[Marxism] Re: Anti-imperialism (corrected, with additions)

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Sat May 7 19:27:59 MDT 2005

 >>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.

 >>Frankly, responding to a call for anti-imperialist to join together 
with  “you should all just say out now” is simple idealism. When you 
have 200 000  in the streets pushing strollers and demanding an 
immediate withdrawal at a  demonstration that includes next to no 
confrontation and has a bland list of  speakers who tell you that you 
most surredly must come back to the next  demonstration, at the same 
time that arrives you have several thousand who  want to try something 
more provocative and hundreds who are willing to do  something to risk 
arrest and all that comes with.

This is completely abstract. You are trying to get away with vague 
“radical” or “militant” actions, but when Louis describes actions that 
actually happened, you try to wriggle out of it by saying you didn’t 
mean that particular action, but another action that existed neither in 
the past nor in the future. You apparently have a picture of several 
thousand doing something “more provocative” while there is another 
group of “hundreds” who are willing to “risk arrest and all that comes 
with” it.

Where are these people to come from? And is it one group of several 
thousand along with another of hundreds at the same action or at a 
different action? In any case, you project that if someone else 
organizes a big peaceful demonstration, my friends and I can get some 
of the people some of the time to do something or other.

Louis describes particular mistakes. You get upset and say that he uses 
an “epithet.” No, he was just stating the facts.

On the other hand, you denigrate large demonstrations as candlelight 
marches and 200,000 pushing strollers and calling for immediate 
withdrawal. “Out Now” was a political demand that was won by struggle. 
However, all of the demonstrations against the war also encouraged 
other demands from a multitude of constituencies. The main focus was 
the war, but it was never the sole demand or issue.

You throw out a reference to the Black Panther Party. Their 10-point 
program was very good, and the formation of the Panthers and DRUM and 
RAM showed that young urban black men and women could be organized into 
a political organization opposed to the U.S. government. However, you 
seem to think that by connecting to them in the ether that you have 
succeeded in wrapping yourself in their iconic mantle for the future, 
while failing to say anything about their documented well-criticized 

Of course, if you criticized their failures, you would have to move 
back away from your projected “more provocative” actions, because those 
are the BPP actions that you would have to criticize.

Vague and abstract references work in the arts and can evoke strong 
feelings in poetry, dance, painting, etc. However, a revolutionary 
politician has the responsibility to the people that he or she 
influences. It is known as leadership. Not the leadership of a 
revolutionary party, but thinking actions through in order to consider 
their effect on millions of people that hope for a change in their 
conditions and are placing a certain limited trust in you.

You have the responsibility to tell us what you want to do and why. You 
have to describe the purpose of your actions beyond providing some sort 
of space for making people like Martin Luther King appear more 
reasonable or move leftward.

Nothing that you have said amounts to more than saying that there are a 
bunch of us that would like to do something really, really militant.

This is not a revolutionary program. At its heart, it is a reformist 
program. You are urging young people to turn their back on leading 
masses against the government. They are to sacrifice themselves in 
small-scale guerrilla type actions, while you expect others to lead the 
mass demonstrations. The purpose of your confrontational actions are to 
provide “political space for [others] to move more leftward.” But you 
and those that you lead will not be involved. You call for handing over 
the 200,000 thousand demonstrators to the boring droning speakers that 
you refer to, while leading young people who think of themselves as 
conscious anti-imperialists into dead-end actions.

While the RRRrrrevolutionists are fighting cops, in jail, posting bond, 
or spending weeks at trial to be followed by more jail time, you 
project leaving the movement of thousands of people in the hands of 
mainstream reformist figures. You expect those leaders (who in the 
context of U.S. politics are invariably supporters of the Democratic 
Party) to move to the left.

Why should they since the RRRrrrevolutionary anti-imperialists of 
thousands (or hundreds) are safely out of the picture? And who wants 
them to be enshrined as leaders?

Brian Shannon

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