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Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Friday, July 01, 2005

    A reply to "A Strategic Analysis of Unity in the US Anti-War Movement

    ***I apologize for the formatting...to read what I'm replying to, please read the bottom article first**** ***Also, please see The Washington Peace Center blog

    I cannot agree with Virginia here. We must stand on the side of justice everywhere and against injustice everywhere.

    During the 1860s and following the civil war, we all know that African Americans were freed from slavery, acquired civil rights, and won voting rights.

    However, that's only half true. While all African Americans were freed from slavery, only the men won civil rights and won voting rights. This was not an accident. There was a strategy put in place by the radical Republicans and the abolitionists to work on the "Negro" issue first and work on the woman suffrage issue second. Women's rights advocates, who had been traditional allies of the abolitionist movement, split over the issue, with leaders like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton ultimately speaking out against the civil rights amendments because of the disenfranchisement of women. Instead of recognizing that the same principle that unjustly denied African American males the right to vote was also denying all women the right to vote, the abolitionist leaders and Republicans chose to ignore that principle for many of the same strategic reasons that Virginia outlines in her essay.

    Women did not get the right to vote for another 50 years because of that strategic decision, and whatever short term alliances were gained with the general public cost the progressive movement of that era longterm alliances that could have produced much greater and sweeping social change.

    When we don't stand and emphasize everyone's rightful claims of injustice, we do a great disservice to the movement.

    So, the question remains how you can bring coherence to the "laundry list" of injustice in our world. Out of millions of issues, how do you find something which can resonate? I think the answer to that question does not lie in the "what" of our emphasis but rather the "how" we go about it. Process, democracy, and community empowerment are issues that we don't emphasize enough.

    How many times do I hear, "Politically, I agree more with ANSWER, but their process sucks"? I heard it several times in conversations outside Monday's meeting. The left cannot be unified by insisting that one particular kind of injustice be the gateway to all the other kinds of injustice. People's passions don't run that way. They can be united if we find a way to be inviting and collaborative. We need to work less on convincing each other on the priority of our particular issue and more on working on processes of mutual respect.

    Of course, that only raises the further question of what those processes are. That's an exciting question, and people have been working on answers for them. Meetings like Monday night exposed all kinds of flaws in the way we deal with one another. I believe our work will be much more successful if we take on that question. By undertaking that process and by articulating that process, that becomes a unifying ideological objective of the left all in itself.

    So, to conclude: We need to speak strongly against injustice everywhere and emphasize it where possible to the best of our limited ability, especially where large constituencies are reaching out to us. The way to bring coherence to the huge list of injustices that such an approach necessarily entails is to work on unity of respectful process and emphasizing that process as an issue all unto itself.

    People and what they care about are alienated from each other; the solution to the problem isn't to get people to agree to work on the same issue but rather to work respectfully in communication and in solidarity with each other.

    We should not go again down the road that the women's movement and the abolition movement split on in the late 1860s.

