[Marxism] October 27th demos

David McDonald dbmcdonald at comcast.net
Tue Oct 2 13:31:41 MDT 2007

Hari Kumar wrote:

I assume that the original poster deemed my query simply below his 
dignity to reply.

David McDonald comments:

1. Following the largest antiwar protests in history on February 15th, 
2003, the US antiwar movement split into two main (but unequal) 
segments: United for Peace and Justice and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, 
the title reading in full Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. The former 
coalition represented and represents many mainstream organizations with 
ties to the Democratic Party, although by no means is it limited to 
those organizations. The latter represented the Worker World Party and 
various organizations of the left that agreed with its politics, which I 
shall state baldly and perhaps without sufficient nuance as the need for 
the antiwar movement to take up all anti-imperialist causes.

2. ANSWER's politics, in brief, were that the antiwar movement needed to 
take up all the struggles across the earth against imperialism, 
formally, in slogans, demands, speakers, and so forth. It thus lead to 
demonstrations with idiotic slogans like "U.S. Out of Everywhere." I'm 
not kidding. I think of this as being roughly synonymous with the 
Spartacist League's famous demand during the Vietnam War, "All Indochina 
Must Go Communist." What a unifier!

3. In practice UfPJ disappeared during US election cycles or limited its 
politics to slogans acceptable to the Democratic Party, such as the main 
slogan of the fall 2004 demo they called just before the Republican 
convention in New York City with the equivocal slogan "Down with the 
Bush Agenda." Equivocal, I say, because such slogans seemed to me to 
avoid the question of the war and to be tailored to not offend those in 
the Democratic Party, first and foremost its presidential nominee, who 
equivocated on the question of ending the Iraq War. Here is the 
difference between holding a demonstration that ATTRACTS the Democratic 
Party base  with politics that the base endorses and the leaders ignore, 
regardless of the stance of the leaders, and organizing a demonstration 
that gives cover to the shitty politics of the DP leaders. UfPJ's 
approach, in my opinion, was a wholesale capitulation to the sentiment 
"Anybody But Bush" that swept the Democratic Party into an unsuccessful 
presidential campaign led by the woeful and awful John Kerry.

4. Along with these political differences, we must also note the 
disparity between the sizes of the demonstrations that these two dueling 
organizations were able to organize. In 2004 New York City 
demonstratons, it was about 10 to 1 in favor of UfPJ, (250,000 to 
25,000), UfPJ's shitty politics and ANSWER's anti-imperialist politics 
notwithstanding. This confirmed my belief (and that of many others) that 
ANSWER ought to lead its forces into the UfPJ Coalition or at least to 
its events and stop pretending that it could take UfPJ and the Democrats 
on frontally. It needed to stop pretending it could amass the kinds of 
forces that would be able to influence the government and give adequate 
voice  to the people's yearning for peace and hatred for the Iraq War, 
and find a way to work with UfPJ in the name of unity.

5. People are not stupid. How can an antiwar movement that cannot even 
agree on a common time, place, date and basic idea for a demonstration 
possibly hope to effect world politics? My answer: it can't, and that's 
among the reasons that people have stayed away from antiwar 
demonstrations in droves ever since. What place disunity may have among 
the pantheon for reasons to avoid antiwar demonstrations is not my 
point; I do argue that it a cause, and that since it is there, and since 
we have control over whether or not to present a disunited face to the 
public, we are obligated  to work to present and preserve the unity of 
antiwar forces if we can do so without betraying the cause of opposition 
to the war. Especially since the consciously anti-imperialist forces are 
unable to muster anything like the crowds the mainstream organizations 
bring out. Further, by talking to ourselves in little coalition, we lose 
the opportunity to have an impact on the politics of the big coalition. 
It is what we in the SWP used to call "capturing yourself."

6. I was therefore pleased to learn this summer that ANSWER had decided 
to endorse the slogan ("End the War Now") and the logistics (regional 
demonstrations in ~9 cities) and to work in a common coalition with UfPJ 
for this fall's main demonstration. Note, please, that it is now 
possible to speak of this fall's demonstration in the singular. I have 
reported several times on the Seattle organizing effort.

7. The fact that my posts about the unity of the movement in practice 
have elicited almost no response from anyone on this list is quite 
disheartening, leading me once again in the direction of thinking that 
the "activists" in the title of the list is mostly bullshit, at least as 
far as mass politics is concerned. The fact that the two people who DID 
respond were, in once case, attempting to pretend that a stupendous (and 
very positive) change in political orientation exists only in my 
imagination, and in the second case (yours) expressed interest only in a 
dead-end Enver Hoxha zombie sect, is not re-assuring. That is why I did 
not respond to your post. My apologies.

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