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Unlike the Anti-Nukes & Cold War Activists, Occupy Will Not Put 1,000,000 People on the Street. Does It Matter?

09/18/2012 10:57 am ET | Updated Nov 18, 2012

If we are to believe Alicia Godsberg, Executive Director of Peace Action in New York City, it does, and it doesn't. The means must meet the times.

(If you are not familiar with her organization (www.panys.org), it is an affiliate of Peace Action, the largest grassroots peace organization in the United States.)

PANYS is, itself, the outgrowth of earlier social protest movements -- starting with the "Ban the Bomb" activists of the '50s, then adding their counterparts in the Nuclear Freeze Movement in the '60s and eventually embraced the Anti-Vietnam War protests. You can find a more complete history is here.

Central Park vs. Zuccotti Park

Out of all this came the largest anti-nuclear and anti cold-war march ever in America's history when on June 12, 1982, one million demonstrated in NYC's Central Park.

So, what has this got to do with our own Here-and-Now? What relevance does "Peace Action" have to the Occupy Wall Street movement, or vice versa?

As Alicia points out, OWS has focused America's attention on Wall Street ills and has attracted a number of organizations to join in. A good start, but only a beginning. The skill will be in coordinating and focusing the energies of these new activists under one banner. PANYS has this pedigree.

As example, Peace Action combined forces with Veterans for Peace, Grannies for Peace and military wives recently to protest outside the studios of NYC and demand that they abandon a proposed new series, When Stars Meet Stripes. Purportedly honoring our military men and women, it appeared to be more of a propaganda device for the acceptability of war.

"If you want to honor the troops," the protest alliance said, "why don't you air a program that shows how difficult it is for them when they return home -- or for their families when they don't?" Mission accomplished -- NBC announced that the series is to be terminated.

Score one also for the role and advantage of social media -- one website alone gathered in over 50,000 signatures protesting the program.

Next on the agenda is the anti-big-bank "move your money" program espoused by both groups.

If Peace Action has its way, money will first of all be moved from funding weapons of war to bankrolling public works projects. If Occupy has its way, money will be moved from Wall Street banks to local savings and loans.

No problem

Peace Action, working with New Priorities Network to build a coalition of like-minded groups, will serve to amplify Occupy's coice -- truly a win-win for progressives.

So, will it require 1,000,000 people rallying in Central Park, or 1,000,000 people posting in Facebook and on Twitter to galvanize change? At this point in history, I would vote for the latter... but, if the ends are accomplished, does it matter?

For more information, visit the Panys website or write Alicia directly: Alicia@panys.org. You can hear my complete "15 Minutes of Fact" interview on WGRNradio.com with Alica here.

A reminder from Alicia: Volunteers are always welcome...be it Zuccotti or Central Park.