As a young man just returned from service in Vietnam I found myself protesting for an end to that war and all wars.
For me war is an obscene show of force….”mine is bigger than yours” sort of thing. There is nothing romantic or heroic about the destruction of life and limb.
After several trips to the local jail for defying a police order and the life caught up with me and I became a father and had tom get a “real job” and slowly my activism got less important but the feelings about war stayed with me and I wrote about them whenever I got the chance.
Somewhere in the absence from the movement and it died….and now all our wars, endless, senseless wars, go on and on unchallenged…..a sad thing indeed for the US had a proud history of pacifism and protests…..
Resistance to war is as old as war itself. The first recorded instance was a Christian, Maximilian, who was executed in the 3rd century AD for refusing to join the Roman army. There have been many other individuals who have refused to serve in war throughout history. But for the beginnings of a coherent peace movement, rather than individual resistance, we have to look to the 19th century.
In America, the first pamphlets calling for an organised anti-war movement were distributed in 1814, and the first meeting of the New York Peace Society followed a year afterwards. Soon there were chapters all over America, and similar societies in Europe too. The American Peace Society was officially founded in 1828.
During World War I, a large number of men resisted conscription on the grounds of conscientious objection to war. Some were made to pay fines, and many others were sent to prison. The No-Conscription Fellowship was formed in 1914, and grew into a substantial movement once conscription was introduced in 1916. Some of these objectors went on to found War Resisters’ International in the aftermath of the war. The War Resisters’ League, its American branch, was set up a couple of years later in 1923, and both groups are still actively campaigning today.
It wasn’t until the Vietnam War, however, that the anti-war movement began to really take hold in the public imagination. Opposition to the war became less individual and, inspired by the Civil Rights movement, took the form of widespread, large-scale demonstrations attended by people from all walks of life. Starting with small demonstrations on university campuses around the United States in 1964 the movement grew quickly, with several marches of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the USA and in Europe over the following years. In 1969, the November 15th Moratorium March in Washington, D.C. was attended by over half a million people.
So I asked….what happened to the antiwar movement?
Years ago, most Americans decided that the war in Iraq was not worth fighting. That judgment helped elect Barack Obama president in 2008. Last year, for the first time, a majority of those polled said it had been a mistake to send forces into Afghanistan as well. Support for both wars has been steadily declining since Obama first took office.
So why, given the unpopularity of American involvement, is there not and has there never been a sizable movement to demand that the U.S. military withdraw from either nation? This absence is an extraordinary phenomenon: two of the longest wars in American history entirely lack the kind of organized, sustained opposition that emerged during nearly every other major armed conflict the United States has fought over the past two centuries.
There are other theories and articles to why there is no substantial antiwar movement anymore in this country…
We need a strong antiwar movement to keep the power brokers honest (as honest as they can ever be)…..we have had enough wars and far way too long…..
Just a musical interlude after a somber post…..
I Read, I Wrote, You Know
“Lego Ergo Scribo”