Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Debate: UFPJ, and the Mass Mobilizations, April 29 - May1

The April 29th United for Peace and Justice March

A large march against the Iraq war

By Stanley W. Rogouski


A large march against the Iraq was occupied most of lower Manhattan Saturday. Estimates ranged from 50,000 to upwards of 100,000.

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Matt

I read 300,000 in the Boston Globe...

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boggler

UFPJ is a liberal organization with Leninist politics. At the Left Forum, Cagan said that UFPJ doesn't have and doesn't WANT a seat at the table with the Democrats. Yet the entire point of yesterday's march was to help 'set the agenda for the congressional elections this fall.'

It all boils down to this.

The US is in Iraq to stay

UNLESS

a combination of four factors forces a humiliating withdrawal of the occupying troops.

A: a continued intensity of attacks by insurgents. There are literally dozens of attacks on US troops per day. The various factions of the Iraqi insurgency (Arab nationalist, neo-Baathist, Islamist, and leftist) are well funded, well organized, and relatively decentralized at the local level. They ain't going nowhere. If Iraq does descend into all out civil war, beyond the low level US sponsored civil war of the past 2 years, don't expect attacks on occupation troops to halt. If there was a equivalent of the Tet offensive, this would speed the process of anti-war mobilization at home.

B: a growing organized resistance within the military itself. This is what people like Murtha are so scared of. The faster the US military falls apart the better. We need the equivalent of the GI coffeehouse efforts during Vietnam. Conscientious objection, desertion, mutiny and insubordination should all be encouraged and supported. Grunts are already using pharmaceuticals to numb themselves. The anti war movement needs to be ready for thousands of returning vets by building support networks to help them. Groups like IVAW should not have to shoulder the load by themselves in this regard.

C: A nonviolent insurgency must develop within the US itself. Activists should be discussing and planning strategies of resistance. Counter-recruitment is a good example (but this needs to grow in the high schools, especially in more vulnerable communities). Student strikes, mass direct actions, etc...

D: Continuing international isolation of the US occupation.

Before the elections happen, we need a national direct action to REALLY 'SHUT DOWN THE WAR MACHINE.' A good model to think about would be the 'MAY DAY' actions of 1971 in DC. over 10,000 people were arrested during one day of action. Ideally this would happen at the end of the summer during a workday in DC. The so called 'militant minority'(Carl Davidson) needs to actually BE MILITANT. Raise the domestic cost of the occupation at home to the point where the ruling class divides over the war and its AIMS.

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May 01, 2006

kma

It boils down to the fact that Leslie Cagan and her organization can get 300,000 people out in the streets to demonstrate against the war.

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More than Leslie...

May 01, 2006

Carl Davidson


While it may seem odd in this venue, most, if not all, of us UFPJers actually LIKE Leslie Cagan. She's self-sacrificing, politically savvy, dedicated and very good at what she does. I'm sure she's made mistakes, but we want her to keep on keepin' on.

But when all is said and done, it was hardly just her and a few minions who pulled off last weekend. There are over 1000 UFPJ affiliates, with thousands of activist organziers, spread across the country. Not to mention the labor and other allies. They deserve the the main credit for April 29. And when you attack UFPJ and its leadership, this is where you're really aiming your blows.

Having said that, I don't have much quarrel with the other points raised above. I think the point about Murtha is a little off. He's really a voice for the top brass who want to oppose Bush on the war and find a quick way out, more than someone who wants to prevent an antiwar movement in the Army's ranks. It might even serve his purposes to see more antiwar GIs. In any case, a new GI coffeehouse effort is a great idea, but work with the military families as well.

The Mayday protest in the 1970s is being over-romanticized here. The moratoriums, for all their liberalism, were more effective, along with VVAW's actions and our draft resistance programs.

In any case, you have to develop militant direct action in tune with today's conditions, including what the 'militant minority' today is willing to do. Then it has to be ORGANIZED, not just 'called for' or used as a ploy to jack up more moderate groups, while you have nothing behind it except hot rhetoric.

But why ignore the elections? You can if you want, I suppose. Maybe you're just not good at registering people and getting out the vote.

But the rest of us are going to help the best antiwar candidates win and help defeat the worst prowar candidates. We don't really care what party they're in; we care want their individual stand is, and how they're willing to vote.

As for Seattle, Regis DeBray long ago elaborated on a point made by Che. The revolution not only revolutionizes the revolutionaries; it also revolutionizes the counter-revolution. All the cops and homeland security types have studied the Seattle-type tactics on film over and over, probably more than any of you have. Doing a rerun won't be easy, if you can do it at all.

Time for some fresh thinking, folks.

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Hundreds of thousands

May 01, 2006

bravo UFPJ


If you participated in Saturday's march and had looked up the street from Canal you would have seen Broadway filled with marchers from Union Square to Canal street. That's 18 blocks full of people.

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Webmaster

May 02, 2006

Holger Terp



If war is the answer, it's the wrong question.

Great demo.
Keep peace on moving.
With kind regards,

Holger Terp
Editor of the Danish Peace Academy

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18 blocks full of people

May 02, 2006

Kudos Indeed


That number translates out, depending on crowd density (2000-3000 bodies per block), to somewhere between 36,000-54,0000 revelers. Also please don't confuse last Saturday's block party with an effective political manifestation of popular resistance. It was not by a long shot (and that wherein lies the problem).

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The ball's in your court...

May 02, 2006

Carl Davidson


Well, 'KI', you must have some idea of what 'popular resistance' is, and your believe that this event doesn't count as popular resistance. Funny, most of the folks there loved the event, and believed they were resisting the war, but no matter.

But the ball's in your court. Don't just tell us how it should have been. Get your like-minded comrades together, get your own how-many-you-need tens of thousands out, and show us how its supposed to be done.

Then we can have an honest-to-goodness debate.

If you can't, because the consciousness of those willing to act is not where you think it needs to be, or you don't have the mettle or strength, then your assessment of political reality is off, and you're an armchair general without an army.

Nobody, not even UFPJ, is stopping you. It's not crowded up front. But if political reality is stopping you, I rest my case.

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re: '18 Blocks'

May 02, 2006

bravo UFPJ


Actually the march stretched longer than Canal to Union Square. That was a single vantage point. As far as turnout was concerned it was the largest event I've been to in NYC after the anti-Bush march at the RNC.

