[Marxism] Re: Anti-imperialism?

acpollack2 at juno.com acpollack2 at juno.com
Tue May 10 10:45:13 MDT 2005

Carroll is wrong on her points about the SWP, but right about the diversity of forms of protest in the '60s. This is crucial. The civil right and Black liberation movements used a very diverse variety of mass actions: hundreds at a lunch counter or in front of a store or registering to vote, each happening in dozens or hundreds of communities around the country; housing picket lines in particular neighborhoods; marches from one city to another in the same state; and on and on.

That movement, while it had at least a couple mass marches on Washington, did not rely on them the way the antiwar movement did. By the same token the antiwar movement could only make mass marches its centerpiece by drawing on the energy of local activities in between.

Nor did the labor movement in its best periods rely on single-issue mass marches in one or two cities (although they did occur). It had to by necessity focus on local or nationally-coordinated local strikes and other activities -- sometimes as a build-up to nationwide strikes in particular industries.

But as with the Black movement that's because there were local factory/industry/neighborhood issues to serve as a focus for labor. In contrast to get a mass antiwar movement started you've got to combine national demos and mass nationally-coordinated local demos, with an emphasis regularly on the former. You're not mobilizing against a particular employer or racist local official but against the ruling class and its government as a whole right from the start.

And if you're in a period like the '60s where movements can feed off each other you can blend the issues and tactics when appropriate without muddling them like SDS, the CP et al. tried to. And if the period is right you can end up, as happened in 1917 in Russia, with local actions which are nationally-coordinated as part of seizing power. But you don't get there by throwing in the towel at the start of the movement as the UFPJ leadership is doing.

-- Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:

The Single-issue mass peaceful demos of the '60s presupposed (a) the
work of SCLC & SNCC in the south, (b) the white organizers energized by
those southern campaigns, (c) the miscellaneous activities of hundreds
of local SDS chapters, (d) the _huge_ casualties in Vietnam (e) the
presence of Vietnam on national TV every night, (f) the riots in the
black ghettoes, (g) the atmosphere and attention created by thousands of
miscellaneous actions (many of them apolitical in intention), (h) 30
years of work by the CP and ex-CP'rs, (i-y) hundreds of things I can't
think of just now, and (z) an SWP that emulated the mad astronomer in
_Rasselas_, who thought his predictions caused the sun to rise each

The "single-demand" slogan presupposed an arrogant leninist party that
reserved all serious political discussion for itself.


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