[Marxism] Eyewitness report on recent WWP-led antiwar action

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 2 14:15:01 MDT 2005


I was at the recent "Troops Out Now" demonstration in Harlem and it was a 
rather sad scene. The crowd was dismal, the speakers long-winded. There 
were about 15 tables and almost every one was affiliated with Workers World 
or IAC in some way [excepting a couple other groups seated outside the main 
perimeter.] I don't want to downplay the important work that went into this 
event or any other; I don't have major political differences with WWP - I 
have major strategic and tactical differences. I think that the results of 
the demo [that I observed at least] speak to the narrow approach that the 
organizers took in promotion and outreach and to the wide net they cast in 
trying to cover every single issue of injustice [it looks good on a stage 
but where is the impact?]. On the other hand, I do believe that the focus 
on racism and national oppression is the way to go in addressing the crux 
of so many of these issues, and WWP and Answer has done a good job of 
addressing the issues and building leadership of and making connections 
with people of color. Still, their relationship with other left groups has 
been noted by almost everyone outside of their organization to be sectarian 
and unproductive.

Campaigns to Free the Cuban 5, Free Mumia, re-install Aristide, end 
Israel's occupation, hands off Venezuela, etc. are all necessary and 
important, but they don't all have to be featured, especially as unifying 
points, at every major demonstration. Building on these issues within local 
communities and already-existing national organizations should not be put 
off as secondary to the issue of Iraq. But I think that a national 
mobilization to the end the war in Iraq must be focused in order to be 
effective. The central contradiction, at this point in time, is on the 
ground in Iraq - removing the American troops from that equation will 
dramatically impact imperial power and will *create the space* for further 
work to deconstruct imperial power in Palestine, Haiti and "everywhere."

As Marta Harnecker said, "To be a radical does not mean to declare one's 
opinion towards more radical solutions, but to create conditions to do 
things...The art of politics is to create forces to be able do in the 
future what we cannot do now. It has been said that an opportunist is 
someone who states that does not have power and adapts. The revolutionary 
is the one who knows that does not have power, but looks for ways to create 
the necessary conditions for it."

I remember an earlier post on LH that referred to some activists using a 
"stagist" approach to organizing against imperialism [sorry, I would 
properly reference it if I could find it]. I actually don't see a problem 
at all with meeting people where they're at - I think its the most 
important organzing strategy we can use. We must create the conditions for 
which we can take power on issues in strategic ways rather than taking 
every opportunity to formulate the most correct political line on every 
issue facing the oppressed *at all times and in all places.* All of these 
issues must be addressed, but if we seriously want to challenge power, we 
must think strategically. And if this is a "stagist" approach, then I'm all 
for it.

Here's to a united Sept 24 demo around ending of the occupation of Iraq, if 
its possible.

Chad Negendank

PS: I'm also not active currently in any national anti-war organization, 
although my work in the past has been centered around UFPJ-coordinated 
actions. I choose to work towards building for their demos primarily 
because I think they generally have the correct strategy and do not make 
ultra left mistakes. I absolutely think they have made social democratic 
mistakes, but in this climate, I can forgive that much more than I can 
ultraleft ones. I'm sure that will get under some folks' skin, but the need 
for unity on broad points is important enough for me to state that at this 
point in history.



More information about the Marxism mailing list