Who organized the anti-war movement? was: Re: Mother Jones on SF's Anti-War "Radicals"

loupaulsen at attbi.com loupaulsen at attbi.com
Mon Mar 31 09:26:22 MST 2003

Ivnadal writes:
> 2. Regarding the "mass nature of the anti war movement," I don't think that
> is either accurate or the real question.  The anti-war movement was
> organized, given shape, and direction by Marxists.  Plain and simple.  If
> the approach was non-exclusionary based around the simple "No War," that
> doesn't change either the "micro forces" at work, the Marxists, or the
> "macro" the overall crisis of overproduction, falling rate of profit, and
> capital's need for the attack on the components on the means of production.

I have some issues with the rest of his arguments too, but those are perhaps
matters of opinions.  But the idea that 'the anti-war movement was organized
by Marxists' is just plain false.  Anyone who believes it is completely
overestimating the influence of Marxists.  Of course I believe that Marxists
have had an important influence on the growth of the movement, an influence
disproportionate to our numbers.  But there are many strata of non-Marxist
radicals, non-Marxist self-identified anti-imperialists, anti-globalization
people, anarchists, radical Catholics, pacifists, religious liberals, liberal
U.N. loyalists, and so on, who have also participated in this movement, held
meetings, organized vigils, etc.  It really IS a mass movement.  This is a
very good thing.  It means that the movement is 100 times as large and
important as if it were just Marxists and our friends.

I don't know how it is in SF, but this week there are probably about 50 anti-
war meetings, vigils, film showings, teach-ins, etc., in the Chicago area, and
Marxists are in the leadership of maybe 10 of them.

At times it may look as if other forces are participating 'under Marxist
leadership', that is, that Marxists may participate in the decision that a
demonstration should be held, and then they decide to come to it.  This is a
valuable card which absolutely must not be overplayed.  If we start acting as
if all these forces have enlisted in our army and will do whatever we command,
we will be generals without an army very fast.

I hate to short-change the discussion, since I can see that my wisdom is
greatly needed here ;-) , but briefly, I think we have to deal with the
tensions within the movement very realistically.  On the one hand, there is a
section of the movement which wants to move "ahead" tactically by doing more
and more radical stuff.  Meanwhile, however, another section of the movement
has been moved in the opposite direction, through intimidation, a sense of
failure, wanting to stay in touch with the Democratic Party (taken as a
whole), apprehensiveness about the 'support-the-troops' movement, and so on.
This creates a tension.  It is the same kind of tension that existed in the
early 1970's between my comrades and their milieu and Proyect's comrades and
their milieu.

Since this whole war and everything related to it are running through the
stages of Viet Nam at breakneck speed like an old DOS program running on a
Pentium, maybe this stage won't last long either.  However, while it does,
those of us who do not want to 'farcically' repeat the less pleasant features
of the earlier movement should think about how we can deal with these tensions
in a better manner than the last time around.  And a lot of people ARE
thinking that way.

The situation on the ground (in Chicago anyway) is much more unified, and
characterized by much more tolerance within the movement of each others'
perceived deviations, than you would think by reading Mother Jones or the
NYTimes or some posts here.

This all needs more attention.  This is an incomplete draft.

Out of time, sorry -

Lou Paulsen

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