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Notes by ASAN

This is the text of a play that some comrades performed in Golden Gate Park in one of the last peace demonstrations in San Francisco before the end of the Gulf War. It was performed many times at the park and once at Epicenter Zone Records, a local community center/punk record store. Many people saw the skit and it was fairly well received.

The idea for the skit appeared when some comrades came together looking for a way to escape the herd treatment that the traditional left gave them.

It is doubtful that it had a big effect on the direction of the anti-war activities, since these rapidly became irrelevant as the war ended. But did make some people a bit more aware of the role of capitalism and the peace movement in the war.

The war gave us a wider arena for action and propaganda. Had the war continued, we were poised to make a bit of impact. But it seems the war was calculate to be short.

The process of producing the play served to crystalize the feelings of a number of people, although there was considerable disagreement among us about the value of attacking the left.

The main short-coming of our activities then were not making clear that the peace movement's multiple demo system was designed to sabotage the movement. We also didn't make it clear that no movement purely against the war could stop it. In these ways, we also remained spectators during the war.

We couldn't claim that revolution was anywhere near during the Gulf War protests. It was still useful to reveal at the repressive activities of the peace groups in the Bay area.

The simple number of people on the street in San Francisco at the beginning of the Gulf War was impressive. While few of the people that showed up for the anti-war demos were against anything but the war, the scale of demonstrations (often more than 200,000 in a city of a million) and the rowdiness of a minority presented a logistics problem for the government and TV news, which were trying to portray everyone as standing behind Bush. Even in some more conservative areas, there were many more people working actively against the war than for.

This was management problem for capital but it was not even proto-revolutionary. Television News combined it boosting of the war with calls by pacifists for volunteers to be monitors.

The established pacifist groups played the role of cops during the demonstrations. They protected stores from being looted, kept demonstration orderly and made sure the slogans were submissive ("give sanctions a chance" - starve the Iraqis instead of bombing them). But it still was hard to control the demos.

Before the end of the war, the left in the Bay Area managed to disperse most anti-war activity by dividing it. After the first two large demonstrations in downtown San Francisco, peace groups called for a separate demonstration in each city of the Bay Area. This dispersed the one advantage the peace movement had, the size of the demos. It also left the those who came to the much smaller demos demoralized. But this failure was a forgone conclusion since the sincere anti-war movement saw itself as nothing more.