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Human Rights in Ireland >>
15.02.03 What was all that about then? The Rise & Demise of the Anti-War Movement!Where to Now Then?
anti-war / imperialism |
Friday February 15, 2008 09:56 by Ciaron O'Reilly - Pitstop Ploughshares/ Catholic Worker London, England
It's five years on since millions marched against the invasion of Iraq.
Today, the war escalates in Iraq & Afghanistan and expands into Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, northern Pakistan and maybe soon Iran. Irish complicity is as deep as ever as Shannon Airport remains the major pitstop for U.S. troops getting from North America to the theatres of war.
The once anti-war Green Party has morphed into an Irish government betraying Irish neutrality and facilitating U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile the anti-war movement that was taken for a ride by the mainstream opposition parties, the authorirtarian left and moderate NGO's has all but disappeared from the streets.
On Feb 15th. 03 I was sharing a Limerick prison cell with a young seminarian, Damien Moran, where we watching the Sky live feed from London of 1-2 million folks marching in the streets aginst the war. Meanwhile 150,000+ were marching in Ireland. Our co-defendants Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop & Karen Fallon were in the women's section of Limerick Prison. We had helped to pull off the most disruptive action to U.S. military deployment www.peaceontrial.com (a bit like winning the Eurovision...there wasn't a lot of NVDA competition from a timid, soon to evaporate, anti-war movement)..causing one U.S. war plane to turn around and return to Texas unable to contribute to the war effort. Also in response to our action, 4 U.S. companies, transporting U.S. troops to war, abandoned Ireland as a secure place to refuel. Although we we were in an Irish prison for this nonviolent resistance to war, any mention of it was censored by the Feb 15th. Dublin rally organisers.
An interesting article on the demise of the anti-war movement appears in today's The Guardian G2 section cover titled "15.02.03 Millions Marched Did it Change Anything?". Inside the zine it is entitiled "The Day Politics Stopped Working" by John Harte stimulates reflection on waht led to the demise of a massive anti-war movement during an unpopular war that escalates and expands...
Where to now for the anti war movement (to be honest remnant!) in brief.....
1) We have to make the massive passive anti-war opinion visible. People who are serious about opposing the war should make that opinion visible for an hour a week with a sign in the street. See link.....
2) If 1% of those who marched against this war had gone in tho serious nonviolent resistance in the spirit of Gandhi and King...resisted until jailed...we could have stopped this war.
If the other 99% who had marched against this war had done serious proactive solidarity with the movement's imprisoned resisters ...helped feed the cat, paid the rent, dealt with the hysterical parents.....we would have have a mass movement still active and visible.
Such solidarity is contrary to what happened in Ireland, at the time, when the Feb 15 Dublin rally organisers blanked the imprisoned anti-war resisters and did little as they went to trials etc. Why?..... because a lot of the anti-war leadership were not serous about resisitng Irish complicity in the war, they saw the war as a marketing/ media profile opportunity. Noting more, nothing less!
3) We need to support those who are presently before the courts, in prisons and brigs for nonviolently resisting this war.
I've been living in London for 3 months now and have seen no mention of the Raytheon 9. 3 of the 9 are SWP members. The SWP pretty much run the "Stop the War Coalition" and are well placed to promote this trial. Why the silence? Is it an anti-Irish prejudice? Is it an anti-NVDA party policy. Dunno? Go figure?
A few weeks ago there was a "Stop the War Coalition" demo in Stoke Newington. I made up a sign "Disable the War Machine! Free the Raytheon 9! www.raytheon9.org " I stood there for two hours not one SWP member asked me about the 9....these are 3 of there party members looking at years in jail, go figure?
Anyways there are folks resisting the war. I'd encourage you to make contact with them
Raytheon 9 - Disabling Raytheon Equipment in Derry During the Bombing of Lebanon
Anti-Torture Training Resisters Arrested at Ft. Huachuca in Arizona
Pine Gap 4 - Citizens' Inspection of U.S. N.S.A. Base in Alice Springs, Australia
U.S. Military Resisters
Related Link http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/15/iraq
View Comments Titles Only
Comments (33 of 33)Jump To Comment: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
it does not mean that they are not galvanised and angry. it means that their is a speck
of future hope going on and that the battle has moved off the field of protest onto the
I still oppose this war.
Ciaron- people want to change things-does not mean lessened impact.
Some of us have watched our friends die without seeing an end to the lies that have
effected us since 2001.
Some of us have watched our kids being exposed to media-consumption of War
in a normalisation process that is truly sickening to behold.
and one or two are unwell and pissed off in hospital at the mo.
the focus has changed and maybe the energy has dispersed. not one single one
of us who opposed this war has changed in that opinion. no-one I talk to anyhoo...
suggest you look again at the newswire and see what people are fighting for.
“Quite apart from the events that took place overseas, 10,000 marched in Belfast and as many as 100,000 turned out in Dublin”
A strange sense of geography they have over in Britain .
I wouldn't agree with Ciaron's assessment of the timidity of the antiwar marchers . There was a sense of powerlessness after Feb 15 when it became obvious that Bush was going to ignore the twenty million people who marched that day . The leaders of the movement were caught by surprise by the turnout and had no idea about how to move things on . They still haven't .
The line since pusued by Catholic Action , Anti-War Ireland and anarchist groups has been very elitist in my opinion and hasn't offered any serious alternative . It struck me at the time of the march and afterwards that such groups saw the mass movement as somehow impinging on their territory - that everybody had to fall in behind whatever non-violent direct action they decided on . Ciaron's post seems to confirm that with his references to "feeding the cat " while the vanguard gets on with the real work of opposing militarism.
the post by Ciarain seems to be a long whinge on why an anti war movement has not been built which consistently rallies around his individual actions.
