Peter Drucker (the young'un) replies

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Tue Jan 30 08:08:02 MST 2001


>Peter, you refer to the "ERN" guerrillas in Colombia in your article in the
>latest ATC. ("The War and the Movement"). For your information, there is no
>such group. You must be thinking of the ELN (Army of National Liberation)

A typo of course - thanks for catching it.

>Finally, this business about "movements" following the Vietnamese, etc.
>uncritically seems utterly innocent of our history. I realize that you were
>too young to be familiar with the Vietnam antiwar movement, but there are
>some good books on the subject, including Fred Halstead's "Out Now" and Tom
>Wells' "The War Within". What we learn from these books is that the
>question of criticizing or not criticizing the NLF or North Vietnamese
>government was never really an issue for the organized movement, least of
>all the Trotskyists who remembered well how their co-thinkers were
>repressed by the Vietnamese Communists following WWII.

The issue I raised in that particular paragraph was not whether
movements or governments abroad should be criticized, but whether
they should determine the tactics of anti-imperialists IN THE US.
This was not so much a problem in the anti-Vietnam War movement
(though even then there were e.g. Maoist groups who followed the
twists and turns of Chinese government policy - I have read Out Now!
and studied the history, by the way) or for that matter during the
Gulf War or Kosovo War. But I think that the FSLN, FMLN and ANC by
contrast had a disproportionate influence on the tactics of US
movements in solidarity with them, in ways that sometimes worked out
to their own disadvantage. This phenomenon of mini-world parties is
one I'm glad has been pretty much left behind.

The rest of your message does seem to argue against any criticism of
governments or movements under attack by US imperialism. On this
point of course we disagree. I suspected that my article would
provoke some rehashing of that old debate. About that I'm sorry,
because I doubt that you or I or anyone else has anything useful to
add to it. It was not the focus of my article: only two paragraphs of
the three pages touch on it, and they are followed by my argument
that this was NOT the major issue in the 1990-91 split.

As for your other charges against ATC and Solidarity, I am cc'ing
your message to the ATC editors so that they can respond if they
choose. To me the magazine seems to have been very clear all along in
condemning KLA atrocities in Kosovo and the US and Australian role in
East Timor. I don't see myself how being silent about the Serbian or
Indonesian regime's atrocities would have made the magazine's
criticisms of the US any stronger.

But the bulk of the article I wrote is devoted to three quite
different points: how much of a disaster victories for US imperialism
are; the limits of the mobilizing strategies used by BOTH sides in
1990-91; and the kind of leadership necessary in anti-imperialist
organizing now, after Seattle. On the first point I think we agree.
I'm sorry that your response pays no attention to the other two
issues, which I think are timely and important, and that you focus
instead on an old squabble which I think is pretty pointless.

In solidarity,
Peter Drucker

Louis Proyect
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