Staff | June 3, 2002
Sept. 11 opened up a crack in the functioning of society. All of a sudden the results of corporate exploitation of the world (read: colonialism) were demonstrated to a captive global audience. The pain felt by countless numbers of indigenous populations around the world was finally vented on the colonial oppressors in a way that terrified them dearly. However, make no mistake, Sept. 11 was not the beginning of this war — it was merely the first event that countries like America that are kept isolationist and internationally ignorant by an increasingly anti-intellectual, pro-entertainment media system we are forced to look at.
Bush, the prodigy of those corporate interests, continues to demonstrate just how far America has slid from the high ideals that founded this country. In his own foolish way, he is forcing each of us to confront the reasons behind our wealth: we oppress the world. The only difference between now and two hundred years ago is that we no longer have to touch, or see, our slaves. Instead, a global network of commerce has allowed us to stay blind to the fact that purely because we were lucky enough to be born in this country we are wealthier than 50% of the world can imagine.
But this isn’t what I want to talk about — I know that anyone who got through the first two paragraphs of this already knows the multitude of facts that I could spout off. My goal here is to speak to those individuals who have already come to realize the something must be done. My goal is to urge you, in your own way, to begin to work towards creating a period of great global change. This is a war that the peace movement can win. I am confident that we can defeat the Islamic fundamentalism of bin Laden and the Christian/Capatalist fundamentalism of Bush.
I won’t lie to you — this is going to be a difficult fight, but at the same time I am sincere when I say that this may be the last chance we will get.1 If the peace movement continues to fail, if we continue to secretly prioritize a life privileged by the oppression that we are supposedly fighting, we will continue to be marginalized and discredited. On the other hand, if we see ourselves as a new generation of warriors, warriors for peace, we have a good chance at creating a global movement that can demand governments implement our solutions to global “terrorism.”
When I was in New York for a student anti-war conference I heard something that I think perfectly captures the current situation: “Every time a revolution fails the repressive regime grows stronger.” This is precisely the situation we find ourselves in now. The social movements of the ’60s failed, for if they did exact any changes those changes are now being quickly and blatantly repealed by the current administration. The government has since studied how to wage war in a way that will not lead to protest in America, and their answer seems to be to keep the population unaware.
The only solution, then, is for the movement to compensate by changing tactics. Moving away from mass protests as an indicator of the movement’s success is the first step. Instead, we should be gauging our success on our effectiveness in silencing, or inhibiting, our government’s ability to propagandize the public. We need to strip the effectiveness of the media empires that the corporations have created, we need to focus on convincing people to turn to us for news (wasn’t that the goal of creating indymedia.org?).
Based on this criterion, I’d say that the movement has been a dismal failure. All of our media savvyness, our understanding of commercials and the way reporters work, has only functioned to further the system, not disrupt it. Unfortunately, I must admit that I fell into the same trap: I really believed that getting positive press in the media meant something. I just didn’t understand that positive press is only press that washes out the meaning and significance of your actions.
The only way for us to win, it seems, is to embody the ideals of nonviolent protest but to take it to a degree that will discredit our governments massive propaganda methods. We need to use our bodies, and our wealth, to disrupt the functioning of society. We need to finally put our ideals on the line and seize the day, otherwise we may never get a second chance.