Maybe there is not many people out there who agree with your methods. Methods which basically mean, I decide what to do and the rest fall in behind to defend us. Its not very democratic and throwing yourself at the police to get arrested is unlikely to mobilise many. Mass direct action in defiance of the law is a different matter altogether and history is replete with successful and politically.
The problem is you can't build a mass movement against the war without a democratic structure which allows those who are against the war to participate and own the decisions made. Even more important are structures to allow for serious debate in order to map new strategies to ones that have seriously failed. That would include yours Ciarain. There is no substitute for a democratically organised mass movement. Even if your direct action tactics represented a way forward most of us would be excluded by the catholic tag, we've had enough of catholic values.
This is not a judgement of your sincerity or commitment to peace
The working class and poor have been extremely fragmented by decades of collaboration between their representatives and the government, which is, I suspect, the reason why your tactics have any sway at all, but this very fragmentation can't be tackled unless workers whose interests have been excluded from their own organisations have democratic (secular) forums to rebuild social solidarity and popular organisations. Your strategy does not adress these problems.
further backround about the rise and fall of irish anti war movement on the recent EC film ROUTE IRISH, on the review of the film there is much more views and personal opinions about what went wrong, what could have been done different. Watch the film, spread it around..
link to ROUTE IRISH,
• Gary MacLennan's review of the Film "Route Irish"
will there be any discussion of CW5, NVDA, irish libertarians.... at tonights IAWM meeting 7.30pm, Royal Dublin Hotel, O'Connell St.>
Public Meeting; Stop the Cycle of War, Occupation, and Torture
well done to ciaran and the others who did offer a chance of changing things....
the game is not over yet.
why is it that all those 99% did not do more, what did they think they could do, what mechanisms of resistance were put out there, how did they come across "activist" thinking... SWP has its flaws, but it has to be reckonised that with their posters, talks etc it is normally the first step many young people take on the "anti war" road. Its one thing for the libertarian community to slate them, which in many cases can be justified, but would it not be more worthwhile to bring the more radical NVDA ideas into those arenas of discussion controlled by SWP. It was attempted previous but perhaps it is one way that things could have been done different....
knowing people in UK on feb 15, it was their first step, i think we really need to explore in a deeper more creative way how it can be that more people take more steps, how, why......etc... if our movements do become fuller experiences with deeper feelings and realities of connection i think we are definately on the way... read about or listen to michael alberts views about this, he calls it stickiness
more about that with links to vids and more :
view his views on youtube
Michael Albert on Social Movements & Getting Parecon
Michael Albert "Change the World Without Taking Power" 1/2
People in Ireland and Gt Britn feel disgusted with the war, yet somehow they've got accustomed to it, feel they can't do anything significant - and a shocking number are scared that if they show their faces or sign a petition, in what is called a free country, they'll be in trouble somehow. There's one of the great things about owning property, it keeps the peoples' noses to the grindstone, makes them fear anything that will affect their mortgage or credit rating. It needs for a few in every community to show that you don't have to move with the media-programmed herd, and maybe others will cop on to considering what the wars are costing everyone involved: in Iraq and Afghanistan, their lives, in the west, our souls.
so point me to the group in ireland that is offering to begin the process of organising a democratically organised mass movement against irish complicity in the ongping slaughter that ppl think is over? I don't think there are any unless you convince me that iawm is democratic.
kill the messenger!
"the post by Ciarain seems to be a long whinge on why an anti war movement has not been built which consistently rallies around his individual actions."
Nah just woke up this morning in a houseful of refugees, went and bought The Guardian, lit up a cigar by the Hackney canal blowing smoke intemitently at the middle class white joggers passing by and realised it was five years since the great big Feb 15 march.
Thought the article was worth commenting on, jotted a few ideas down and posted it...not a whinge.......not even disquiet and dismay which are popular emorions this side of the water...pretty outraged that the Raytheon 9 are in the situation they are in. Don't whinge organised!
Spent the afternoon leafleting outside the court case of my two housemates arrested for criminal damage at last year's Dsie Arms Fair. Just got home from a meeting with secondary sudents organising counter recruitment campaigns at their high school to find your tired old Trot anti-elitest, last refuge of cowards, cynicism.
"Maybe there is not many people out there who agree with your methods."
Well dufus apparently 12 jurors randomly chosen from the streets of a disengaged Dublin agreed with (y)our methods. The only folks who seemed threatened were the self appointed leadership of the anti-war movement for motives one can speculate on.
"Methods which basically mean, I decide what to do and the rest fall in behind to defend us. Its not very democratic and throwing yourself at the police to get arrested is unlikely to mobilise many. Mass direct action in defiance of the law is a different matter altogether and history is replete with successful and politically.
We felt pretty successful, with limited personel and resources we made massive political impact at Shannon. More could have been made politically out of the three trials.....as could be made in Derry around the Raytheon 9 ....if the easily offended self appointed leadership hadn't proactively marginalised the direct actionists....as they seem to to be doing once again in Derry.
"The problem is you can't build a mass movement against the war without a democratic structure which allows those who are against the war to participate and own the decisions made. Even more important are structures to allow for serious debate in order to map new strategies to ones that have seriously failed. That would include yours Ciarain. There is no substitute for a democratically organised mass movement."
How have we failed? 5 people disable war plane, remove 4 U.S. corporations transporting troops from Ireland, get unanimously acquitted, cops spend 2 millin euro policing the possibility they may return..... you must have a pretty strange standard of success!
"Even if your direct action tactics represented a way forward most of us would be excluded by the catholic tag, we've had enough of catholic values."
Maybe because your identity politics are a hobby, you choose to exclude 1 billion catholics. Methinx your basically a bigot. I live with an anarchist athiest, a shia, a sunni, an ethopian orthodox, a congolese agnostic and a Catholic priest....chill out and embrace pluralism Tonto. Life is full of multipe combinations and permutations.
This is not a judgement of your sincerity or commitment to peace
The working class and poor have been extremely fragmented by decades of collaboration between their representatives and the government, which is, I suspect, the reason why your tactics have any sway at all, but this very fragmentation can't be tackled unless workers whose interests have been excluded from their own organisations have democratic (secular) forums to rebuild social solidarity and popular organisations. Your strategy does not adress these problems.
all the best in uniting the working class....if you get time read the guardian article...doesn't seem you bothered before posting this knee jerk reaction comment
Have you seen the results of the last election. The political establishment don't seem to have paid a very high price for their complicity in the war. I would measure success by the impact it has on the political stability of this colluding government. They just don't seem too worried.
In response to I remember. No the IAWM is not a democratically organised outfit. There was an opportunity to build something at the start of the war. An opportunity, not a certainty of anything, the experience so far shows it won't be easy. There is no glib answers. there is no direct action or march which can turn things around. The anti war movement has fragmented everywhere, a phenomena which point to deep rooted problems which have to be addressed.
So there is still a need for a democratically organised movement to adress the problem of political strategy and organisation and you can only start where you are, with very little except a very broad inchoate sentiment against the war.
A central problem is that the defeats and atomisation of workers which are happening on a global scale have opened up the space that allowed imperialist barbarism to surface and unleash its vista of unending war for global domination. The retreat of the working class and the advance of imperialist warmongering are not unrelated. The violence in Iraq and Afganistan is not just a foreign policy matter, a government which murders tortures and massacres abroad does not become a friendly uncle Sam at home. The police state measures and contempt for workers in the US is a mirror of their behaviour abroad. You can't separate foreign and domestic policy. The defeat of the US govt. is not a realistic prospect when the only force that can realistically challenge it is in retreat. This retreat has not slackened, US workers are facing the prospect of paying the price for the stock market crash rather than the swindlers and loan sharks who caused it. A very important section of workers the United Auto Workers have recently been delivered a serious defeat by their union leaders.
In Ireland air transport workers including those in Shannon have taken an historic hammering. This is the reality the anti war movement have to work in.
The strategic problems of mobilising the forces necessary to defeat the governments on its collusion are not adressed by the anti war movement, just actions to highlight the blindingly obvious,-- our govt. colludes with imperialism.
Some of the arguments in this debate are reminiscent of the view in the anti globalisation movement that trashing a McDonalds or even a bank had some significance in the struggles of hundreds of millions of workers against intensification of their exploitation by global capitalism.
We may never forget nor seek to explain that the movements which began throughout this world in answer to the use of military force with its characteristic antagonism to rule of law & right had due effect on the eventual forging of peace.
It would have been so much worse if you had not done what you did, no matter how neglible the immediate perceived political effect. If you agree with me that we may never forget such things and consider the end of such foreign, global, domestic or cultural use of military force in its usual paradigm (since Jacksonian democracy in the USA -at the end of Quincy Adam's 6th presidency) then you know peace makes money too. The legacy of politicians as I pompously put it in the comment title is not written in office. Too many people have died in the use of military over commercial power in the last years in the multitude of nefariously named wars (since on drugs through terror to data) & malignantly geographically located conflicts : for the peace we have tried to articulate every day since whenever, you want to think the movements began, in one short time.
I don't give a bollox if the IAWM is a front for the dangerous cult of Scientology. Not because I don't live in Ireland but because I've known broken families left behind by yihadists & work with Americans who are so familiar to me because I grew up on the fringes of their culture, as they did mine. Yep. after the military & commercial comes the culture. By the time I wrote a piece of drivel I called "the sunday papers fatwa edition", I honestly thought we as a language & cultural world-set need recognise the shortest time we get peace is one generation away.
I'd call myself an anarchist in fairness - excuses my delusions of a writer's legacy..,
might not stand up & get as notably counted as a lot of others..,
But I'm still anti-war..,
& so are you..,
(.:. / +)=($/€)
must be a habit by now. these malignantly located conflicts. will we recognise peace?
But it seems to have been missed by a couple of people. He is not saying that his single action was enough to turn the war machine around. He is saying only that if this one NVDA can make the impact it did, how much more effective would it be if even 50 or so comparable actions were undertaken? Even on that scale it would represent actions from only a tiny fraction of the huge numbers of people who oppose the war. Why do authoritarain left feel it appropriate to sneer at these actions? Why did they undermine them?
It doesn't seem that Ciaron is claiming that his way is the only way - as do the authoritarian left.
"There is no substitute for a democratically organised mass movement."
Mass movement does not imply a homogenous movement. Solidarity doesn't imply identicality (if there is such a word). Expressions of solidarity and resistance can and should take many forms. Big marches and rallies are one method that can be effective but they are by no means the only ones. It's not at all clear, either, that they are the most effective as is being claimed. This all seems simple enough and yet we have the idiocy of the STWC in the UK expelling HOPI from its ranks at the behest of the strident and robotic left. Are these sorts of didactic, exclusionary groups really leftwing at all? Are leftwing causes for them merely stepping stones to the pursuit of power and control?
Some leftwingers, especially those who consider their analysis to be farther and deeper than the rest of us, have a fixation about "the masses" and agitating "mass movements". They say that only mass action can do this and achieve that. They say that mass actions and movements are democratic, presumably because they are mass rather than individual. Of course many who call loudest for mass movements themselves perform all sorts of sleight of hand to ensure that they themselves effectively control the direction of mass movements, sometimes from the sidelines, often from behind the scenes. The eminence grise or hidden hand pulling the strings, that's what hectoring mass actionists want to be.
Keep doing your thing, Ciaran and CW associates. You don't claim to be the masses and don't seek to control the masses; but your continuing attention to anti-war action can be an inspiration to some of us who participated in former mass action such as the mass marches across the globe in February 2003 before the invasion of Iraq.
