ANSWER's office space, etc.

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Sun Nov 3 10:26:58 MST 2002

On Sun, 3 Nov 2002 10:26:53 -0600 "LouPaulsen" <LouPaulsen at>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at>
> > If you were open to a more democratic process,
> > somebody might have told you a long time ago that ANSWER needs its
> own
> > office if it is to give the appearance of independence. Obviously
> you
> > are not interested in appearances.
> Louis, I utterly cannot believe that you think this is a real issue.

I think that you are confusing the kind of criticism that Proyect
is making with the sorts of criticism that IAC/ANSWER is getting
from people like Corn, Featherstone, or Horowitz.  Obviously,
no decision that ANSWER makes concerning its choice of office
space or anything else for that matter is going to please such
critics.  But I don't think that you can fairaly accuse Proyect
of criticizing ANSWER and IAC from those people's perspectives.
Rather, I think that Proyect is concerned with the nature of
ANSWER's decision making process, and how accountable
they are to the broader left and to the broader antiwar movement.
i'd very much doubt that Proyect is concerned with redbaiting
ANSWER or IAC or WW.  And the sort of criticism that
he and Armand Diego and some others are expressing
does not strike me as being anyway similar to the sorts
of criticisms that David Corn et al. are making.  That
crowd is attacking ANSWER for its recent success in
D.C., while the latter are concerned with how the antiwar
movement can build upon its recent successes.


> 3) In the third place, you write as if it were a trivial matter to
> just go
> set up another office whenever one pleases, in New York, complete
> with staff
> and volunteers and office equipment and so on, and there are NO
> material
> barriers at all, and the only reason why ANSWER didn't do it is that
> they
> just plain didn't THINK of it - it never entered the MIND of anyone
> in WWP
> or in IAC or in ANY of the constituent groups of ANSWER besides IAC
> that
> "Hey, wouldn't it be good for ANSWER to have its own office?"  You
> must
> think ANSWER has been awash with money and volunteers over the last
> year.

Well, I know that in Boston, ANSWER, IAC and WW all share the
very same offices in Jamaica Plain.  So I think you have to excuse
people if they were to conclude that WW is the controlling force
behind IAC and ANSWER.  I don't think that you are going to
persuade many people that this is not the case, when the
evidence of their own eyes and ears suggests otherwise.

> 4) Furthermore, as a historical matter, ANSWER was organized in
> mid-September of 2001 and sponsored the September 29 anti-war
> demonstration
> in DC within days after its creation.  Do you think the first thing
> on
> anyone's mind at the time or during the invasion of Afghanistan was
> that
> people should run out and rent another office and get phones and
> office
> equipment???  In that kind of war crisis situation, if you are
> forming a
> coalition of ANY kind, and one of the member organizations says "we
> have
> office space, with phones, copy machines, computers, etc., that we
> are
> willing to offer to the cause," is it such a mindless thing to
> accept?
> Coalitions have been doing this since forever by the way.  In
> Chicago there
> are a ton of coalitions which operate out of the American Friends
> Service
> Committee's office, or the 8th Day Center for Justice (these are
> cool
> militant Catholics), and so on.  They operate out of the office of
> the
> organization which is going to be putting the most people and
> resources into
> the coalition's work, out of considerations of plain ordinary
> efficiency.
> 5) Finally, you are trying to make this an issue not merely of
> office space
> but of coalition structure: ANSWER made this disastrous decision
> about
> office space because it is a closed coalition, "UNACCOUNTABLE" to
> the
> movement as a whole whatever the heck that is, in which nobody had
> the
> brains or independence of thought to even think of the office space
> issue,
> whereas if it were "ACCOUNTABLE" to a broad democratic coalition
> then
> someone would have suggested at an open meeting "hey, ANSWER needs
> to have
> its own office" and this would have passed by acclamation, and Corn
> and
> Gitlin would have had nothing to write about!
> On the other hand, if I had to speculate, I would guess that the
> office
> issue came up within ANSWER very early on, and that people decided
> that it
> just wasn't the priority.  This is not an arch way of saying that I
> know all
> the little details of ANSWER steering committee meetings - I don't.
> But I
> do know from my own experience that people think about these things
> and are
> not developmentally delayed in the way that you think we all are.
> Furthermore, I have seen meetings of open coalitions where someone
> suggests
> it should have its own office but then people say "We don't have the
> resources for that.  Let's just operate out of the X office if they
> are
> willing to do it."
> There, that is about 500 words more than I think this issue really
> deserves
> on its merits.
> Furthermore, you wrote to GD,
> > I have no idea what your "personal" views are. We know and you
> know that
> > if you agreed with my analysis and said so here, you'd be brought
> up on
> > charges for breaking discipline. Of course, it is helpful for the
> > discussion to have WWP views expressed here since they need to be
> held
> > up for the revolutionary left to examine. There are many different
> > ideological currents represented here and they should know how WWP
> does
> > business.
> I honestly don't think you have much idea about how WWP does
> business, or
> you wouldn't be writing about people being "brought up on charges
> for
> breaking discipline" as if we had a Night Court functioning out of
> 17th
> street where people were getting hauled in and fined all the time or
> some
> god damned thing.  I grant you that I am not likely to come on this
> list and
> trash ANSWER's decisions about office space or anything else, should
> I
> happen to disagree with them, but on the other hand nobody is
> to write particular things here, let alone to tell lies about what I
> think,
> so, speaking for myself and probably for anyone else in WWP who
> turns up
> here, if I actually DO come along and make statements here, it is
> because
> those statements are my views and because I believe them to be true.
>  Of
> course you could then say that "WWP could have ordered Paulsen to
> write the
> last sentence", but how paranoid do you want to be?

But do you really expect us to believe that if you did have a
serious disagreement with the leadership of WW, you
would see fit to express your views in this forum?  I think
that most of us take it for granted that you are not about to
use this forum to express any serious disagreements
that you might have with the WW leadership, unless it
was the case that you were going to break with the party.
In other words we assume that you are functioning under
party discipline, even if the party's leadership does not
dictate every comma and apostrophe that you choose
to write in this forum.

Jim F.

> Lou Paulsen
> Chicago

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