, both parties sneak into the middle of the action to either co-opt the corruptible or kill what can’t be bought.
Another reason we cannot unite is because we have allowed the Robber Class to strategically “divide and conquer” us like it has done so effectively in places such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq and is now trying to do in Libya. We down here in the Robbed Class fight about peripheral issues and while we are squabbling, the Robber Class is literally stealing us blind.
My organization Peace of the Action supports all actions, including the one in DC in October, that have good demands that we agree with—but we believe that our effort: Re-Creating Revolutionary Communities (RevComs) to take back local control of our resources, economy, environment, food and clean-energy production, co-operatives, politics, education, etc, is the only long-term strategy we have left to us for basic survival.
To jump start this effort, several of us are beginning a RevCom tour of Oregon and California beginning on August 17th—for more information, please click the link below, or email: