Tuesday, September 25, 2007

General Strike for Peace

Recently, two national initiatives – the Iraq Moratorium Committee and the General Strike for Peace – have called for making the third Friday of every month a day of activity against the Iraq War.

The first of these “days of activity” (or inactivity, I guess, in the case of the General Strike!) was last Friday, September 21. Accordingly, I joined with approximately 40 others for an anti-war protest and bannering at Mayday Plaza on the West Bank in Minneapolis.

As a member of the Minnesota War Resisters League (Sister Rita Steinhagen Chapter), I’ve worked with a number of others (including my friends Shane and Lauren, pictured in the opening photograph) in organizing and promoting the General Strike for Peace initiative. Indeed, this national initiative grew out of our local chapter.

We believe that the general strike is the most powerful action we can take to show our opposition to the actions of those in charge of the U.S. war economy or “war machine.” Much, if not all, of the power that fuels this machine is derived from our labor and our consumption of products. Accordingly, every bit of labor we withhold and every reduction in our consumption translates as power withheld from this death-dealing machine.

I mean, think about it: George W. Bush’s advice to the citizens of the U.S. after the 9/11 tragedy was to go out and spend. He and his fellow war profiteering buddies know full well that a portion of every dollar we spend and every dollar we earn is siphoned to finance war and to provide profits to the military contractors – the “merchants of death.”

Yet as Gandhi recognized in India during the struggle against British colonial rule, ordinary people have the power to keep money and resources from those in positions of power. And change – radical change – can occur as a result. It’s the age-old strategy of active non-cooperation.

While it is obvious that in the current economic framework of our society we must work and spend in order to survive, we can for a day, or part of a day, withhold our labor and refuse to spend any or some of the money we have earned.

To be sure, the U.S. “war machine” can operate in the face of a certain amount of dissent. Its ability to do so, however, is ultimately limited. There is a point at which sufficient solidarity between the people can cause the war machine to grind to a halt.

Our goal in the months ahead is to get sufficient participation in the “third Friday of the month” General Strike so as to raise the level of dissent beyond that at which the war machine can continue to operate. We can make it happen!

Okay, enough of the political speech! Following are photos from last Friday’s rally at Mayday Plaza.

Above: My friend Marv Davidov was the founder of the Honeywell Project, a Freedom Rider during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, and a participant in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride of 2003.

Currently, Marv teaches in the University of St. Thomas’ Justice and Peace Studies Program, heads the Minnesota War Resisters League, and is working on his autobiography.

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering 9/11 and Its Aftermath
Let’s Also Honor the “Expendables”
Praying for George W. Bush
An Unholy Alliance in Iraq
In Search of a “Global Ethic”
When Terror is the Foil
More Propaganda Than Plot?
John le Carré’s Dark Suspicions
A Reign of Ignorance and Fear in the U.S.
John Pilger on Resisting Empire

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