Antiwar diversity

loupaulsen at loupaulsen at
Thu Dec 19 14:50:41 MST 2002

This is actually not a bad article at all, except for the orientation
toward "breaking ANSWER's monopoly", as if people are sitting around the
ANSWER offices grousing and complaining about how millions of people are doing
stuff and ANSWER isn't the only game in town.  To repeat something I have been
shouting in capital letters for the last six weeks, this is a REAL MOVEMENT.
That means that NOBODY has a monopoly.  It means that nobody can GET a
monopoly.  It means that nobody with any intelligence is going to TRY to get a
monopoly.  Nobody can 'get control' and get in a position to give marching
orders to everyone, either by muscle or by practicing 'movement constitutional
law'.  We can only INFLUENCE and PERSUADE.  We can do this by being reliable,
principled, creative, open, and non-sectarian in our practice, and clear in
our politics.

Furthermore everybody in the left with any intelligence is thanking God that
they have been permitted to live to see a real movement again, except for us
atheists, and speaking for myself I almost wish I had someone I COULD thank
for this.  Saying "I am appreciative of the historical process!" hardly seems
to cover it.  Obviously thanking the Wolfowitzies for being such arrogant
empire-builders that they bring on mass global outrage doesn't quite answer
either.  This is the kind of time when history really gets made!  This is
Gould's 'punctuated equilibrium' in political terms.

So what is the best thing for the left to do during a time like this, when a
large and diverse and multithreaded movement is coming into existence?  Should
the left try to create some kind of grand organizational form with a coalition
structure and a least-common-denominator slate of demands that will 'cement'
together all these diverse forms of life into a single machine?  (I am mixing
the biological and engineering metaphors deliberately, to make a point.)
Would this be a good idea?  More to the point, is it even POSSIBLE?  Is it

Or should the anti-imperialist left concentrate equally on building unity and
on trying to maintain its own 'flavor', precisely "cooperating ... while
maintaining autonomy" (as 'young anticapitalists' are praised for doing in the
article), so that as this diverse movement comes into existence, the anti-
imperialist line will be visible and clear and attractive, not mixed into a
purée with every other line?

This article is praising everyone else in the anti-war movement for
maintaining their 'autonomy' and 'individuality' and not being overwhelmed by
ANSWER, but why isn't it a good thing that ANSWER maintained its own outlook
since September, 2001 and did not get overwhelmed by the 'mainstream'?

This post is maybe not up to my usual standard, but there's a lot of practical
stuff going on.

Lou Paulsen

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