UFPJ did a remarkable job. Posters may be dissing the coaltion here but they'll be kissing its ass in person. They're going to have to.

Just as the media, politicians, labor, and the entire country is going to have to respond to the massive demonstrations across the country on May 1st.

So it turns out that successful mass demostrations and the coaltions that build them do send a signal to people who DON'T show up whether they are in another country or inside this country and fearful of their legal status.

The message is that it's okay to march. It's okay to stand up to the government. It's okay to make demands. It's okay to march for your and your childrens' dignity.

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Oh what a difference one word makes

May 02, 2006

An Omission


'effective'.

There is little point in dwelling on this. At one time I used to rack it up to incompetence, but I came to recognize it was a deliberate attempt to derail and divert.

As to 'debate', in dealing with the likes of you, 'words are cheap' and your words are cheaper still. So what is the point? (That is a rhetorical question).

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Lets be Honest

May 03, 2006

Matt H.


I can't stand UFPJ's politics or symbolic protest/block party mentality, but I won't blame them for the horrible state of the anti-war movement. Lets face it they are liberals, did you expect anymore? What we can hold them accountable for is there own lies about not having an affiliation with the D. party when I see Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson standing up in front of the march!!! Then again liberals lie, thats how they get elected!

The truth is that the younger generation has not stepped up, and UFPJ is not to blame for that. We could get into a million argument/discussions about why this is true, but the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of 16-30 yr olds are ignorant about the Iraq War, have not seen the 4th WW, don't know about the Bolivarian revolution, don't get any info from Indymedia, and so on and so forth. Until 16-30 yr olds get politicized the only mass action against this war will be lead by liberal gatekeepers like Lesley Cagan (who can't stand me after I picked her apart on a phone press conference with members of the NY Times, ABC, NBC, etc.. there. After my questions the conference was shortly over, lol!)

So until the younger generation steps up these old, burnt out, useless peaceniks will not step aside. Lets hope that we do not carry their torch but bury it and light a new one!!!

Peace, Matt

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Al, Jesse, and Charles

May 03, 2006

up front


'What we can hold them accountable for is there own lies about not having an affiliation with the D. party when I see Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson standing up in front of the march!!!'

Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Charles Baron were at the front of the May 1st march as well.

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Yes, indeed, let's be honest...

May 03, 2006

Carl Davidson


Well, Matt, I guess if 'affiliated with the Democratic Party' means you allow, or even encourage, well-known Democrats to join your march, under a slogan that opposes the official stand of the Democratic Party, then I would have to plead guilty, even though one of my tasks in life is to replace the Dems with something better.

The problem is, to end this bloody war, I would like to get a few Republicans to march and speak for 'Out Now' too, so does that affiliate me with Bush and the GOP?

But here's an interesting question. How would you enforce keeping Democrats away from your march? Make them swear an oath, 'Are you now or have you ever been (gasp) a liberal Democrat?' And how would the logistics of this work?

There's no lies here, Matt, unless you can't see the difference between 'alliance' with Democrats opposed to the war, on one hand, and 'affiliated' with the Democratic Party, prowar or antiwar, on the other. If you can't, well, I guess our schools are worse than I thought.

Now I'll grant you that in the youth constituency, since a big majority don't vote for anyone, for better or worse, you don't run into a lot of Democrats.

But one of the first tools of politics is learning how to count. And there are a lot of Democrats in the country, and a lot of people over 30, and it hardly makes sense to make enemies of all of them, especially when they agree with you on some important issues.

Good luck organizing the under-thirty folks. We need them, even if they think they don't need us at the moment.

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Shame the Democrats

May 03, 2006

Stanley W. Rogouski



One of the main reasons (in my mind) for marches like this is to define the options for the general public, to illustrate how the debate is framed.

The September 24th march shamed the Democrats, exposed them as a pro war party like very little I've seen before. Of course the ultra lefitst (or more likely right-wingers or cops posing as ultra leftists) will tell you that's useless but for most of us it isn't.

I'm not sure how the decision of those few good people in the Democratic Party (like Conyers or Sharpton) to participate affects this but I'm pretty sure most people don't associate Sharpton or Jesse Jackson with the innner circle of the Democratic Party.

But look at it this way. Russ Feingold writes for Counterpunch. Does that make it a 'Democratic' web site? Hardly.

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'ultra leftists'

May 03, 2006

Stan the Arrogant Oinker


If their is any pig posting here it is you. What's in your wallet, or more particulary how did it get there (who owns you)? Before you start throwing wild accusations about, you better be damned certain about whom you accuse.

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Ok lets be Frank!

May 03, 2006

Matt H. (and fuckin proud of it!)


Carl wrote 'even though one of my tasks in life is to replace the Dems with something better.'

How long have you been at that? Maybe it's time to change strategies!

Carl wrote 'I would like to get a few Republicans to march and speak for 'Out Now' too'

Sure why don't we also get some Wal-Mart CEO's and fully co-opt peoples anger! No thanks!

Carl wrote 'How would you enforce keeping Democrats away from your march?'

I wouldn't enforce a march like UFPJ working in conjunction with the NYPD to pen us in free speach zones and then act as crowd control when we want to go to central park. What I know I would do is not give them a microphone and a photo op!

Carl wrote 'well, I guess our schools are worse than I thought.'

Yes they are and you know why, because you and your generation never won universal education. Another failure!

Carl wrote 'And there are a lot of Democrats in the country, and a lot of people over 30, and it hardly makes sense to make enemies of all of them'

Your right I should just sit back and let them frame the parameters of debate, call me an extremist, or a cop, or uneducated (how liberal of you), or too young to understand.

Carl wrote 'Good luck organizing the under-thirty folks'

Thank you. Hopefully it will be with strategy and participation not luck.

Stanley wrote 'The September 24th march shamed the Democrats, exposed them as a pro war party like very little I've seen before. Of course the ultra lefitst (or more likely right-wingers or cops posing as ultra leftists) will tell you that's useless but for most of us it isn't.'

Yes I am a cop, right now I am eating donuts, I love Guilanini. You know what Stanley your tactics are slymy, and all you care about is controlling the parameters of debate. You will never achieve your goal you old commy!

