Compressing complexities into springy, mind-expanding brevities is quite an art. Up till now I've been concerned that the non-violent technology of the slogan has not been keeping pace with rapid new developments in the arms industry. But the joyous profusion of witty placards at Saturday's peace march put this fear to rest. Instead of marching while counting to four, people were sauntering, dancing and pointing out their favorite placards. "I loved that "War is not the cure for Iraq-na-phobia.''Lots of them were "to the man" -- ad hominem. The man being Bush. "Stop Mad Cowboy Disease" or "Asses of Evil" accompanied by pictures of Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice and Rumsfeld. But some really did compress the wider issues. "Go Solar, Not Ballistic" had a slow fuse for me. At first I thought it was piggybacking too many issues, but then I realized the suggestion of solar versus oil energy is indeed central.
That's how a good slogan should work. Like a koan or a joke -- a thought-mine, an uncoiling mind-grenade of explosive questions. Lennon's Give Peace A Chance was much in evidence. But I kept thinking, What is peace? Are sanctions peace? Are disease and hunger peace? Peace will need many chances.
I loved the sexual references, too: a picture of a pubic patch was "Good Bush' next to a picture of Dubya as "Bad Bush.'
Having done a bit of bad-Bushing myself, though, I grow more and more uneasy about the focus on the man over the issues. Especially when there is no focus on the other man -- Saddam. Where was a poster that asked "Is Saddam Peace?" The slogan I came up with was unfortunately a little too violent: "Drop the war, not the bomb -- drop Bush on Saddam."
There is hope here. A New Clear Proliferation of Peace ads. New Clear Seeds (as Lennon said); New Clear Minds. Weapons of mass instruction.
Robert Priest's latest book is Blue Pyramids (ECW Press).