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People Power Helped Prevent a War -- Is a Transformational Moment Upon Us?

It really feels like we are at a turning point. It is getting harder to fool the public. Our eyes are open.
 
 
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Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Anton Chalakov

 

In the last two weeks we witnessed the rise of the American people against a war in Syria.  Two weeks ago we described how Americans opposed the war and were organizing against a military attack.  Last week we described how the new opposition to war crossed the political spectrum with people pushing a cross-partisan coalition in Congress that created a lop-sided majority so large Obama knew he would lose a vote.  This right-left coalition of the American people stopped a war, handing President Obama a defeat as he became the first president who announced a bombing campaign and was stopped by the people.

Those who have been involved in antiwar campaigns know this may be a temporary victory, but the broad opposition to war indicates that bombing Syria will come at a high political cost for Obama and his party. Our hope is not only that this opposition will continue, but that it will rise to the challenge put forward by President Putin in the NY Times. This could be the beginning of the end of the war on terror with its constant destruction and embarrassing U.S. violation of international law.  The U.S. is stuck in a never-ending-war quagmire that the people, not the politicians, must end.

Related to the war quagmire is the economic domination of the U.S. by transnational corporations.  Again, a cross-partisan effort is needed in the next big battle – the campaign to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This secretly negotiated agreement will affect every issue that we care about and it is at a critical stage. President Obama formally requested Fast Track which will allow him to negotiate and sign the agreement and prevent a transparent and democratic process of review in Congress. We must demand that Congress vote “no” on Fast Track this fall. Click here for more information on what you can do.

This week, we want to focus on one of the fundamentals for the advancement of all societies, and certainly a foundation for the development of all movements – youth organizing for better education and a more just world.  When we think back to other successful movements in the U.S. and around the world, youth have been a key force as they challenge old ideas and bring energy to new ones. 

We saw the beginning of the youth movement in Occupy which, while multi-generational, was energized by youth mistreated by two decades of government that cut services and privatized everything for the benefit of the wealthy.  The result for the youth of today is high tuition and college debt, privatized and corporatized education, professors who juggle insecure adjunct teaching with other jobs rather than being tenured with academic freedom, and an employment market that promises low wages and insecurity. This all adds up to a well-justified youth revolt.

The success of stopping a war, and the activism among America’s youth among other signs, is showing that we may be at one of those moments in history where a dramatic political shift is occurring.  We may be in the midst of major change, and not even realize it, as so often transformations are only evident when they are behind us.

There is a growing resistance around education and youth issues. The defunding of public educational institutions and increasing privatization (and corporatization) of our schools is part of the neo-liberal economic agenda. Neo-liberal refers to the loosening of regulation and openness to privatization.  This defunding has resulted in record high tuitions and debts for college students.

In addition to that, the growing wealth inequality and poverty caused by our economic system which continually funnels wealth to the top are two of the top reasons why our educational outcomes are so poor. If we care about creating an educated population, then students must have adequate housing, food and health care and parents must have time with their children rather than slaving at multiple jobs and juggling their lives to make ends meet. We wonder if we will see events soon like what occurred in one area of Spain that is very poor; parents raided a department store for school supplies and invited the press to watch.

 
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