against the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, activists and writers such
as Cindy Sheehan and David Swanson have called for shutting down
business-as-usual in the capital city.
But on March 20, instead of a hundred thousand or even tens of thousands
of protesters, it was evident from first-hand observation that the
event drew, at most, a few thousand people.
Far from disrupting business-as-usual, the anti-war protest -- which
took place on a Saturday -- seemed to blend in with the flow of tourists
and locals enjoying the warm, sunny weather in our nation's capital. On
that weekend, far more prominent in mainstream news was the
health-care reform showdown in Congress and the immigration reform rally
which drew more than 200,000 people to the National Mall.
But some of the ordinary protesters who did show up advocated revolution
or other ways of intensifying resistance against what they regard as
imperialism and militarism.
said Rich Mareeney who came to Washington, D.C. from New York City. He
tilted his head toward a fellow activist standing a few feet away from
him and said, "some people, like Bob over here -- he's going to argue we
need a revolution to overthrow it."
Mareeney works with the anti-war activist group, The World Can't Wait.
He was dressed in an orange jump suit -- like those worn by Guantanamo Bay
detainees -- to call for an end to occupations and torture for empire.
At points throughout the anti-war rally the crowd chanted, "Shut it
down! Shut it down!" It's not clear whether that call for shutting down the empire
was heard by anyone in the White House across the street.
wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of an imperialist system that
causes human suffering both at home and abroad. For some of the protesters,
revolution, socialist or otherwise, is a way to bring an end to the
Mareeney said he imagines a "revolutionary movement of masses of people
fighting for a change." About whether the revolution would be violent,
he said, "people have a lot of different opinions on that. They think if
you have an armed revolution, it opens up a lot of doors. I personally
would fight for more of a peaceful revolution."
Mareeney said violent attempts at revolution in the United States could
result in civil war or a police state. "We'd be driving more toward a
fascist state and that's not what we want. We're sort of trying to fight
against the fascist remaking."
"Peaceful revolution is possible," said Tom Lingo from St. Petersburg,
Florida who came to the protest with a group called St. Pete For
Peace. He carried a sign that read on one side -- "when the rich wage
war, it's the poor who die" and on the other side -- "please
don't participate in the violence, please don't volunteer." The latter
statement was a reference to the counter-recruitment movement.
Lingo said, "It (revolution) is supposed to happen every 20 years or so.
I think it was Jefferson that said something to the effect that every
generation needs a revolution, a changing of the guard. The Declaration
of Independence is a living document. It changes with time. If it
didn't, we'd still have slavery and the only people who'd be allowed to
vote would be men with property. Women wouldn't have any rights."
A man sang into a bull horn a parody of the British rock band Queen's
1977 hit "We Will Rock You," as a person walking beside him played a
drum which he wore strapped to his abdomen...
Making hundreds of billions from the war today.
Your blood-stained cash, billions stashed
As nations and people are burned and slashed."
Agreeing with the message of that parody was a tall bearded man in his mid-30s who gave his name as John. I am sorry but I haven't managed to
get his surname. He was working at an information table for the Party
for Socialism and Liberation.
John said, "Capitalism is at the root of the war. The war, in its essence, is a
war of aggression for domination of what's perhaps the most important
region of the world for Wall Street and the oil companies who are
capitalists...We believe that a revolution is necessary. Revolution is a
part of history. It's part of humanity."