Jon Flanders' comments on January 18 demonstration

Jon Flanders Jon_Flanders at
Fri Jan 3 14:44:35 MST 2003

Lou Paulsen and Fred Feldman make some good points, I would agree with
many of them.

  But on one central contention Lou makes I would strongly disagree.
That is the argument that the timing of actions should be primarily
driven by the notion of stopping the war "BEFORE BAGHDAD IS

  This is wrong on at least two counts.

  First, we are not at a stage where the working class in the United
States is ready to massively move to stop this war. I say that as
someone who has actively organized in the labor movement around the
issue with some success. Resolutions by the many labor groups do not
make an anti-war movement in the working class. There is a big
difference between anti-war sentiment, which is large, and growing, and
the willingness to turn out in the streets over the issue. Most workers
I talk to are still in the "what can you do" stage.

  So to me, the central criteria for anti-war organizing should be what
would be most effective in involving more people in anti-war actions,
ie, getting them to take the first steps. Right now, I think that local
MLK events provide that opportunity, particularly when you consider that
they have consistently  been built by the civil rights forces which
should be considered natural allies by the anti-war movement. Organizing
a national action on the MLK weekend tends to counterpose anti-war
action to the those of the black community.

  Secondly, it is wrong to think that the US intends to "OBLITERATE
BAGHDAD." What they intend to do is occupy it, in collaboration with
such quisling forces as they can buy or influence. This occupation will
not be over quickly, and the very fact of it will greatly accelerate
opposition around the world.

  Therefore, rather than making unrealistic assessments of what we can
STOP in the short term, we should always be thinking of what the most
effective next step will be building an anti-war movement, a step that
will lead to the next, and the next, until it DOES involve millions of
working people.

  Having said that, I would certainly not discourage people from going
to Washington. What I would ENCOURAGE is a better, more democratic and
inclusive decision making process for anti-war action in the future.

Jon Flanders

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