lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 2 09:26:34 MDT 2005
I want to direct comrades' attention to an article in today's Counterpunch
that articulates an approach that I have described as ultraleft. It urges
the antiwar movement to become "anti-imperialist".
Counterpunch, May 2, 2005
Lobbyists or Organizers?
If Imperialism is the Cause, Shouldn't the US Anti-War Movement be
By RON JACOBS
Our job is to create the situation where that understanding becomes the
case and is acted upon. Are the current antiwar organizations (UFPJ and
ANSWER in the US, Stop the War Coalition in the UK) the proper vehicles for
creating this situation? I can't speak for the UK organization or any
organization in other countries outside of the US. However, when it comes
to the US organizations, I believe the answer is no, not as they are
currently operating. UFPJ has failed to put forward an anti-imperialist
analysis of the war and occupation: a fact that is perhaps best displayed
by their tacit support of war party member John Kerry via the Anybody But
Bush electoral movement in 2004. ANSWER seems to have too much baggage
associated with its founding organization (Worker's World Party-WWP) to be
able to reach very far beyond its current constituency. This is too bad for
ANSWER, especially considering their work against the sanctions and ongoing
war on Iraq for more than a decade and their support amongst the
communities of color in the United States.
I would like to state here that this is not meant to be a call to disband
either of these organizations. After all, they have played (and will
continue to play) an important role in the antiwar movement. It is instead,
a call on those who consider themselves to be non-WWP anti-imperialists to
stop trying to change the nature of UFPJ and ANSWER and form our own
antiwar grouping(s). There is a need for a broad anti-imperialist coalition
to oppose the designs of Washington and London. There is also a need to
take that opposition to the streets, the schools, the workplace, the
military, and wherever else we can. The time is getting late. Who will make
the first step towards building this organization?
Rather than looking for another competing movement based on
"anti-imperialist" ideology, there is instead a need to *unify* the
existing forces around the slogan of immediate withdrawal. As David
McDonald correctly observed, it does not encourage mass participation when
the two major coalitions each call their own demonstration on the very same
day in New York City.
More to the point, we really have to be very clear on the question of mass
consciousness in the USA. If we make opposition to imperialism an important
aspect of the movement, it will remain very small and therefore very
ineffective. The people who come out to protest in massive numbers do not
have an analysis of capitalism or imperialism. Most vote Democratic and
most want to show their opposition to what they perceive as violations of
democratic principles and peace. I remember when I went to my first several
anti-war demonstrations. The word "imperialism" meant absolutely nothing to
me. I was appalled by the spectacle of B-52's dropping bombs the size of
Volkswagens on Vietnamese villages and the nonstop lies of people such as
Robert McNamara or Dean Rusk. It was only after coming into contact with
Marxists at the New School for Social Research that I began to open up to
the possibility that the war was a function of inexorable economic processes.
It is important to keep in mind the difference between agitation and
propaganda. A slogan like "Out Now" is an agitational slogan geared to
producing mass actions. To explain imperialism, it requires propaganda.
This is best done by one on one contact between people, not
through "exemplary" protests organized around slogans such as "Support the
Resistance". I can understand why Ron Jacobs is attracted to this approach
since he is the author of a rather positive study of the SDS Weathermen,
who embodied this approach.
In the final analysis, the role of revolutionaries is two-fold. On one
hand, they have to be the best builders of mass actions and have finely
honed skills as unifiers and reconcilers. They have to have the patience to
work with liberals, pacifists and trade union functionaries who could not
be further apart from them politically on questions such as the nature of
monopoly capitalism. Why? These are the people who have mass followings.
Until we have a transformation of American politics based on clear class
differentiations, this will remain true. On the other hand, they have to
patiently explain that the war in Iraq was not some kind of "conspiracy"
directed by evil rightwing politicians. It is a war that is driven by
geopolitical requirements to safeguard oil supplies and to keep Arab
radicalism at bay. But to mix up the two tasks will result in damage to
both of them.
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