A critique of the anti-war movement from a Greek perspective
Following speech was held by Georgia Mylonaki of the association Intifada (www.intifada.gr) at a seminar of the Cairo conference in March 2008:
The Role of International Anti-War Movement in Supporting the Resistance
A critique of the current pacifist nature of the movement, why are movements shy to openly support resistance, challenges, proposals for changing this attitude, political benefits etc.
The Anti-War movement in Greece is being developed within a supposedly privileged environment if compared to that of the US or the rest of Europe, the reason for this is in brief the following:
-The Greek people is generally regarded as anti-American, which means against the American imperialist domination -the demonstrations against Bush visits in the country are of the most massive ones
-The Greek people is deeply political and traditionally pro-Arabic
- The people has and preserves memories of occupation, resistance, civil war and inflictions put upon by the great powers and this facilitates the identification with the peoples under attack and the understanding up to a point of the major political conflicts.
-There is no strong representation of the Israeli lobby and false accusations of anti-Semitism are scares.
Illustrative example of the easiness to identify with the resistance, and more importantly the armed one is the numerous Greek delegations composed by several different groups that participated last year in the Beirut conference for the Resistance. They participated stating that they support the resistance of Hezbollah, a stated Islamic and armed movement.
Nevertheless, even within this privileged environment, this support is sustained in a verbal level and does not manage to consolidate in a stable, constant and essentially active manner.
The major reason for this is that the Islamic front line of the resistance movement in the Middle East at this point may be widely accepted as an honest patriotic and anti-imperialist victorious movement, but is still under scrutiny regarding it's ideological roots and aspirations. Resistance inspires people, but Islam frightens them.
No religion, just politics
For the true Left the alliance with the resistance movements is granted, the obstacle is the "Islamic" denotation. Of course I do not suggest the demodulation of these movements the core of which is Islam. What I do suggest is the approximation of these two based on commonly accepted clauses: occupation, imperialism, war, class struggle. The discussion at this level is both feasible and essential. The issue of religion seems to divert the discussion in gnarled paths that can easily be used by the enemies of the resistance and hinder the approximation of the natural -regardless religion- allies. Imperialism uses all doctrines and peoples of all doctrines resist imperialism, this discussion could start and end right here.
The fact that Hezbollah is widely accepted whereas Hamas is put in the corner shows two other things: firstly how much easier it is to accept a movement not anticipating to govern and secondly the extent to which the western movements are manipulated by the imperialist propaganda. It took a wall explosion in Gaza (with the free people returning to the besieged and "undemocratic" Strip) a wide scale massacre in Jabalyia and a holocaust Israeli statement for the anti-war movement to start faltering about the major injustice in Gaza. Until then they just let the internal political fight evolving and the siege suffocating the people and still they have not taken yet a clear stand.
We all saw a democratically elected government being ousted and it's parliamentarians thrown in prison without denouncing Fatah's traitorous coalition with the occupation forces. We all stood still when Gaza was in claim. We all accepted that a civil war was erupting instead of denying it, we did not take the stand to say that a civil war is a full scale open war that claims thousands of lives, not fights here and there that were quite easily taken under control. No matter how tragic this was, it was not a civil war.
The fact that the European anti-war movement is mostly dominated by left activists does not facilitate this conjunction with the Islamic movements. The left feels that by relating it's goals with the ones of the Islamic anti-imperialist movement it is taking a "big leap backwards". Should we get rid of the "Capital" and apply the "Quran" instead? This is not an outspoken question but it is one that hunts many left brains and activists.
The point is though that this is a question not actually posed. At least not in the West. The Islamic oriented anti-imperialist movement so far has not imposed any ideological or religious conditions in order to begin it's dialogue or cooperation with the movements of the West.
The ideological and political war between the left or the Islamic trend may be the next major war if the two manage to come alive out of the global battlefield of the major imperialist attack we live today. But we are not there yet, at this point we have a common enemy. And smart warriors join forces against the common enemy. Coalitions do not have to make it all the way, neither do they need to be on a 100% scale. What they do need is identify between the major and the secondary elements and proceed if there is agreement on the major issues.
When the anti-war movement states "no to war" or "no to occupation" it shows that it has covered half the space of supporting the resistance. The next question is: yes to what? The only legitimate-honest answer to this is a series of "yeses", Yes:
-only to the democratically elected governments of the people
-to the true resistance and it's leaders that are born from within the people, regardless of it's political or religious orientations
-to the ideological and political struggle that under occupation may not always be as clear or as bloodless as we would wish, but keeps evolving
-to the right to claim lives of the occupation forces when the same forces claim the lives of the people
-to the right to make open propaganda for a just yet slandered cause
More than ever the creation of a stable network of open and permanent communication with the resistance movements is needed. It is of most importance to forge relationships of trust in order to deepen the political discourse that may lead to cooperation in certain issues under common goals. The attack is global, and so has to be the resistance.
Thankfully the people are not that easy to manipulate but unfortunately neither are they that easy to put in motion. All the official statistics, as well as our personal experience show that the people no longer trust the dominant mass media and that they are open, if not thirsty, for alternative and true information. They are eager to abolish the false dilemmas and to adopt the causes of the resistances.
It is illustrative that two events of the newly formed Madisa Center, one with the title "Islam and Woman" and the other with the screening of an openly pro-resistance documentary created in Gaza in early 2008 managed to fill entirely spaces with more than 300 seats and this with minimum "advertising". Seemingly illustrative is the fact that when the Palestinian member of the Knesset Mohamed Barake stated in an event of the Intifada Association in Athens that there are more Hamas victims in Gaza than from the Israeli occupation it was the audience that answered that this is totally untrue, the broad audience, not the members of the association. The demand of the people to identify with the resistance is here, but the supply is weak.
The majority of the anti-war/anti-occupation organizations in Greece and I believe in other parts of the world as well, are composed by simple workers, unionists and parents. People intensely active politically in various issues and with obvious luck of free time. This has implications both to their difficulty to disseminate information, reflect upon them and adopt a truly progressive and open stand towards the resistance. And of course to their ability to "act".
From this point a chain of limited action is created that restrains the possibility of recruiting new members and maintains the immobility of such groups. When the "enlightened" few are ill-informed, overworked and prejudiced, on what bases will they attract more people?
Of course taking under account the intense of the attack of the capital against the working class of Greece and of the entire world, it is even a miracle that these groups manage to survive. On the other hand if they had truly understood the great importance of actively supporting the resistance and help it's defeat in the east, they would have prioritized their tasks differently. War is still far away, so we may think.
The understanding of the importance of the major attack that is being imposed and it's possible outcomes is the one key that could activate the chain of the unrest in the West in an effective way, the second key is the transition of these groups to a more professional way of action. Maybe then we could start speaking for concrete results that would motivate broader popular audiences.
Such action has to be unrestrained by partisan conflicts and by the "monopolization" of the resistance. Egotistic and privileged relations do not serve the goal of the resistance itself that is fighting among other things to gain broad acceptance nor does it serve the people who are deprived from important contacts and resources. So it is important for the resistance as well to choose just partners who evaluate the resistance higher than their partisan political aims.