"Five years ago today, my family and I, together with 2m other people took part in the largest anti-war march Britain has ever seen. We were marching with one intent: to try all we could, even at a very late hour, to avert the Iraq war. Of course, we failed in our objective: the decision to illegally invade Iraq had long been taken. But to my dying day, I am proud that I took part on that march: I'm sure others who took part feel the same way too. We may not have stopped the Iraq war, but we highlighted the sham 'democracy' that operates in our country- a 'democracy' where a tiny band of greedy war profiteers - and not the masses of ordinary people- set the agenda. It's interesting to look back at the flak that the anti-war protestors received five years ago from the warmongers. "
Its not that it’s a sham democracy. People could have voted out the Government over the Shannon issue if they wished but they did not so wish. It is because the people don’t share your view on the Shannon issue or if they do they don’t share your strength of feeling.
The large marches were primarily made up of buggy pushers out on a good weather day. It would be wrong for the anti war “movement” to delude itself into thinking it is the vanguard of an actual movement in the generally understood sense of the term. The large marches were a once off thing. Since then the IAWM has only managed to muster the same few dozen people and they are the usual faces you see at SWP events.
Remember also there was a march of Iraqis in Dublin to celebrate the fall of Saddam. They have valid views on the issue too and a much more direct interest in it.
Perhaps the wider electoral sample didn't share the feelings of those who saw and see in Shannon a moral & national issue of near supreme importance. Or perhaps it is simply the case that concerted forces in certain political parties did not choose to present those issues in way leading to democratic influenced regime change. But there's always another time to go to the ballot boxes, isn't there? Therein, we must put our trust.
Does war, complicity in War, War theatre & suchlike have a place in the democratic process? If not can Peace do so?
Isn't there some sort of media ban on the Belfast trial?
just to point out to adams rib and weary anti warrior there was a mass movement in Ireland in the recent past, one that shook British rule here to its foundations, the overthrow of the local colonial parliament Stormont being its highpoint. but republicanism insisted direct action by their tiny guerrilla army was the only way forward. Instead of the mass movement developing it shrank as the direct action of the IRA (sometimes far more than 50 actions a day) became the predominant form of struggle.
You cannot build a democratic movement if some organisation takes on itself the unaccountable power to decide what must be done.
We know where that sort of direct action led, we are now gone full circle Stormont is back and all is well with British rule again.
Undoubtedly you will object to using the physical force direct action as an analogy but both supporters of NVDA and violent DA use the same circular arguments; direct action is successful because we succeeded in our direct action, but never a political argument (plenty of moralistic ones though) as to how these actions are bringing us closer to our goal; the end of collusion in the war or in the other case British withdrawal. In regards to the achievement of British withdrawal, republicans delude themselves they're nearly there, while they sit in Stormont on British sufferance.
Our current direct actionists comfort themselves with the notion that if it wasn't for the opportunist stupidity of the swp we'd have direct actions in abundance. The other explanation that crops up is the very Brechtian idea that the people were out of line a bit and didn't fall in behind us and our co - thinkers.
as Ciarain said,----If the other 99% who had marched against this war had done serious proactive solidarity with the movement's imprisoned resisters ...helped feed the cat, paid the rent, dealt with the hysterical parents.....we would have have a mass movement still active and visible.
If you think that twaddle is a serious insight on how to build a mass movement against imperialist war, well then, nothing to worry about, just carry on.
The rest of us know our role all we need to do is feed the cat.
We got off to a bad start. You're use of the verb "whinge" struck a chord. Where I'm from it is an avderb preceeding the noun "Pom". I think you knew that and it would have the desied effect.
What you call a "whinge" is an analysis, a few proposals for action and a call for a culture of solidarity for nonviolent resistance wherever it surfaces in the military, on the fringes of the church in the workplace etc. You countersuggest yet another leftist talkfest and subcultural sectarianism (you want to exclude 1 billion catholics from the equation at the outset!)
Here's a couple of more simple proposals...from The Guardian article....stop bussing peple form Liverpool and beyond to evershrinking rallies in London. It ws a tactical mistake to have another rally after the frak turnout on Feb 15th. It diminished the symbolic power of F15 and looked like a shrinking movement. Bus them to Fairford, Menwithhill, Fylingdales, U.S. and British military bases for simultaneous demmonstrations and prepared affinity gorup NVDA. This would be opposed by the authoritarians and the moderates, because they prefer the movement in one place where they can control and milk it.
Get some funding bring in some expertise in nonviolent struggle, choose 5 anti-war activists with form each from Cork, Galway , Limerick (15 all up) and do some longterm and short term planning for nonviolent resistance at Shannon.
"Undoubtedly you will object to using the physical force direct action as an analogy but both supporters of NVDA"
.... that's right the anaology doesn't stand.
BAGHDAD -- U.S.-allied security forces said Saturday that they were abandoning their posts in a volatile area south of Baghdad to protest airstrikes by American forces that they say have killed at least 12 civilians this month.
The walkout followed an airstrike Friday near the town of Jarf Sakhr that tribal leaders said killed three members of the civilian security volunteers credited with helping reduce violence across Iraq. The U.S. military said Friday that helicopters responding to gunfire near Jarf Sakhr fired rockets at a building, but it did not say whether there were casualties.
Continued on link.....
.” It ws a tactical mistake to have another rally after the frak turnout on Feb 15th.”
Unless the word “frak” has some aussie meaning that I’ve never heard of, I assume that you mean the Feb 15 demo was a freak turnout . If so , you misunderstand what happened on that day in much the same way as the IAWM does .
The analogy made by not the lone ranger is valid . The republican Violent Direct Action (VDA) of the past thirty years was a response to the British VDA used against the NVDA tactics of the civil rights movement of the late sixties . The British (Brigadier Kitson's)strategy was to turn the mass movement into an elitist military struggle so that it could be defeated militarily .NVDA comes up against the same problems as VDA does . With the need for secrecy and conspiracy an executive becomes a substitute for the movement from which it springs .
