A recent AFP article looks for answers to this question by talking with activists from the Vietnam War-era and students involved in opposing the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are of course many reasons for the decline of activism at universities, which have historically been a hotbed for anti-war activity.
Mounting economic and academic pressures on today’s youth, intimidation by authorities, online distractions and conflicted views about the “good” war in Afghanistan, not to mention other causes such as health care and slashed school budgets clawing for attention, have conspired to snuff out anti-war activism on campus, experts and students say.
Tom Hayden, one of the founders of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s, pinned it squarely on the privatization of conflict.
“Students were the bulwark of the anti-Vietnam war movement because students were being drafted, full stop,” Hayden said. “Ending forced conscription radically diminished the possibilities of future student anti-war protests.”
The article also points out that young people today are “marching with their fingers instead of their feet.”
Some, including myself, question how much pressure this type of activism really puts on those in power to change course.
After making little progress on their own, climate justice organizers in Kenya came together with youth, farmers and women to fight for sustainable development.
With support for Palestinian freedom hitting a new level, intentional strategies are needed to stop white nationalists looking to hijack the movement.
Without the friendships he forged in the antiwar movement, Daniel Ellsberg might not have found the courage and support he needed to help end the Vietnam War.