Richard Harris rhh1 at
Wed Jul 23 14:34:48 MDT 2003

Mark said:

1) "Anyone really incapable of understanding what it takes for soldiers to
speak out against the government probably can't understand very much at
all about the real political world.

2) A "politically correct" or "right" line depends entirely on context.
It's not like saying the exactly correct formulation of a slogan that
somehow resonates with something other than the experience and lives of
the people.  ...

3) No discussion of theory should have priority over getting off our asses
and reaching the military.  Right now."

1) I have not seen any contributor suggest that it is anything but heroic
and marvellous that soldiers are speaking out against the military and
political authorities.  All strength to them!  Mark's observation is right,
but let all of us avoid attacking Aunt Sally as a way to make our points.

I would have said I don't think anyone posts top this list except with the
very best of intentions.  Disagreeing with a political position does not
involve disagreeing with a comrade ~ it might be exactly the comradely thing
to do.  In my life, I have moved from orthodox CP-ism to left communism,
mainly through serious intellectual beatings I received from Trots.  And you
know, they were right about the weaknesses of CP politics and the roots of
those weaknesses.

I would have said, but I am mildly shocked and saddened by LaSante's
message.  How can anyone think like that?

2) However, the issue we need to focus on is the role of revolutionaries in
the current situation.  I don't agree that the correct line depends on
context.  If you're a cleaner at Fort Bragg and a socialist, you still have
to say the war is wrong.  You'll lose your job and get beaten up.  But it is
not good enough just to outleft the politics you meet, thinking you'll move
them on.  That's Kautsky's politics, slowly slowly build the movement.  In a
hundred years, perhaps the Nazis will live and let live.  Sometimes you've
just got to shoot them.

In Berlin, Moscow, London, Paris, Warsaw, Vienna in 1914 the correct line
was no war!  Context was irrelevant because the war transcended local
history and sensibility.  Everyone was sharing the same moment.  As we are
now with the invasion of Iraq and all that flows from it.  I am not
suggesting that we need a book of correct and immutable slogans.  Mark is
right to say our work must resonate.  But with whom?  With the lives of the
people?  Who is that?  At the moment we need resonance with workers who will
fight.  That is my audience.  I'm not a national politician.  I'm not trying
to end the occupation through mobilising a liberal mass movement.  The
liberals are doing that and don't need my help.  I'm in that movement trying
to join the dots for the militants out there who are isolated.  Or for the
militants who are anti-war but who don't see the link between war and
Capital.  Or for the militants who are against imperialism but who think
imperialist politics is a strategy that can be altered by an election.  I
listen to the slogans the liberals are using.  I don't have to use them
myself.  I don't have to be sectarian and attack them just for the hell of
it either.  If soldiers families are saying bring the troops home now ~ well
done them.  But that's not my slogan!  That is not what I should be saying
to the working class militants I know.  I need not to be isolated but also
to tell the truth (the war is about class and power, not mistakes over wmd.)

If anyone who thinks we should say 'bring the troops home' gets really
involved in the movement, they know very well that all the issues we debate
here, all the facts we know, will be raised.  You are going to have to take
a position: that it is not our state, that the army is the capitalist
state's organisation of  killers (so get out of it), that Iraq was not
invaded for any of the reasons given by the White House or Downing Street,
that the US ? British armies are not the world's peacekeepers (the
misconception in the UK.)  Tell me, don't you end up discussing all these
issues without raising them yourself?  Troops out now! is mild compared to
what has to be said in answer to those questions.

3) I have always found things work better if the arse is kept in a steady
relationship with the brain.

Richard Harris
26 St Martin's Close
Kent   UK

work: r.harris at
day: 020 7423 0000
eve: 01227 470924
fax:  19283951942

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