Max is an official Good Guy in my eyes and I take everything he writes seriously, including this latest of his.
You should read the post and reach your own conclusions. To be frank, I agree with much of what Max says. For example, I don't fully share Kos' assertion that street protests are "obsolete." But I firmly believe that the sort of challenge made by Kos (and Corn) can force others in the peace movement to better think out their strategies. Or, at a minimum, to realize they should have some strategy other than just congregating warm bodies. If demos are worth it, then be ready to argue the case and tell us to where they lead.
That said, a couple of my responses to Max:
He shares my distaste for the tiny A.N.S.W.E.R. sect that monopolizes the logisitics and the speakers' list for the big demos, recognizing them as a some sort of Trotskyist splinter group of a "noxious brand." Correct. Then Max reminds us: "There are some very radical groups with very smart, humane people with whom I happen not to agree."
Fair enough. But A.N.S.W.E.R. doesn't have any smart people I can detect in its commanding positions. It is among the very worst of sects, born out of a mini-party that many of its ex-adherents describe as something more akin to a cult. The A.N.S.W.E.R. cadres are not just adept at securing police permits. They are masters of bullying, bare-knuckle tactics that squeeze other more broad-minded types right out of the event planning.
Max also reminds me, in particular, that there are no real-world alternatives to the A.N.S.W.E.R.-led protests: "What is the alternative vehicle to register one’s dissent from this war? Where is the Klean Koalition that my friends can support without embarrassment? There isn’t one. Why is that? Cooper made this point, but he seems to blame the marchers for the abstention of Democrats or democratic-socialists."
Either Max misread me or I didn't make myself clear. I don't blame the marchers for the absence of a more mainstream face for the protests. I blame the same people he does -- the feckless Democrats who can't clearly differentiate themselves from Bush on the war. But -- here's the difference-- I also blame the repellant nature of A.N.S.W.E.R. for making sure there is absolutely no hope of building bridges between the protestors and more mainstream liberals. And I blame non-Democratic "progressives" for not taking on A.N.S.W.E.R. and thereby paving the road to such bridges (if you'll allow such metaphors).
Max concludes: "A peaceful, progressive mass action is a glorious event. There is no substitute for it, though it doesn’t solve all problems or meet all needs. It is the starting point and culmination of grass roots activity – the alpha and omega. Nobody sitting on their ass in their pajamas is going to stop a war. If you don’t like ANSWER – and who could – then give people somewhere else to go."
OK, Max, again we agree. That's my entire point. Together, we need --precisely-- to provide some sort of better alternative to A.N.S.W.E.R. After we all change out of our pajamas (ahem) in the morning, there are many, many things we can all do during the day toward that end. I am content --thank you very much-- just to try and get the debate started on the movement leadership. I and a few others have tried for two years and have failed.
This time around, there are many more voices of discontent and a tenuous conversation seems to be finally taking place. At least, there is now--at least-- some recognition of the problem. Hundreds of thousands of well-meaning, concerned protestors -- horrified by this administration's war policies -- deserve a leadership a hundred times more intelligent and effective than the sectarian wretches from A.N.S.W.E.R.
So, I plead guilty to Max's insinuation. I can't conjure up some sort of alternative leadership by merely sitting around and bitching. But that's not my job anyway. All I can do is hope that we can get this problem out in the open and discuss it without throwing things.
Max has made a valuable contribution to that process.