The practical and non-ideological ideas you espouse are well meaning , but the IAWM and AWI are well meaning groups too (generally) and they have as many committed activists and as many bright ideas as Catholic Worker does. "Get some funding bring in some expertise in nonviolent struggle " , you say . "Choose" fifteen people to do long and short term work - that all sounds like a executive/ bureaucracy in the making .And you don't say who is to do the choosing.
Yep F15 was a freAk one off. To add to it by repitition was to subtract from its symbolic power as the rallies were doomed to get smaller.
Any assumption that rallies would get bigger, or Day X would initiate more activism rather than depression and internal migration displays an ignorance of the evaporation of the '91 peace movement three weeks into the first Gulf War
"With the need for secrecy and conspiracy an executive becomes a substitute for the movement from which it springs "
There is little secrecy in plowshares after the disarmament goes down. Pre-action operates on a need to know basis...if you don't need to know you don't ask. If people don't need to know you don't tell them. This is to protect the action - maximise its chances of taking place and protect people from conspiracy charges ......google Camden 28....also Harrisburg Conspiracy Trial
For mass actions see Trident Ploughsharews 2000 at Faslane base....see www.soaw.org ........ there is no secrecy at all. People work in affinity groups based on direct democracy. The planespotters are roughly 3 people with an extended network of support , GGAW is roughly 2 activists with an extended network of support, both these groups accomplished a lot of good stuff at Shannon and the annual air showin Galway
What we need is a broader culture and rituals of solidarity with the
nonviolent anti-war resistance that takes place, wherever it takes place. There's is not much resistance presently, because there is not much solidarity.
There seems to be a general consensus on the left that Feb 15 was a never to be repeated aberration . JustinIn Morahan wrote on an earlier thread that 130,000 was “a once-off “ affair and Michael Y from IAWM thought that Justin’s assessment was wise and positive . There hasn’t really been any attempt to find out why people did march in such numbers on that day .
The continuous attempt to replicate the Feb 15 numbers week in week out was undoubtedly a demoralising mistake by the IAWM leadership and so was the SWP's opportunism in using the IAWM as a field to harvest recruits from . But to dismiss the march itself as a freak is just as bad . Such events are historic and they do not happen by accident .
This is an interesting thread....Ciaron's analysis and the responses it provoked are an accurate reflection of streams of thought among activists....some fully, a few partially and a number very peripherally involved in the anti-war mobilisation in this country over the last 5 years.
I feel, continuing to be fully active in the various structures of the iawm, since and STILL., I would like to contribute a few comments:
(1) Ciaron says "Today, the war escalates in Iraq & Afghanistan and expands into Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, northern Pakistan and maybe soon Iran. This analysis is only partially true.....If the implication is that the US Empire and its allies are feeling stronger and stronger, able to attack more and more people, then it doesn't reflect the facts. The reality of the situation is that more and more people, in the geographical areas mentioned, are entering the fight against the Empire....as Rice and Gates are asking more European States to enter the fray in Afghanistan, the invaders are losing....Musharraf and his cronies were demolished in last weekend's elections.....Hezbollah is getting stronger and stronger in Lebanon. In this respect, the main anti-war component internationally, the peoples resistance to the Empire, is getting stronger. [And in this juncture it would be useful for Ciaron to reflect the political attitude of some anti-war activists to that resistance].Which brings me to my second point.
(2) Ciaron says:"Irish complicity is as deep as ever as Shannon Airport remains the major pitstop for U.S. troops getting from North America to the theatres of war." True, yet anti-war activity, meetings, stalls, leafletting, marches HAVE NOT STOPPED. Galway, Cork, Mullingar, Tralee, Derry and Dublin have continued to agitate in a variety of ways against Irish complicity. There is a big national march planned for March 15th, Denis Halliday will be having a series of Public Meetings on the 5th Anniversary of the invasion, while Iraqi, Palestinian, Egyptian and Irish activists are working with him to have these gatherings as popular as possible. What has happened is that a large number of anti-war collectives and activists, feeling perhaps demoralised or analysing that opposition to the war is not something we can win here, have shifted their political emphasis and focus to other struggles...see Rossport, see the Health Campaign, see the ever growing campaign against the Lisbon Treaty. The Government, including the somersaulting Greens, Ciaron are not having it their own way. They're being confronted in a whole set of areas and underestimating the political climate in this country at the moment is missing the point somewhat.
(3) Finally, and you may not like what I'm going to say, your analysis is permeated by a faulty and unbalanced supposed opposition between what you call NVDA and what others call mass mobilisation. Lots has been said about this in this and other threads.....quite useful material surfaced in the aftermath of the movie in question.....my stance dear friend is that Irish history, past, and present, is full of people, from the north and the south of this divided country, taking DA, some NV, some V, and others very V!! What I am trying to say, without in any way trying to diminish the importance of what you, your Ploughshare comrades and Mary Kelly have done, is that elevetaing those courageous acts as examples, almost on a pedestal, unfortunately not followed by the mass of activists, is missing a fundamental point entirely. You were, and probably are still, a part of what I'd call a vanguard.......the people did not follow the vanguard. Fact. There is two paths to follow from here.....either get back to work among the people, shift consciousness, spread optimism and information, make links and prepare for the future.......this is what I believe the iawm and its allies in PANA and the Campaign Against the Lisbon Treaty are trying to do....or, do what Brecht used to say: "Elect a new people"! by blaming our lack of courage, lack of consciousness or at some instances even the SWP !!
It won't do Ciaron, it won't get you anywhere.....good luck in your new environment and as for the work in support for the Raytheon 9/10, lots is happening in this country. Watch this space.
