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Thursday, September 29, 2005



It's easy to sit back and pontificate on what other people should be doing, to which I immediately plead guilty. However, in my own defense, after seeing the level of abuse and personal vilification to which Marc was subjected for arguing these same points two years ago, I simply do not have the energy to go out and organize any damn thing. Therefore, I suggest that the responsibility for doing so now rests with the same people who denounced ANSWER's critics as red-baiters and splitters. If they were so eager to have a big, antiwar tent and include Saddam Hussein- and Milosevic boosters- like ANSWER, now it's their turn to decide how to get rid of them.


"now it's their turn to decide how to get rid of them."

I'll be coming back to this from another direction. I read Marc a lot; I'm conservative so I disagree with him a lot, but he is certainly sane in his positions and is always worth considering.

Marc's been around, and been around a while. He's been in the middle of stuff. He's not the only one, I just keep picking on him here because he's handy.

And this question is not really directed at Tim, its just a thinker. Why should Marc, or anyone, be responsible for these, or any, protests? One of Bush's strengths is that he "took charge" of the WoT. How much of his support is follow the leader?

Have we lost the ability to think and do for ourselves?


A.N.S.W.E.R seem to be the US equivalent of the Socialist Workers Party or the Revolutionary Communist Party in the UK, both of whom had a reputation for showing up in a tiny minority and taking over demonstrations. The most impressive example I saw was a silent march in solidarity with the Chinese victims of Tienanmen, at which the SWP turned out with bullhorns and started shouting "Workers and students, unite and fight!"


THanks for posting this Marc. A constant theme of the marches critics is that the event lacked any coherant theme or focus. To a certain extent i sympathize with this postion. There is a war going on and the urgent need is to shift public opinion against the continuation of what has been an utterly disastrous course of action in iraq, where bodies continue to plie up. But dont protests serve ome kind of educational purpose too. If some participants leave, more aware of the criminal and immoral role of government plays in suppoting israels occupation, isnt that a good thing. Shouldnt marches also connect the war abroad with regressive legialstion like the patriot act at home too. What social or political movoments make no links, see no connections? here's a apssage from max

"The lack of focus charge is in some cases really a elliptical, substantive objection. I’ve seen some of this on the Kos site. A speaker at the march might liken U.S. abuse of Iraq to the historic role in, say, the Phillipines. (As above, this can be done well or not.) Surprise, the U.S. government did wreak carnage in the Phillipines. You might not want to try and introduce Soccer Mom from Peoria to this indubitable fact at her first march in Washington, but it remains true and worth knowing, sooner or later. It is relevant to the Iraq misadventure, if only to illustrate that the US Government can commit gigantic blunders with huge, inhumane consequences. To say this is a slander of “America” is right-wing crap. It’s true. In the actual event, women and blacks didn’t even have the franchise then. Working people were not allowed to organize trade unions. Can we be real for a second, some day?"

delete yo mama

It looks like Sawicky is not the only leftist that Marc proclaims respect for who disagrees with Marc's attacks on the antiwar march:
On The LBO list , there is a lively exchange and intelligent exchange going on also:

Michael P writes:
UfPJ has CPUSA and ex-CPUSA leaders, among other marxist and
>non-marxist tendencies. I have no problem with Leslie Cagan and the
>CPUSA rep. on the UfPJ steering committee or Bob Wing, ex cadre in
>Line of March. Allowing those Stalinist ANSWER pricks to browbeat and
>harangue themselves into an unwarrented leadership role in a PEACE
>movement, when there hasn't been a TANK they ever saw mowing down
>workers, peasants and students they haven't supported, is the scandal.

Doug Henwood Replies:
No one except you, David Corn, Marc Cooper, and Nathan Newman really
finds this a scandal. Carrol Cox's liberal comrades in Illinois don't
care. Philip Weiss, writing in this week's New York magazine, doesn't
care. This is sectarianism disguised as anti-sectarianism. The cold
war is long over. Give it up.


richard lo cicero

I'll do my best imitation of a wishy-washy Liberal and agree with both Marc and Max. There is no question that ANSWER, as tainted as they may be, did organize this with United for Peace and Justice. No one else stepped forward. And around 300,000 people showed up which did make an impression on the MSM. But Marc is also right that the message was blurred with a lot of other matters. I don't remember that happening in the great Vietnam mobes of the late sixties and seventies.

But, more to the point is my basic scepticism of the whole business. Demos work if they change minds. As far as the public is concerned that has been accomplished. Poll after poll shows a growing majority against the war and for some kind of withdrawal - partial, gradual or immediate. As I have written Camp Casey and the news from Iraq accomplished that.

So the question now is what is to be done. Marches make the participants feel well but I see no evidence that this crowd now running things will be influenced in the least. So they have to go. And that means the type of action that KOS talks about. I don't think he or I is under any illusion about most of the Democratic leadership. With some notable exceptions they are way too timid and behind public opinion. But out in the country is a growing grass/net roots campaign that exists separate from the DC crowd. And they are fielding candidates like Paul Hackett who are attractive and viable. And it should be noted that leaders like Nancy Pelosi are already on board. Watch the 2008 field get the message. Or lose.

