OPINION

Unchecked powers

Why is it that none of the organizers of the recent anti-war rallies have ever appealed to demonstrators to boycott US products? Would the students who spilled out into the streets to condemn the war be prepared to deprive themselves, even for a little while, of the American clothes, shoes, music, films and television series that have shaped their way of life? Not that such a boycott would really achieve much more than the regular demonstrations and marches we have been watching. But it would symbolize an essential readiness for sacrifice, a collective will. And it would be more effective than the selfish pursuit of yelling slogans among the crowds, leaping around enthusiastically and burning flags as if one was attending a soccer match. Not many of us appear to have grasped the new problems we face in this post-Cold War period. Technological developments have afforded us the monstrous power to annihilate our fellow human beings and our natural world – a power which is managed by unappointed, unchecked forces from unseen headquarters. We will probably never learn the real reasons behind the frenzied haste to destroy Iraq, nor the real reasons for the way that France and Germany reacted to the move. The monstrous war machine is not subject to inspection. And the decisions on who is to be sacrificed – and for whose benefit – are made by those we do not see.