Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some Preliminary Thoughts on Berkeley

These are early reflections, as more information will be coming in that can be summed up, but what is emerging looks like this to me.

Clearly a breakthrough has occurred.

The Berkeley City Council's opposition to the Marine Recruitment Center and the three people who chained themselves to the Recruiting Center sparked a fury. The right-wing on the national and local level were apoplectic, stung by the Berkeley City Council's actions and by activists from Code Pink and World Can't Wait. The right mobilized people to come and counter-demonstrate, US senators threatened federal funding for Berkeley (which caused some of the Council members to back off), but the anti-war movement stepped up and high school youth especially jumped into the breach and declared themselves. Look at the passion in their faces!

Hundreds of youth joined the fight in person. Orange has blossomed at Berkeley High. Unable to meet the anti-war, anti-torture and anti-Bush regime movement with rational arguments (because they have none), the right-wing and police have resorted to brutality, including against 13 year olds and 85 year olds, further enraging people against them and further exposing the reactionary nature of the Bush forces. People are saying that they're proud that they're from Berkeley again and that the outpouring of protesters gives them confidence and inspiration that getting punched in the nose by reactionaries is worth it!

Actions in other cities inspired by Berkeley's lead have happened and other city councils and mayors are signaling their displeasure with the military recruiters who are feeding young bodies to this immoral, unjust war of imperialism.

It is possible that the Berkeley actions and the recruitment of youth issue may be playing a role analogous in some ways to the role of the draft during the Vietnam War: an ongoing insult and concrete, concentrated manifestation of the unacceptable that youth can specifically mobilize around. Our government cannot continue this war without fresh meat for their war machine and therefore cannot back off from their efforts to lie and deceive people into signing up. The actions of a few people daring to put their bodies on the line, placing their bodies on the gears of war, has been heard around the country, and either already or soon, around the world.

One of the lessons from this fight is that the actions of even a very small number of people - who put themselves directly in the way of this oppressive war machine that is torturing and murdering people while lying about it all - can spark many. And youth in particular have a huge role to play, as they have always before in history, catalyzing broader sections of the people to storm the heavens and remake the world.

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