Building a broad mass movement

Adam Levenstein cleon42 at
Sat Jan 4 14:22:45 MST 2003


I'm not on your side as much as you think I am.

Basically you have two points of view--one that the movement should be
as broad as humanly possible (ie, "United Front"), and one that it
should be as principled as humanly possible.

The problem is, both these viewpoints are wrong.

If your movement is *too* broad, you are essentially giving the forces
of reaction a free reign. The NA and the Palestine movement is the one
example I've been pushing--with good reason, the NA has been trying to
get themselves involved in it. So the question is absolutely relevant
and *real*.

On the other hand, if you try to remain too strict (or "principled," if
you will)--no speakers from liberal/reactionary viewpoints, coalitions
adopting a "Iraq: defeat imperialism" stance, etc.--you wind up
isolating yourself.

So as Walter said--the trick is to compromise. But at what expense?
Sometimes, idealistic visions to the contrary notwithstanding, you
*will* have to make a call for principle or for unity. And the choice
isn't always easy.

Do you make "Victory to Iraq" a keypoint of an anti-war coalition? Of
course not--that won't do anything except isolate you, whether it's the
correct position or not.

Do you allow fascists to speak at Palestine events? Hell no. (If I have
to explain why, you're on the wrong list.)

Do you not permit Mumia to speak, or not play the speech for fear of
scaring the liberals? Ahhhh....Now here, here it gets a little more
grey, doesn't it? It's not as cut-and-dry. Because if you *do* play it,
you're being inclusive of the radicals; and if you don't, you're being
inclusive of the liberals. Principle would dictate that you play it
(Mumia, being of a Marxist ilk himself, is plainly anti-imperialist),
but unity would suggest that you don't.

As a college professor of mine used to say, 90% of getting the right
answer is asking the right question.

I suppose my own point of view is that a coalition should be as broad
as possible, but when it does get icky, you side with principle. But
it's not as easy a question, I don't think, as you and Lou/Walter make
it out to be.


Adam Levenstein                          cleon42 at
ICQ: 17125158

Microsoft will make something that doesn't suck when
they start manufacturing vacuum cleaners.

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