Fw: [107disc] Re: [620peace] Response to McReynolds on whether to endorse October 26 antiwar

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Sep 12 05:37:31 MDT 2002

David McReynolds has not responded directly to my letter, but he has
responded to others who agreed with me to one degree or another.  I attach
an excerpt from one of his letters below.

His argument against supporting a demonstration called by groups supported
by the Workers World Party is not a new one.
Despite his assertions that Workers World has never cooperated with a united
front, he is arguing against a united front with Workers World. He makes no
concrete suggestions for how we should "do better" in the next few months,
aside from not supporting the October 26 action.

 The thinking, it seems tgo me, basically amounts to this: the only way to
avoid a narrow, ineffective, "leftists"-only movement is to bar Stalinists
or those he regards as Stalinists, "advocates" of violence or those he
regards as  "advocates" of violence, siupporters of the current Palestinian
intifada and others he regards as too far from or alien to  the American
political mainstream from the movement.

His argument is part of a debate that has been taking place since two
demonstrations (one by the International Action Center and ANSWER for  April
27 and another, somewhat more broadly sponsored one, for April 20) against
the "war on terrorism."

Unity was finally achieved for a common march and rally on April 20, but not
without resistance, including from people who held views similar to

The argument was renewed in the wake of the turnout of 75,000 for that
demonstration, including some 25,000 people from the Arab community -- a
blow not only to the war drive but to the Patriot Act which was aimed, among
other things, at silencing this community.

Some claimed that the massive Arab outpouring and the radical tone of the
demonstration resulted primarily from the manipulations of the Workers World
Party. Of course the turnout of Arab antiwar protesters was an achievement,
not something for which blame should be apportioned.

But those who agreed with the view that McReynolds is supporting today
misread the mood among the students and other activists who had initially
supported the April 20 demonstration before it was unified. This sentiment
was intensified after the U.S. government threw itself openly and publicly
behind the Israeli government's escalating assaults on Palestinians.

Back in 1965, a debate opened up among pacifists over whether they should
join the united-front  protest initiated by Students for a Democratic
Society.  SDS had declared a policy of nonexclusion of the Communist Party
and others.  The debate took place over whether this policy was acceptable,
and also over whether a broad united front of antiwar fighters or a broad
coalition  with liberal Democrats, would be preferred.

As I remember David Dellinger and  AJ Muste led the wing that favored a
nonexclusionary fight against the war, and
Robert Pickus and Bayard Rustin argued for the other point of view.  Rustin
and Pickus ended up in the prowar camp.

I don't see McReynolds as headed toward that camp or even toward the
Democratic Party today, but for fighters against the war the strategic
questions he is raising are similar.

The choice is simply whether to place the fight against the government's war
at the center of our considerations.  If we do, we cannot now reject the
opportunity posed by the October 26 demonstration for a sizable united
If we accept McReynold's stance, we are turning away from the course of
building the broadest and most united protest possible in irreconcilable
opposition to the war(s), and moving in a different political direction.

There is no danger at all -- none whatever -- that Workers World will
"capture" the movement that is beginning to take shape (assuming, purely for
the purposes of argument, that they want to capture it).  If they or anyone
else try to impose a sectarian course, I am confident their mistakes will be
overcome, just as  I am confident that the mistakes in David McReynolds'
argument will be overcome today.  And overcoming them will end up producing
broader and more inclusive unity, not exclusion of any kind.
Fred Feldman

----- Original Message -----
From: <DavidMcR at aol.com>
To: <j201moran at hotmail.com>; <620Peace at Yahoogroups.com>;
<107disc at yahoogroups.com>; <socialistsunmoderated at debs.pinko.net>;
<asdnet at igc.topica.com>
Cc: <carmentrotta at yahoo.com>; <DeatsPeace at aol.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2002 11:16 PM
Subject: [107disc] Re: [620peace] Response to McReynolds on whether to
endorse October 26 antiwar

