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Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Friday, January 20, 2006

    Why weekly actions against the war? Why a mystery demonstration tonight?

    Here is an argument I posted on indymedia; hopefully, it's helpful for people who might be struggling with or looking for words to answer these questions, namely the question of why we in the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) are taking weekly action and why we are doing a mystery demo tonight aimed at policymakers.

    Some discussion might be good. I think it's important that as we plan actions where people don't know what they are getting into that we explain the context of what they are getting into and the tactical and strategic reasons for moving forward. It is also a message to the authorities that we only intend free expression, so I want to see what they will do with that tonight. Either way, you can expect a report back. And, for those who missed the emails, we meet at 7PM tonight outside of Foggy Bottom Metro.

    ***

    There are at least two reasons for the tactic for these demos, one specific to a mystery demo. First on that point, the target of these protests isn't the press primarily, it's not the general public primarily, but rather it's the policy makers themselves, those who for the most part live in ivory towers and have little or no connection to the public they serve. We as protesters know very well that there's something absurd about being reduced to a tactic of disruption, of pots, pans, screaming, inane chants, as though we are the animals that are caged in a zoo. While we scream about free expression, we know that this is neither truly free nor expression. The political structure is so big, so abstracted from the people it's supposed to serve (one would think that most rightwingers would agree wholeheartedly with some on the more anarcho left on this point), that there's little more that someone can do than turn to tactics of disruption, which is a tricky thing to do while staying true to one's beliefs.

    I have no qualms about yelling and screaming and banging pots and pans and showing up at the one place where a policymaker, especially as diabolical as the cabal currently in power, sleeps at night. That's the situation. What else is one to do? And, the mystery makes it all the better. But, we are not out in these actions to break any law or any windows; we are simply out to be heard and to make life more difficult for people who are frankly responsible for mass murder. This is not to say that we won't at some point act against an unjust law, but that's hardly the point tonight or on any other evening that we call these actions.

    So, the first tactical reason is that a mystery action is more likely to succeed at disrupting corrupt policymakers as well as not giving them a heads up of where we are headed so that they might hear us. That part of it is public and for the world. Not all actions will necessarily be mystery actions, but it works for the working group planning this tonight.

    Secondly, the tactic of these actions has an internal motive, which is movement building. Notice that there are actions every week. We believe that as an activist group, action should be our first priority, and continuity of action serves the purpose of sustaining and growing movement visibility. While it's not fair to say that this is action for the sake of action, it is fair to say that the success of the action is not simply determined by whether the action meets its external objectives. There's a strategic aim here that is internal, namely that continuity over time produces growth. Not all actions will be of this type; they may involve education events, they may be press events, public rallies, but they will be constant, and more constant than DAWN meetings, which have been reduced to 1 hour a week, so that more action work can get done following the meetings.

    There are other reasons that others may have for this, but these are two considerations that I know are behind the thinking of these actions.

    We will see you in the streets tonight.

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