Stop the War won’t stop this war, but direct action might

The applause. The same old placards and distinguished speakers. The masses asking politely. Stop the War rallies might only be boring if their shortfalls didn’t have such serious implications.

Despite almost two million people marching against the war in Iraq, we did not stop it. The old leaders of the Left talk about “critical mass”. However this is not a question of mass but of tactics: To be effective, our actions must target the mechanisms of war directly and have direct, material results.

To stop the escalating imperialism of British bombs in Syria and Kurdistan, turning our politics and tactics from appealing to power to small self-organisation is essential. Mass rallies in central London give the illusion of dissent while providing a platform only for safe, subservient protest. Organising ourselves into affinity groups with tactics that can be used by all, we do the “movement-building” not in dull public meetings, but in secure planning, tight comradeship and direct action.

Blockading the machinery of war, putting our bodies in front of arms produced here in the UK, can be an effective tactic – if certainly a costly one. However action we know we can get away with is action that can spread.

Whether flash occupations that leave before police repression or permanent occupations that can hold a space, occupying can be effective and secure for those involved. It can halt the production of arms to disgrace an imperialist politician. Targeting warmongering MPs and their houses and offices has already started, such as Stella Creasy’s office in Walthamstow.

Combining the potential for effect and security, there is a reason sabotage is a popular tactic. Targeted and planned well, within small cells of trusted comrades, sabotage can have a greater effect than actions that necessitate far more police repression. If a military base or an aircraft were to be grounded today, fewer bombs would fall on Syria and Kurdistan tomorrow.

If we are serious about stopping this war and forming a network that can resist others, which many seem to be, the time to organise and act is yesterday. The bombs are already falling, and closer to you than you would think, targets are waiting to be hit.

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