U.S. Labor Going Anti-War?

Ben Courtice benj at CONNEXUS.NET.AU
Wed Jan 15 20:07:57 MST 2003


I have been reading the superlative "Out Now!", Fred Halstead's participant
 account of the US movement against the Vietnam war. I thought it an
interesting co-incidence that the last time that GE workers went on strike was
during the Vietnam war, and they are at it again now. In fact Halstead
remarks that a lot of the antiwar activists took time out to support the strike
because GE was a war material manufacturer and although the strike was
not antiwar itself, the fact that workers could take strike action during the war
in a war industry showed they weren't keen supporters of the war. Similar to
the Wobblies in WW1.

"Out Now!" is a brilliant book. Apart from being a very detailed (maybe too
detailed) chronicle of many years of ongoing organising it's got a lot of
material relevant to strategy for today. The worship of confrontation, and the
frustrated turn of many activists  to "multi-issue" campaigning, reared their
heads again and again. The latter I find especially interesting. In the
nebulous anti-corporate/anti-capitalist/whatever movement I think it is a
problem with some of the new circles of activists. Not that a multi-issue
consciousness is bad (we obviously encourage it) but it shows the lack of
strategic thinking in terms of what issue is the crucial one to push on, the
weakest link. And in the times Fred Halstead writes about it actually reflected
pessimism about the possibility for the anti-war movement to have an impact.

Ben Courtice

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