Pittsburgh Organizing Group Fasts Against War and Military Recruitment

The Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) recently announced plans to launch a month-long fast in September at the front door of the Oakland military recruiting station.

The goal of this fast and camp-out is simple: To contribute to the movement working for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, and an end to military recruitment in Pittsburgh.

I have taken some time before posting this.  While I do post about direct action issues on a semi-regular basis, I have not always been in POG's corner on some of their tactics nor in the corner of other direct action groups that are self-described anarchists.  That being said, I am opposed to the war in Iraq and support a troop withdrawal.  I am also intrigued by how well-laid out this tactic seems to be, similar to how impressed I was with the direct action at the CMU National Robotics Institute

I've also noticed that when I do blog about direct action tactics, it generates a lot of response from POG and their supporters, which I appreciate of course.  The problem seems to be finding and respecting common ground.  My impression from some of the commenters is that it is all or nothing and that's just not going to build a bridge with me.  At the same time, it doesn't sway me from believing that individuals *like me* can make a difference.

Fasts and long term encampments have historically been used as personal and political statements of protest and have been successfully utilized by groups seeking to raise the moral and political pressure in society necessary for specific changes in policy. In September, we will be demonstrating our outrage and sorrow through our actions as we work to create the world we want to live in. We will not only do this by fasting, but by marching, mourning and reflecting.

There's a long list of events, including a rally, picket, candlelight vigil, and a festival at the very end.  So you and I can get involved.  I'm planning to head down and liveblog at some point, depending on my own schedule.

What do you think?


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  • Thanks for the blog entry! You're right, we don't always agree on tactics and, unfortunately, the tone of some of those disagreements can turn quite tense at times. I'm going to be down there the whole time so it might be a good opportunity to have a better dialogue about those disagreements.
    PS, you forgot to end your italic tag in your post

  • agree with mike. the internet itself is a mixed blessing. we can communicate so much easier with so many more people, yet we often have trouble remembering its real people we're talking to. so much of the tone of comments, typically by all sides of an issue, wouldn't likely occur were we to realize we're talking to another person with similar aspirations and committments. i will say i would not necessarily call this fast direct action. it seems permits are being acquired. good luck to all.

  • Oops, thanks. 🙂
    It is all about dialogue. I have a question — going 30 days without food or beverages seems well, impossible. I know that's the point, but how do you get yourself ready for it? I am very serious. How on earth does someone survive 30 days?

  • Well, because we're starting a bit late (after labor day weekend), it only comes out to 26 days, and no, there's not a huge difference there (which is why we're okay with starting late). But when I think of hunger strikes, I think less of Gandhi and more of folks like Bobby Sands and Tarasios Zantorozni. Bobby Sands died after 66 (40 more than our fast) which is a couple days longer than the generally accepted length of time that a person can survive without food. At can't find at the moment how long Tarasios Zantorozni was on hunger strike, but I believe it was upwards of 75 days. And he didn't even die (though he will undoubtedly have health problems in the future from organ damage). The way the body adapts to the lack of food, is to start burning fat, which in the average person lasts about 3 weeks. After that, the body enters so-called “starvation mode” and starts “mining” bones muscles and organs. 26 days, would put the average person a couple days at most into starvation mode, and someone a little heavier than average could last a little longer without entering starvation mode. Add to that that while participants won't be ingesting any calories, they are allowed vitamins. For example, someone who has had iron deficiency issues might take iron tablets so they don't become anemic.
    As for how one prepares, it depends and varies. You might gain some weight, you might take a lot of vitamins, depends on the person and their situation. Hell, you might even eat less for a while to shrink your stomach and make the first few days a little better.

  • Thanks for the information. I'm going to read up on the individuals you referenced. Obviously, I have just a superficial understanding of a hunger strike. Hopefully, I'll become better informed about the tactic as well as the larger issue behind the strike.

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