A face to remember
One of the defining characteristics of an authoritarian organisation is the reflex action that lays claim to any spontaneously-occurring mass-expression of sentiment or dissent that accords to any significant degree with the organisation's ideological world-outlook, and with the subsequent reflex of assuming control of the phenomenon if possible, in order to either integrate the phenomenon with an already-existing portfolio of cultural property or to destroy it in the name of 'the common good' or 'the revolution'. Such empire building and razing of cultural territory is always done by authoritarians in the name of someone else, for it is just not possible to get people to advance an authoritarian agenda if the agenda is naked to the non-cynical eye.
From raping Africa for Jesus (or was it Western Civilisation?) in the 19th century to destroying the antiwar movement in Ireland to maintain the SWooP's role as number-one wrecker (oops, vanguard), the praxis of authoritarians is invariant. In the case under consideration, the movement that was emerging in opposition to the current round of imperialist resource-wars had tendencies that were directly inimical to the modus operandi of authoritarian-left organisations, and those tendencies had to be frustrated if these organisations wished to retain both their vanguardist orientation and their jealous-father-castrator role of being the 'arbiters of possibility' when it comes to public dissent. Therefore, threatened as they were by this uprising of libertarian-left sentiment and practice, the authoritarian-left organisations made the decision to either fully control or destroy this manifestation of genuine public feeling.
They were aided in this anti-project by the mainstream media - it was no accident that the mainstream media 'accredited' only those spokespersons from authoritarian-left organisations like the SWooP or the Other SwooP and ignored anarchists when they could. Kieran Allen, Richard Boyd-Barrett and Joe Higgins (and lets not forget the sustainable exploiters like Patricia McKenna of what was later to become Greena Fail) could be heard ad nauseam on the radios and televisions of the land 'articulating the sentiments of those who marched in their millions'. Were the millions who marched all members of some SWOOP or other? No, but it suited both sets of authoritarians in the broadcast studio to pretend otherwise. They had sets of interests that were different but were threatened by the same phenomenon. Like villages in Vietnam in the 1960s, the incipient antiwar movement had to be destroyed in order to save it.
In contrast, if you were an anarchist or any other type of non-authoritarian leftist the only way you were going to get airtime or any attention was to do something that would end you up in court. The mainstream media were only ever going to approach Ciaron, Mary K, Deirdre, Nuin, Fintan, etc. as defendants, and definitely not as spokespersons. Direct-action-minded activists terrified the mainstream media and authoritarian left alike with their unsanctioned 'elitist' ideas, and such was the visceral hatred of all the SWOOPer leaders for anarchists that they ended up playing 'good protestor, bad protestor' with all the concerned organs and forces of the state.
I doubt if those that made those decisions were even half-conscious of what they were doing - it's a type of programmed behaviour that passses off as 'natural' because we humans have been subjected to this behaviour (and at the individual level repeatedly violated by it throughout our lives) for six thousand years or more. Because they seek to liberate us with the use of these ancient blood-soaked chains, the authoritarian left went and achieved what the state and the mainstream media were looking for - the dissipation and frustration of the possibility of mass democratic action before it became a threat. It was an obvious threat to the Ireland's ruling classes' continuing enjoyment of the most rightwing political economy in the 'developed' world, and they were prepared to tolerate 'responsible' (this word used to mean 'capable of a response' but now we take it as 'available for punishment' and almost nobody notices that semantic shift) types like Joe, Kieran and Richard in preference to those 'wild yokes with dreads and menstrual cycles'. The Leninist boys had to be flattered, and like all cardboard personalities they rose becomingly to the flattery. It was so effective that they still haven't noticed the absurdity of helping destroy a possible mass movement in the name of a possible mass movement.
The antiwar movement had the potential in 2003 of becoming a most useful tool in that quintissentially revolutionary activity-cum-phenomenon of mass disillusionment. Through the maovement that was emerging, people were finally apprehending the nature of the world they really lived in by the thousand, if not by the million. Millions of our fellow human beings gave themselves a fleeting glimpse of potent democratic alternatives to the really elitist farrago that constitutes licensed public discourse. This could have been built on, and a wakening proletarian consciousness for the 21st century could have been nurtured from this, but no, it scared several tribes of little men with corporate microphones and tv cameras for fetish toys. It had to die, so that the Party could live.
I still grieve for all those political journeys that the SWOOPers of this world caused to be abandoned. We lost so many willing hands that could really have participated in the construction of a different and better world, so there is a tint of bitterness in what I write for sure. For self-avowed revolutionaries to do such a thing is the the highest manifestation of irrationalism to date this century. It even tops Boyd-Barret's 'don't mention I'm a SWooPer or a socialist I'm a poor lickle rich foundling' run for the Dail last May by some distance. Their words and accusations serve as a smokescreen for their crimes and unwitting collaborations with the enemy. They are always best defined by their actions, and the demise of the antiwar movement as a mass phenomenon was their guiltiest moment, and a shame that they have to be palm off on to somebody else.
Don't know if you feel proud that this whinging anonymista diatribe above complements your quite thoughtful analysis (does it?). Had I tried to construct a grand and eloquent trolling essay of what is so totally paralytic in sections of the so-called 'libertarians' I couldn't have done it better myself. And my comments here have nothing to do with the anarchist movement that works hard in setting up structures, in moving things in our society. It is directed to that glossy good-for-nothing periphery.
Befoire you reply, consider carefully the implications of the whinge - that glowing libertarian revolutionary sentiment that was 'destroyed' in its infancy by the likes of SWP, (rich)RBB and Patricia and Joe Higgins and the collaboration of the media!!!!
That is, of course, a verbose and not very NV justification of doing very fucking little except whinging and attacking activists......but then, what's new under the sun?
"The mainstream media were only ever going to approach Ciaron, Mary K, Deirdre, Nuin, Fintan, etc. as defendants, and definitely not as spokespersons."
