In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

20Historically Speaking · April 2003 From Vietnam to Iraq: Lessons from the City of Brotherly Love Paul Lyons The current anti-war movement draws fuel from groupswho forseveralyears have been protesting against globalization . At their best, diese respective movements stand against militarism and imperial adventures and in solidaritywidi diose locked out ofaffluence and, characteristically, liberty. Atworst, thesevarious Lefts romanticizeThird World revolution, apologize for dictatorship, and simplyflip die conventionalviewofAmerican exceptionalism on its head—instead of being the last, best hope for mankind, the United States becomes the cause of all of die world's woes, from poverty to AIDS. These groups could stand to learn some lessons from the Philadelphia Resistance, one ofAmerica's most successful Vietnam era antiwar movements. An anti-draft organization which grew out ofWest Coast initiatives, the Resistance became by 1968 Philadelphia's most influential anti-war group. What made the Resistance effective was its ability to focus on die war. While die group did link widi odier organizations to protest against poverty and racism, its members kept their eyes on the prize and did not divert energy from die primary task of ending the war. Because ofthe personal stake invested by many of its members —who faced and sometimes served prison time—there was a clearvalue in community: in attendingcourtproceedings on draftstatus; in being there when someone was arrested; and in writing letters to and visiting diose incarcerated . As such, die Philadelphia Resistance was usuallyable to maintain die higher moral ground widiin die larger community. Such an achievement, an essential element in building a mass movement, also rested in die Resistance's choice to eschew die worst aspects ofNew Left developments in die latter 1960s: Third Worldism, Maoism, Weadiermen -style terrorism, the different versions of Marxist-Leninism. Resistance members never abandoned plain English for die hackneyed rhetoric so often resorted to by bodi Old and New Leftists. They embraced an essentiallyhomegrown, indigenous radicalism closer to Walt Whitman than to Leon Trotsky . When the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in die summer of 1968 to destroyan innovative effort to establish "a socialism with a human face," most New Leftists showed minimal interest in die kinds of"bourgeois" civil liberties soughtbe Dubcek, Svoboda, and Havel. Theywere more interested in Enver Hoxha's regime in Albania, although primary attachments were to Mao's China, Fidel's Cuba, and Ho's Vietnam. Resistance activists indeed succumbed to identifying widi die North Vietnamese and Viet Cong "David" fighting against the American "Goliath." But such romances remained limited. And following die crushing of the Prague Spring, Resistance activists journeyed to lassoffices in Manhattan to send a message ofsolidarity to die Czechs and register their protest to die Soviets. Resistance activists also stayed pragmatic and goal-oriented in die critical fall of 1969 when the New Left Mobilization and the Moratorium confronted die Nixon Administration widi massive efforts. The Philadelphia Resistance worked cooperativelywith Quaker and more traditional peace organizations— American Friends Service Committee, Friends Peace Committee, Women Strike for Peace, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, AQuakerAction Group, Americans for Democratic Action—to reach out to middle class suburbanites, Cadiolic high schoolers , young professionals, and African-Americans . Together, these groups organized an extraordinarily impressive array of anti-war expressions: vigils, teach-ins, church discussions , lunch protests. Resistance memberswere sometimes critical of less radical voices, but diey understood die need for collaboration and coordination. In Philadelphia dierewere extremistideologues who belonged to the Revolutionary Youdi Movement, die Labor Committee, and Progressive Labor. The city was home to the murderous hippie activistIra Einhorn. Butthe Quaker institutional and moral structure helped to shape a less dogmatic and more humane anti-war movement. There were respected elders like StewartMeachum ofthe American Friends Service Committee and Dick FernandezofClergyandLaityConcerned and veteran radicalswidi democraticprincipleslike Leo Kormis and Marty Oppenheimer who offered counsel, experience, and resources. Somehow the Resistance-led anti-war movement in Philadelphia always maintained its sense of humor and an ability to laugh at itself, which tempered the tendency toward self-righteousness. The latter, however, was always aproblem. Thiswas a directaction, typicallyNewLeftnon -membershiporganization, a "movement," not a party. It inevitablyrested on white, affluent, educated activists, operatingin a town increasinglysplitoverracial, ethnic , religious, and social class divisions. Frank Rizzo effectivelymobilizedwhatNixonwould call "die...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6438
Print ISSN
1941-4188
Pages
p. 20
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.