Sunday, March 16, 2008
Having participated in some of the DASW actions in 2003, I have always had a fondness for the people involved in it. I believe that they possess a sophisticated perspective, one that draws upon an autonomous history of social organization in the US, Italy, Germany and South America, especially Bolivia and Argentina, and, hence, transcends the failed hierarchical Marxist-Leninist approaches of the past.
Several months ago, a group of Bay Area activists got together and re-started Direct Action to Stop the War (DASW). Five years ago, on March 20, 2003, DASW – a coordinating body/spokescouncil that brought together several thousand people from a broad cross-section of communities, social justice groups, and anti-war organizations – organized a massively successful shutdown of the San Francisco financial district, in protest of President Bush’s decision to attack Iraq. This mass direct action of over 10,000 people was planned and carried out using an anti-authoritarian and highly effective organizing model of affinity groups, decentralized leadership, and coordinated action through mass spokescouncil meetings.
Some of the people who were involved in that organizing effort, along with many new people, have come together to organize two mass direct actions on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. We believe that the time has come for the anti-war movement to escalate our tactics, and put pressure directly on the people who are waging this war. We’re sending out this overview of our organizing plan because we know that in order for this action to be successful, it needs the creativity, energy, experience, and connections that you and many others can bring.
On March 19, 2008 - the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq - Direct Action to Stop the War will be organizing a day of decentralized, multiple-target direct action against government offices and war profiteers in downtown San Francisco. We have created a list of San Francisco offices of federal agencies, corporations with military contracts or contracts in Iraq, politicians who have failed to stop the war, and foreign embassies of countries linked to the war in Iraq. We are focusing primarily on corporations with military or Iraqi contracts, because we want to focus attention on the prominent role played by war-profiteering corporations in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. We will take direct action on March 19th against as many of these locations as possible, in order to send a clear message to the economic and political elites that control this country: No business as usual until all U.S. troops are withdrawn from Iraq!
People and organizations are invited to participate in DASW actions in their own unique and creative ways. This is important. People are no longer motivated to become involved in fundamental political and social questions through existing institutions like the government, political parties and labor unions. So, it is now essential that we reach people by reference to what is important to them personally, and actively encourage them to incorporate their values and skills within a larger, loosely confederated collective, and empower themselves through direct action.
As Sylvere Lotringer and Christian Marazzi stated in relation to the Italian autonomous movements of the 1970s: Political autonomy is the desire to allow differences to deepen at the base without trying to synthesize them from above, to stress similar attitudes without imposing a "general line", to allow parts to co-exist side by side, in their singularity. DASW grounds its opposition to the war in Iraq, and global neoliberal economics more generally, in this principle. In its own way, the counter-recruitment effort has achieved some successes by adopting the same kind of practices, even if only implicitly.
Respect for personal and group autonomy present the prospect of a a more vibrant future left. With military neoliberalism in the ascendancy, as currently on display in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, possibly, Iran, and no coherent ideological alternative to resist it, there really is no other way to proceed at this time, no other way to create the sort of global coalition required to defeat it. Through decentralized groups like DASW and OlyPMR, many Americans many find their own place within it. Of course, even if you can't participate in its activities, DASW still needs money to organize in this capitalist society, so please donate if you are so inclined.