Sunday, January 16, 2005

Movement ?

After reading Kamil Mahdi's examination of Lakshmi Chaudhry's "Rethinking Iraq" (via Liminal) I couldn't resist adding my own two cents worth (not that anyone'll ever much notice, being a lowly humble office clerk with no superhero suit to speak of).

Lakshmi writes ;

To be both responsible and effective, the anti-war movement has to mature into a tightly organized, disciplined political campaign with a plan of action.

Well, firstly. What exactly is "the antiwar/peace movement" ? I mean to read Lakshmi one might be forgiven for thinking it's an actual functioning, erm, "movement". In my experience I have to say, I really don't think that it is. The peace "movement" was (past tense in reference to peace marches which do appear to be "over") a spontaneous global expression made public by millions of people. The little organisation that ever existed within the peace "movement" was stickytaped together from disparate minority political parties with makeshift resources who just happened to be in line with public sentiment, for once, and produced an abundance of flyers and posters to match ~ a bit like throwing a party I guess, which the world gatecrashed.

Most of the political parties involved with the dissemination of peace march publicity material were for one brief moment in February 2003 united in opposing war. The rest of the time they squabbled and bickered amoung themselves and now continue to do so, competing for the honour of olive branch bearer. For this reason I cannot call the peace marches or the ensuing political oneupmanship a "movement". It is something much larger then a movement or an organisation. It is a global shift in conscience. A shared awareness approached from many directions by many people who have little or nothing to do with the fractious political factions that now remain.

While there are staunchly active people who dedicate their lives to working onsite during war in an effort to provide some small respite during pretty bleak circumstances and many other people who work within administrative and journalistic roles, there are millions of citizens globally who may never belong to any tightly organized "plan of action" but who nevertheless are the ones who have made it clear how undesirable war is.

Too big to be an organisation and too aware to constitute a political campaign the No War sentiment is a culmination of years living under the pendulous threat of nuclear war and unforgotten memories of every prior war humanity has ever experienced. Frankly most people have just had enough of war. There is no discipline and no plan of action. Anyone can say what they damned well like about it and they probably will, for years to come. Which is a good thing I suppose. And is where blogs over the last few years have probably provided an outlet for individuals unmoved by any particular political theme tune.

"The anti-war movement" is less a movement and more a stage in human growth. The effect will be insideous, constant and played out in small ways by many individuals for many years. It will probably never be especially organised, thank goodness.

(Oh damn, I exhausted myself pontificating over only two of Laksmi's lines and didn't even get to write what I was thinking about Kamil's response. I'll have to write a separate post).

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