Peace, Matt

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Face it You Got Owned Saturday

May 03, 2006

Stanley W. Rogouski


By constantly spamming the UFPJ threads with predictions that the march would be a dissappointment or with advice not to go, people set up expectations.

They were smashed on Saturday when the march was larger than anybody expected. If someone makes predictions and gets proven wrong, he/she takes responsibilty for it. Take it.

In case you didn't notice, the cops were very hands off on Saturday. Whether or not you approved of their presence, Sharpton, the Unions, some of the more mainstream people were able to hold the cops back for long enough so that the march was relatively pleasant, so it was allowed to swell to the full size it was capable of becoming.

Now you can question whether or not large anti-war marches do any good but there's no question UFPJ put on a very successful one last week, one that was much larger than expected and generally got good press.

Will that march alone force the USA out of Iraq? No. But will it keep it as part of the debate. Certainly.

BTW, by saying that the people who spams these threads with 'don't go to protests' messages are more likely provocateurs than actualy Trotskyists, I'm only giving the Trotskyists the benefit of the doubt. Most of them are basically good people and there were plenty of them at Foley Square last week.

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Some Do

May 03, 2006

Stanley W. Rogouski


'Carl wrote 'I would like to get a few Republicans to march and speak for 'Out Now' too'

Sure why don't we also get some Wal-Mart CEO's and fully co-opt peoples anger! No thanks!'

Republicans?

Joe Wilson, Ron Paul, Richard Clarke, Scott Ritter, Ray McGovern, dissaffected Republicans have hurt Bush more than any Democratic and certainly more than any 'anarchist'.

Joe Wilson was Bush I's ambassador to Iraq and he's done as much to expose the war as a fraud than anybody else I can think of.

I'd give you 20 liberal Democrats for one Joseph Wilson.

What's more, you may *think* you're being leftier than thou by advising people not to go to protests but that just puts you in the same category as Eric Alterman or Michelle Goldberg and every other Democratic Party hack who wrote againt protesting the RNC because they thought it would hurt Kerry.

Strange company we keep.

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300,000?

May 03, 2006

anton


Sorry - but UFPJ seems to have fallen prey to the ANSWER syndrome and overinflated their crowd count. More like 100,000 people - still a hell of a lot of folks. But consider the latest figures from Mayday - a million plus in LA, 400,000 by conservative police estimates in Chicago, a hundred thousand in NYC? Fairly safe to say that several million were out marching, in many cases boycotting, skipping work or walking out of school. In terms of public perception, the bar for this type of mass protest as a tactic for galvanizing resistance and support has been raised considerably.

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Raising the bar, several ways...

May 03, 2006

Carl Davidson


May Day was the best ever, a least in my lifetime.

About 1.2 million.

Yes, it raised the bar of 'resistance and support', but where does it go now?

Fascist reaction has also upped the ante, and the divisions are wide and deep, not only among 'whites', but African Americans, too.

'Street Heat' is not enough, folks. We need a counter-hegemonic plan and program for immigration and every other critical issue, plus the organization and alliances to give it force.

Otherwise, we've got 1.2 million for the McCain-Kennedy Bill. If you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy. If they have a plan and policy, you need a counter-plan and counter-policy.

Time to get serious about serious dangers and opportunities ahead. Adolescent shit-talkin' won't get you over any more.

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No sale.

May 03, 2006

anton


In order to fairly evaluate - three years on - the efficacy of Davidson's and UFPJ's strategy for constructively engaging those Democrats in Congress, maybe he can start by naming those Senators and Congresspeople to date who have taken a solid position in favor of unconditional withdrawal now?

We're not talking about those Dems who pay lipservice to the Murtha redeployment scheme- just beyond the Iraqi borders, or those who support the Iraqization of the war and support US withdrawal in the future 'when the security situation allows'. Or those who might be amenable to calling for a partial withdrawal depending on how Iraq plays out in the midterm election polls. - but those who have actually call for immediate withdrawal now.

Jose Serrano. Cynthia McKinney. Who else?

How sucessful has his own local UFPJ group 'Chicagoans Against War and Injustice' been in actually helping to elect antiwar candidates in the Illinois Democratic primaries, or prevent Rahm Emmanuel from steamrolling at least one candidate in Illinois by enlisting both organized labor leaders and Democratic politicians in thrall to the Daley political machine to support an avowdly prowar candidate in the Illinois 6th Congressional District -- including several ostensible antiwar congresspeople Davidson has worked with in the past.

As an advocate of this type of strategy Davidson would be more convincing if he could actually deliver some evidence that it was working. Activists who embrace direct action - including folks like Sheehan, Code Pink and others have probably had more immediate impact in shifting public discourse on the Iraq war than MoveOn.org, NOW, the Rainbow Coalition - and yes, US Labor against the War put together. Public opinon has turned - now the question is how to translate this into real political muscle that can raise the costs of continuing the war to unacceptable levels for our rulers. Retreating into an ABB strategy when it comes to the Dems ain't gonna cut it.

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Unions Big Presence at NYC Anti-war March

May 03, 2006

Jo Freeman, Senior Women


Interesting observation about UFPJ's numbers claim.

Unions Big Presence at NYC Anti-war March
by Jo Freeman


Labor Unions made a strong showing at the April 29 anti-Iraq-war march in New York City. While the AFL-CIO, at its convention on July 27, 2005, called for a 'rapid' return of all US troops from Iraq, this is the first time so many unions have been so prominent in an anti-war protest. Contingents from the United Auto Workers, Unite Here, SEIU, (particularly NYC local 1199) and the United Electrical Workers joined in a march of about 100,000 people down Broadway from Union Square to Foley Square.

Although dozens of unions endorsed the march, these carried identifying banners surrounded by large numbers of members shouting anti-war slogans. Labor also had its own tent at the Peace and Justice festival which followed the march. Concern about a possible attack on Iran joined Iraq in the slogans and signs.

This march was organized by United for Peace and Justice, with major assistance from US Labor Against the War. UfPJ has organized most of the big marches against the invasion and occupation of Iraq, though the earliest ones were organized by ANSWER. The two competing anti-war groups jointly organized the massive anti-war march in Washington DC last September 24. UfPJ later announced that it was such a bad experience that UfPJ would never co-operate with ANSWER again. A few people carried ANSWER placards on Saturday, but there was no ANSWER contingent and information about the march was not posted on its webpage.

