The Anti-War Institution
So I marched yesterday, as I did last year, and the year before that. And I suppose I will next year, too, and the year to follow. By then, perhaps, we'll be exchanging greeting cards: Happy Anti-War Day to the World's Most Peaceful Dad!
If there ever was an anti-war movement, it's long gone. (Suicided?) What's taken its place is an institution of self-actualization. Ineffective as hell, except maybe for transitory catharsis, but at least its obligations are nominal: attend the annual hand-wringing parade, and you've paid the dues for another 12 months. Just enough commitment for the Not-Me Generation of Not in my name.
Since, for me, a fog of this can't be happening unreality still envelopes Cheney and Bush, I guess it's only fitting their opposition start reminding me of an old Star Trek episode. Specifically, "Return of the Archons": a puritanical sect is ruled by mind control, but on set days, at the stroke of the hour, control is removed for a mindless "festival" of drunken debauchery and violence. The next morning, again on the hour, control is restored. It's as though "festival" never happened.
Protesting the war isn't "mindless," unless it's nothing but an unconsidered reflex. But when it's institutional, it becomes another form of social control. It's a way to let the dissident faction "blow off steam." No harm done to the ruling interests, no change to government policy, and the protesters leave thinking they've made their "voices heard," even though nobody's listening.
Part of the problem, perhaps, is too many people are trying to fight parapolitics with politics. Even after Florida, the Supreme Court, Wellstone, Diebold and Ohio, they don't recognize that, so far as America is concerned, politics is finished. And parapolitical power nodes, which have come well out of the shadows since 2000, are neither accountable to voters, nor terribly responsive to chants of "Hey Hey! Ho Ho!"
So, instead of March 19, what am I suggesting? Since I'm a Canadian, feel free to file this under "Easy for him to say." But March 19 is a good place to start. And I'd also suggest March 20, and then the 21st, and the 22nd after that....
A march on Washington could be a million strong, but if everyone goes home at the end of the day, nothing changes. But if 1,000 camp on the Capitol grounds, and 10,000 join them the following night, nothing would be the same.
This is what democracy used to look like.