[Marxism] Waiting for Upsurges (re: reply to Joaquin)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sun May 1 12:01:40 MDT 2005

Lou wrote:

>"The strength of the Stalinist currents in SDS was increased by the 
>weakness of the Trotskyist tradition. The largest Trotskyist 
>organization in the U.S., the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP), played 
>a central role in the various national coordinating committees that 
>organized the semi-annual mass antiwar demonstrations in Washington 
>as well as in the youth wing, the Student Mobilization Committee 
>(SMC). But the SWP always looked at the antiwar movement as a 
>single-issue movement and reacted with outright hostility to any 
>attempt to inject more radical, anti-imperialist politics into it. 
>It dismissed SDS as a petty-bourgeois, semi-anarchist group, and 
>while it had a large presence in the SMC, it made no attempt to 
>influence the debates inside SDS. Instead of playing the role of the 
>revolutionary left-wing of the antiwar movement, the SWP gave a left 
>cover to the pacifists and liberals who dominated the coordinating 
>For me, this is the real question--not where or when the ISO sells 
>its newspaper, etc. Basically, this is an *ultraleftist* 
>understanding of the Vietnam antiwar movement and clearly is a 
>guideline to ISO's participation  today in the struggle to end the 
>occupation of Iraq. The role of a Marxist organization, especially 
>one with a thousand numbers, is not to "inject more radical, 
>anti-imperialist politics". Rather, it is to provide effective 
>leadership for the entire movement by drawing together disparate 
>forces into a powerful united front around the slogan of immediate 
>withdrawal. Everything that stands in the way of that task is to be 
>avoided, even if it is couched in revolutionary rhetoric. There is 
>nothing more "radical" and "anti-imperialist" than a half-million 
>people demonstrating for an end to the occupation.

Lou, I wish you hadn't said "ultraleftist" in your criticism of the 
ISR piece.  Terms like that often end discussion prematurely.

That said, while I believe that it is neither possible nor desirable 
to try to "inject more radical, anti-imperialist politics" into the 
anti-war movement (the metaphor of "injection" is a particularly 
unfortunate one, and I hope that the ISO will avoid it in the 
future), I do think that development of the anti-war movement as a 
single-issue movement is a problem -- a problem to which I cannot 
provide any solution.  As long as the anti-war movement is a 
single-issue movement, I don't think that we will see more 
participation of workers of color, especially poorer workers of 
color.  Problems that confront poorer workers of color are multiple, 
not single.  Most of them are opposed to the Iraq war, but the war 
alone doesn't get them to take part in mass actions that are still 
largely announced through predominantly white channels.  For many, 
the Iraq War may feel like the least of the problems.  Politically 
conscious socialists of the USA, the majority of whom appear to be 
white and male, probably can't initiate any concrete actions to 
bridge the gap between existing single-issue movements and the 
reality of multiple oppressions that keep poor people of color down. 
Spontaneous political upsurges need to develop from bottom up, among 
poorer communities of color themselves.  If and when such upsurges 
come, I doubt that they will target only the Iraq War.

We are socialists in the age of waiting, so to speak, and while 
waiting for upsurges, I think we should try to keep our theory about 
tactics and strategies supple and flexible, taking care not to set it 
into stone simply based on the past and the present.

* Critical Montages: <http://montages.blogspot.com/>
* Monthly Review: <http://monthlyreview.org/>
* Greens for Nader: <http://greensfornader.net/>
* Bring Them Home Now! <http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/>
* Calendars of Events in Columbus: 
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://www.solidarity-us.org/>

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