Mass protests

Over the last few weeks I have been receiving a constant stream of anti-war correspondence by e-mail. Friends and acquaintances – especially from America and Britain – are asking me to add my name to a list of others opposing Bush and his foreign policy. That’s how we used to play when we were children – answering «yes» or «no» and hoping we would get our own way. It is the same game being played today by intellectuals who sign anti-war petitions in the International Herald Tribune. Every initiative against the war humanizes us a little more. The 200 or 300 names on our computer screen transform into a spectral lineup of bodies, a row of symbolic barricades. The child inside us wants to believe that averting a war is simply a question of gathering enough signatures – a resolute, and extremely idealistic, «no.» And the country of origin of these missives is significant because people in the USA and Britain are both struggling individually to demonstrate what a huge gulf separates them from their leadership. Reading between the lines of such anti-war petitions, you can often detect a sense of guilt which says, «We are not what you think we are.» This is perfectly understandable. It’s awful to be associated with your leaders, to be regarded as an American or a Briton the moment information becomes a popular presence across all media, in every debate, and that your nationality has become a measure of your worth.