We tried to make the war too painful to go on - Bill Ayers

The anti-war movement at the beginning was “an unpopular, marginal thing to do”, remembers veteran war critic and US scholar Professor Bill Ayers, who says nothing has really changed since Vietnam.

During the rallies against the war in Vietnam in 1965, those hundreds of protesting students were surrounded by thousands of others who never supported them, considering such actions illegal, and who thought the best thing for protestors was “to be arrested and moved out of town.”

“You must find a way to live a life that doesn’t make mockery of your values”

A former member of the Students for Democratic Society movement, Bill Ayers still believe that the “courage of people willing to put their lives on the line for principles that they believed in” makes it possible to live a life that is purposeful and values-driven.

“We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, looking uneasily at the world we inherit.” These words were written on the membership cards of the SDS movement.

The protestors of the 1960s were not violent – they were exposing the violence inherent in the system, Ayers said.

The war in Vietnam, with tens of thousands of needlessly murdered US citizens, actually brought the American democracy to a crisis similar to the one we are witnessing today, Ayers believes. “How does a democracy respond to the fact that the majority opposes this war, but cannot find a way to bring it to a close?”

That splintered the anti-war movement and Bill Ayers chose his way of extreme acts of vandalism and armed propaganda “taking the war to the war makers.”

“We should end that madness”

America was lied to about the war in Iraq which is “illegal, immoral and unnecessary” and is still conducting the war in Afghanistan, the longest campaign in its history, with a constantly increasing death toll, and which it obviously cannot win. Therefore the best thing to do after fruitlessly losing so much resources and lives is pulling troops out of both wars “not next month, not next week – tomorrow.”

“We did not achieve what we fought for but…”

“The calculus of being a radical is not to try to figure out how I can measure what I can win. The point is actually to stay on principle and to make the connections,” Ayers says.