Todays “Stop Bombing Libya” demonstration (organized by Stop the War Coalition and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) held only a handful of protesters. Why? Okay fine, it’s a weekday, people may be working, making sure they do what they must to ensure their families’ survival in this capitalist society.
But where were the students? Surely they could spare an hour or two to stand up for the Libyan civilians facing the shock and awe of our bombs? Or maybe the students stand up for their own education, which is facing horrendous budget cuts whilst billions is being spent on the wars instead right? I guess not.
After asking local FE college students’ why there was a lack of engagement from the students they told me that students didn’t feel like the wars directly affected them. The reality is, the war affects each and every one of us. From the cuts to the welfare state being used to fund them, to the brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers of these countries serving in Iraq/Afghanistan. Though do we even need further reason to intervene in what our government is doing when there are a countless number of civilians (fellow human beings) being killed, their own homes, schools, houses being destroyed as I write this.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe students do care. There is just a clear lack of communication between the anti-war organisations and the students on the ground.
Another intriguing point raised was that students felt like they were worthless to the cause, unable to help. It enforced the reality that you can only make significant change when you are in a position of power. We may call ourselves a “democracy” but if the power of the people is being lost, what remains? The beauty of “democracy” (personal opinions aside) is that we can embrace the freedom to protest. But when such a freedom meaningless, when it is disempowered by those who take actions as a dictator would, are we really exercising democracy?
Although everyone knew today’s protest would be small, I hold massive respect for the organisers and those who did attend. But it is a sad kind of respect. Deep down I believe this is something each and every one of us should be doing. A few people asked me why chose to attend this “failed” protest. Today may have not made a direct impact on what is happening in Libya, but why do people only attend “successful” demos. If everyone did that, we would never have a demo in the first place.
I guess what I’m trying to say is we should never stop standing up for what we believe in just because there may not be a lot of support. The truth is, the day every single one of us believes that we a worthless is the day we truly become worthless New initiatives are clearly needed. Instead of giving up, refusing to attend the “failed” demonstrations, come along with new ideas to help push the movement.
There will be a anti-war mass demonstration in Trafalgar Square on October 8th. This is the perfect opportunity to revive the anti-war movement! So let’s do it. And let’s do it right. Peace!