Forwarded from Robert Touraine (reply to Stuart)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 27 13:55:07 MST 2003


Yes, it is a reprint and perhaps the SWP lacks the flexibility needed to
join the present antiwar movement. Their new line may just be verbal--to
get critics off their back. I personally don't know. However, that
reprint came only two weeks after September 11, 2001. At the time,
someone at The Militant decided that it was appropriate for reprinting.
My take is that the editor or someone higher thought this would be an
convenient way to prepare their members for participation in any antiwar
coalition against an easily foreseen attack on Afghanistan.

In any case, it indicates that as of October 2001 they still approved of
their participation in antiwar actions against the first Gulf War. They
were also later willing to join in actions against the bombing of Kosova
and Serbia. However, I think that there was some purity involved here.
You could solidarize with the KLA, but not with any political groups
that didn't support independence for Kosova. They weren't to be allowed
in the coalition. I used to think that one of the purposes of a United
Front was to be able to show the long-range correctness of your
political line in contrast to others. If you can't work with those who
partly disagree with you, how can you win them or others over to your
own position? Isn't that abandoning the waverers and the confused to
your opponents?

In any case, I believe that sometime since October 2001 they changed
their strategy regarding antiwar coalitions. A principled (and obviously
less embarrassing) way to have handled their abstention from the antiwar
coalitions would have been to say: "We are conducting our antiwar work
within the trade union movement. This is a result of the reorientation
of our forces since the turn to the workers that we made in the 1970s."
It would have been a weak cover for a weakened organization, but no one
could object in principle. I'm guessing here, but I think that by their
abstention the leadership was trying to create a Firewall between its
aged and dwindling members and their memory of the great work they did
in the 60s and early 70s. But the Firewall didn't work, and now the
leadership is scrambling.

Instead they criticized the coalitions and its mobilizations from an
ultraleft position. As yet there is no explanation for either
reversal--from 1991 or from a month ago. I hope, for the sake of the SWP
members, that they won't bother. My mind is still in a muddle over their
explanation regarding Etian Gonzalez. What was it: God can pluck Etian
from the hands of his captors, but "God Forbid" that it be a military
branch of the U.S. government, or was it just the INS action that was
verbotten?

Robert Touraine

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