For this march UfPJ joined with a wider diversity of organizations, including labor unions, the National Organization for Women (NOW), Friends of the Earth, and Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition. Heads of these groups marched in the front line. There was no rally, so none of these prominent people spoke, other than a few words at a pre-march press conference, which featured Daniel Ellsberg.

After labor, groups with the most identifying banners were the usual plethora of left-wing organizations (but not ANSWER), religious groups and those deriving from a military affiliation. Signs of course, don't tell you much about numbers, but do about organization and affiliation. There were a lot of women on this march - probably half - but not many distinct women's organizations. In addition to NOW, women's groups included the Code Pink, the Raging Grannies, and the Media Whores. There was a separate women's tent at Foley Square, but the last three groups had their own tables elsewhere.

UfPJ told the press that at least 350,000 people marched on Saturday. Some newspaper stories printed this figure; most just said 'tens of thousands.' I watched and photographed the event from Union Square before marching the entire length. My best guess is that it was closer to100,000 participants. By earlier standards, 100,000 is still a massive march. However, since there are no longer any official estimates, which
significantly underestimated attendance, the only public estimates come from march organizers, who significantly overestimate attendance. Indeed this march was smaller than most people thought it would be given that public sentiment against the war has increased and the cool, sunny weather was perfect for protesting. It was small because, apart from labor, mobilization was skimpy. Many people in New York did not even know it was being planned and anti-war groups in other parts of the country preferred to do other things than organize and pay for busses. Most anti-war activists I spoke to who didn't come seemed to think that mass protests have served their purpose and it's time for more grass roots organizing.

While protestors were marching down Broadway, the 2400th US soldier was killed in Iraq. Polls indicate that popular support for the war and for the Bush Presidency is at an all-time low. A Pew poll done in March found that half of the public believes that the US should bring its troops home from Iraq as soon as possible. A story in The New York Times on March 27 said 'Interviews with voters, elected officials and candidates around the country suggest a deepening and hardening opposition to the war' which may well translate into voting out incumbents.

Now that labor, always a big player in the Democratic Party, is mobilizing against the war, even Democratic incumbents may not be immune. At least one anti-war activist is counting on it. Jonathan Tasini, former President of the National Writers Union, is running against New York's Democratic Senator in the primary. His platform is Hillary Clinton's failure to support withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

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An inside look at the immigrant rights movement

May 03, 2006

'd'


An interesting article about the debate between 'street heat'and and those who believe in the effectiveness of 'constructive engagement with the powers that be within the burgeoning immigrant rights movement. Many of the same organizational contradictions - major NGOs, professional advocacy groups dependent on grant funding, politicians on the hustle and labor groups with contractual constraints on their ability to use strikes and other forms economic direct action and those grassroots groups who actually who set the Mayday national mobilization into motion. ( ironically the only major antiwar coalition with any reach in this process - largely because of their connect the dots orientation and alliances with progressive immigrant groups like the Mexico Solidarity Network and the March 25th Coalition on the West Coast was ANSWER --- UFPJ's national role was nowhere to be seen )

Support Builds for Immigration Protests, Boycott
Author

-- Kari Lydersen, The New Standard

While the corporate-sponsored media report alleged splits in the immigrant-rights movement and dwindling support for a boycott and general strike, TNS found that solidarity and commitment are growing.
Chicago; Apr. 28 - In the 2004 independent film A Day Without a Mexican, Californians woke up and all the Mexicans had disappeared. Lawns went untended, hotel rooms sat uncleaned, and countless other jobs performed by low-paid immigrants were left undone.

Immigrant-rights groups have frequently mentioned this film and the larger concept behind it during the past six weeks of massive pro-immigrant marches. In Chicago, where the first of the large demonstrations took place, a central theme has been waking the American public up to the economic importance of immigrants. Organizers say they want to show how much immigrants, including close to 12 million undocumented ones, contribute with their labor and with their buying power.

At the March 10 Chicago demonstration, during which more than 100,000 immigrants and their supporters hit the streets, a group handed out flyers for a hastily organized boycott of Miller beer. Demonstrators targeted Miller Brewing Co. because the company's PAC had donated $2,000 to Wisconsin Republican Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., sponsor of the harshly anti-immigrant bill that passed the House of Representatives last year.

Merchants on 26th Street, Chicago's main Mexican commercial drag in the Little Village neighborhood, said that by evening customers were refusing to buy Miller. The message reached beer distributors quickly, and by the following week officials from the company's Milwaukee headquarters had met with coalition organizers and put out a statement opposing the House's legislation.

'A lot of immigrants are not eligible to vote, but we have the purchasing power,' said Salvador Cervantes, a member of the Chicago organizing coalition.

The idea amplified on April 10, when immigrant marchers in scores of cities and towns across the country pledged to refrain from shopping, working or going to school, wearing white T-shirts to symbolize their unity in creating a 'day without immigrants.'

A boycott on May Day has likewise been called in many cities across the country as part of pro-immigrant demonstrations. Called a paro in Spanish, the term is generally understood to mean both refusing to buy and refusing to work or go to school.

But the plan for a paro is not universally endorsed by all immigrant-rights groups. In Chicago, the organizing coalition known as the Movimiento 10 de Marzo, or the March 10 Movement, decided not to call for a boycott or general strike in the city, largely because of the involvement of labor unions that said they could not legally endorse such an action because their contracts prohibit them.

The question of whether to participate in nationwide calls for a May 1 boycott was hashed out at a contentious April 22 meeting, where the local coalition decided to support calls for boycotts in other cities, but refrain from a boycott in Chicago.

'We consider it a matter of wording,' said Jorge Mujica, Illinois secretary general for the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), a Mexican political party and one of the central coalition organizers. 'If people are marching all day, they're not working, buying things or going to school. But since we have the unions, we can't call a boycott or a strike. We'd rather have labor on our side than call for a boycott. As for the national and international boycott, we think it's beautiful.'

But some organizers described this as caving in to unions and politicians that were pushing for a more moderate stance.