    Jim Macdonald

    >
    > Posted on the Counterpunch website, this is written by a UFPJ steering
    > committee member.
    >
    >
    >
    > "All Roads Lead to Baghdad"
    > A Strategic Analysis of Unity in the US Anti-War Movement
    > By VIRGINIA RODINO
    >
    > At the start of this week about 100 representatives and leaders of the
    > anti-war movement met in Washington, DC, to discuss primarily how to
    > create
    > the strongest internal unity, particularly regarding the September 24
    > national anti-war mobilization to be held in Washington, DC.
    >
    > Facilitated by a prominent African American minister, an African American
    > imam, and a Native American civil rights activist, the discussion
    > sometimes
    > delved into negative past interactions between the national anti-war
    > coalitions, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and Act Now to Stop War
    > and
    > End Racism (ANSWER); possible communication disconnect between local
    > member
    > groups and the leadership bodies of these coalitions; and the potential
    > neglect of the global justice movement (given that the annual
    > International
    > Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings are taking place in Washington that
    > same weekend, and events already are being planned by anti-corporate
    > globalization groups such as the Mobilization for Global Justice, 50
    > Years
    > is Enough, and Jubilee 2000).
    >
    > Much of the 3-hour meeting, however, focused on the possibility of
    > unifying
    > around a common theme for the anti-war calls to action, and the marches
    > and
    > rallies for that weekend of action.
    >
    > In order to justify the following proposal for future political direction
    > of
    > the anti-war movement, it is necessary to assess the barriers and
    > opportunities the movement faces at this moment.
    >
    > In very recent months there have been exciting, almost unbelievable
    > occurrences that open up major space for the movement. The Downing Street
    > memos present the necessary evidence that clearly demonstrate the Bush
    > Administration's deliberate misleading of the U.S. Congress in order to
    > pre-emptively attack Iraq. Incredibly, the memos have inspired previously
    > reticent bipartisan members of Congress to begin inquiries into possible
    > impeachment of Bush and his neocon cronies.
    >
    > Opinion polls now show that upwards of 60% of the U.S. population is not
    > in
    > favor of the occupation of Iraq. When public support fell to such numbers
    > in
    > the Vietnam era, the tide soon turned successful for the anti-war
    > movement.
    >
    > Military recruitment is in severe crisis. ABC and other mainstream news
    > sources report that the regular Army missed its recruiting goals for
    > three
    > straight months entering May, falling short by 42% in April. The Army was
    > 16% behind its May goal of 80,000 recruits in fiscal 2005.
    >
    > The Marine Corps missed its goal for signing up new recruits for four
    > straight months entering May and was 2% behind its year-to-date goal. It
    > is
    > aiming for 38,195 recruits in fiscal 2005.
    >
    > These precipitous declines in new recruits, particularly the decrease in
    > numbers of people of color, is worsened by the often spontaneous yet
    > highly
    > organized counter-recruitment campaigns being borne in towns big and
    > small,
    > and on college and high school campuses across the country.
    >
    > These crises have forced unconvincing whitewashing public assertions from
    > Bush and Cheney that the U.S. military is somehow winning in Iraq and
    > bringing democracy to Iraqis. Although still sorely lacking in volume and
    > substance, corporate media are increasing their coverage of the problems
    > facing the Bush Administration and its military.
    >
    > All of this undoubtedly presents a system full of cracks. This is the
    > system
    > of U.S. imperialism, whose path is paved by U.S. military plunder,
    > intervention, and threat across the globe: from Iraq to Palestine, from
    > Venezuela to Cuba, from Syria to Lebanon, from North Korea to Haiti, from
    > Latin America to Africa.
    >
    > Each of these targeted countries and regions comprises an arm, a leg, a
    > bone, an organ of U.S. imperialism. Put together they embody an ugly,
    > beastly creature, some parts of which are stronger than others.
    > Importantly
    > for us here and now, the weakest body part of all is that of Iraq.
    >
    > Iraq is now the achilles heel of the beast, the U.S. government's drive
    > for
    > empire. Battered, raw, exposed, this point must be focused on by the
    > anti-Imperialist Left in the United States: Efforts must continue to
    > strike
    > away at this concentrated weakness.
    >
    > It is a crucial moment and a critical decision. Not because the Haitians,
    > the Palestinians, the domestic poor and abused are any less deserving of
    > liberation, but because ultimately a victory of the Iraqi people against
    > the
    > U.S. war machine is a victory for liberation struggles around the globe.
    > A
    > military defeat in Iraq will infuse confidence into struggles everywhere,
    > as
    > it did when the U.S. military was forced to withdraw from Vietnam. And
    > the
    > U.S. military is indeed losing, despite the unconvincing bravadura
    > recently
    > displayed by Bush, Cheney, and the other warmongers.
    >
    > Thus, the focus on Iraq and bringing the troops home is ultimately
    > strategic, "strategizing" being a mode of practice in which a
    > unified Left
    > must re-adopt in order to win back the gains and confidence it lost
    > through
    > reactionary right-wing assaults since the McCarthy era.
    >
    > Bearing the weight and responsibility of all the deserving struggles in
    > the
    > world disadvantages the Left at this moment for two reasons. Most
    > importantly, it creates severe barriers to entry into the movement,
    > ultimately limiting the numbers of people we must be mobilizing in the
    > streets. Taking noble and justified stances such as unconditional support
    > for the Iraqi resistance and Palestinian right of return shuts the door
    > of
    > engagement between the movement and groups such as Iraq Veterans Against
    > the
    > War and Military Families Speak Out. These groups, as we learned in
    > Vietnam,
    > must be the backbone of today's anti-war movement in order for us to
    > succeed
    > in our quest for peace.
    >
    > Taking on too many themes and messages also casts a negative light on the
    > movement by the corporate mass media. The Fourth Estate has become
    > increasingly unable to competently develop and present any message beyond
    > a
    > 10-second sound-byte, instead mocking those who try to build cohesive and
    > comprehensive communication.
    >
    > In addition, forcing a laundry list of the numerous targets of U.S.
    > Empire
    > onto each demonstration and event necessitates complex ideological
    > battles
    > with potential members of the anti-war movement. Instead of narrowing the
    > entry point at the start, we instead must open the door widely, building
    > the
    > trust that will in turn open minds and hearts, and it is when we are side
    > by
    > side on the streets that we can more successfully make the tedious effort
    > of
    > politically dialoguing with new recruits to our movement, explaining
    > connections, history, agendas, and positions.
    >
    > What can be seamlessly integrated are the concerns and issues of the
    > global
    > justice, anti-capitalist movement. Costs of the war and occupation of
    > Iraq,
    > the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz, and the anti-imperialist nature of the
    > anti-war movement are aspects congruent to both movements. A fusion of
    > the
    > anti-war and anti-capitalist movements in the United States will
    > unquestionably strengthen both, boosting the U.S. Left immeasurably.
    >
    > Conclusion
    >
    > Calling for "Bringing the Troops Home Now" is not dumbing down
    > the message.
    > It is being patiently and wisely strategic. In a game of chess against a
    > master -- and we are indeed facing a most organized and efficient
    > systemic
    > evil -- we can win only by being as methodically focused as our
    > opposition.
    >
    > The immediate urgency for unity within the U.S. anti-war movement demands
    > that we build the largest, broadest mobilizations possible -- with the
    > unquestionable long-term intention to 1) build trust among ourselves; 2)
    > educate about the absolute linkages among global struggles; and 3) make
    > the
    > promise to continue hacking away limb by limb that of the Imperial Beast.
    > Only when we unify strategically and deliberately for the long-run can we
    > create the glorious world we all know is possible and necessary.
    >
    > Virginia Rodino is a Director of Democracy Rising and a member of the
    > Administrative Steering Committee of United for Peace and Justice. The
    > arguments put forth in this essay solely reflect the thoughts of the
    > author.