War Tax Resisters Talk Strategy in Brooklyn

Daniel Woodham at the NWTRCC press conference

Robert Randall reports from the NWTRCC strategy conference in Brooklyn (excerpts):

The official minutes/report will come out later, but I’m sure those of you who could not be there are wanting to hear something about it went, so here’s my take on it:

It was great! Although we did not obtain the broader participation from all segments of the peace movement for which we had hoped, there were a lot of us there (over 70 throughout ), about ½ “old hats” and about ½ “new folk”, by my guestimate. It was great seeing so many old friends and getting to know new ones.…

We strategized! Several plans came out of that. Here are some, with ways you can connect:

A new Working Group was established to develop a WTR Intro DVD, parts of which will also be put on our website for download/streaming.…

Another working group was set up to work on the survey/boycott proposal from the St. Louis Covenant Community of WTRs. The original proposal is at www.nwtrcc.org/oct05conf.htm (Proposal #2). While the exact form of stages 2 & 3 will be developed later, we decided to go ahead with the development and pilot testing of a survey between now and the NWTRCC meeting in Seattle.…

Both of the above working groups are to include young people. In addition, we decided to establish a Young Adult Review Panel to look at all of NWTRCC’s literature and work and make recommendations for improving our outreach to young people.…

Some of the specific [proposals] in which folk expressed interest, but for which I do not have anyone designated as convener, are:

  • new youth-oriented W-4 piece
  • a cellphone wtr campaign
  • making wtr links with counter-recruitment movement
  • redirection of war taxes to youth/student groups/projects
  • wtr outreach to young people involved in intentional community and nonviolent lifestyles
Karl Meyer at the NWTRCC press conference

Karl Meyer at the NWTRCC press conference

Photos by Steev Hise

There’s a new anti-war protest action being planned under the name The World Can’t Wait. It talks a big game:

There is not going to be some magical “pendulum swing.” People who steal elections and believe they’re on a “mission from God” will not go without a fight.

There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into “leaders” who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.

But silence and paralysis are not acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn — or be forced — to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be stopped. And we must take the responsibility to do it.

And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

To that end, on , the first anniversary of Bush’s “re-election”, we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to join us. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: “No! This regime does not represent us! And we will drive it out!”

must be a massive and public proclamation that we refuse to be ruled in this way. must call out to the tens of millions more who are now agonizing and disgusted. will be the beginning — a giant first step in forcing the Bush regime to step down, and a powerful announcement that we will not stop until he does so — and it will join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.

This will not be easy. If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are not going to stop.

The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us.

At first I was attracted by all the talk about taking responsibility to act rather than waiting for politicians to solve the problems. A call for people to walk off their jobs and take to the streets — whoopie! the seeds of a general strike! (It’s free to dream.)

But I don’t see much substance here. It seems to come down to nothing more than a smaller and more strident version of ’s anti-war protests. “Making a powerful statement” — a “public proclamation” — “a powerful announcement.”

I’ll predict that on , there’ll be a few hundred earnest people, more-or-less embarrassed or horrified at the Revolutionary Communist Party banners in their midst, marching around downtown San Francisco, while “the majority” look out of their office windows and think “didn’t we just have one of these peace parades last month?”

Myself, I’m with Phil Ochs on this one: “I ain’t a-marchin’ anymore!”