[Marxism] Re: Anti-imperialism?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat May 7 10:49:03 MDT 2005

rrubinelli wrote:
>On college campuses, where presumably everybody was privileged, sit-ins
>and take-overs of administration buildings, ROTC buildings, corporate
>and military recruiter spaces were opposed then as "ultra-left"
>throughout the anti-Vietnam War struggle, although they grew and grew
>and brought more and more into the struggle against the war.

The SWP never attacked such protests. In fact, they participated in them. 
Right now if a thousand or so NYU or Columbia students decided to sit-in to 
protest the US occupation of Iraq, it would be a great thing. What 
Macdonald is talking about is something different. He is for what he calls 
"provocative" actions, such as fighting with the cops. This would be a very 
bad idea.

>Lest we forget, getting arrested, confronting police is not the choice,
>not usually the initiative, of demonstrators.  It is usually the
>initiative of the police.

Well, yes and no. When cops attack peaceful mass demonstrations, it is 
understandable that people fight back. But when you stage confrontations 
with the cops on the basis that you will not allow some WTO meeting to take 
place, it is much harder to win sympathy for your action. This is all about 
what is called "defensive formulations". In fact the Bolsheviks seized 
power as a "defensive" measure against attacks on Soviet democracy. 
Fortunately, no significant sector of the antiwar movement advocates "black 
block" adventurism. Macdonald seems nostalgic for this ill-considered 
behavior but the rest of the movement understands how much of a disaster it 
would be right now to adopt this kind self-defeating tactic.

>Lest we forget, those arrested in NYC during the Republican Convention
>were not acting in an "ultra-left" fashion, as official and unofficial
>videotapes showed.

Tactics must be judged on the basis of whether they advance the movement or 
not. Frankly, the August actions were marred by an implicit pro-Democratic 
Party dynamic. Although I was not on hand to observe the civil 
disobedience, part of them, I am relatively sure that they were cut from 
the same cloth as the 1968 Chicago protests. Outraged young people put 
their bodies on the line to indicate an electoral choice. Getting arrested 
to show that you prefer Eugene McCarthy or John Kerry is a mixed message at 

>Macdonald, to my reading, was not advocating actions, a la a "black
>flag" contingent, placing everyone at one time and one place at risk of
>police attack.

Yes, this shows signs of growth as compared to the discussions we had with 
him when the black block was a big deal.

>Two years ago, Out Now, was an ultra-left slogan.

I don't think so. 

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