'I wish the unions had stayed out of it and let people celebrate May Day the way they wanted,' said Rafael Cervantes, an activist from Monterrey, Mexico who has lived in Chicago for decades. 'The boycott was a symbol for people, an icon, a way to say we matter, we are an important cog in this machine, we produce and we consume. It's ironic that the unions are saying they could not support it because it would be illegal, but the whole reason we're marching is that people are here 'illegally.''

Tom Hansen, founder and director of the Mexico Solidarity Network, a grassroots organization working for social change on both sides of the US-Mexico border, said the boycott is only one example of the larger ideological battle that is going on in the immigrant-rights movement. 'The reformists want to 'manage' the movement with a lot of US flags and a discourse about family values, et cetera,' Hansen told The NewStandard. 'The more progressive elements want to move the discussion to one about exploitation, labor rights and the meaning of citizenship.'

On April 24 union leaders held a press conference supporting the march and framing it as not only about immigration but about rights for all workers. They said a boycott was beside the point for the labor issues they wanted to highlight.

'We're not even putting it into the equation,' said Moises Zavala, a Chicago organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). 'This is the day to recognize our labor history and bring it full circle. In Chicago we're not endorsing a boycott; we're out to march to show our numbers and recognize the importance of May Day.'

Teamsters organizers said that rather than discussing a strike or boycott, they were trying to get employers on workers' side; helping employees petition their employers for time off or paid holidays to attend the demonstrations.

In Los Angeles, where other mass protests are planned, some groups will be carrying out work stoppages and boycotts and attending a daytime downtown march. Others who plan to go to work and school will attend a separate demonstration in the late afternoon.

Thousands of truck drivers working out of the Port of Los Angeles and cab drivers who serve Los Angeles International Airport are expected to strike for the day or possibly the week.

'If truckers aren't trucking, the port isn't working,' said Los Angeles attorney and organizer Jim DeMaegt. 'If cab drivers don't drive, LAX will be shut down. Nobody knows precisely what will happen, but there is a lot of support.'

DeMaegt thinks a massive strike would force policy change faster than some other types of actions. 'We say a day without shopping is good; going to speeches, going marches is good,' he told TNS. 'But stopping work - a day without workers will close the country. A day without goods going in and out of the ports and airports of the US, and we'll have a policy change within a week.'

The truckers and cab drivers are organized but are not members of official labor unions, giving them the freedom to strike without worrying about legal issues binding unions.

The truckers and cab drivers are protesting against rising fuel prices and low pay, along with calling for immigration reform.

DeMaegt said local Teamsters officials are not supporting a work stoppage but support the overall mobilization.

Aquilina Soriano-Versoza, executive director of the Pilipino Workers' Center, noted that many of their members are home-healthcare workers, so they don't want to endanger their clients by skipping work; but they will support the mobilization nonetheless.

'They can't leave their patients, but they're in solidarity,' Soriano-Versoza said. 'There are a whole range of ways people can participate.'

She noted that many employers, particularly in the Koreatown garment industry, have given their workers the day off thanks to organizing by community groups and employees.

Alexis Lanza, an activist with the Chicago group La Voz de los de Abajo (The Voice of Those Below) and an immigrant from Honduras, said he supported the call for a one-day boycott. 'I think it would have been good if the US united on that,' he said. 'But there are lots of interests, unions and different groups, and it's not easy to balance those things.'

Lanza would prefer long-term boycotts of products from companies that donate to anti-immigrant politicians or promote policies that hurt Latin Americans through international trade or employment policies. The Chicago committee discussed proposals for a long-term boycott of Coca-Cola, with its notorious human-rights record, and a local Mexican cheese company that buys from Rep. Sensenbrenner's state, Wisconsin. But those proposals were not adopted.

'Calling a boycott for just one day strategically doesn't have that big an impact; it's symbolic,' said Lanza. 'The next day you'll be buying the same products again.'

Lanza thinks even without an official boycott, the demonstrations will make immigrants' economic power clear. 'If you're calling on people to close their businesses during the march, that's like a boycott, except you're not calling it that,' Lanza said.

Some groups in other cities have not endorsed the boycott out of fear there will be a backlash against immigrants or that workers will lose their jobs for skipping work. But in Chicago, where many workers fired for participating in the March 10 demonstrations were reinstated after immigrant organizers threatened to protest workplaces, advocates say they are not that worried.

'I really feel this time around nobody is going to get fired,' said Mujica. 'We have prepared this so well with the letters for employees to give to their employers.' He noted the group is distributing letters in several languages for workers to download and use to explain their cause while formally requesting time off.

In Arizona, the coalition that organized a 100,000-strong protest on April 10 in Phoenix waffled about supporting a boycott. Last week, the Somos America (We are America) coalition announced it was supporting demonstrations and other forms of protest, but not endorsing the boycott due to fear of a backlash and concern for immigrants' job security.

But, according to the group's chairman, Roberto Reveles, who spoke to the Arizona Republic, the recent arrests of 1,187 undocumented immigrants in federal raids on pallet maker IFCO Systems locations in 26 states including Arizona, spurred the group to change its mind.

Reveles told the Republic that his group wanted 'to make a statement against the latest raids,' which came 'at a time when they should be working toward immigration reform rather than instilling additional fear in the lives of undocumented workers and their families.'

The success of the boycott, according to Hansen of the Mexico Solidarity Network, will depend 'on how many people participate, what the impacts are and, most importantly, the kind of political consciousness that accompanies the tactic.'

'The idea is to change hearts and minds,' he said, 'and to give immigrants a sense of their power. This is particularly important for a group that has been repressed and exploited for so long, on both sides of the border. A change in the collective appreciation of what is possible is the real goal of the boycott.'

-newstandardnews.net/

*****


Answering Anton...

May 04, 2006

Carl Davidson


The numbers in NYC are a non-issue, folks. Somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000, who knows? In any case, it was large and effective, and more than the 'direct action' crowd has mobilized, unless there's something I'm not aware of.

But to get to 'Anton's' questions:

'How sucessful has his own local UFPJ group 'Chicagoans Against War and Injustice' been in actually helping to elect antiwar candidates in the Illinois Democratic primaries, or prevent Rahm Emmanuel from steamrolling at least one candidate in Illinois by enlisting both organized labor leaders and Democratic politicians in thrall to the Daley political machine to support an avowdly prowar candidate in the Illinois 6th Congressional District -- including several ostensible antiwar congresspeople Davidson has worked with in the past.?'

