Speech delivered by Tamara Hansen at the Closing Plenary of the United National Antiwar Coalition’s (UNAC) Conference in Richmond, Virginia, June 18, 2017, with some edits made for clarity.
Good morning everyone, what an amazing weekend we have had so far!
I want to thank the United National Antiwar Coalition for organizing a great conference this weekend. It has been an honour to join united with all of you to learn from each other, to come up with ways we can work together and I hope that we will continue after today to support each other’s initiatives and build a more unified and powerful antiwar movement, in the U.S., Canada, and ultimately, around the world.
Again, my name again is Tamara Hansen, I am a founding organizer with Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) in Vancouver, Canada. I am also on the editorial board of the Fire This Time Newspaper.
For us, the world today is defined by ongoing and expanding US-led wars and occupations. U.S. sanctions, bombings, invasions, and covert military actions are the reality of life for the majority of people on this planet. As I mentioned on Friday, in MAWO we call this the New Era of War and Occupation.
As activists, organizers and human-loving people, gathered here at this conference, we need to confront this vicious campaign by U.S. imperialism and its allies. From their 2001 war on Afghanistan, to their 2003 war on Iraq, we have witnessed over 15 years of brutal wars and occupations around the globe. This, of course, has included the war at home in the form of racist and islamophobic attacks, austerity measures, and attacks on our civil & democratic rights.
What I want to discuss this morning are the political dynamics between oppressed and oppressor; or the relationship of forces within our tasks and perspectives to confront this new era of war and occupation.
Of course in 8 minutes, I can only do so much, but at least I will put forward a few of our ideas and what we are working on in Vancouver Canada, as well as, how we can work together in the future across borders to put an end to war.
Indeed, I think we have all done a superb job this weekend to bring together many good ideas and analysis based on our own experiences and outlooks, and this makes my presentation much easier.
One of the great aspects of the UNAC conference has been combining the discussions of the war at home and the war abroad. Nevertheless, for us the context is our specific historical circumstance, this new era of war and occupation. This will be a long epoch, in which imperialists are seeking very direct, brutal, bloody military confrontations. One of our brothers yesterday described the militarization of the police, and we could also talk about this new era of war and occupation as being: militarization at home and militarization abroad.
But it is no longer possible to separate these two from each other, while our struggle against the war at home is directed and targeted at the ruling capitalist class here, the struggle against wars and occupations abroad is also directed and targeted at the same ruling capitalist class at home. The difference is that, as we said ten years ago, this is a long historic period in which imperialists will shed the blood of millions of people (and we have already seen this over the past 15 years), in which they hope to bring some partial solution to their deep capitalist economic crisis, over production, and their battle amongst themselves for who will dominate the market.
Speaking for today, we see a convergence of these two struggles, rather than a divergence, which is caused by the intensification of the war at home and the wars abroad. It could be compared to the two blades of a pair of scissors, which are coming together. Meaning that this intensification of imperialist war and occupation has made the struggle of oppressed people here in the United States (and also in Canada), and oppressed people around the world come together. This calls for more united action and more unity in our struggles.
Today more than ever before in history, the concept of unity is needed to develop a correct vision and perspective. While our struggle is responding to attacks by the ruling class at home, the scope of our struggle is becoming increasingly international, towards building a strong, effective international movement against war and occupation and for self-determination of all oppressed nations at home and abroad.
But our struggle is not just political in nature, it is absolutely economic as well. Fighting for the rights of workers and oppressed people and fighting against war and occupation, puts the masses abroad in a better position against their ruling classes and U.S. imperialism. Can you imagine if workers in Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Namibia, China, India, Morocco, Congo, Guatemala, and Columbia, just to name a few, were all being paid justly and fairly, or closely to what workers earn in the United States or Canada? Can you imagine how much life would change here in the United States, how much life would change for people in imperialist countries? It immediately opens the struggle of working and oppressed people, so within this simple question, we are reminded that the world capitalist set up, as it stands, cannot bring the living standards of the west to third world countries, because the system would collapse. This reminds us of how our struggles are connected by way of war, occupation and economy. The class struggle in the world today is more connected that ever before, and it has opened a great opportunity for us to mobilize, rearrange and coordinate against imperialism and capitalism. We need to move from this new sense of unity towards creating that in action and organization, which means building united fronts.
It is time for us to work together to tackle the daily struggles of people in the United States, Canada, and around the world. Connecting to issues that folks can connect with, whether it’s the environment, racism or anti-austerity measures; to war and occupation. And this has been an important concept discussed at this conference.
In Vancouver, for the last 10 years, every month we have been organizing rallies, petition campaigns, forums, conference, and festivals in order to bring these struggles to people in our city. To raise the issue of war and occupation in their daily lives, and all of these actions are a part of keeping the fire alive, within our anti-war organizers, but also bringing these ideas to new communities.
In Vancouver, to do this we talk about the three Cs – Consistency, Creativity and Coordination. These three Cs are things that we hope everyone in the antiwar movement will embrace, as a sort of mantra, for moving ahead. How can we be more consistent? The ruling class in consistent in its campaign for more war and occupation, we have to be consistent too. How can we be creative in our message and bring it to working and oppressed people? How can we further coordinate our work, or be more united? More international days of action, more unity in the antiwar movement.
Coming together in a united front is the best way to unite and win. Because it puts us in a position not only to have a clear view and strategy to organize our struggles, but also brings strength to building a combat organization. And organization is the essence and foundation of any struggle’s ability to win. We can learn from the example of yesterday, from the message from our sister in Poland, about their struggle for abortion rights. How women came together, in a united front, against their ruling class and its measures against the right to abortion. It is with these united fronts that we can go forward to establish a better world. I believe that this is our fight to win, we just have to come together and make it happen.
United we will win! ¡Venceremos!
Follow Tamara Hansen on Twitter: @THans01
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