This isn't true. Ciaran O'reilly was already known as an anti-war spokesperson before the Pitstop action - he even had a 'Would you Believe' programme done on him. Likewise, Mary Kelly was already a public name because of her time in Palestine and Fintan Lane, as Chairperson of the Cork anti-war movement, had a high profile and was constantly on the media down south.
But as somebody who was in Shannon on October 12th 2002, I can also understand the feeling that the SWP attempted to destroy a movement in it's infancy?
But then you weren't around at that time so perhaps it is you who is the whinge on how other people perceive the IAWM.
The test of any Anti-War Movement is whether it is holding the politician's feet to the fire and making them act against the War(s) - or at least squirm, a little.
Has the IAWM done this recently?
(forget about the debate of if they ever really had)
Pre-election polling last year showed the electorate supported ending US use of Shannon for the War(s). The IAWM leadership failed to make the issue stick - failed to make the issue make a difference. It was an objective failure to accomplish the only real goal of the organisation.
Therefore its time for a new IAWM leadership and/or a new strategy.
although, I never was quite sure what the IAWM's strategy ever was - other than to collect emails and names and so on. I would love to hear a strategy and tactics discussion from the IAWM of how they will end the US use of Shannon. What exactly is their plan for 2008? It would be fascinating to know.
The Iraq War is the BIG issue in the US of A right now - and the only candidate that opposed the war from the beginning is the one that is leading. [I'm not trying to make this an Obama thread nor a discussion of idf the Democrats will really get the out of the Iraq War and so on - save that for another thread, please]
But what is the equivlent polling data for Ireland? Does anyone know?
Quote: 61% of Americans would like to see U.S. troops brought home from Iraq within a year. That's up a point from a week ago and two points from two weeks ago. Over the last eighteen weeks, the number wanting troops home within a year has ranged from a low of 57% to a high of 64%.
What percentage of Irish voters want the US to stop using Shannon? By what time would they like this to end? Is this increasing or decreasing over time? Who is on the street? in Dáil? talking to the churches, whatever/where ever to make this an issue? What's the strategy and tactics to make this number higher? and so on and on?
Ciaron admits he has no money, little organisation and only a lot of commitment and energy to the issue.
The professionals that have been doing the antiwar biz for years now at the IAWM have what to offer? The same that they have offered in repetition for years now.
Scary thing is, the American voters may decide if Shannon will be used for war before the Irish ever truly confront the issue. [other than that unanimous jury, that is]
At least Ciaron (as annoying as he is to some people) has a strategy that has the novelty of being successful.
Bush least Popular than ever - But in Ireland, USA more powerful than ever
The IAWM needs to do the sort of analysis that redjade is talking about . Judging from the people I speak to, there is just as much ,if not more , popular anti-war sentiment throughout Ireland as there was in 2003. It's not good enough to say ,as Michael Y does, that activisits have shifted their focus to other areas of struggle . We need to know what happened to the mass movement that turned out on Feb 15 . Ciaron did well to raise the subject .
Why did people march on Feb 15 ,can such a mobilzation happen again ,and ,if so ,under which circumstances ? These are the sort of questions that the IAWM needs to ask ;maybe they should get their activists to conduct a poll . People surely don't come out in those numbers as “a freak”. My view is that they marched out of fear , that they were right to be fearful , and that they will have cause to be frightened again in the short to medium term - no matter who gets into the Whitehouse after November.
I might be wrong ,but there must surely be an explanation for why 20 million people across the world, from all walks of life , from across the classes , from all religions and none ,with differing opinions on the expansion of the EU etc. felt impelled to move in that way .
I think it was because over the past century there have been two world wars , and the marchers felt that the invasion of Iraq could spark off a new world war - one which could put the existence of human life in jeopardy. If the anti-war movement wants to regenerate , it should start raising the question of how Irish people will respond in the event of nuclear weapons being used in any future conflagoration anywhere in the world .
What we have at the moment is classical tail-endism , the leadership is five years behind the movement . Michael Y says we need to "make links" . But the anti-war movement had all the links it needed in 2003 . Things now need to be put on a practical footing .
The IAWM is dead in the water. The last time we saw them they were making their speeches inside a cage built for them on O Connell Street by the state.
They are so timid they can’t even assert their civil right to gather in the street. The people were ignoring them. They were right too. The IAWM is now part of the subculture of the left, not a vibrant connected, relevant organization it once was, or was becoming. As far as I know the other antiwar groups are moribund. A few individuals soldier away.
They IAWM is in two parts, the SWP and their non SWP followers. The latter actually believe that holding a demo here and a public meeting there will take the Yankees out of Shannon, in other words they are so stupid that they are not worth supporting, unless you believe in the power of prayer.
The SWP of course are different. They run the IAWM agenda and the others have to dance to their tune. Lets examine why the IAWM was set up by the SWP and understand why the IAWM behaves the way it does.
The IAWM was setup at the same time as its sister organization the Stop The War Coalition in England as a project of the SWP to create a front organization around the US determination to use the September 11th attacks as a pretext for colonizing Iraq and Afghanistan.
Front organizations are setup to further the interests of the parent group not those of the organization itself and the IAWM is no different. There were two major objectives.
1 Aid recruitment to the party.
2 To build a strong public profile for its leaders.
I think the Iawm have explained their strategy on a number of occasions and briefly this is it.
We will hold demonstrations. The demonstrations will get larger and larger. Eventually the demonstrations will get so large that the government will eventually be “forced” to give in. How and why they will be “forced “ is never stated. It seems to be a magical process. The whole thing can only be explained by the fact that the SWP believe that the government is really interested in what people want, and if they understand will give in.
I believe that the SWP milked the demonstrations for as long as they could, that they resisted , fought and isolated any attempt to move towards any workable strategy , because any such strategy would weaken their stranglehold over the IAWM.
Such a process fatally injured the IAWM in particular and the Antiwar Movement in general, but as a parasitical organization the SWP has simply moved on to a new host.
