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imperialism & war

on secrecy and militancy

my two cents
Secrecy is not required. We are democratic, open -- they are hierarchical, secretive. Anyone can join our movement and contribute. Ideas about tactics should be raised collectively, and explored. Secrecy cuts off dialogue, prevents people from different traditions/groups/classes/races/neighborhoods from communicating. Secrecy would freeze the movement at this point and time -- small, mostly white, ineffective.

Shutting things down is not the goal. Don't confuse a strategy with a goal. The goal is to build a majority movement against the U.S.-led "war on terror." If shutting things down tends to build that movement, then we should do that. If we think we should do that, we should discuss tactics on how to accomplish it. Shutting things down is at best a tactic. It can be varied for effect -- in SF they shut down Bechtel, the big development corp which does tons of war work and built shit for Iraq.

We should always ask ourselves -- Why are we doing this? Why shut things down? What will happen if we do it? And what will happen next? How does this get us where we want to be?

We cannot settle for "reasons" which are not linked, reasonably and demonstrably, toward our goal. "Shut it down because it will show them we're serious." Show whom? And if we show them that, then what? How can we test that belief?

"Keep to the streets in mass numbers." There is a tension between frequency and numbers. We need to think about how we build that movement. Go too hot and fast, and some people burn out, or get turned away, or lose faith that we can become the majority. You can see some of that happening already -- people become dismissive of ordinary Americans capacity to come 'round to (roughly) our way of thinking about things.

Go too slow, and people lose faith. There is no pre-destined formula -- this is what we are learning to do together. We are used to thinking about how people become radicalized -- what experiences, relationships, connections people need to make to adopt a new framework. This is good, and our main task. We should listen carefully to how other cities and countries are organizing. We should recall the power of coordinated, massive anti-war marches; and by power, I mean the actual organizing and demonstrating involving millions of people.

Don't confuse anger with militance. To be militant means to refuse to compromise, especially on democracy. Democracy is harder than reform from a self-proclaimed enlightened minority. But such minorities will develop within any movement. The movement must learn to refuse the lure of a a strategy which says, "We can win even though we're the minority."

We are trying to bring a very large pot to boil. Go too slow, and the heat dissapates. Go too fast and the bottom burns, and the whole thing takes on a bitter taste.

We must protect the movement from self-destructive tendencies. Movements can make mistakes, can disintegrate, can become irrelevant. Destructive impulses thrive on things like secrecy, loathing of ordinary working Americans, or politics for show. An example of politics for show is suggestions like "cancel your AOL". Can anyone actually point to a movement which succeeded which was based on encouraging people to think of themselves primarily as consumers -- to think about politics in terms of what you can do as a consumer? By encouraging someone not to consume something, we encourage them to relate to the world as a consumer.

We might compare "cancel your AOL" with "organize an anti-war union at AOL". One is easy, and irrelevant to stopping war; another is difficult, and directly related to stopping war. Militant anti-war unions, I should point out, have a long history of...stopping wars. Russia's participation in WWI ENDED because of the militancy of the unions and soldiers. Or, more suggestive than effective: New Brunswick longshore workers have declared that they will not handle war cargo. [ http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org/inthenews.php?singleItemFlag=1&news_id=301] Imagine an anti-war union at AOL; imagine every aol patron getting anti-war email, every subscriber getting anti-war popups; a militant anti-war union at AOL could do that, and more.

There is no perfect path, no directions written down. What we have are a few tools. One is a rusty compass, which says, "Build a majority movement. Accept no substitutes."

In solidarity,
epa 21.Mar.2003 23:57


Please go to the epa website. Browse around until you can find a carbon dioxide counter. There are many different ones you can use. Try the one with trees. This will indicate how many trees you would have plant in order to balnce your carbon dioxide consumption.

You personally consume to much.

Do what you can to minimalize. Help others to do the same.