Well, let's see. We helped launch a new project, 'The Antiwar Majority,' that had a hundred or so folks camped out at Emanuels and Hasterts offices eight hours a day for a week straight each, which got big play in local media. Interesting, though, that hardly any of our critics lent a hand, even as we piled 100 empty boots and taped antiwar manifestos on Emanuel's door.

Then we consolidated a lot of earlier work by launching a statewide federation of about 80 groups -- the Illinois Peace and Justice Coalition, check it out at www.ilcpj.org So far, working together with the Greens, its got the war on the ballot in several major cities this fall, including Springfield, the capital. We've also encourgaged a dozen or so state legislators to sign on to a call to impeach Bush for the war.

As for the 6th district, our ally there, DAWN, whom CAWI did the initial training in electoral work for, worked rather hard getting 40 percent of the vote for the antiwar candidate. Even if we lost to Emanuel's megabucks, we put up a decent fight and DAWN is far stronger for it.

I'll concede that the 'Out Now' bloc in Congress is small. But at least we work with them, and try to help them grow in strength. Plus we turn out for the street heat that our critics do too.

So we have our pluses and minus, but more pluses, I think, and we keep on keepin' on.

Now to your next point:

'As an advocate of this type of strategy Davidson would be more convincing if he could actually deliver some evidence that it was working.'

I just did, above. The measure of success, from a radical perspective, is expanding and building organization, which we have done, at least as well if not better than our critics. The time for electing OUR OWN candidates comes after building the base organization, not before. In between, we only have officials who are allies, for better or worse.

Next point:

'Activists who embrace direct action - including folks like Sheehan, Code Pink and others have probably had more immediate impact in shifting public discourse on the Iraq war than MoveOn.org, NOW, the Rainbow Coalition - and yes, US Labor against the War put together.'

Now we love Sheehan and Code Pink. Our Lincoln Park folks organized a huge meeting here for Medea, and our AWM project just organized a large turnout for Sheehan here as well, and Code Pink regularly has reps at our meetings, and we promote all their stuff. They've played a wonderful role, but I doubt that even they would make the claim you have here, and they would probably wonder why you were trying to pit them against their allies. The Code Pink women here are great, but a good bunch of them worked in our voter registration project, and one had me speak to her local Goose Island Democratic Club on the war.

Nice try here, 'Anton,' but no cigar.

Next:

'Public opinon has turned - now the question is how to translate this into real political muscle that can raise the costs of continuing the war to unacceptable levels for our rulers. Retreating into an ABB strategy when it comes to the Dems ain't gonna cut it'

Indeed it has, 'Anton', and it means many more moderate-minded folks are on the cusp of taking action, both direct action and electoral action.

But we're way past ABB. It's now work to elect the best antiwar candidates at any level and work to defeat the most pro-war candidates at any level. It's now get the war on the ballot anywhere we can, and take the war and impeachment to the state legislatures. All while keeping up the street heat. It's the 'long march through the institutions,' 'Anton.'

Now we all worked together and got 10,000 down Michigan Ave in March, thanks in good measure to the leadership that came from the Puerto Rican community. But want else can you put on your scorecard?

Now May Day has upped the ante for us all, 'Anton.' And I'm not stressing 'the broad front' so much as building 'the hard core' these days. You want to fight the liberals, but you have little, organization-wise, to fight them WITH. It's time for serious revolutionary-minded people to set aside posturing and make serious proposals for organization 'of a new type,' and I don't mean the PDA, even if they are a decent ally. It's a sign of how pitifully weak we are that you can't even use the 'P' word without causing too many militants to carry on like they were having puppies.

So the ball's back in your court. Tell us your plan.

*****

Your Politics Are Boring As Fuck

May 04, 2006

Luther Blisset

Carl, Carl, Carl. Your apologetics for Leslie Cagan and march-and-rally-as-usual has gone beyond annoying. You are boring us and you are making a foll out of yourself.

Carl writes:
'While it may seem odd in this venue, most, if not all, of us UFPJers actually LIKE Leslie Cagan. She's self-sacrificing, politically savvy, dedicated and very good at what she does. I'm sure she's made mistakes, but we want her to keep on keepin' on.'

I'm sure that Leslie Cagan is a talented activist, but what about the hundreds of other talented activists in UFPJ? Why is Leslie Cagan always the public face of UFPJ? Isn't this use of one face to represent an organization just more of the same old discredited leftism? After American social change movements have made so much progress in recent decades to flatten hierarchies and democratize, why are people IN an organization like UFPJ letting Cagan be THE LEADER?

Come on UFPJ, let's see a fresh face or two for a change.

'But when all is said and done, it was hardly just her and a few minions who pulled off last weekend. There are over 1000 UFPJ affiliates, with thousands of activist organziers, spread across the country. Not to mention the labor and other allies. They deserve the the main credit for April 29. And when you attack UFPJ and its leadership, this is where you're really aiming your blows.'

When people are attacking UFPJ and its leadership, they are criticizing UFPJ and its leadership, not a few hundred organizations which have some kind of formal relationship as supporters of UFPJ. One thing you learn about vanguardist leftist orgs like UFPJ and ANSWER is that they put great emphasis on endorsements and attendance estimates at their protests. The former is cultivated in order to give these organizations 'credibility' as coalitions. The latter is important to give the (often false) impression that these groups have widespread support. Those of us who are movement veterans who know a few things about tactics can see right through this nonsense.

People need to understand this fundamental criticism of the large mobilizations organized by UFPJ and ANSWER: they are not about ending the war, but they are about building recognition and support for the parent organizations. If these mass protests were REALLY part of a strategy to end the war, we would see these coalitions engaging in a variety of tactics in the streets. Can anybody recount a single instance of UFPJ or ANSWER organizing civil disobedience?

Why does UFPJ and ANSWER always organize marches and rallies (permitted most of the time)? In order to create a safe event for the event organizers where their leaders can talk to the protesters and the event can be used to claim that these coalitions have support.