> I've not had a chance to respond until now. Tired I am, and old, so John
> certainly on the mark. Vitamins I take, John, but at 72 there is a limit
> how young you can be. So you are right, I'm an old leftist who has watched
> Workers World screw things up since the Vietnam War.
> They have NEVER been willing to work in a coalition they did not control.
> the left wants to "capture itself", and speak to itself, then Workers
> the International Action Center and ANSWER will all do that very well. And
> yes, they can get the usual list of endorsers who, in my view should know
> better. Workers World was happy to support the last remnants of Stalinism
> Europe, happy to support the suppression in Tianamin Square (my spelling
> off) and their "socialist humanism" is only matched by that of the RCP aka
> Refuse and Resist and now, at least in New York, Not in Our Name, with
> support of Pol Pot, and currently of the Shining Path in Peru. Their
> Bob Avakian, is still I suspect, in exile in Paris. (They have made some
> changes.  They finally, I think in the past two years, decided that
> homosexuality was not a decadent side effect of capitalism which
> would cure).
> Are these folks serious? Yes, absolutely. They are committed, hard
working -
> and I think wrong. They are excellent at assembling lists of names
> their current front. But if you really want to reach out and build a
> such as that during the Vietnam War, you must really involve a much
> range of views and groups - something IAC and ANSWER have never been able
> do.
> I agree that building a genuine coalition - such as put on last night's
> impressive event in Washington Square Park which drew thousands of
people -
> is very hard.  I appreciate the sincerity of Workers World. They have
> been the only ones to make an immediate response. I remember back when
> attacked Libya they had a sound platform in Times Square and I didn't
> hesitate to join the list of speakers there. But to build a serious
> Not likely until they abandon a vanguard approach to the rest of us.
> Solidarity, old, tired, but still in the struggle,
> David McReynolds
> << Subj:     Fwd: [620peace] Response to McReynolds on whether to endorse
> October 26 antiwar
>  Date:  9/11/02 10:59:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time
>  From:  j201moran at hotmail.com (John Moran)
>  To:    620Peace at Yahoogroups.com
>  CC:    DavidMcR at aol.com
>  Sisters and Brothers--
>  I ask you now: Doesn't David McReynolds suld like a "tired old"
>  sectarian Socialist grouch?  I think you need vitamins David.
>  --John
>  >From: "Fred  Feldman" <ffeldman at bellatlantic.net>
>  >Reply-To: 620peace at yahoogroups.com
>  >To: <107disc at yahoogroups.com>
>  >CC: <620peace at yahoogroups.com>
>  >Subject: [620peace] Response to McReynolds on whether to endorse October
>  >antiwar protest
>  >Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 13:05:00 -0400
>  >
>  >I think I disagree sharply with David McReynolds' opposition to
>  >the October 26 demonstration against the war with Iraq called for by
>  >and International Action Center.
>  >He writes: "This is the same tired old Workers World group. Surely we
>  >do
>  >better than endorse their action."
>  >
>  >  One measure of whether
>  >"we" (what is the definition of a "we" that excludes Workers World,
>  >I wonder? Is it everyone in the world except Workers World, every one
>  >against the war except Workers World, or is some other dividing line
>  >drawn?) can "do better" is our capacity  that we sieze the opportunities
>  >that are  in front of us.
>  >
>  >An antiwar action has been scheduled for Washington DC on October 26.
>  >is
>  >actually possible that the U.S. will already be at war in that time, but
>  >surely another major demonstration will be needed about that time.
>  >
>  >I think the existing coalitions and groups should all "do better" than
>  >Workers
>  >World or anybody else could possibly do alone by building this action,
>  >attempting to make speakers lists and broader and more inclusive, and
>  >bringing
>  >their own contingents, signs, slogans, chants, and political literature.
>  >
>  >It will be very difficult to create new, inclusive, broad coalitions
>  >between
>  >now and that date (it took more about two months to put together the
>  >of
>  >the  coalition
>  >that built the modest-sized but politically extremely important and
>  >vitally
>  >necessary September 8 protest in New York City -- a genuine act of
>  >of the utterly false "national unity" being imposed on the country in
>  >name of  the special importance and special martyrdom of "our" American
>  >dead).
>  >
>  >  I think that to effectively boycott the October 26 action because one
>  >objects to
>  >Workers World in the name of one or another "we" is, in the given
>  >circumstances, to subordinate the fight against the war to sectarian
>  >considerations.
>  >
>  >The road to a broad, inclusive antiwar movement begins with acting
>  >to support the actions that are before us. Building the October 26
>  >demonstration under these circumstances  will aid us in our efforts to
>  >better" not only than Workers World but than all of us have done in the
>  >past.
>  >
>  >Meanwhile, I hope to see everyone at the protest against Bush's war
>  >tomorrow at the United Nations, 9:30-1, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 46th and
>  >Second Avenue (that's the available entrance, apparently).
>  >Fred Feldman
>  >Fred Feldman
>  >----- Original Message -----
>  >From: <DavidMcR at aol.com>
>  >To: <107disc at yahoogroups.com>; <BronxPeace at yahoogroups.com>
>  >Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 4:48 PM
>  >Subject: Re: [107disc] To Endorse Or Not To Endorse??????
>  >
>  >
>  > > This is the same tired old Workers World group - surely we can do
>  >than
>  > > endorse their action.
>  > >
>  > > David McReynolds
>  > > >>
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