Fifty years ago, the peace/antiwar movement in the United States was at its height. Led by priests, poets, politicos, and pranksters, it included a wide range of class, race, and gender perspectives from the boiling-hot sixties. I was seven years old, but felt enough of its backwash that by the time I was twelve, I was already a self-declared democratic socialist and a budding anti-militarist.
A couple of decades later, I edited the 50th-anniversary edition of the Objector, the magazine of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors. I included resisters of numerous wars, asking “Where were YOU in 1968?” Many of the Vietnam vets I met through CCCO were also counselors for the GI Rights Hotline. One day, I joked with that group, “If we’re ever going to have a revolution, it’ll come from antiwar veterans.”
That sentiment has animated much of my professional life since, and I knew I needed such voices when I agreed to guest-edit this issue of Democratic Left. Working in the spirit of the general who taught us that the U.S. military are “gangsters for capitalism,” I recruited Joe Kassabian, a newish member of DSA’s Veterans Working Group (VWG), to help me dream possible articles and authors. And everyone I asked delivered, so we ended up with many more good pieces than would fit in these pages. You can find the rest in Democratic Left Online.
VWG members in this print and online issue include Spenser Rapone, called the “Commie Cadet” by the press for his West Point resistance, and Stan Goff, whose books have transmuted his Vietnam experience into potent commentary. Griffin Mahon gives us a look at the younger vets who mostly make up the VWG.
We are thrilled to include Rosa del Duca, whose journey to conscientious objection is the heart of her book and podcast Breaking Cadence, and Jonathan Wesley Hutto, whom I met when he founded the 2007 Appeal for Redress, wherein active-duty servicemembers called for withdrawal from Iraq.
But this issue is about creating a socialist internationalism. Thus, we have Charles Lenchner with his own dissenting-soldier testimony, and Rohini Hensman, who reminds us that “Capitalism is global.”
Our own fate depends on the success of anti-authoritarian and anticapitalist struggles in other countries, and therefore international solidarity is a must for all socialists. David Swanson of World Without War talks about fighting to close U.S. bases around the world. Lion Summerbell takes on the terrifying reality of AFRICOM; Meredith Tax makes essential links between climate, global solidarity, and promising experiments like Rojava. Matt Meyer of the Fellowship of Reconciliation shows how to support nonviolent action instead of sexy-looking armed struggle. Vivian Rothstein distills the lessons from the Vietnam-era work of Students for a Democratic Society. And DSA’s own Rossana Rodriguez, recently elected to Chicago’s city council, recalls the 1980s/90s movement that kicked the U.S. Navy out of Vieques.
In lieu of a chapter roundup, we focused on the Veterans Working Group, but we want to publish a chapter roundup of antiwar activities. Please contact us with some updates we can post online.
May a thousand anti-imperialist organizing projects bloom!
NOTE: All articles except that of the national director represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily of DSA. For statements from DSA working groups and the National Political Committee, go to dsausa.org.