In the months leading up to the most recent protest in Washington, D.C. against the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, activists and writers such as Cindy Sheehan and David Swanson have called for shutting down business-as-usual in the capital city. Comment

But on March 20, instead of a hundred thousand or even tens of thousands of protesters, it was evident from first-hand observation that the event drew, at most, a few thousand people.

Far from disrupting business-as-usual, the anti-war protest---which took place on a Saturday--seemed to blend in with the flow of tourists and locals enjoying the warm, sunny weather in our nation's capital. On that weekend, far more prominent in mainstream news was the health-care reform showdown in Congress and the immigration reform rally which drew more than 200,000 people to the National Mall.

But some of the ordinary protesters who did show up advocate revolution or other ways of intensifying resistance against what they regard as imperialism and militarism.

“On a larger scale we need to do away with the whole capitalist system,” said Rich Mareeney who came to Washington, D.C. from New York City. He tilted his head toward a fellow activist standing a few feet away from him and said, “some people like Bob over here—he's going to argue we need a revolution to overthrow it.”

Mareeney works with the anti-war activist group, The World Can't Wait. He was dressed in an orange jump suit—-like those worn by Guantanamo Bay detainees--to call for an end to occupations and torture for empire.

At points throughout the anti-war rally the crowd chanted “shut it down.” It's not clear whether that call for shutting down the empire was heard by anyone in the White House across the street.

But many people in that crowd in Lafayette Park apparently regard the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of an imperialist system that causes human suffering at home and abroad. For some of the protesters, revolution, socialist or otherwise, is a way to bring an end to the empire.

Mareeney said he imagines a “revolutionary movement of masses of people fighting for a change.” About whether the revolution would be violent, he said, “people have a lot of different opinions on that. They think if you have an armed revolution, it opens up a lot of doors. I personally would fight for more of a peaceful revolution.”

Mareeney said violent attempts at revolution in the United States could result in civil war or a police state. “We'd be driving more toward a fascist state and that's not what we want. We're sort of trying to fight against the fascist remaking.”

“Peaceful revolution is possible,” said Tom Lingo from St. Petersburg, Florida who came to the protest in D.C. with a group called St. Pete For Peace. He carried a sign that read on one side “when the rich wage war, it's the poor who die” and that read on the other side “please don't participate in the violence, please don't volunteer.” The latter statement was a reference to the counter-recruitment movement.

Lingo said, “It (revolution) is supposed to happen every 20 years or so. I think it was Jefferson that said something to the effect that every generation needs a revolution, a changing of the guard. The US Constitution is a living document. It changes with time. If it didn't, we'd still have slavery and the only people who'd be allowed to vote would be men with property. Women wouldn't have any rights.”

A man sang into a bull horn a parody of the British rock band Queen's 1977 hit "We Will Rock You," as a person walking beside him played a drum which he wore strapped to his abdomen.

“Capitalist system death, reaping profits

Making hundreds of billions from the war today.

Your blood-stained cash, billions stashed

As nations and people are burned and slashed.”

Agreeing with the message of that parody was a tall bearded man in his mid 30s who gave his name as John. I am sorry but I haven't managed to get his surname. He was working at an information table for the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

“ Capitalism is at the root of the war. The war, in its essence, is a war of aggression for domination of what's perhaps the most important region of the world for Wall Street and the oil companies who are capitalists...We believe that a revolution is necessary. Revolution is a part of history. It's part of humanity.”

He said replacing our current economic system with one based on people's needs instead of profit would "get rid of the antagonism which lies at the heart of the war."

A paper mache skull the size of a big screen TV inside of a cardboard top-hat with long white hair and a white goatee was the carnivalesque rendering of Uncle Sam that one protester, Juan Hernandez, held high in the air with a long pole.

“The United States is an evil, murderous, cowardly country. We're no different than the Nazis,” Hernandez said. Like some of the other protesters against the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Hernandez advocated revolution, but he said “there's not going to be one until our dumb brothers are educated. I shouldn't say 'dumb' because they are brainwashed.”

According to Hernandez, proponents of a socialist revolution in the United States would not be the ones causing violence. “The violence is going to come from the capitalist pigs. But today, the people that want to make socialism, they don't need violence anymore. If you look at South America, they're being voted in. Why are they being voted in ? Because the people are being educated first, as to what's going on.”

Hernandez gave Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Uruguay as examples of countries where non-violent socialist revolution is taking place. “They just voted in an ex-guerrilla. That's the new path. But of course there's going to be violence from the capitalist pigs...But we don't need that anymore. All we have to do is educate our fellow citizens.”

Hernandez, a US citizen who lives in Harlem, described himself as homeless and said he will soon return to his job as an electrician after being unemployed for two years.

Another protester, Brandon Collins, from Charlottesville, Virginia, did not use the word 'revolution' but favors intensifying protests against the wars.

“I think we need to present a real threat. Dealing with things like permits is a bad move. I think we need to go outside of the comfort zone. They like to say free speech and democracy is working. But, obviously, democracy is not working. So, we need to find ways free speech can be made without being told where and when to protest, and present an actual threat to the ruling class.

“Some of those things are occupying our workplaces, a general strike. Things like that... Just being told that democracy's somehow working when we all show up here and demand an end to the wars -– and we've been doing for this for a long time and nothing's changed. It's gotten worse. So we got to find a better way to deal with this.”

Collins said activists fighting against the wars should not walk on eggshells out of fearing a backlash from governments or the corporations that heavily influence them. According to Collins, our country and the world will be worse off if people don't engage in a mass movement of resistance to reign in militarism and imperialism.

“We need to rock the boat. That's the plan. That's what needs to happen or nothing's going to happen. We need to present a real threat to the ruling class, so they'll take us seriously and be scared and make some changes.”