Monday, 15 February 2010

We Are Many: where were you seven years ago today?

I've already blogged about today being the anniversary of the great global protest against war in Iraq. I've just learnt about what looks like a fascinating project, documenting that extraordinary day and the movement behind it.

Here's what it says on the We Are Many website: '"We Are Many" will be a feature length documentary about the biggest demonstration in history. The film is going to be made over the next year and a half, and we need your help to bring it to reality.'

This interactive dimension is evidently vital to the whole process - you can submit photos, videos and personal recollections to help make the website a 'digital monument and archive to Feb 15th 2003'. This, in turn, contributes to the making of the documentary, so that both the on-going process and the end product are interesting to engage with.

It is possible to share video footage via YouTube and photos on Flickr, to help build the collaborative archive. Stories can be submitted to the website while Twitter and Facebook will be put to good use in spreading the word and forging connections. Donations can be made via PayPal, the blog will be used for updates, and there's an e-newsletter you can subscribe to.

We Are Many from Amir Amirani on Vimeo.

I think all this matters for two reasons. The first is that it's a bold experiment in using new media possibilities to collaborate on something politically worthwhile. It is a brilliant way of using the Net - on several levels - and can hopefully point towards exciting new ways of promoting and strengthening protest movements. Almost every aspect of this would have simply been impossible ten, or even five, years ago (today, it's worth noting, is the 5th anniversary of YouTube's launch). The central thing here is collaboration, using technological means that were simply unavailable to previous generations.

The second reason is more overtly political: the anti-war movement still matters. This is not about mere historical curiosity or nostalgia. American and British troops are bogged down in the Afghan quagmire; the politicans and generals have no way out of the mess. The Iraq inquiry is reminding everyone of the disastrous war in Iraq and the arrogant contempt revealed by Tony Blair's decision to pursue the war despite mass opposition. The Afghan war has increasingly spread into Pakistan, while the threats to Iran are being stepped up. Alongside all of this, Israeli brutality to the Palestinian people continues, with tacit support from the world's imperial superpower.

"We Are Many" can serve as another tool in building the movement we need to confront these wars and occupations.

Read Caryl Churchill and Amir Amirani (who is working on "We Are Many") on 'The people's brakes on war' from today's Guardian.

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