In this video, made by Moveon.org in collaboration with Moby, everyday people hold up empty plates inscribed with the reason they are joining the nationwide hunger strike against budget cuts being pushed by Republicans that will do immense harm to the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society – the elderly, poor and the sick. As Allison Kilkenny explains at The Nation:
Thus far, 30,000 people have announced their intentions to participate in the rolling fast to protest what they call the immoral budget cuts. The movement’s official website HungerFast.org recaps how Congressman Tony Hall fasted for 22 days back in 1993 in response to budget cuts that would have devastated poor people at home and abroad. Now, Hall is fasting again in solidarity with the vulnerable who will once again be negatively impacted by austerity.
Among the cuts are a $500 million slashing of WIC, the federal health and nutrition programs for women, infants, and children. The program was estimated to serve 9.3 million people this year, according to Reuters. Over a billion dollars will be cut from HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, STD and TB prevention in addition to a $600 million reduction in the funds for community health centers. Transportation and housing and urban development also suffered a 20 percent cut, and another $194 million was cut from foreign food assistance, including food aid donations and a global meals program.
All of which is a lengthy way to say in the era of “shared sacrifice,” the poor are the ones who will suffer. The House Appropriations Committee reports that cuts to the Agriculture Department totaling $2.6 billion will be extremely detrimental to impoverished families who rely on the USDA to provide food stamps and school lunches.
While I am of course supportive of this important effort, rolling hunger strikes are far more symbolic than an indefinite hunger strike. If tens of thousands were to refuse to eat until these proposed cuts were withdrawn – or to participate in other more aggressive forms of action, like strikes or civil disobedience – they would put far greater pressure on legislators supporting these immoral cuts to change course.
Recent criticisms calling the founder of nonviolent theory a Cold Warrior are way off the mark. To rightly evaluate him, we need to understand the role he chose for himself.
A six-week strike by teachers has bolstered a movement against proposed austerity measures targeting Lebanon’s dangerously underfunded education system.
Drama helps movements draw attention to their issues, but it won’t come without creativity and direct action tactics that reach beyond the choir.