Where and maybe why the debate on ANSWER goes off the rails

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Mon Nov 4 17:04:36 MST 2002


Jim F. wrote:

>  > I wouldn't go so far as to say that ANSWER _should_ be accountable
>>  to
>>  the "broader left" and the "broader antiwar movement," but wouldn't
>>  all three -- ANSWER, the "broader left," and the "broader antiwar
>>  movement" -- be stronger than now if it were?
>
>Yes, it would as Project explained in his post on the limits
>of the type of Leninist vanguard model that WWP and
>other groups (i.e. CPUSA, SWP, RCP etc.) embrace.
>Now there is no denying that despite the limitation of
>model as a mode of political praxis, that the WWP, IAC,
>ANSWER have scored a big success in antiwar organizing
>with the October 20 demo.  I think it was significant that
>David McReynolds, after having first condemning the Oct 26
>demo, was subsequently forced to backpedal and
>endorse the demonstration.  And it is of some significance
>that folk like Nathan Newman backed the demo as well.
>One might say that this shows what can be accomplished
>with enthusiasm and hard work, despite a flawed political
>model (and it doesn't hurt that the WWP has some intelligent
>and articulate people like Lou Paulsen either).
>
>So ANSWER is deserving of credit for their hard work.
>However, what is of concern is whether over time as the
>antiwar movement develops the political model followed
>by WWP, IAC, and ANSWER might not become a fetter on
>the development of the movement despite the best intentions
>of the activists in those organizations.  On that issue, one
>almost feels that anarchists like ChuckO might have a
>legitimate point, even though they don't really have anything
>better to offer in its place.

What used to be WW/IAC/ANSWER's strength -- the ability to organize a
mass action swiftly, even when nearly all other organizations are
plunged into confusion or beating a hasty retreat, like immediately
after 9.11, because it doesn't have to consult any other org -- may
now be becoming its weakness.  In part because of good work of
WW/IAC/ANSWER organizers, today we are in a far more promising
political climate; with such organizations as NAACP (@
<http://www.naacp.org/news/releases/uniraq102402.shtml>) and
Teamsters Local 705 (@
<http://www.teamsterslocal705.org/resolution%20against%20the%20war.pdf>)
passing resolutions against the war on Iraq, the anti-war movement
can get really big, if left-wing organizers succeed in getting them
and others like them on board.  Given the widespread opposition to
the war against Iraq, ANSWER anti-war actions will likely grow larger
even if WW/IAC/ANSWER organizers continue to do exactly the same as
before; mass actions can attract millions, rather than hundreds of
thousands, if WW/IAC/ANSWER organizers can make other organizers
invest in and feel ownership of future actions, by adopting at least
some if not all of the many recommendations made here.

Lou Paulsen wrote:

>ANSWER is thus far a coalition which has -consistently- opposed U.S.
>imperialist war (including the sanctions). There are plenty of other
>forces out there which are against a unilateral US military attack
>on Iraq today, but not necessarily tomorrow, and not necessarily if
>the UN sponsors it, and who do not necessarily oppose the sanctions
>either.

As far as the sanctions are concerned, we have already won the
debate, in part because of the good work done by WW/IAC, Voices in
the Wilderness, EPIC, etc.  No one is trying to create a competing
coalition on the platform of "sanctions, not war," unlike before the
Gulf War.

We now have a chance to make a coalition that consistently opposes US
imperialism far bigger than before; but we can't make use of this
chance unless the anti-war movement -- which today, of necessity,
includes those who oppose _this_ war but may not oppose the next one
-- expands the pool of organizers and activists.

Yoshie

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