Today was the Rage Against the Machine concert followed by an anti-war march led by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Both were held under the umbrella of The Alliance for Real Democracy, which composed of a number of more liberal groups which split from Recreate ‘68 some months back. We heard the march was being coordinated with Unconventional Denver, and it was announced that some of IVAW was planning on getting arrested, so expecting some action we decided to check it out.
The march began after the RATM concert let out, four miles away from where the Pepsi Center where the DNC was being held. Needless to say it was a long march.
And a slow one too. In the days before, the pigs split marches down the middle where gaps appeared. Using this as a rationale, the march stopped a number of times to keep a tight formation. Even though unpermitted, there was a visible showing of cooperation on the part of the pigs and the marshals. First sign of a typical liberal march, protest marshals in day-glo vests. It is likely that the march stopped so often as part of this cooperation, not as a tactic against police aggression as had originally been suggested. The front of the march stopped for traffic lights also.
The march was large, numbering several thousands. The Denver Pig Department oinked at between 3000 and 3500 protestors. But we all know that pigs are better at being pigs than counting.
All around it was a more passive protest- and more pro-amerikan too. Several protestors wore Amerikan flags over there faces. Chants about wanting peace, support veterans, and “can’t stop us” were prolific. Lacking were popular chants and expressions of supporting the Iraqis and other victims of Amerikan aggression and imperialism. Nevertheless, RAIM utilized the size of the march, as well as its duration (around 3 hours) to agitate and educate for anti-imperialism.
Marching with us under the U.$.A. Off The Planet banner was an anti-imperialist contingent composed of not just RAIM-Denver, but others from around the country. We got a few popular chants going such a “Number one terrorist, U.S. imperialists” and “Imperialism, tear it down. Capitalism, tear it down.” Less popular was “John Brown John Brown, driver the invaders to the ground,” the throwback “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, the oppressed will always win.” as well as a few Spanish slogans. At one point a couple of protest marshals reminded us that this was a march in solidarity with veterans. We informed them that we were marching in solidarity with the people of Iraq. We were trying to be courteous. Prior to the march we had decided not to chant “Fuck the troops.”
We also passed out a lot of literature, including the RAIM ‘Zine, Chapter 8 of Long Live the Victory of People’s War by Lin Biao, and Ward Churchill’s Ghosts of 9-11. In the course of doing so we managed to talk to a lot of people, pressing an anti-imperialist line and analysis the whole time. Many people agreed with us on key issues such as the nature and degree of parasitism. When they didn’t, it was usually in the form of Marxist-sounding dogma or vague general “left” idealist obscurations. As far as we could tell, when it came to the points, no one who disagreed with RAIM had a better, more realistic line or could defend their line as well as RAIMers.
After a number of hours, we finally reached the Pepsi center…and stopped. People started announcing that IVAW was trying to negotiate some sort of deal with the Democrats. At this point, we let out a collective “lame,” and started heading back. This march was hyped as being a major civil disobedience by IVAW, and many people gave up their direct actions to be on this march in solidarity. This having turned into a typical liberal march with protest marshals and symbolic “confrontations” turned many people off, but wasn’t too surprising considering the organizing groups politics.
As it turned out IVAW wanted to read a letter to Obama. Apparently, the letter read in part, “Sen. Obama, millions of people are looking to you to restore our reputation around the world…you symbolize hope for a better America” [sic]. Pro-Amerikan through and through.
However, before heading off we decided get a group photo and invited a few other anti-imperialists to join with us. So we rolled out the USA Off the Planet one more time and started posing for pictures. Before we could finish, exiting delegates and media began snapping picture and it turned into a brief photo op for anti-imperialism.
Click here for more.
Update 2: Tryworks has their take on this march, and like us, doesn’t hold back. Click here for more. Also, have a response from an “army sergeant” who objected to tryworks recap of the police led parade march:
“Again, my problem isn’t that the march was goofy. My problem’s that it wasted the time of a bunch of people who’ve got better things to do than negotiate with Obama underlings, an act most of us consider about as fruitful as hammering our kneecaps with a ballpeen hammer. There were even some who avoided direct action the whole week, as they considered this would be the highlight of the protests. They feel sold out.
And rightly so. They were sold out. By turning what was supposed to be a protest into a negotiation with Obama lackeys, the IVAW did nothing but reify the illusion that Obama has any intent of pulling the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. They legitimized exactly what it was they were supposed to be opposing.”