Mass action and the actions of individuals

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri May 3 06:18:12 MDT 1996


On Fri, 3 May 1996, Hugh Rodwell wrote:
>
> Show me where I put down attempts at 'mobilizing the working-class,
> including GIs, in mass action against the Vietnam war'.
> Then reflect a little on how important 'exemplary actions of individuals'
> can be in catalyzing the rest of us into action -- and I'm not talking
> about individual terrorist actions out of sync witht the mass movement, but
> simple things like standing up to the enemy when the enemy is in a position
> to inflict great suffering on you, to break your life or even kill you.
>

Louis: I guess Hugh is too young to know much about the controversies
that existed in the Vietnam antiwar movement. There was a basic division
between groups that thought mass action could end the war and smaller
groups and individuals who thought that dramatic acts of civil
disobedience were the key. Malecki obviously belongs to the second camp
and I do not denigrate him for this. It certainly took some courage to
break the law. However, the Marxists in the United States took an
entirely different approach. They built coalitions that drew hundreds of
thousands of people into action. My only point is that for somebody like
Malecki who goes on relentlessly how pro-Lenin he is, he should think
twice about how Lenin would have built opposition to the Vietnam war had
he been in the US in the 1960s. There is nothing in his political career
to suggest that he would have destroyed draft files and then fled the
country.


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