The U.S. peace movement is fragmented. Just ask Cindy Sheehan. And who could argue? Such fragmentation is no surprise in the most capitalist of societies in history. It is a system that grows by separating people, first from their land, and then from themselves and others.
Yes, the fault lines of the American peace movement are many. There are class, gender and race contradictions. Were Americans of yesterday free of them? To ask the question is not to answer it. We know the past, certainly not so for the present and future.
To take one contradiction in 2007, blacks, who are 12 percent of the population and the most anti-war group of Americans, are all but absent in the peace movement. How can that be?
Meanwhile, African Americans are overly present in what can be termed the nation’s penal colony, comprising half of the U.S. population on lockdown. Anti-war groups, local and national, weaken themselves to the extent they turn away from the people, kids, teens and adults, who are victims of this striking feature of U.S. inequality.
Let me be clear. Reaching out to those not formally involved in the anti-war movements across the country is, in my view, a necessary step. Such inclusion is the only sane strategy for the necessary solidarity to change foreign and domestic policies, to win more freedom for people here and overseas.
Meanwhile, income and wealth that the American laboring majority produces goes to fewer and fewer individuals. Accordingly, the U.S. political system more and more serves that well-heeled minority, who as a class are pro-war for reasons of control. If nothing else, military conflict weakens working people of an imperial nation, while destroying lives and property in the attacked and occupied countries, with Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine three cases in point.
Currently, Cindy Sheehan and the rest of the American proletariat, those with and without paid work, confront an upper class with its hands on an economic surplus of mind-boggling immensity. The sums of capital involved with respect to private equity firms, for instance, simply stagger the mind of ordinary working people in the U.S., who are seeing their health care and pensions slip away. Such material insecurity gives the lie to the political rhetoric of national security.
The CEO class that is looting American workers and their families is also, through control of the Democratic and Republican parties, steering the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. Any movements to transcend the present rout stateside and abroad will rise as it flows from (wo)men, together, resisting the government and private-sector policies affecting their living and working conditions, including foreign military operations, directly and by Israeli proxy, without end.
Forming such national movements across the U.S. is going to take a long time. The good news is that the process is underway. Of course the end result can’t be seen. But that does not negate the advance.
Seth Sandronsky lives and writes in Sacramento