Change is Gonna Come -- From Us
During his early October visit to the War Resisters League office, former War Resisters' International chair Narayan Desai commented on the campaigns of then-presidential candidates. Both were advocating change, he said, but change was not what either wanted.
Certainly, when it comes to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and possible future wars -- neither candidate offered a substantial change from the Bush status quo. John McCain would have promoted an endless occupation of Iraq and expansion of the war on terror into Iran. The best that President-elect Barack Obama could offer was a slow, vague withdrawal strategy in Iraq and threats to hunt down Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Nevertheless Obama's election meant and means a lot to many in this country. Voter turnout in the South set new records in 2008. Young, progressive African-Americans who would never have considered attending a presidential inauguration are booking trips to Washington to see Obama sworn in. They are counting on him to represent voices that have been historically silenced. And while it is important for the left to put continual pressure on the new administration to make the changes Obama promised -- and then some -- we must remember that his election itself is, for many, a meaningful symbol.
The antiwar movement, on the other hand, offers more than symbols. In this international issue of WIN, we highlight three organizations working for peace and justice through solidarity with victims of war and state terror. Woman in Black in Serbia show how powerful an act of resistance a vigil can be as they commemorate for the thirteenth year the genocide their government facilitated. The U.S. Campaign for Burma mobilizes the international grassroots community in solidarity with the Saffron Revolution's monks. L'Onf nonviolence group resists occupation and militarism in Iraq with programs and performances that look at children's safety and women's rights.
Thiss issue's expanded reviews section shifts perspectives to documentation of domestic solidarit and resistance. Frida Berrigan's words on We Who Dared to Say No to War add new voices to the anthology of antiwar writing, while Ian Head explores Matt Meyer's' Let Freedom Ring, a collection of documents that links anti-racist, queer, and other struggles within the political prisoner movement. Ani DiFranco's latest album, Red Letter Year, unites spirituality, politics and family in what Nomy Lamm calls "mix tape material."
Historicallly, 2008 will indeed be remembered as a red-letter year. But what follows is still up to us. We cannot and will not wait for the new administration to end war, create jobs, abolish the prison industrial complex and institute universal health care. Radical change does not happen through electoral politics but through grassroots action. Look for our next issue on the economy to address these topics and more.