[Marxism] Re: "The National Question" in the UPFJ-ANSWER Debacle isan Epic Farce"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Aug 4 09:42:40 MDT 2005

I wrote:
Junaid writes: The other  poorly understood issue here is that the small
section of 
American Muslims in ANSWER isn't analogous to Black radicals in the 60s 
anyway.... They're not representing the "Muslim nation" 
located in America like Black Americans. They're t an isolated, 
semi-exiled, sliver of the Muslim world, and because of conditions of 
mainstream hostility, they are desperately rushing into the arms of 
whatever propaganda outlet is shouting slogans that are closest to their
political beliefs.... 

"The fact is that these groups, through their broader contacts in the
Muslim communities, brought about 20,000 people to the April 20, 2002,
demonstration in Washington.  Their participation was organized through
ANSWER, to the considerable outrage of some UFPJ leaders who insisted
that ANSWER had violated a promise to tell them that the demo was really
only about Palestine. A similar number, I believe, participated in the
March 14,  2003, march.  On several occassions in New York, these groups
have pulled out 5 to 10,000 people to antiwar protests in New York

Louis responded:
"We have to put some things into perspective. ANSWER does not have much
of a 
presence in New York City, the city where the largest pool of
for Washington protests can be found traditionally.... 
"f you go to the Troops Out Now website, you can't even find a
Steering Committee. If this outfit and ANSWER are supposed to be the
best hope of the Palestinian people, they'd seem to be getting screwed

I think that this shows the difficulty of trying to get into a
discussion of anything happening in this situation except two brand-new,
unprecedented, and shocking developments: the sectarianism of ANSWER and
the Workers World Party.

Was I talking about the mighty mobilization power of ANSWER and the
Troops Out Now coalition?  Was that the subject matter? Was I arguing
that Troops Out Now is "the last best hope of the Palestinian people?
Seems not. 

Now I want to stress that I am not threatening to unsub Louis -- at
least not yet -- but I really think he is capable of meeting much higher
standards of argument than this crude misrepresentation.

I was pointing out that the Arab, pro-Palestinian, and Muslim groups
that are with ANSWER this time around are not simply isolated
ultralefts, but have some real ties with the community.  They represent
a sliver of the Muslim masses in this country, but a relatively
mobilized sliver.  They have been able to turn out large numbers in
previous demonstrations. Will they be able to do so again? I have no
idea, frankly, what either demonstration will look like in  terms of
size and composition.  The next six weeks will tell.

Why are my comments about the Arab groups unfailingly turned into praise
of the mighty power of ANSWER-WWP as the savior of the Palestinian
people  by Louis and into the "ANSWER position" by Alam.  The secret
seems to be blind factionalism toward these sectarian operations, which
cuts them off from really taking any account of the manifestations of
motion by oppressed nationalities on the one hand, and of the role of
the UFPJ in provoking the split.  

As a result, ANSWER-WWP get all of their fire, and the UFPJ's rightward
course -- which is demobilizing, not strengthening the movement
(including through its role in provoking the split) -- gets all their
fire.  That's why they reject support for the two demonstrations as a
single day of protest, and insist apparently that only one REAL antiwar
demonstration will take place that day, whether there is unification or
not -- and that is the UFPJ demonstration. They treat the ANSWER
protest, including the Arab and Muslim groups joining it, as basically
an enemy mobilization to be actively opposed.  Not as a part of the
antiwar mobilization that day, and also a product, like the UFPJ, of the
split brought about by bureaucratic functioning and political
disorientation on both sides.

The blind factional war against ANSWER-TONC-WWP is  blocking vision of
the real political issues taking shape. It is an obstacle to unification
in this instance.  And it is an obstacle to the broader, deeper
unification needed in the future. After all, the unity or division of
this demonstration is not going to decide whether the war ends as a
result of this round of protests.  

The war is not going to end as a result of this round of protests,
period. (The UFPJ approach tends to suggest this might happen if only
they are allowed to reach out free of the Palestine and Afghanistan dead
weight.) If the troops do not come home on September 25, it will not be
because of the sectarianism of the ANSWER protest or because of the
rightward shift of UFPJ.

We have to be not just screaming at the ultralefts, but preparing the
future stage of the struggle, which will NOT be advanced by the course
that the UFPJ is on now. We have to be preparing the REAL reaching out
to broader forces, not the rather boastful claims of the UFPJ of the
wonders they can perform now that the Palestine monkey is off their
Fred Feldman

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