[Marxism] Re: Anti-Imperialism?

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at resist.ca
Sat May 7 13:26:13 MDT 2005

Louis Proyect wrote:

Macdonald wrote:

> To the contrary. Politics is all about giving advice. For example, I plan 
> to continue to advise self-described socialists against supporting the 
> Democratic Party.

I will too; but to think that all self-described socialists are going to do 
this, is ridiculous-- the point isn't to be quiet about your politics, it is 
to notice that they are always contradictory and always break down along 
many many lines.

For example, when the anti-war movement gets stronger, so will the 
Democratic Party "left", so will Workers World, etc. Arguing against this 
eventuality is what I (and I think Ron) am saying is ridiculous.

> Doing "provocative" things is understandable if you are an impatient 
> student. For those who have a grasp of Marxist strategy, it is unforgiveable.

Your need to be ageist in the extreme aside, I've had this debate with you 
many times and really find the idea of rehashing it boring as Hell. I again 
am not suggesting one over another, and won't be drawn into such an argument 
where already snide attacks have shown up. So, let's say this: several 
hundred thousand people will march at the same time as these several hundred 
individuals will decide to do something you consider "unforgiveable"... the 
question is not what you think of their actions, they probably don't care, 
but how your organizing deals with this reality. If they are given clear 
signals that they will be respected so long as they give respect to others, 
then there is a much higher possibility that it can succeed to not alienate 
people on the essentially same path.

> Thank goodness there is no significant sector of the anti-war movement that 
> is interested in "provocative" behavior. That is a sign of the continuing 
> decline of anarchist-style ultraleftism.

Whatever. This is not the point. You can make your comments about 
"ultraleftism" if you want-- the real reason, right now at least, that the 
anti-war movement is not seeing provocative actions is not political 
maturity, but rather that the whole tide is low; when the tide comes back 
in, it will wash in everything that is there-- and the question will not be 
whether one can write nasty words of contempt at them, but how to deal with 

> I have no objection to people sitting in at a Congressman's office. But to 
> "take on the police" in the name of the anti-war movement will undermine 
> the movement.

I would agree in 99% of cases, but that's still not the point.

  We are dealing with illegal constrictions on our movement as
> it is, with bans on where and when a protest can take place. We don't need 
> to give the ruling class any excuses to hamper our movement.

There is a faulty logic here, but I won't go into it. Let me just say only 
that the fastest way to not have rights is to not use them; as far as where 
people can and cannot protest, the fact that people do not simply challenge 
the right of the state to play cattle herder is a huge gaping hole in our 

  If some
> impatient youths want to biff the cops over the issue of wearing  fur, I 
> will not say a word.

Actually, sometimes these people are worse. But since I have not advocated 
"impatient youth cop biffing", whatever-- you are not really replying to my 
main point.

> 50 years ago? What was I doing then? I remember now. I was organizing 
> fellow students against participating in nuclear war civil defense drills.

What does this even mean? That you only have snide comments to make? Fine. 
It's your list, after all.

> I have no idea what you are trying to say. The SWP was a Marxist 
> organization. SDS was for "participatory democracy" and backing LBJ. The 
> Panthers made ultraleft mistakes. The SCLC made reformist errors. The idea 
> is to sort out the politics, not take a detached Hegelian stance about the 
> "dialectic:.

I'll try again. When one group looks "radical" (or insert epithet here) it's 
because other groups all have less "radical" stances; what makes a movement 
strong is all the wings of it. The Black Panthers, whatever your analysis of 
them, could not exist in the context of a civil rights movement that did not 
exist either; when they were around, and people like MLK were there, it 
provided a political space for him to move more leftward.

In the anti-war movement, particularly as it continues to decline (let's be 
honest here-- Tony Blair just got re-elected with another majority-- that 
would not have happened a year and a half ago), all the exhortations of 
vinegar or honey won't change that, if history throughout the First World is 
any indication at all, phenomena of desperation comes into play-- it already 
has to an extent what with the bombing of hydro towers in Quebec a couple of 
months ago, timed to coincide with George W Bush's visit:

I'll leave it to others to decide how they want to judge this act; my point 
is to illustrate that this kind of thinking emerges when a movement is A) in 
decline, and B) has no other outlet for people to go through.

Therefore, I think the idea that is being put forward that a group that is 
anti-imperialist (and should by necessity as well be anti-colonial) being 
formed on this basis can not only provide a place for "impatient youths" to 
work with one another, it also allows those "impatient youth" to get 
together with the totally "complacent elderly" on joint projects, such as 
coalescing around mass demonstrations such as are needed to build a new 
rise, and have it be done under slogans like "out now", while providing a 
platform for the new group to speak at the main rally.

In other words, strength in diversity.

Or we can shun people, and watch shit start blowing up, then write nasty 
polemics about them, and see how well that works.

> What about setting off bombs like the Weathermen did? Does that mess up the 
> imperialist state?

I have not advocated things one way or another; the Weathermen were people 
well-intentioned enough who had a tortally mis-understood idea of where the 
struggle was going-- just like in today's climate, there are people who will 
take desperate measures in the melodramtic double hope that A) it will 
strengthen rather than weaken the dwindling support for the anti-war effort, 
and B) they feel a "moral" need to do something. I am in full support of the 
moral outrage, it's a good thing have hearts that beat like human beings. 
But if we don't that to make rash choices, then we have to respect it and 
hopefully find a way to accomodate and not be-little and denounce it.

> Let me repeat. 5000 people demonstrating under the slogan of "support the 
> resistance" has no impact on the capacity of the imperialist state to wage 
> war. 500,000 people demonstrating in Washington under the slogan of "Out 
> Now" does. Numbers count.

I agree-- but if both exist, not on the same day but two different days, and 
both allow one another to feel their efforts are not looked down upon, then 
that's even better again.

5000 people blocking the loading of war cargo onto ships in the harbour 
would be a perfect compliment to 100 000 people marching with candles.

> This is the same logic as the anarchist anti-globalization protestors. They 
> thought in terms of physically shutting down hotels where the WTO was 
> meeting, as if that could prevent a new treaty from being hammered out. 
> Foolish, foolish, foolish.

Rehashing that debate with you is about as appealing to me as getting a root 
Suffice to say, this is silly as no one I have ever come across ever thought 
they were blocking treaties or shutting down the actual organizations, but 
instead thought that such acts would propel a movement. And that is very 
clearly what happened to all but those who ideologically decide to lie to 
themselves for the same of preserving a line.


Macdonald Stainsby
In the contradiction lies the hope
	--Bertholt Brecht.

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