[Marxism] re:Why is 'Out Now!' weak?

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Thu Aug 17 14:16:21 MDT 2006

Not sure yours is the crux of the argument favoring or disfavoring 
"Out Now," Junaid. I think it needlessly complicates the question as 
it appears (for good or bad) in most U.S. people's minds. Most people 
see disjunct wars in the Middle East. Everything is broken into 
pieces, because that's what the media does, either temporally or 
geographically, and that's how people here are taught to think about 
things. The war, 'our' war, is the Iraq war. And most people, as 
David W. just pointed out to me, do want the U.S. out or Iraq ASAP. 
The question of why so few people are taking action against the war 
is in a way a false question, as it depends on WHICH war you are 
talking about. Millions have taken to the streets in the U.S. over 
the Iraq war over the past few years. The number has declined over 
time, but not secularly, as the Cindy Sheehan phenomenon showed (we 
should really look at what happened there). That's worth examining. 
Is it due to shortcomings of the organizations? Reliance on 
Democrats? The media? Let me ask you a question: let's grant your 
scenario. Would ANY slogan "resonate"? Would ANY slogan get more 
people to take action?

Which war you are talking about? Israeli aggression isn't SEEN by 
most as "our" war. The aggression in Afghanistan is "out of sight-out 
of mind."  Clearly if you raise the issue of getting the troops out, 
eventually people are going to connect the dots. But, doesn't that 
support the bridging function of a slogan such as Out Now?

One other really tangential thing, in reflecting on the Cindy Sheehan 
phenomenon and on the struggle for immigrants' rights. Both brought 
out outraged people. Perhaps the key is seeing what hurts people and 
that is not just attacks on us as individuals, but on our families. 
Given the reality of this society, the family, at least 
ideologically, is our major source of solidarity and security. The 
right plays to "family values." But, there is substance there. They 
may have even created a weapon to use against them. I confess, I 
don't know how this might play itself out (I come from a broken 
family :-).) I have a feeling that any slogan must address this. Does 
this sound like something that is really off?

>But above all it becomes necessary to avoid the entire crux of my argument,
>which is that 'out now' without a corresponding understanding to get out of
>the Middle East entirely cannot and does not resonate with most people.
>Instead of looking at the strategic and ideological context in which the
>war, and thus the anti-war position, is situated, it's best to just repeat
>slogans; apparently there is no need to try to understand why so few people
>are taking action against the war when so many people also appear to be
>opposed to it. At least when you do that, you understand the fears and
>concerns separating mass action from mass skepticism, that it is absolutely
>essential to provide an all-sided understanding of what's going on in the
>entire Middle East, and that there can be no happy marriage with the liberal

Michael Friedman
Doctoral Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
City University of New York

Molecular Systematics Laboratory
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street at Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

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