Comparing two movements

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Wed Jan 22 16:01:13 MST 2003


Some critical thoughts in response to Lou's. Remembering we're in different
(but similar( countries but also that I do have dim memories of America in the
60s.


>>1. IF THERE WAS ANY DOUBT ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INTERNET for radical
organizing today, the peace demonstrations of the past year or so should have
dispelled that ... as important for the movement of today as the mimeograph
machine was to that of the 1960s ... relegate wheat pasting of posters, a burdensome
chore I participated in countless times on cold, rainy nights...<<

I agree on the mimeograph. One of our local Maoists famously said "the duplicator
is the machine gun of the revolution". Now we have electronic WMD you might
say. But posters are different. Pasting up (as we call it) involves people in

ACTIVITY; they go out in teams and can talk politics. Also the physical printed
word is still more meaningful for most people than what they see on line --
being confronted by posters as the bus stop also shows them that someone out
there cares enough to face the cold, rainy nights.

>>[Quotes:] "This weekend's anti-war protests were the first mass demonstrations
in memory to occur before a conflict, a testimony to the organizing power of
the Internet"<<

There was mass opposition to WWI before it started among social democratic workers
in Europe. Trouble is, it collapsed when the actual fighting started. Hopefully
that won't happen this time, but the general mood of opposition does seem to
be soft (but hardening) in Australia at least. If asked about a UN backed war,
people are much more open to that.

Anyway we have to start by looking for social and political causes, not the
"power of the internet". If people aren't ready for the message, they will
just delete anti-war emails. If people aren't already interested, they will
not visit your website. I think people are already against the war because it's
transparently artificial, and for other reasons which Lou mentions. For example...


>>THE PROTESTS TAKE PLACE WITHIN A CONTEXT OF DECLINING ECONOMIC EXPECTATIONS.<<



Yes. This matters more than the internet.


>>unwillingness of young people to engage in fruitless adventures such as the
kind associated with the black block.<<

My recollection is that mad ultraleftism emerged in the Vietnam anti-war movement
after people had tried other forms of protest, and the war still continued.
"We've held mass marches and Johnson ignores them, so let's break windows."
There is still room for this to happen in the next war.


>>4. THERE ARE FAR FEWER TEMPTATIONS TO SUPPORT PEACE CANIDATES, the main  weakness
in many ways of the 1960s movement.<<

Peace candidates are less likely to emerge in the Democratic Party, but all
it would take is some Nader figure to start polling 10%, then move to the right
on the grounds that "hey I might get elected". This could be very tempting to
the movement. But I doubt if this was the main weakness of the 60s movement.
The main weakness was its relative isolation from organised labour, a problem
that is still with us.


>>the radical movement has less of a task convincing people of
the need to demonstrate in the streets.<<

Very true, and this is also a major factor explaining why we have big demos
before the war starts. Vietnam legitimised demonstrating. Every major movement
in Australia eventually holds a big "moratorium" type march, which is  inevitably

described as "the biggest since the Vietnam war". It's cool to march. But  that
can conceal an underlying softness.


>THE JOB IS HARDER GIVEN THE UNSAVORY CHARACTER OF SADDEM HUSSEIN.<<

Maybe. Let's not forget that in the sixties, America was fighting the "Communists",
and most of us had grown up in a McCarthyist environment. In Australia, being
close to Asia, there was a major "yellow peril" aspect as well. From my
 perspective, it's something of a plus that the left is not starry eyed about
Saddam the way so many were about Uncle Ho.

>>6. MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE LEFT IS UNITED AROUND THE CENTRAL DEMANDS OF NO WAR
AND NO SANCTIONS.<<

Yes here also. And seemingly also on the basis of "stuff the United  Nations".
Apparently the local coalition agreed that the next rally would not have any
speakers except those who ruled out support for ANY war, even with UN backing.



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