The trouble with Corn

cuito61 at cuito61 at
Sun Nov 3 11:14:44 MST 2002

While David Corn's piece "Behind the Placards" ( presents a justified critique of WWP/IAC/ANSWER, I think that the real purpose of the article was to deride the radical politics of many people who oppose the U.S. war drive.

I find it troubling that many people on the "left" and involved in anti-war work gobbled up the article just because it presented, once again, the same critiques of ANSWER that many of us have been making for a long time, while at the same time ignoring the slander Corn directs at all radicals.  This article was obviously not a piece of constructive criticism or friendly advice, but was a broad denunciation by someone on the outside looking in.

Last time I checked, WWP/IAC/ANSWER or RCP or any other sectarian group do not have ownership over the concepts of anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, or that Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner, or (critical) support of the Cuban Revolution, or that Zionism and the Israeli state represent colonialism.  I thought that anyone could hold these views and other "radical" and "anti-American" views while at the same time recognizing the sectarian foolishness of the aforementioned groups and disagreeing seriously with the more ridiculous aspects of their politics and undemocratic structure.  In other words, I don't believe that Corn sat down just to diss the WWP/ANSWER.  It's pretty obvious that his article is plain and simple redbaiting, for lack of a better term.  And it's pretty disheartening that people didn't recognize this for what it was.

There are plenty of us who hold the anti-imperialist, anti-racist views ridiculed by Corn in his article and who also might be (god forbid) "radicals," "socialists," or "marxists" who see sectarian groups for what they are.

On the subject of being "pro-American," perhaps Mr. Corn thinks that in order to be opposed to this war one must have the red white and blue pinned to one's lapel or remind everyone every 5 minutes how "patriotic" you are. Fuck that.  I wasn't "pro-American" before 9-11 and I'm not going to be now.  And there's nothing wrong either with being opposed to this war within a framework of an anti-capitalism, anti-racism, and anti-imperialism, the last of which especially involves a good degree of condemnation of U.S. policies.  So if Mr. Corn is looking for someone to wave the flag painted on the side of the missiles dropped on Iraqi children, he can look somewhere else.

I think the words of Arundhati Roy are appropriate here:

"Recently, those who have criticised the actions of the US government have been called "anti-American". Anti-Americanism is in the process of being consecrated into an ideology. The term is usually used by the American establishment to discredit and inaccurately define its critics. Once someone is branded anti-American, the chances are that he or she will be judged before they're heard and the argument will be lost in the welter of bruised national pride... Last year, like many others, I too made the mistake of scoffing at this post-September 11 rhetoric, dismissing it as foolish and arrogant. I've realised that it's not. It's actually a canny recruitment drive for a misconceived, dangerous war" (,3604,799850,00.html).

We should also be wary of the hidden agendas of "Leftists Who Love the War Too Much" (

Finally, I don't think there should only be "one movement" against the war, and if we are to be successful in stopping the war, it certainly won't be because we all fall in line behind ANSWER.  They're good at doing what they do: organizing mass, boring, ineffective marches.  Sure, these have their time and place, but was October 26th anything more than a pep rally for the already convinced?  October 26th or other similar actions, no matter how big the crowd, won't influence the powers that be to change their course of action.

There are many other things that can be done, such as direct action, civil disobedicence, talking to your circle of friends and family, organizing at the workplace, and eventually, somehow, getting people to refuse to work to supply the war, getting dockworkers to refuse to load up the ships, getting soldiers to refuse to serve, getting students to shut down their campuses, etc.

I think Michael Albert and Stephen Shalom discuss the issue of tactics well without resorting to the anti-radicalism/redbaiting of Corn, Hitchens, Gitlin, etc.  It could be found here:

They also point out how the war is related to other, larger concerns and structures which are dismissed by Corn et al as "radical" fringe concerns.  But in reality the war cannot be opposed without taking into account the bigger picture.  This piece by Howard Ehrlich( also points out how anti-war movements ahve traditionally ignored the larger isues and ahve been reactionary and reformist in nature.  Now is as good a time as any to build a movement that "calls for an end to the barbarism and for the beginning of a new society."  This isn't going to happen with ANSWER or with people like Corn.

Proud to be part of the "hard left,"

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