[Marxism] Report from Boston

Pieinsky pieinsky at igc.org
Fri Jul 30 17:03:52 MDT 2004

I just got back from Boston where I had gone for the protests on the
concluding day, Thursday, of the Democratic Convention. It doesn't take a
Marxist structural analysis of the class nature of the state and of the
obfuscatory role therein of the Two Party System to conclude that the Iraq
War is almost as much a war of Kerry and the numerous other Democrats who
voted for it in Congress as it is a war of Bush, Cheney and the
neo-conservative cabal. Kerry et al are blaming the Bush gang for misleading
them about the existence of WMD's, an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection, and so on.
But what a crock! The truth was available if they had cared to go looking
for it. They didn't; they didn't want to stand up to Bush.  Soon, if the
Dems win the election in November, it will be their war lock, stock and
barrel. Kerry, betraying the last vestige of his anti-war credentials from
his days with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- a period almost
entirely edited out of the convention propaganda film shown last night -
keeps going on about expanding the war (oops, sorry, in the Democratic
political-ese, "including" others in it). And didn't Edwards even state the
other night in his speech to the Convention that they want to "win" the war
outright? It would be ironical if Bush came across, a la Nixon 1968, as the
peacemaker, as the one with the "plan" to bring the war to a close and thus
were able to win his re-election.

Anyway, what I want to know is: Where were the big crowds of demonstrators
that should have been down at the convention confronting these warmongers?
Back last Sunday, ANSWER had a demonstration which drew a couple thousand
people, that's it. Yesterday was far worse. In the early afternoon, I joined
a march organized, if that's the right term, by the young punky anarchist
crowd. This march at least had some energy as it zig-zagged back and forth
in downtown Boston ending up as close as we could get - about a block - from
the heavily guarded convention at the Fleet Center. There was some back and
forth on the street with the cops, and an effigy with two faces representing
Bush and Kerry as parts of the same body was put to the match and that got
on TV, at least the local TV I saw later. But there were only a couple of
hundred people in this march, including the handful of Greens,
anti-imperialists, and assorted miscellaneous peace folks who followed in
the train. The latest anarchist fashion style seems to be to attire
themselves as swashbuckling pirates, sporting black tri-cornered hats and
swinging dummy cutlasses. There were some sporadic chants of "No Blood for
Oil" and the like but very few placards of any coherence. What the fairly
large numbers of ordinary Bostonians observing this march from the sidewalks
and windows made of this motley spectacle, I can only conjecture.

After that scene quieted down, I decided to hang out there by the convention
center to spend some time snapping photos of the infamous caged "free speech
zone" and await the late afternoon/early evening announced protest organized
by the other national anti-war coalition, United for Peace and Justice. I
was hoping that it would be bigger and, if not necessarily as rhetorically
strident as the anarchists, at least would be somewhat more politically
coherent. No such luck. The same group that has been demanding, until it
recently threw in the towel, a site to protest in New York City for the
Republican convention that could accommodate up to 250,000 people could only
muster about 40 to 50 people for this one!!! It was pitiful. And the
politics? Among other speakers, Dennis Kucinch and Tom Hayden were trotted
out to make a plea for the anti-war movement to get behind Kerry as our
first order of business despite whatever his "faults" or "weaknesses". (At
least Kucinch, when he made this pitch, got booed a little bit.  I guess
people don't expect anything otherwise out of Hayden.) Other speakers made
equally clear that they see the work of their coalition as a pressure group
on the Democrats. Speakers kept asking for people in the "crowd" to raise
their voices so that Kerry could hear them. Lots of luck when you were kept
at such a distance by a cordon of riot police and massive fortifications of
high chain link fence and concrete. Even ten thousand people would have had
a hard time making any kind of meaningful impression.

But where *were* the angry anti-war people who should have come out? Is the
problem that the seemingly left-liberal leadership of UPJ -- I don't include
in this the more radical ANSWER which, for all I know, may be hamstrung in
its organizing now because of the WWP's recent factional disputes -- didn't
want to embarrass Kerry because they're so fully ABB so they didn't organize
in more than a token fashion, if at all, outside of the immediate Boston
area.  No word of it leaked up to Vermont; I found out via the Internet.
Nevertheless, the greater Boston area itself is a large metropolis with all
kinds of socialists, solidarity activists, Quakers, and "dissidents" of one
stripe or another, not to mention the masses. You can't get out more than 40
or 50 from Boston? We can put that many anti-war people on the streets with
only a little effort here in Vermont in the town of Montpelier, population
less than 10,000. If anybody on this List is from Boston or has any other
insights on this, I'd sure like to know.  I'm glad I did it for other
reasons -- such as a glimpse of America's future in these concentration
camp-like "free speech zones." But I'm pretty bummed out about the lack of
turnout.  I hate to think what we can expect from UPJ's organizing for the
Republican Convention in NYC.


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