[Marxism] Stan Goff/Tom Hayden exchange

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 25 17:30:59 MDT 2005

 From http://stangoff.com/index.php?p=175. Also make to sure to check out 
how Stan sees his role in Freedom Road in one of the comments. They are all 
worth reading.

I just received an email from Tom Hayden. Here is his letter, and my reply:


Stan, I thought you might support this proposal, or at least understand it. 
The proposal is offered as a way to implement the meaning of “out now” in a 
way that will draw more support. It’s not offered as an alternative to the 
agenda of the movement, but a complement.

You say we don’t need an exit strategy, that our military commanders can 
order it done in thirty days. And you call my suggestion unrealistic/ Have 
you tried your argument on the undecided public?

Look, I used to say we made up a lie to invade so we can make up a lie to 
withdraw. I found the listeners wanted a little more substance.

I am not arguing that we should rely on the Democratic Party. I am arguing 
that we should become a complicating factor for hawks in congressional 
districts, and that we need a vocal peace faction in Congress. Why are 
thousands of people descending on Washington to protest if they don’t 
intend to move the politicians?

My strategy is people power against the pillars of the policy: undercut 
Bush in public opinion, funding, troop recruitment, alliances, etc. The 
work is carried out at the grass roots level, as the protests in Idaho and 
Utah have shown. But hearings in Congress like Conyers’ on Downing Street 
and Woolsey on exit strategy are useful steps.

The tone of your article concerns me most. It is full of rage. We shouldn’t 
be turning on each other. I support and admire what you’ve written before, 
and the work you do. I hope you will take another look at the proposal. TOM



I appreciate you writing on this, but my argument still stands. I 
appreciate you laudatory remarks about me. I love to be loved, Tom. But I 
oppose you on this.

My anger is with the patronizing tone that you have taken toward us for our 
“unrealism.” I’ve seen this movie before. As for sounding this message out, 
I have received around 300 emails in the last two days on this, and all but 
about 4 of them were supportive. They aren’t mad at you. They are 
rightfully fed up with parliamentarianism
 which as a student of history 
you know has never accomplished a single radical transformation until a 
mass movement has threatened to destabilze the whole shithouse.

My son just came back from is second hitch over there, and they are telling 
him he will go back again by January. So I might be attracted to the notion 
of some Congressional fix that will stop this one, now, and let everything 
return to normal, except for a couple of things.

First, normal is why we are seeing a generation that includes my son being 
done to what I and others were done to in Vietnam. We ended one war, but we 
did not end the system that breeds war. Second, normal that ends the Iraq 
war (in however many years) through some plan that fails to also destabilze 
the whole system here in the imperial core means that Jaydin, my grandson 
of 32 months now, and who I love more than any creature who draws breath on 
this planet, will be part of the next generation to go. I didn’t manage to 
keep Jessie out of uniform, but I goddamn well intend to try and keep 
Jaydin out.

So it’s not rage you are hearing when you psychologize my writing, Tom. 
It’s love. My own experience as part of that last generation to get thrown 
into the charnel house of capital alomost rendered me incapable of 
experiencing love
 but circumstances offered me a measure of redemption, 
and I intend to use it to my very last breath to fight alongside millions 
of others for the utter destruction of this system, root and branch. 
Stopping this predation and plunder in Iraq is just the first step for some 
of us.

And the reality is that this quick-fix you are advocating will not shorten 
the war itself. It will prolong it. It is, right this minute.

Tom, if you offer a plan that is genuinely unilateral, I’m there. I’ll camp 
on David Price’s Congressional porch until they drag me off in handcuffs to 
fight for it, and I’ll call you a national hero. But this “plan” is no such 
thing. Neither you nor the Democrats nor the whole US government have the 
slightest right to negoitate anything with a single Iraqi. The US invaded 
THEM. The authority of the US is competely illegitimate, and any claim to 
it is racist to its very core. Making a policy proposal palatable by 
ignoring (1) the imperial nature of the US government and the class to whom 
it belongs and (2) the anti-Arab racism that underwrites liberal “concern” 
for post-occupation Iraq, is unacceptable. There is one and only one moral 
alternative here. Leave.