(As an aside, John Aravosis makes an excellent point today. After years of promises the DOD is still not providing all the troops with body armor or protected vehicles. And no program to reimburse individuals for their purchases has been approved. The Democrats introduced an ammendment to reimburse but it was voted down. Aravosis is right. Dems should insist on Appropriations to get the troops the lifesaving armor they need. And threaten to shut down the Congress, except for hurricane relief, until it was done. How's that for an issue?)

I understand the need for political action. I just think it is better spent on activities that will change things. In both parties.

"But Marc is also right that the message was blurred with a lot of other matters"

No, that's a point that those who disagree with marc's pointless attacks on the left and the antiwar mov't have been making also. he just hasn't noticed, too blinded by anti-sectarian sectarianism as Henwood puts it so well


Dear Ron,

Thank you for raising that question. Perhaps as a conservative you don't feel any particular responsibility for what is being done in Iraq or perhaps you think it was and is well-advised and laudable. I do not. However, 30 years after throwing myself into the effort to end the horror of my youth, i.e. the Vietnam debacle, which killed 2 million people to no apparent end, I am too discouraged to do what part of me considers my moral duty. Which is to stand up and say, enough. But the repugnant nature of most of today's debate among my erstwhile allies in that and other battles leads me to shrug my shoulders in cynical disgust.

In fact, if Marc will allow me to take his comments and suggest one possible implication of them, it may not matter what I and people like me decide to do or not to do. I suspect the opposition to the Iraq debacle that will be decisive is that emerging from within the very armed forces charged with prosecuting it -- just as occurred in Vietnam, which left the U.S. armed forces in such a sorry state that many thoughtful individuals in high places thought better of it -- although they quickly moved to rewrite history and restore the tattered prestige of the institution (thank you, Meryl Streep and The Deer Hunter!) and prepare for going out and doing it all over again. If I live to be 90, no doubt I'll witness yet another cycle.

Michael Crosby

Last night on the first live episode of Will & Grace, Debra Messing as Grace spoke this line (more or less):

"I just close my eyes and do whatever it is I want to do. Oh, I'm George Bush."

There were also jokes about Tom DeLay shredding documents.

I don't know if there will be any comment, and I haven't watched that show enough to know whether they've done overtly political comedy in the past, but I don't think so (outside the overall impact of having out-gay characters and plots).

The point is that the producers felt safe enough to do a political joke on a national network show--that means that they perceive a consensus that George Bush in fact blinds himself to the facts and, well, does whatever he wants to do. The fact that they have reached this consensus, and apparently the network (General Electric) did not balk, should aid us in the discussion of what is to be done.

The idea that Bush is pigheaded and often wrongheaded is implanted in mens americana. Resesarch indicates that once a concept is fixed in the national consciousness, it will grow of its own accord. So if that idea, for one, is implanted, we should avoid strategies focused on convincing the citizenry that Bush is pigheaded. Events are doing that just fine. Events have demonstrated as well that the Iraq incursion and American presence is probably doing more harm than good, that the decision to go in has probably done more harm than good, and that we should be looking to get the heck out. [Note the military news that a couple of months the assessment was that 3 Iraqi battalions were "ready," and this week's indicated that only one was "ready."] News on other fronts is just as bad or worse for the dark warriors.

So I would suggest that our focus needs to be on how to move the decisionmakers to end the war, to restore tax sanity, to commit and take actions necessary to start to mitigate if not reverse the atmospheric deterioration that is feeding global warming, and the like. We are at the point that we can say: "one way you know our position is right is that Bush and Rove and Cheney and DeLay say it's wrong...." As Pat Buchanan suggested, if the Democrats can't take advantage of this, they are a party with no present and less future.

So how do we get Democrats and non-radical-right Republicans to act or get on out of the way? I think we need to approach them all--Cindy Sheehanesque--saying, "why have you not acted on this? If you disagree that global climate change is a serious concern, let us know so we can run someone against you who believes in science...." And like that....I realize that we are back to demonstrations or not, but I think that this analysis argues against mass actions and in favor of workshops and press conferences and town meetings and public lobbying sessions. And of course the continuing challenge from the blogosphere.

I want to say one thing about demos, though. Let's not ignore the importance of the social occasion. It is accepted wisdom that much of the size and spirit of the 60s/70s demos was due to the prospects of intimate social contact with the opposite (or preferred) sex. And so it should be. Eros is always at work in the progressive movements...without it, who would care what the world is going to be in 30 years?

Michael Turmon

Is there a support group for Doug Henwood idolators that someone needs to join?

richard lo cicero

Henwood has written some pretty good things on the economy and his book on Wall Street and the US Financial system is a must read for a contrarian view of our Capitalist System. There are certainly reasons to consider his views on the march and as I said I can see the value of the event as a statement when so many come out. Its just that the Mobe and the great 1963 Civil Rights marches were single issue affairs which added to their power. MLK's speech didn't have to compete with Puerto Rican Independance or Nuclear Disarmament to name some hot issues of the time.

