[Marxism] March 17 and ANSWER's Ultraleftism

Ralph Johansen mdriscoll at earthlink.net
Mon Feb 19 12:52:51 MST 2007

I can't refrain: The argument here is like a bourgeois French bedroom 
farce - it would be mildly funny and clever if it weren't for the bald 
fact that it's all about people's agony and suffering, now in Iraq and 
Afghanistan and the proliferating slums of the planet, and then the real 
prospect of looming genocide and suicide brought about by the 
derangement of capital's gathering imperial crisis, led by the truly 
deranged in charge in the US. It would end otherwise with the couple in 
bed in the Paris Hilton or embracing resignedly at the airport, as in a 
current IFC selection.

Nothing new. I have been in these situations repeatedly, even as far 
back as the fifties in Berkeley, then around issues such as nuclear 
testing or nuclear holocaust, where the liberal center/left thought 
those farther left - it was usually Trotsky sects - sought to take over 
with devious organizing tactics, and that the radical left were 
fractionating unity with what to them seemed to be angry sterile 
sloganeering, So the liberals cut off debate and took their frightened 
center majority and left, to organize separately - whereas the far left 
has seen repeated coming together around limited consensus, and then all 
going home and fretting all over again until the next demonstration. No 
development, no resolution, no deeper understanding of causes, nothing 

Nevertheless, as to the gravamen of this tiff, maybe Occam's razor, 
maximum simplicity/minimum distortion. Marx put it well when he wrote 
his instructions or call to the London delegates at the 1st Congress of 
the International Workingmen's Association at Geneva: "I deliberately 
restricted it to those points which allow of immediate agreement and 
concerted action by the workers, and give direct nourishment and 
impetus...." (Selected Correspondence, pp.171-2). (Problem: what 
workers, as a conscious grouping, in our time around?)

Once again, what seems called for is an umbrella ad hoc organization 
that can bring the left and the center/left together, for at least this 
one event if nothing more, allowing for combined action, if necessary 
with separate calls and slogans - ultra, avant or rearguard. Then what 
is needed at the very least is many Hal Drapers, who have really done 
their homework and who are capable of connecting the issues around which 
the slogans and demands of the left are combined, and moving the agenda 
radically  in a way that speaks to the interests of everyone within 

Those who say there won't be a sufficiently large demonstration may be 
forgetting that 2/3 of Americans oppose the war, even if for many or 
most it is because they are aware that it has not been successfully 
conducted, and the images on the screen are of corruption, torture and 
terror; but the media cannot avoid any longer giving expression to the 
glaring facts. The discrediting of those purportedly in control 
increases, and a time for clarification again arises.

It's a failure of will and imagination to assume that massive numbers of 
us can't or won't respond to a call to give expression to this feeling 
of frustration and outrage, or that nothing can be done to move the 
Congress from its torpor. How defeatist. It should not be at any rate 
for not trying our damnedest. Not with a whimper. And if not here in the 
place where these draconian decisions are being made, where?

Then of course, if anyone has a better idea, let's hear it.


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