Moratorium Breaks Up, Calls Attention to Need For Alternative Actions
The Vietnam Moratorium Committee-organizer of the largest anti-war demonstrations in American history-announced Sunday that it was disbanding.
In a letter mailed today to thousands of supporters, the organization's national coordinators wrote that "there is little prospect of immediate change in the Administration's policy in Vietnam. A new direction and focus are needed for anti-war activities."
The Moratorium Committee-composed mainly of former volunteers in the 1968 Presidential campaigns of the late Robert F. Kennedy '48 and Eugene J. McCarthy-organized the nation-wide class boycotts and anti-war demonstrations of October 15 in which over a million people participated.
It also helped the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam to organize the massive demonstration of 250,000 people that took place in Washington on November 15, and sponsored "the not-so silent spring" which culminated in another series of massive anti-war rallies last Wednesday.
"Only vitality and responsiveness to a real need justify organizational existence," the four national coordinators-Sam Brown, David Hawk, David Mixner and Marge Sklencar-wrote. "We as an institution no longer feel the need for which we came together."
Local committees and offices will continue to operate despite the disbanding of the national headquarters. Richard Zorza '71, co-ordinator of the Harvard Moratorium Committee, said yesterday that his organization will not continue to operate separately but will work with Massachusetts Peace Action Committee (Mass PAX) in supporting anti-war candidates in this fall's congressional elections.
Repealing The Draft
Harvard Moratorium supporters will also continue to work for repeal of the draft, and plan to send representatives to Washington next week to meet with several Senators.
Brown, who was a fellow at the Institute of Polities last year when the idea of the Moratorium was first conceived, denied that the mass demonstrations had failed. "I am pleased with what we've done," he said yesterday. "I think it was the right thing."sense of futility that characterized the Boston Common rally.
It was obvious from the mood of Wednesday's crowd-even before the violence-that there could not be another mass rally. The Moratorium coordinators realized this even before April 15 and did the only thing they could really do-disband.
The decision to return to the political process is an admission that at least in this case, policy cannot be made in the streets-or on the commons. The Nixon Administration did not panic in the face of the largest demonstrations in American history; it ignored them, even attacked them-and won.
For those who are weary of the long struggle and want to see an immediate end to the war, political organizing from the bottom up will only bring more frustration. It will be a long, difficult job to try to cut Middle America out from underneath President Nixon-as the Moratorium leaders have set out to do-and the liberals like Sam Brown will have an increasingly more difficult time enlisting support.
They would be the first to admit this, but they can see no alternatives.