Michael Crosby

Richard Lo Cicero's comment about things being simpler back in the Mobe days is not historically accurate. Probably the major disagreement that broke up "old Mobe"--sponsors of the first big national demos, including Dellinger and Hayden and Davis, as well as the CP-based labor groups, the mainstream leftish trade unions, the Socialist Workers and SCLC--was this question: are we going to focus solely on the war, or are we going to look at the broader international situation as well as the problems closer to home that are both cause and effect of the war in Vietnam?

"New Mobe" tended to broaden the scope of the demos, and while it made sense to me, and certainly was led by the great souls of that movement, it lasted less than two full "seasons' [yes, that's how we used to refer to them, sometimes] of mass demonstrations. The Trotskyist cadres lasted long enough to sponsor one last demo, in April 1971, which was probably the largest of all, but was dwarfed in significance by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War who were taking their own actions and lobbying against the war. Then the next week the May Day civil disobedient tribes took to the streets, resulting in arrests of some 12,000 people and numerous dogs.

If anything, the issue of stopping the war is easier to sever now from other issues than it was in 1969. However, I would suggest that it would be a mistake to sever the war too much from issues at home--like recovery from Katrina, tax fairness and handing a manageable debt over to the next generation.


"there are no real-world alternatives to the A.N.S.W.E.R.-led protests"

Here I disagree with Max and Marc. United for Peace and Justice was formed in the fall of 2002 explicitly to be that alternative. I still believe that they can be, but they're going to have to plan even further ahead than they did this year to shake off ANSWER (another strike against mass mobes is the huge lead time required, when there's no telling what the political environment will be at that time).

Anyone who really supports demos as a component of a broader antiwar strategy should read some of the history of how UfPJ let itself be maneuvered into tying up once again with ANSWER. The link below is from last May; there are others later in the summer at the UfPJ site that continue the story.


Tim, in this or another thread on the topi, praised teach-ins as a tactic. I agree, and think they could be an excellent way of locally bringing together people who've been active in opposing the war since 2002 with those who've just this year crossed the line of not being able to sit still for it.

There has to be face-to-face interaction and trust before those two groups can be effective in electoral action. But once there is, there's the potential for a coalition that can attract antiwar candidates (and put a scare into "stay the course" pols).

Jim Russell

ANSWER is the answer if you are supporting the right side.

Jim Rockford

Ahmed -- it might shock you to know that working class Christian Filipinos take a radically different view of the "carnage" wrought in the Philippines. Given that the Moros and the loathsome MILF are the chief people responsible for atrocities since the Spanish. The Philippines have been an independent nation since WWII; and the US did finally do the right thing with Marcos. Tardy but better late than never. The MILF and Abu Sayyaf are the sources of most of the evil perpetrated in the Philippines today. Oddly enough it's not America.

NOT all the wrong in this world stems from the US. I'd say most of it doesn't. A broad based movement is not going to get anywhere telling ordinary people to hate their country and be ashamed of who they are. The Suffragettes, Civil Rights movement, and Environmentalists all wrapped themselves up in the Flag, Apple Pie, and Mom and presented themselves as REFORMERS not anti-American radicals.

Of course my view is that the Peace Movement HAS to devolve into anti-American, self-hating radicalism along ANSWER's lines, because Peace as a response to Al Qaeda is merely appeasement to illiberal aggression. Ala the 1930's pacifists persuading themselves "we can do business with Mr. Hitler!"

There is no more Cold War. No threat of superpower escalation growing out of control and killing the entire World (which the Peace Movement to it's credit helped stop, along with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger). Instead we have bin Laden and other Islamists all over the Globe encouraged by our perceived weakness and inching towards the first use of nuclear weapons on cities since WWII. No matter how inept GWB is, nothing the Peace Movement has to offer changes this fact.

Probably NIXON much more than the Peace Movement ended the Vietnam War, and pushed back on Nuclear Armageddon. Ironic isn't it?

John Dicker

So Kos made this point last week on how a photo of a few flag draped coffins coming home from Iraq on the cover of a major daily would've more effect on the anti war movement than a dozen marches ala last weekend. I'm not quoting exactly, but that was the gist.

Well, what do people think of Andy Rooney's commentary on 60 Minutes last night? http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/09/30/60minutes/main892398.shtml

We can debate the intellectual merits of Mr. Rooney some other time but did his editorial on a highly rated news program have as much, if not more, influence than last week's march? Two of those marches plus Cindy Sheehan's arrest? None of the above?

I don't know. That's why I'm tossing it out...

rico petrosally

Nope, Rooney et al need the pressure that the marches and the visibility of Sheehans put on the media, foreign policy establishment, politicians, etc. to acknowledge that there is a need to be serious about debating this ugly pointless war. The two help each other out and are not separate processes. WIth such large marches it gets increasingly difficult to reproduce the prowar line of 'we have no choice but to stay til the job is finished' or the anti-antiwar movement's line of 'civil war massacre if we leave now!!!!"
Remember, now that Max Sawicky, Henwood, New York Magazine writers, etc. have pointed out the need for marches and for immediate withdrawl from the present US occupation in Iraq...it's harder and harder for people to say, 'those who say that are only crazy loonies'...as they were only saying a few weeks ago even.

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