The war in Iraq has been “won” by the Bushites, and people who have been fighting to stop it, understandably, feel defeated.
They should not.
Meanwhile, factionalism WITHIN the anti-war movement, always a problem, threatens to turn people agaginst one another. In Japan, too, we see this.
Just as the U.S. has its “Answer” coalition, which on the one hand seeks to stage-manage the peace movement and on the other is unfairly used by rightists masquerading as leftists to attack the entire peace movement, Japan, too has its share of people out to fight each other rather than build a movement for social, eonomic and political justice.
Traditionally, in the mainstream peace movement here , there have always been destructive rivalries, like that of the Socialists and Communists. Not surprisingly, the views of most of the people who participate in these movements are closer to one another than the leadership would have us believe, yet so much energy has been wasted on NOT working together.
Then there are the various groups which claim to represent some corner of the sectarian left, frequently nominally Trotskyist, and often from a tradition of mindless violence toward one another. Very much a macho thing, they are represented by such groups as Chu-kaku-ha and Kakumaru, normally recognized by their helmets, sun glasses and face masks, though with the outbreak of SARS, it is not as easy to tell who is who anymore!!
Those in Chu-kaku-ha tend to make up a large part of what is called Zen-gaku-ren, an umbrella student group, which tends–like the party behind Answer–to be less than openabout its connection to the group. They in turn fight traditional groups like the Communist Party-related Minsei.
Recently, there has been a new development, owing much to the anti-globalization movement, where young and not-so-young, mainly unaffiliated, gather together thanks to the Internet, to spontaneously challenge the linked issues of militarism, imperialism and capitalism run amok. With influence from various anarchist circles as well as the non-violent civil disobedience movements past and present, this is a refreshing tendency which promises to remain for the long term.
Even here though, we find a great deal of confusion as groups bent on maintaining a non-violent image at any cost clash with other groups who make use of direct action to try to get around police blockades. In fact, some of the more principled anarchists have found themselves, possibly unwittingly, participating in police confrontations that are dominated by the Trotsyist Chu-kaku-ha using new names so as to avoid being identified as just the same Zen-Gaku-ren sectarians.
There are now running battles with the Japanese police, who like the increasingly violent police in other states, particularly the United States, are also becoming more and more repressive in a society which has always allowed the police to get away with restricting civil liberties.
What happens next is that people on the fringes, people who have not been fooled by the lies of the media about this being a war of liberation, yet who are not sure how to make their voices heard, are scared off. And so the movement contracts as people stay away from confrontation, getting labelled reformists by the ultra radicals and the overly battle-hungry anarchists who mistake street battles with radical change. Meanwhile, those of us who are reluctant to engage in confrontation for confrontation’s sake are frustrated as some in the more traditional peace movement and even the newer, more spontaneous groups try to maintain a distance by dutifully obeying police orders to stay on the sidewalk and not seeking middle ground, at least with some of the more principled anarchists who know the difference between creative disobedience and chaos.
There has got to be an effort to be inclusive as we encourage those who are tired of being voiceless to find their voice without making them feel they have to risk everything, including injury and arrest, if they want to make a difference. This is movement building, but it is sadly lacking here, just as it is lacking most places. It is time for serious radicals to sit down and talk to each other to find ways of working together that make everyone feel a part of the global movement for justice and peace.
Activism in Japan: Where to now?
Kyoto Peace Walk Grows-Movement Splits or Embraces?
Letter To A Slightly Depressed Antiwar Activist
A Few Ideas On Addressing A Meaningless Democracy
Revisiting Civil (Un)arrest and (Dis)obedience
Attack Of The Liberals
Does Size Really Matter?