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(en) The Ultimate Act of Solidarity - by Slingshot

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://slingshot.tao.ca/)
Date Thu, 27 Jun 2002 02:24:55 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

When we publish an issue of Slingshot, we sit back and try to
think of something exciting, action oriented and hopeful to put
on the front page. Something to indicate that there are
opportunities for struggle, social change and liberation - that
the movement is still moving. This issue, we considered
publicizing Freedom Summer in Palestine, which is modeled
after freedom summer in Mississippi in 1963 during the civil
rights movement. We ended up getting into a huge discussion
and writing this, instead.

Freedom summer in Palestine, from June 20 - August 11, seeks
to bring internationals from many countries to Palestine to
engage in direct action against the Israeli occupation.
Internationals will live with Palestinian families in the
occupied territories to witness, and hopefully limit, Israeli
human rights abuses. The idea is that the Israelis will be less
willing to kill or brutalize foreigners than Palestinians, and that
the Israelis will be less likely to commit atrocities if they know
the outside world may learn about them. (See contact
information at end of article.)

While the campaign is important and being literally on the
front lines will require immense courage and dedication, we
felt troubled.

This kind of action follows typical patterns: The activists are
folks who can afford to take the whole summer off work (or
who weren?t working to start with), pay for a flight half way
around the world, so they can use their first-world privilege to
help the under-privileged. It targets a problem that is far away,
rather than addressing liberation here at home.

No doubt the idea of confronting tanks in Israel appears a lot
more immediate and important than anything at home. No
doubt its more sexy. Here at home, things don?t seem so black
and white. There appear to be few stark opportunities to put
your body on the line, stand up to power, and feel like you really
accomplished something.

But step back a bit: Its quite clear that if the US government
demanded that Israel end the occupation, they would have to
comply. The US government funds Israel, and Israel knows it.
And this relationship of the US to the rest of the world isn?t
limited to Israel - in area after area, the most important way to
help folks around the world (and the environment) would be to
confront and destabilize the United States. The ultimate act of
international solidarity is not going abroad, but stopping the
problem where it starts, here at home. No one is as well
positioned to do this as people in the United States. Are we
waiting for activists from the rest of the world to come and
help us? If the US was destabilized, you wouldn?t have to travel
far away to live your daily life for liberation.

And more importantly, rather than activism always being
directed outwards only towards someone else?s liberation far
away, we could fight for our own liberation while helping
others, too. Ultimately, using one?s own first-world privilege to
help the ?other? is just the activist version of missionary work.
For anarchists, its fraught with problems.

Freedom Summer in our own lives would mean following our
desires. If everyone in their own communities started living
like we wanted to live - refusing to participate in the
40-hour-a-week, industrialized, computerized, toxic, corporate,
mediated, managed ?life? shoved down our throats - this
system would stop. If not everyone, but a lot of people, started
living life like it mattered, the system would be knocked of
balance, called into question, weakened. Armies would have to
be recalled from overseas for service here. The US power to
enforce capitalist hegemony world-wide and here at home
would be shattered.

The idea of destabilizing life at home - of bringing the war
home - is scary. It?s a lot easier to go into an intense, violent,
dangerous situation in someone else?s land when you know
that it?s temporary, and that at the end of the summer, or
sooner if you decide, you can go back to the US where life will
be safe and peaceful. But the stability and comfort here at
home are paid for with lives and safety around the world. Until
people in the US take responsibility for stopping the regime
here, which exports terror everywhere else, there won?t be
safety or freedom in the rest of the world, nor real safety or
freedom here.

Its a huge mistake to allow our agenda to be set in reaction to
events elsewhere, losing sight of the big picture - the struggle
for total liberation. Rather than reaction and defense, its time
for offense. As the storm clouds of war against Iraq build,
should we wait until the first tank crosses the boarder so that
we can have a rowdy protest at the federal building the day
afterwards? With reports daily confirming the precarious
environmental situation resulting from unrestrained global
corporate capitalism, should we wait for the announcement of
each new timber harvest plan so that we may lay down before
the bulldozers?

Its time to move beyond activism as a hobby, something
separate from one?s life that must be balanced against the rest
of our lives - free time, relationships, enjoyment, creative work
- something that is best applied to others rather than one?s
self, something that seeks out excitement and travel. What we
seek is liberation, in which living rich, whole lives is the
struggle for freedom for ourselves, the planet and all its
inhabitants. Liberation eclipses and renders obsolete the single
issues. Let the freedom summer in our own lives and
everywhere begin soon, and never end.

For information on participating in Freedom Summer in
Palestine, which we encourage notwithstanding the foregoing,
please contact www. palsolidarity.org.


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