The antiwar movement is a classic case on how NOT to organise a movement and how importent it is that the mistakes are not repeated.
Not the Lone Ranger
Well the accusation from "not the lone ranger"/tonto that my original posting/analysis, and a few modest proposals, was a self pitying egocentric whinge makes the mistake I'm moaning on about the lack of suppport for myself at the time.
If you bothered to read the whole original posting you see it concludes with a call for proactive solidarity with tht Raytehon 9, Ft. Huachuca 2, Pine Gap 4, military resisters and anyone else willing to step up to the plate and resist the war. I haven't done any NV resistance to this war for 5 years...what I did was anti-war spreading the word stuff in and around 3 1/2 years of prison/bail/court, tried and failed at a shannon NVDA100 surge at the end of 06 and have throughout being doing proactive solidarity with those resisting the war.
I think its great how Raytheon 9 have taken this to another level and visited the Lebanese sites Raytheon has bombed and initiated a charity for the victims of Raytheon. I agree it is a mistake not to place your own trial/s in a broader context.
"This analysis is only partially true.....If the implication is that the US Empire and its allies are feeling stronger and stronger, able to attack more and more people, then it doesn't reflect the facts."
The U.S. military practises a theory of "escalation dominance". They will escalate to the next level of violence as required...carpet bombing northern Pakistan, repeat Gulf War 1 over Iran - all the way to thermonuclear war should the existence of the empire appear threatened.
"[And in this juncture it would be useful for Ciaron to reflect the political attitude of some anti-war activists to that resistance]."
My grandparents were involved in the armed, struggle. I am radical christian (anarchist/pacifist) I reject the armed struggle path as did Jesus as did the former zealots who became apostles. I think the left's cheerleading at a safe distance for armed struggle in the third world is often a cop out for taking serious nonviolent direct action risks in their own setting.
"yet anti-war activity, meetings, stalls, leafletting, marches HAVE NOT STOPPED. Galway, Cork, Mullingar, Tralee, Derry and Dublin have continued to agitate in a variety of ways against Irish complicity. There is a big national march planned for March 15th, Denis Halliday will be having a series of Public Meetings on the 5th Anniversary of the invasion, while"
This flurry of street activity is turned off and on by SWP/IAWM before and after their (determined from London HQ) biannual stop the war marches. As exposed in the RESPECT split documents, SWP has a similar attitude to the anti-war mpovement as it did to RESPECT inflating it and deflating it around election time and making sure it didn't develop any autonomy from the SWP
"the people did not follow the vanguard. Fact. There is two paths to follow from here.....either get back to work among the people, shift consciousness, spread optimism and information, make links and prepare for the future."
This is a false dichotomy. Much of our work over the 31/2 years between action and trials was grassroots, weekly street presence (GPO/Aviation Authority) going down to stand at Banratty Castle (due to bail restrictions) affirming people heading to Shanon for demonstrations, working with homeless people, soap box speaking on Sundays in Temple bar, solidarity vigils with Mary Kelly, Mordachi Vanunu, the Palestinain football team, SOA resisters etc etc
The absence of mutuality is the real piss off with the mass movement heads who marginalised the NVDActionists. We connected with others opposed to the war on a lateral level did not try to lead on manage anyone else's oppostion....we were more a guardvan than anything like a vanguard! The "People"/ the jury acquitted unanimously us.
"Whinger Vanguard of Opportunity
"In contrast, if you were an anarchist or any other type of non-authoritarian leftist the only way you were going to get airtime or any attention was to do something that would end you up in court."
This analysis is a mistake and is in fact the Prosecutions position that what we did was primarily a publicity stunt not direct intervention.
The media had a blackout in NVDActionists and Shannon warport in general. They did a job on the Pitstop Ploughshares after the action...lies about assaulting a Garda denounced three times on the stand by the Garda under oath, the Irish Times running a front page story that we cost the Irish taxpayer $2million and a tabloid accusation of naked preaction bloodletting ritials in a peace camp teepee!
The mainstream media then did a job on us after the acquittal. The mainstream media have "covered" this war.
As the analysis of "Noddy" points out...
Media wise, the authoritarian left got what they wanted to be the "legitimate voices of dissent" on the war for comment - no competition fomr Bob and Bono on this one. Others would be seen as competition to be marginalised
"Whinger Vanguard of Opportunity
"This isn't true. Ciaran O'Reilly was already known as an anti-war spokesperson before the Pitstop action - he even had a 'Would you Believe' programme done on him. Likewise.."
"Would You Believe?" show came from speaking to the 1,000 folks who gathered for the Dan Berigan public meeting in 02. They wanted to do a WYB? on Dan, Dan was here for a holiday I got the gig. Following its broadcast I received a lot of requests to speak at schools etc. This dried up, and the thousand evaporated, after the Pitstop Ploughshares action at Shannon. Leave it in the past and in america don't try this too close to home. We got a better response fomr people in the street at in the jury.
I think it's important to analyse what happens when there is a war and break the co-dependant cycle of war-ptotest-more war/ antoi-war protest dissipates etc.
F15 2003 was the largest mobilisation of people in a single event or action in the whole of our recorded history.....
heres a music video to rember that momentous day, you can hear amy goodman, host on democracy now, naming places and numbers who took to the streets,
band : Le Tigre , tune: New Kicks
and heres democracy now's report from that day
The World Says No to War! Rome-2 Million People; London, Madrid, Barcelona-Over 1 Million Each; Berlin and New York City–Half a Million; Melbourne, Sydney and France–Hundreds of Thousands; and Hundr...
i was home for the IAWM talk on f15 in the hotel on o'connell st, i read out a bit of ciarans points and made a few points, the responses were that mass protests were needed on the streets, which id agree with but definately feel theres need to attempt to take it from that to more...
perhaps micheal Y can give a few more of the issues brought up in this meeting..