Eli on UFPJ and Oct. 25

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Aug 21 22:29:14 MDT 2003

I believe that Eli is right that the discussion, which was begun by Jose
asking why I was so concerned about the danger of  the leadership of the
antiwar movement bending or submitting politically to the imperialist
liberals, has produced some information and clarity.  Looking back, the lack
of progress on October 25 was very much involved in my reacting so strongly,
albeit basically correctly, to the  "support the troops" issue.

But I think Eli should keep in mind that his speculation had two basic
problems: (1) It was a fantasy, and (2) the fantasy placed the onus on
ANSWER  and  Workers World for the division.  It would be dead wrong for
ANSWER to block a broad united antiwar action in the name of  barring any
"antiwar" capitalist candidates from the platform or even in the name of the
slogan, "Bring the Troops Home Now."  And ANSWER has not done either, to the
best of my knowledge.

The obstacle to unity is, so far, the passive boycott of the October 25
action by UFPJ, Win Without War, US Labor Against the War, and others who
are attracted toward the Anybody But Bush electoral camp.

UFPJ remains an antiwar group.  They still participate in actions against
the war.   They still call  for Bring the Troops Home Now.  All this is
acceptable and can be contained within the Anybody But Bush camp.  But a
national action in Washington, DC, opposing the occupation  (even if it
draws "only" 5, 10, or 25,000) would divide (and in the view of many ABB
forces, divert) the Anybody But Bush camp by injecting the issue of
unconditional opposition to the occupation more deeply into US politics in
protests pointing toward real mass action. For starters it is quite clear
that uniting with ANSWER to hold a national antiwar action on an antiwar
rather than anti-Bush axis (which doesn't exclude the usual stream of
anti-Bush slogans) would divide UFPJ itself.

There have always been organizational irritations and organizational
sectarianism between ANSWER and UFPJ and it has blocked some united actions,
although not others.  I think that bigger class forces are determining the
division this time.

Participation in the Anybody but Bush campaign -- that is, the Democratic
Party campaign leading up to the  2004 elections -- does not require that
UFPJ cease to be an antiwar group or drop "Bring the Troops Home Now."  On
the contrary the Democratic Party, and those bourgeois forces like the New
York Times who will be supporting Anybody But Bush, want everyone who is
opposed to the war and opposes the occupation, including the most
unconditional opponents, to throw themselves into this coalition.  They
don't expect them all to become prowar, but they do aim to demobilize the
incipient movement to the greatest extent possible.

That is the big contribution that the Democratic Party can make to the "war
on terrorism" and the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, even if the
rulers decide in the end to stick with Bush for the next four years, which
is not a certainty.
Fred Feldman

Eli wrote:
I pretty much agree with everything Fred said. My "wild speculation" was
meant at least partially to initiate a discussion on the subject and I think
I succeeded. But what I still don't understand is this - go to the UfPJ web
page at http://www.unitedforpeace.org/. On the front page, you'll find them
prominently selling stickers reading as follows: "Bush lies. Who dies? End
the occupation of Iraq. Bring the troops home now!" This, of course, except
for the first part, is word-for-word the organizing demand of Oct. 25.
Furthermore, if you go to their events listings
(http://www.unitedforpeace.org/calendar.php), you'll find more than one
listed event (for example, a march in Chicago this Saturday) with exactly
the same demand. This seems to leave out-and-out sectarianism as the only
possible reason for the failure to endorse, or even list in their calendar,
the Oct. 25 demonstration.

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