I agree we have to move politicians. Where we diverge is on the question of 
how. But that is a very big divergence and goes to the heart of where we 
want this movement to go. I do not believe in lobbying
 at least not the 
lobbying that involves respectfully approaching elected officials and 
asking them to support this and that. This leaves the power relation 
between pols and proles exactly the same. But when we are leveraging their 
inseucurity and making demands, and they are FORCED by the situation WE 
create to move, then that relation has changed. This is Direct Action 
Organizing 101.

Every time one of these elected officials (or you) comes back with one of 
these dithering proposals that says we will leave when this or that 
condition prevails (over which “we” have no control), we (the we in which I 
include myself) are going to chant the same naive-by-your-account mantra
NOW. Leave NOW. Your proposal says we have to create certain conditions in 
Iraq first. This is the point where I rely on scatological remarks as part 
of my critique. Neither you nor the entire United States government has the 
ability to make these conditions appear. Moreover, the reality – since you 
are so wedded to what is realistic – is that the US state has a distinctive 
class character that is unmentionable in polite political discourse that 
renders it genetically incapable of (1) promoting anything resembling 
popular democracy anywhere (in fact, quite the contrary, it has to stamp it 
our wherever it finds it) and (2) being responsive to the real needs of 
people here in the US.

No for some realism of my own. Mass times velocity equals momentum. There 
was a point not that long ago when over 90% of the American public had been 
stampeded by the lies of our ruling class into supporting the notion that 
we had to attack Iraq. Those lies were propagated by Republican and 
Democrat alike. Lately, over 60% of that same polity says this is a very 
bad idea, and over 30% have come to share our position about NOW
. that is, 
unilateral and unconditional withdrawal. Cut and run; the faster the 
better. That’s why Walter (of Freedom Fries fame) Jones here in Jesse Helms 
country is wavering.

So if the momentum is heading to the left (the NOW position), why in the 
world would we choose this particular moment to introduce a more equivocal 
position to become a new point of reference? Your proposal does NOT draw 
more support to the “out now” position. First, and this is no mere 
technicality, your proposal is not an “out now” position. Second, we are 
already drawing more support every day
 as the polls show. Your proposal 
only draws more support from one quarter. Nervous Democratic Party 
officials. And why – when Congress is reacting on its own to catch up with 
this momentum – would we try to turn the initiative over to them now by 
diverting an increasingly militant and mobilized antiwar movement into 
parliamentary horse-trading? I can only think of one reason. To blunt that 

Here is my love-and-rage response: Fuck that!

I have no idea how this war will end, and I have no doubt that the actual 
end will be overdetermined in bafflingly complex ways. But I am an activist 
in the Bring Them Home Now! campaign, and you know what? When we were 
plodding along, beating our brains out to push this campaign along on 
pennies, duct tape, and bailing wire, building MFSO and VFP, and midwifing 
GSFP and IVAW, Moveon and their ilk found us to be anathema. But we stuck 
to our position, through a lot of struggle with people who are articulating 
the same thing you are now – which is NOT an “out now” position – and our 
patient persuasion along with the breakdown of the cover-story and the 
dreadful progress of the war started people moving our way. They just 
needed someone to catalyze them, then Cindy encamped in Crawford, the media 
reacted, and suddenly they, you, and everyone else shows up with a bunch of 
NGO-whiteboy “strategies” (and most dangerous of all, money) to instruct us 
all in the virtues of parliamentary pluralism.

And it will work, Tom, and that’s the most fucked up thing about it. These 
appeals will take advantage of people’s undying hopelfulness about a 
mythical “America” of which they are yet to be disabused, and their 
anxieties about mass movements, and you and others will succeed in draining 
some of the militance and focus out of this movement. As a result, not only 
will you preserve the whole wicked system for a bit longer, but more 
immediately you will end up prolonging the war itself.

I don’t have the power to stop that. The only power I have right now is to 
name it. So I am.

Yours for a new future,


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