The Movement and the Machine
- by David Adam Seiden
Perhaps the most significant outcome of the conquest of Iraq has been the global movement opposing it. As Arundhati Roy rightly observes, the dual-occupations of Iraq and Palestine mark the culmination of Neo-Liberal Capitalism and American Hegemony. The World Social Forum represents a global alternative to this current world system.
The movement is marginalized by American politicians, the corporate media, and Establishment supporters. But the infrastructure for a long-term battle is in the making. The ANSWER/UPJ coalition has brought together many various grassroots organizations that span the nation and beyond. March 20th was a shining success. Indeed, Americans are still saying no to war.
However, anti-war sentiment does not encapsulate the movement. The deeper, latent purpose of any serious movement for global justice must be to completely dismantle the means of waging illegal wars, raising sanctions, participating in coups, and upholding blockades. Defined in these terms, the military industrial complex should clearly be the focus of the movement. Might does not make right. Severely limiting the entire Pentagon system of publically-financed war industries for private profit will be the major task of Americans in the coming years.
We must deprive those with power, Democrats and Republicans alike, of the resources to sustain their dangerous agenda. It must be realized that American hegemony is a manifestation of international terrorism rather than its nemesis. No hegemon can be benevolent. Terrorism in conquest and domination evokes terrorism in resistance and humiliation. Both can be reduced if the US discontinues its quixotic strategy before it causes further devastation.
Stubborn traditions must not impair the movement. The internalization of alienation curtails decisive action. Many people born into privilege cannot fail to take advantage of a good situation, rather than tuning out and opting for complacence at the margins. The fact that "unpatriotic dissent" is conceivable shows how sharply American politics has veered rightward. The values of justice and democracy drive the movement. Therefore, we are in the mainstream. Our actions should follow with this confidence.
In this light, communicating the consequences of President Bush's dangerous policies via the alternative press is certainly important. However, internal change is most critical to correct the institutions that propel the American war machine. Insofar as the dilemma is systemic, administrative participation is indispensable. The existing coalition will then be engaging in a constant dialogue with the government.
Cooperation may let public alternatives to foreign policy take the form of special Congressional committees dealing with major grievances. Widespread hostility towards the policies of US government must not block attempts to make it work for the public and reduce the harm inflicted on the occupied peoples of the world. In reality, this loathing to serve has quickened the drift of the American political system to the current hyper-elite model. Democracy is nothing without participation. Answer the call to become the mechanism for fundamental change.
An effective strategy will require many hundreds of civil servants from our own ranks to take up the task of reclaiming administrative duties. Despite the popular aversion to the idea of running for public office, most obvious in the youth, it is an imperative step to redirecting national politics. With time and hard work, these serious efforts will puncture and reorganize the American political system. Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has shown us all that an honest politician can ascend to national heights. He lacks company. We must not lack courage.
David Seiden, 23, is a senior Sociology major at the University of Maryland at College Park. He can be reached here: