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Previously in Web Citations:

99.04.08
Someone Who Cares Wants You to Know

As Emily Post might have said, sometimes anonymity is the best policy.

99.04.01
Wheeling and Dealing

It all comes down to this: Would you buy a used (or new) car from these Web sites?

99.03.17
Lifetime Achievement

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was a filmmaker who kept his distance from Hollywood. His vision appears ever more original -- and lonely.

99.03.04
Modem Bride

Wedding planning made so easy even your mother can handle it.

99.02.25
Be Fruitful and Multiply

When it comes to modern reproductive technology, many are turning to the Web for a helping hand.

99.02.17
Democratic Vistas

"I sing the body electric," Walt Whitman wrote. Little did he know what he was prophesying.

99.02.03
Something for Everyone

As more and more live video comes to the Web, there's always something on -- but is there anything to watch?

99.01.27
The Law and Spirit of the Letter

The digital age may (or may not) spell the death of print, but it has breathed new life into the art of type.

99.01.20
Be-In Digital

In some quarters, the spirit of Haight-Ashbury is still kicking. Should we care?

For more, see the complete Web Citations Index.





Not Your Father's Antiwar Movement
April 14, 1999

Anti-NATO protest Commentators have enjoyed pointing out that Bill Clinton, who came of age protesting the Vietnam War, has now sent the American military into what could be its next quagmire. As delicious (or demoralizing) as that irony may be, it is almost certainly too early to say whether NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia will give rise to an antiwar movement even remotely similar to the one Clinton marched in. So far there has been little significant opposition within the United States and other NATO countries (and little coverage in the mainstream media of whatever opposition -- mostly pro-Serb -- does exist). All of this may change, especially if there is a protracted war on the ground. For now, at least, the best place to find evidence of the stirrings of antiwar sentiment may be the Internet.

Sites such as ZNet, Nonviolence Web, and Peace Net are providing background, commentary, and analysis on the Kosovo situation from a progressive, leftist viewpoint -- the cumulative effect of which may be to leave anyone with a mind to protest more puzzled than fired up. For those ready to jump right into the fray, ZNet's Kosovo page also provides information and tools for activists, such as event schedules, "talking points" ("possible responses to some commonly asked questions"), and suggested text and images for flyers and placards. Together with ZNet, Protest.Net -- which The New York Times has described as a kind of "protest portal," serving as a central source of information for activists on many issues -- is promoting a call by the International Action Center for an "international day of protest" against the United States and NATO on April 17. In an example of "grass-roots" Web activism, the IAC site is gathering and posting information on demonstrations to be held in cities around the United States and the world.

If you liked Vietnam... Opposition to this war is already making for some strange bedfellows. In the absence of Cold War ideologies to define the spectrum of hawk versus dove -- and because of the complexities of the Balkan conflict and the unprecedented nature of NATO's action (a defensive democratic alliance's attacking a sovereign state) -- some on the left and right now find themselves in common cause. Such ironies are seen vividly at Antiwar.com, a site run by the Committee Against U.S. Intervention which reveals a decidely right-wing cast of thought. While the left may be split between humanitarian interventionists, on the one hand, who are eager to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing, and knee-jerk pacifists on the other, who see imperialism in NATO's "humanitarian" war, the right is equally split between those who would win at all costs and those for whom the fate of thousands of ethnic Albanian Muslims is not worth risking one drop of American blood. The Committee Against U.S. Intervention seems to be of the latter persuasion. One can't help wondering what a protest would look like should the supporters of Antiwar.com and Protest.Net come together on the same street corner. (In fact, Antiwar.com features a link to Protest.Net on its home page.)

The degree to which online activism will translate into actual marchers (or votes) is anyone's guess. Perhaps April 17 should be viewed as a test of the Web's potential for promoting real-world political action. What may become clear (if it's not already) is that activists face much the same challenges and obstacles when organizing on the Net as anywhere else. An analogy with commerce might not be out of place: as with a business venture, online or off, one has to identify one's constituency (market), attract attention to one's cause (brand), and motivate people (consumers) to take action (buy). As many an entrepreneur would no doubt tell you, just exactly why any of this should prove easier online and than offline is not readily apparent. Yes, e-commerce makes shopping from home or office as simple and convenient as point-and-click. But making a profit -- or stopping a war -- is not quite so easy.

--Wen Stephenson


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More on Technology and Digital Culture in Atlantic Unbound and The Atlantic Monthly.

Wen Stephenson is the editorial director of Atlantic Unbound.

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