Thoughts on the peace rallies

Ben Courtice benj at connexus.net.au
Sun Feb 16 19:08:11 MST 2003


I think Lou Paulsen's post was interesting food for thought.

Personally I don't think the antiwar sentiment is reducible to any
single factor. I'm reminded of the massive demonstrations in solidarity
with East Timor after its UN referendum. For 20+ years Australia had
seen bipartisan political support to the Indonesian occupation. But
since the early 1990s the movement in East Timor had been on the
upswing, and people in Australia were slowly hearing about it. Then
suddenly when the Indonesian army began their rampage -- instant
demonstrations, livid with anger, of tens of thousands in Australia. It
was a bit of a surprise, in a way, but a logical result of years of
patient work by solidarity activists and the popular legitimacy bestowed
by UN involvement in the referendum.

Also, the decades of slow economic decline -- including declining wages,
etc, for many people -- and the move to the right by social democracy,
abandoning its base within the working class to a large extent, have
contributed to the situation where people don't trust their rulers any
more, even if they don't believe in an alternative.

And we have all been taught how bad war is -- watching war films,
learning about the slaughter in the trenches in the First World War,
popular memories of the Vietnam peace protests, and the slow process of
education that people like John Pilger and the Marxist left have
contributed to on the question of Iraq.

The question now is, how do we take mass rallies to actively stopping
war involvement? What will it take? More mass rallies are certainly in
order, how can we make the unions take up the issue, strike against the
war, etc? My mother was very disillusioned with her union, the public
sector union (CPSU), who apparently said they couldn't strike because
they perform vital government functions... duh! as if that wasn't the
point.

We still have a lot of work to do, comrades!! I'm involved in the
Socialist Alliance campaign for local council which is demanding the
council become an anti-war zone, promoting anti-war activity. Comrades
are organising an anti-war rally to mark International Womens' Day. No
doubt union activist comrades are trying to get support out of their
unions (the West Australian unions have already pledged action when the
war starts).

Ben Courtice


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