'The Mayday protest in the 1970s is being over-romanticized here. The moratoriums, for all their liberalism, were more effective, along with VVAW's actions and our draft resistance programs.'

The funny thing is that the May Day mobilization of the early 1970s is more remembered and fondly recalled by the older generation of activists than any of the other mobilizations. I've talked to those older activists and they are always telling stories about the May Day mobe. My favorite story involves the blockade of the bridges over the Potomoc River.

'In any case, you have to develop militant direct action in tune with today's conditions, including what the 'militant minority' today is willing to do. Then it has to be ORGANIZED, not just 'called for' or used as a ploy to jack up more moderate groups, while you have nothing behind it except hot rhetoric.'

Uh, Carl, people are organizing this direct action all around you. It's an inconvenient fact for you, so perhaps you ignore this activity consciously?

'But why ignore the elections? You can if you want, I suppose. Maybe you're just not good at registering people and getting out the vote.'

Are you kidding us? You want people reading this board wasting their time registering people to vote for a system that has been rejected by a majority of working people?

'But the rest of us are going to help the best antiwar candidates win and help defeat the worst prowar candidates. We don't really care what party they're in; we care want their individual stand is, and how they're willing to vote.'

Does this mean that UFPJ is going to hold of on any new protests until after the elections, like they did in 2004 in order to please the Democrats?

'As for Seattle, Regis DeBray long ago elaborated on a point made by Che. The revolution not only revolutionizes the revolutionaries; it also revolutionizes the counter-revolution. All the cops and homeland security types have studied the Seattle-type tactics on film over and over, probably more than any of you have. Doing a rerun won't be easy, if you can do it at all.'

Seattle inspired movements. People around the world know about Seattle. People don't remember any of these mass anti-war marches, including people who participated in them!

'The numbers are a non-issue, folks. Somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000, who knows? In any case, it was large and effective, and more than the 'direct action' crowd has mobilized, unless there's something I'm not aware of.'

That's right, fuck the facts. Why don't you just claim that UFPJ organized 3 million people? Everybody knows that ANSWER routinely inflates protest estimates, so why can't UFPJ play the same game?

Oh yeah, it does hurt our credibility at some point.

*****

A little more truth in advertising

May 04, 2006

chi town lowdown


As usual Carl, you conflate liberal public relations stunts with direct action.

Case in point. The 'blockade' of Rahm Emanuel's office. Initially tendered to the local antiwar movement as a effort to 'up the ante and hold pro-war Democratic hacks like Emanuel accountable - it turned out to be little more than a AFSC public relations stunt and a faint shadow of the Congressional office occupations, CD's, and encampments conducted by other antiwar activists around the country. Scheduled from the beginning to end immediately after the Illinois Democratic primary. Nothing more than a symbolic sidewalk presence outside a locked door - and a sparsely attended rally in a local park. Rahm's operatives unfortunately were not in the office during this interlude - but in the field working to knock nominal antiwar candidate Christine Cegelis out of the primary in the 6th District. Nice photo ops, but hardly inspiring to the direct action advocates you disparage. No wonder the kids took a pass.

And despite your optimistic spin on CAWI's successes and contributions - the number of Democratic Congressional candidates who support an Out Now position in the general election has not increased. As for those sitting Congresspeople you've actively lobbied, who has shifted to a stronger antiwar position in the last year? Looking beyond the hype, this strategy has been less than a stellar success to date. Two notable exceptions here -- a local Chicago city council member Ricardo Munoz likely to make a congressional bid in the next several years has an unassailable Out Now position from the getgo, - making him popular both with CAWI and antiwar forces to left of CAWI in Chicago, and recently Illinois Congressman Luiz Gutierrez who spoke at a March 18 antiwar rally and endorsed an Out Now position - largely at the behest of his own constituents and allies in the Puerto Rican independence movement )

It's undoubtedly true that various city council resolutions and non binding ballot referendums conducted across the country have some shorterm antiwar publicity value - although and few if any have had any type of enforcement provisions attached that would make a material difference in impeding the war effort. The real objective value seems to be to collect email addresses and enhance networking. MoveOn.org has excelled in this type of 'sow the petitions'-' reap the contact lists effort. The question is what - once this has been accomplished - will the organizers do? If past practice is any indication, it'll be back to the polls again to vote for the lesser of two evils. A pathway for building the 'counter-hegemonic' plan and program? Hardly. Reminds me of that legendary quote from Malcolm X 'You can put a kitten in the oven - but it doesn't make it a biscuit'.

Finally, CAWI certainly can and should take credit for the inception of the Illinois Coalition for Peace and Justice, a loose network of suburban and rural antiwar groups with considerable potential. An important achievement. But as I recall, that body chose a model of decentralized participatory decision making actually rejecting the conventional coalition model you advocated - and embraced diversity of views and tactics - including direct action.

*****

Truth in advertising, indeed...

May 04, 2006

Carl Davidson

Well, 'Chi Town Low Down,' I suggest you bring your trashy summation of the AWM emcampments as an 'AFSC publicity stunt' to the next AFSC meeting here in town, or better yet, to the next meeting of the 20 or so groups -- including Christian Peacemakers, Kathy Kelly and Voices in the Wilderness, Vets for Peace, Military Falilies, etc. -- that make up AWM, and see what they think of your 'spin.'

Better yet, if you don't like how we handled things at Raum's and Hastert's offices, and how we related to ordinary folks in their neighborhoods, get your shit-talking 'direct action' crews out there and show us how its supposed to be done.

Somehow I don't think you'll do either, which makes my point about people who simply make 'assertions' and people who make 'arguments' with follow-through. Besides Code Pink disrupting a speech by Hillary, which we also promoted, your main action to date that I know of was a massive, legal, permitted protest we all worked on.

And CAWI is a long-time supporter of Alderman Ricky Munoz. He comes to our meetings, along with Alderman Joe Moore, and we worked with him twice to get antiwar resolutions through the city council -- a battle that your folks helped by pooh-poohing it from the sidelines beforehand, and now give a little grudging recognition to.

And I'm not the one who came up with the numbers on April 29. I'll let New Yorkers sort it out. I said it was huge and effective, and to say it wasn't an antiwar protest, well, take it up with all those who came out and protested the war that day. That 'spin' is just silly.

