More from Danny Schechter

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 4 17:27:42 MST 2001


Com LP:

I missed the part of your sniping attack below...so let me come back
just so you don't think that my silence implies acceptance.

First as for Soros, here's the context, brother. A group of producers
want to bring the anti-globalization, world social forum message to
Tv viewers worldwide, They think a dialogue would be a good idea.
They are unhappy because WEF gets all the attention and WSF vitually
none. They raise money to do the show and get airslots.

Good idea or not? I think it was a good idea so I help them do it, to
get some corporate reps and GS to take part. The problem is that the
producer in Brazil really doesn't explain what is happening in Davos,
that the original idea of a tet a te with WEF ain't gonna happen
because they won't cooperate. So they go outside the  conference to a
local church and scramble in Davos to find  some representative
veiws, but also people willing to discuss and debate incluing he head
of UNDP Mark Malloch Brown.

The idea is to use TV to communicate. The folks in Brazil are less
interested in reaching an auidence that presumably would be
interested in hearing them and instead prefer denunciation, insults,
rhetoric.....As a result, in my humble opinion, while individuals
scored points, the arguments tha tI felt should be heard, and cold be
made coherently weren't because of all the hyperbole...

Yes, it made good theater but if you believe as I do that the left
has to try to talk to people outside the choir, it was a
failure...thats just my view. But what do I know? So this has nothing
t do with militancy--but rather it has to do with knowing how to get
a message out--which the folks in Davos are much better at than the
folks in Brazil. They were preaching to the converted, not to the
larger public. Movements can move on many tracks at once, no?

 I was in Davos as a jpurnalist but also as a mdoerator of the NGO
forum, invited by the Swiss Group, Public Eye on Davos. A year
earlier, Iw atched a group of chanting anarchists physically attack
individuals in the street, and then go after the police. If thats the
militancy you suppport, fine.  I think it is counter productive and
just feeds a politics of polarization that our side always loses and
permits the issues to get lost. So again, I was there, and i have
opinions that don't fall into the you are with us or against us,
either bush or bin laden, wither bin laden or the infidels divide
that you seem to want.

>Although I have deep respect for Schechter's long career of media
activism,
> his remarks deeply angered me. (OBVIOUSLY!)  He started off by
>saying that Cashdan's
film
> does not take 9/11 into account. To put it bluntly, he believes
this
attack
> necessitates a de-escalation of militancy on the part of the
> anti-globalization movement and the left in general.

No "he doesn't believe" this. You believe "he believes this." I think
we have to be smart and sensitive--not self righteous and stupid. I
have watched many movements self destruct and get
crushed......Tactics and strategy are always callibrated to the
situation which is why the anti-globalization protests in DC were
suspended...not by me but by them.....

> We have to be more
> "reasonable" not only because there has been such a frightening
display of
> unreasonableness from terrorists who are just as bad as the US
government,
> but because elements of the establishment seem to be moving in our
> direction. Soros's embrace of the Tobin Tax was evidence of this.
Why
> alienate them with strident attacks on capitalism?

It wasn't about alienating him. It was TV, about reaching viewers.
And persuadingt them 40 people screaming at someone doesn't do that!

>
> Schechter's conciliatory mood was not just prompted by the
deepening
> polarization post-9/11. It has been gestating for some number of
years
> apparently. He reminded us that 9/11 was also the date of the coup
against
> Allende in Chile, which he apparently interprets as a sign of what
can
> happen when you try to push a radical agenda too rapidly. Joe
Slovo, who
> Schechter met with in 1990, drew similar lessons as well from the
defeat
of
> the FSLN that year. The defeat of the Popular Front in Chile and
the
> Sandinistas turns into a yellow go-slow caution light for the
radical
> movement. Meanwhile, our enemies are going full steam ahead.

We can discuss what lessons I draw from all of this. Please don't put
words into my mouth. The left makes mistakes too. I was not
supporting Slovo, merely suggesting that we needed to understand why
the masses didn't rise and make the revolution you wanted to see
....

I am not as presumptuous as you to know what South Africans should
do, only that South Africa is not an island unto itself, and must
function in a world that has changed. White racists in SA were
organized and controlled the military and the state. They had to be
dislodged since they had the guns, in the final analysis and the
liberation movement didn't. They made certain choices. Sitting in the
comfort of the New School ten years later, you think you know better.
You have the right to be critical, to think you know better than
them. I have my critciisms as well.....But the tone of your snide put
down here, is as disrespectful as it is wrong in my view. Just as
you, for example, put down the ANC, take a look at what happened to
COSATU whose leaders were also co-opted in many instances. One runs
the national bank now.

A little humility. A little less self righteousness goes a long way.
If you want to see where I stand read my column every day with 2-3000
words dissecting corporate media in the specific, not the rhetorical.
I am a big fan of Patrick Bond's work and ben's openness because they
do have a more textured view of the contradictions and the challenges
they imply.

Solidarity,
Danny

>
> In any case, that's the lesson I tried to draw for the audience in
my
> rebuttal to Schechter. The problem is not that we are being too
radical,
> but just the opposite. South Africa's impasse is a function of the
class
> collaborationism of the ANC and its junior partner, the South
African
> Communist Party. In contrast to the militant class consciousness of
the
> Swiss bankers and the South African gold and diamond bourgeoisie,
we have
> national liberation and socialist movements that can't make
elementary
> class distinctions. In Mandela's interview with Cashdan, he refers
> repeatedly to working with the white community or white people.
Isn't he
> aware that South Africa is a class-divided society? With people
like Mbeki
> bending over backwards to attract foreign investment, it is no
surprise
> that the new South Africa differs little from the old system. Their
own
> version of Jim Crow might have disappeared, but de facto
segregation and
> economic injustice deepen apace.
>
> Part of the problem with the Ben's film is that it focuses almost
> exclusively on anti-globalization and local "social movement" type
> initiatives, which have almost an exclusively redistributive
character.
For
> example, while reparations are absolutely worth supporting, they
don't
> address the underlying mode of production which is an obstacle to
true
> redistribution--namely, production based on social good rather than
private
> profit. For such a transformation to take place, there will have to
be the
> construction of a Marxist organization in South Africa that can win
the
> allegiance of the Samsons of that country. While the Samson of
Ben's first
> film might have been confined to a wheelchair, the working class as
a
> whole--a true Samson--can bring the pillars of capitalist society
crashing
> down and build a new, more equitable one in its place. While the
emergence
> of new social movements in South Africa is encouraging, a way must
be
found
> to the big battalions of the trade unions, who alone have the
social power
> to liberate the country and spearhead the transformation of the
continent.
> The alternative is continuing mass immiseration and death.
>
Danny Schechter
Executive Editor Mediachannel.org
http://www.mediachannel.org
Executive Producer, Globalvision.Inc
1600 Broadway, #700 NY NY 10019 USA
212-246-0202


--
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 12/04/2001

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