[Marxism] Stan Goff/Tom Hayden exchange
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
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. Its not offered as an alternative to the
agenda of the movement, but a complement.
You say we dont 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 dont
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 shouldnt
be turning on each other. I support and admire what youve 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. Ive 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 arent 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 didnt manage to
keep Jessie out of uniform, but I goddamn well intend to try and keep
So its not rage you are hearing when you psychologize my writing, Tom.
Its love. My own experience as part of that last generation to get thrown
into the charnel house of capital alomost rendered me incapable of
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
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, Im there. Ill camp
on David Prices Congressional porch until they drag me off in handcuffs to
fight for it, and Ill 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
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. Thats 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 thats the most fucked up thing about it. These
appeals will take advantage of peoples 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 dont 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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