You don't like 'permitted' marches and want more civil disobedience?

Fine, get your crews together and organize a massive, unpermitted, illegal, and disobedient action, and show us the way. No one is stopping you, and you may even get a little encouraging and entrapping assist from some 'masked up' undercover types along the way.

Just be clear in your call (closed if you want) that that's what you're doing, and see who shows up.

But don't try to pimp off where the hundreds of thousands attending a protest want and expect an event that's peaceful and legal. Back in the 1960s, we handled it by having the more militant stuff take place after the main event was over, or on the next day, rather than carrying on in a way that would bring the cops down on moms with baby carriages, as police provocateurs often tried to do.

Now when you get busted for all this 'unpermitted' stuff, who are you going to come to for bail and lawyers and legal fees? Somehow I think you'll find a new appreciation for UFPJ types as allies than your average middle class 20-something Dumpster Divers.

UFPJ has nothing against civil disobedience, but not as the main thrust of its work. And I'm sure Leslie can compare her arrest record with any of you.

Finally, as I understand it, Indymedia is an open forum for all progressive trends. All you folks who hate UFPJ and think a majority of the working class hates elections and are nascent anarcho-syndicalists, fine, keep it up, but don't expect not to be challenged. I think it only shows you haven't a clue about the difference between political analysis and subjective posturing and shit-talking. But those of us who think otherwise are going to make use of this forum too, so get used to it. You're far from being the only game in town.

Time to get serious, folks. Ideas have consequences, and I'm sure we'll be calling each other out on them in the days ahead.

*****

Yes

May 04, 2006

Moderator



'Finally, as I understand it, Indymedia is an open forum for all progressive trends.'

Yes, this is true. It would be nice to see a little more journalism / media-making and a little less trash-talking however-- from all sides of this interminable debate.

Its easy to sit in front of a screen and talk smack. Its a little harder to grab a digital camera or a notebook and and talk to actual human beings about what they think about all these issues. But its still not all that hard.


(c) Independent Media Center. All content is free for reprint and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere, for non-commercial use, unless otherwise noted by author. IMC not for content (expand this). more...

*****


Down to it.

May 05, 2006

chi-town lowdown


Davidson writes '. Besides Code Pink disrupting a speech by Hillary, which we also promoted, your main action to date that I know of was a massive, legal, permitted protest we all worked on.'

Well, Carl, you need to get out more. CAWI to date has is involved in only a fraction of the antiwar organizing going on in metro Chicago.

The question is not whether to support permitted or unpermitted marches. Or to exclusively focus on direct action. Few would disagree that mass legal marches can have utility in movement building and broading support. So can direct action. ( witness the school walkouts, wildcat strikes, consumer boycotts organized around immigrant rights that helped propel momentum for the massive turnouts on Mayday ) The question is support around what?

The March 18 mass antiwar protest this year that Davidson refers to above occurred along Chicago's premier boulevard, Michigan Ave - and was the cumulation of a three year civil liberties battle waged to overturn that city's ban on public protest in high visability areas - and repeated efforts to reassert that right. This year, we won. Yet what also distinguished this year's march was the requirement the coalition organizing the action democratically established to have only speakers that were prepared to publically support an unconditional 'Out Now' position - a point of unity in that coalition. Conditions that UFPJ would never imagine imposing any on speaker lineup. And lo and behold, the one Congressman who did speak - Cong.Luis Gutierrez - did just that - for the first time at an mass antiwar protest in Chicago.

*****

Fight 'em everywhere, in the streets AND the voting booth

May 05, 2006

Carl Davidson

'Out Now' is fine with me, 'Chi Town', If you remember the March 18 coalition meeting, I gave one of the speeches for it.

Of course we're only a fraction of the movement and its activities, and never claimed to be the main show in town. We're a core group of 50-100, with a wider list of 1500, and about 20 close allied groups -- not even a third of the active and organized antiwar movement in our town.

But we've been there at all the critical events, working in a united front mode. But we also launched a number of innovative projects of our own, and with others, that those to our left have opposed or just thought a waste of time, such as those you saw fit to trash here. So be it, there's lots of room for everyone to try to do their stuff. If you've got some new and decisive ways to make some breakthroughs that your core group has come up with, show us the way.

Yes, we're the main UFPJ affiliate in town, and we generally like them, even if they're a tad too 'left' for us at times. I know that's a shocker on this list, but the anarchists and Trotskyists in UFPJ managed to bloc our voter registration program at their national meeting, but we did it anyway, on our own, as did a lot of other groups.

Our approach to this next election is rather straightforward and nonpartisan. If you break with Bush and oppose the war, either around 'Out Now' or the AFL-CIO's immediately commencing 'rapid' withdraw, you'll get some help from us. If you defend Bush and the war, we'll help defeat you if we can or ignore you if we can't. Your party doesn't matter, your stand on the war matters. Naturally, we can't do everything, so we'll pick the best and the worst where we have some resources. We'll also try to get out the vote everywhere we managed to get the war itself on the ballot.

But elections are hardly the cat's meow. We like mass and direct action, too, The planned long march from Springfield to Chicago that the religious folks are spearheading sounds pretty cool, and we'll do what we can to help that succeed, too.

But I'm really trying to get something going on 'the hard core' in this discussion, but not takers so far, it seems.

*****


Don't know you Carl

May 05, 2006

Citizen X


However, your postings seem rather pretentious and longwinded. And though I can't put my finger on it, I tend to distrust you.

Leslie Cagan is another matter. I have had dealings with her, the COC and Ms Mitchell. They have had not been pleasant ones. Political differences aside she can't be trusted. I will not go into specifics here, but readers would be well advised to go carefully into any activity in which she is involved.

Peace

*****

Reactive Politics As Usual

May 06, 2006

The More Things Stay the Same

'Few would disagree that mass legal marches can have utility in movement building and broading support.'

Guess I am one of those few, but I disagree. Their utility is questionable. These demos are reactive, and reactive politics is by its nature short term. By this time it should be rather obvious that going 'from crisis to crisis' leads one into the trap of being wholely dependent upon the actions of the opponent; and that leads to nothing but a dead end.

As to building 'coalitions,' one can do that around more positive/proactive events, as well.

-- endit --

1 comment:

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