Remarks by Marilyn Levin


We face a challenging period ahead. At the same time wars are escalating and jobs and services are slashed, we are entering an election cycle which always complicates any attempts to stage a massive movement fight-back and frankly, can point us in the wrong direction and even set us back from the essential organizing we must do to build a mass movement capable of bringing about fundamental change. Challenging the imperialist monster does not happen at the rigged ballot machine. The apologists for Obama and the Democratic War Party falsely warn us that fascism is imminent if the Republicans get elected. Well I think that fascism is a real danger if the left does not unify with the workers and the poor to wage an independent struggle for real power.


The importance of a national coalition like UNAC to hold the line and reach out to all sectors under attack cannot be underestimated. Building a broad, inclusive, independent, national coalition is what makes us unique and formidable.


Let’s review the basic principles we were founded on. The first is unity – unity with the left, with labor, with environmentalists, with African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Muslims, and with social justice groups. Unity means agreement on demands like ending wars, international solidarity with all victims of the military empire, economic justice, an end to racism, and the restoration of civil rights & liberties. And most importantly, it means unity in action. Without action and common purpose, we are a discussion group or a lobby.


Another principle is independence. We must be independent of all political parties. We welcome Democrats, Republicans, socialists, and even political agnostics, who agree to a common program, but only an independent movement can speak truth to power and not get trapped in deals and compromises with those who do not act on our behalf.


We share a commitment to mass action as the major strategy for building a powerful and inclusive movement, while endorsing a plethora of other actions, all of which are needed to be effective and broaden our movement. Although more difficult, mass action in an election year is extremely important to maintain the continuity of the movement, to continue to be visible in the public streets, and to bring in new forces and youth who are willing to act.


We will be discussing concrete proposals for actions today – for marking the 10th year of the attack and occupation of Afghanistan by supporting a national demo with nonviolent civil resistance action in Wash on Oct. 6 and local actions on Sat., Oct. 15. We propose actions on Libya on June 27 as the killing intensifies. It is so important that we stand in solidarity with the people of countries where the US is waging war to further their imperial aims of domination and appropriation of resources. If we don’t do this, who will? What use is a peace movement that doesn’t make the ongoing wars a central focus of opposition and consistent action so that the ugly reality of what the US is doing cannot remain out of the public eye? In the spring, NATO is meeting in the US. This will be the opportunity to call for international demonstrations, teach-ins, civil disobedience, flash mobs, and you name it. When the eyes of the world are on us, we can’t let NATO slide in and out without an uproar.


There are other actions we are proposing today as well. These include campaigns to close US bases, stop drone attacks, educate and act on The Other Wars in our most ravaged communities at home and the less visible wars abroad, dogging candidates demanding accountability, and Palestine Solidarity actions to defend the Gaza flotilla, support Nakba Right to Return demonstrations, and promote BDS campaigns. This is a time of increased Islamophobia, pre-emptive prosecution of Muslims, attacks on civil liberties, police state surveillance tactics, and targeting activists. We must take our defense work very seriously, recognizing that an attack on one is an attack on all.


A highlight will be our 2nd national conference To Bring All the Troops and War Dollars Home Now! on November 11-13. Movement conferences are essential for education, strategizing, organizing, and planning actions. By bringing all sections of the movement together where everyone has a voice and vote, we take the measure of where we stand collectively and establish an authoritative voice of the movement.


The Action Program we will work on together and bring to the conference is a highlight. It will contain an analysis of the current situation and project actions for the next year. The demands we agree on are the basis of our unity. (See our brochure.) At the last conference, we made giant and historical leaps forward. Not only did we hold the largest movement conference of the past 10 years, but proudly the movement unequivocally and permanently embraced the long overdue solidarity with the decades long struggle for Palestinian sovereignty, and we forged an alliance with the Muslim community, who are being scapegoated in the “War to Terrorize Everyone”.


Other constituencies, we want to especially reach out to include the faith communities, the African-American/Latino/immigrant communities, and labor. The economic crisis, the phony deficit, the massive cutbacks, and the assault on labor give us the real opportunity for the first time to connect these issues with the war budget and giveaways for the rich. The Bring Our War $$ Home campaigns provide the framework for outreach and collaboration with workers and poor people. We can take these campaigns with resolutions, referendums, and petitions door-to-door, to unions, to faith-based organizations, community groups, social & economic justice groups, to everyone. I would urge that we make these true antiwar campaigns and not merely focus on cutting the deficit by making the military budget more economical and efficient. We don’t need a better war machine.


we have a lot to talk about as we go forward to build UNAC and the movement. We think the actions and campaigns we are bringing to you today will aid in this process. We also welcome all the creativity and thoughts you bring to this effort, especially on how to expand and strengthen our fledgling organization in the coming months.


As we say in our brochure, “We are the Peacemakers – the vast majority of humanity who want peace, a healthy planet, and a society that prioritizes human needs, democracy, and civil liberties for all.”