Rules of the road


On the Shelf

« Travis Morales challenges Gen. Hayden's defense of NSA spy program | Main | First Team of International Volunteers Returns from Nepal's Liberated Area, and Calls for More Volunteers -- Building a Road into the Future »

January 26, 2006



yeah, have been advocating this mode of (in)action for a while. Beautiful allegory for what liberals are about, really: complain about the Republicans while asserting every fundamental point of their legitimacy , from campaign funding, to the free market, to war-mongering, to racism, to crooked elections.

ron jacobs

It's tagic that UFPJ continues to pretend that it is in the lead of anything. It's time they got out of their non-sectarian sectarianism or just got out of the way, so that the energy of well meaning folks and groups involved in its movement that doesn't move can get on with opposing the Empire. Every time I write something about UFPJ being headed by the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party (if not consciously than in terms of its politics), I get emails telling me that I have it all wrong. This most recent call to have a political version of a Super Bowl party instead of mobilizing opposition is just one more example of UFPJ's moral and organizational ineptitude.
We don't need leadership, we need mass action.

Christopher Day

How fucking sleazy! How fucking liberal!

I don't know why I am surprised. I seem to have a bottomless resevoir of unearned willingness to give these folks the benefit of the doubt. Its a weakness and maybe I should seek counseling.

I just called UFPJ to express my distress. Their response was exactly the sort of non-political horseshit that you would expect. They are offering people "choices" and they are a coalition and this was decided on by the member groups, etc..., etc.... No denial that this was done fully conscious of the World Can't Wait actions, but no interest in even arguing for the politics behind this sleazy move.

I must admit however that this little episode has increased my commitment to World Can't Wait and the SoTU actions.

thank you

Really thank you. Bush would nuke Iran and UFPJ would call for a "phone blitz on Congress."

And the "have fun" thing: Political dissent is not PlayStation3. I have fun dancing and cooking food too complicated for my meager talents. The demand to be entertained at all times is ARRRG.

Here's the real problem: anti-communism and leftist honchoism passing for "disagreements." This isn't about disagreements. It's who is jockeying to "run" the antiwar movement.

I had unimpressive experiences with the RCP 10 years ago. They weren't terrible, they just had a different way of operating than I thought made sense and their propaganda felt like it wasn't tuned into to where the country was at. They were only speaking to people who wanted everything NOW.

It seems to me like they've seen the writing on the wall, are growing up fast and it's time for the slacktivists to really get that resistance isn't a scene or a "space" (LOL). It's something we do and more importantly help others to do.

I wish you said exactly who made this decision. Same with exactly who at UFPJ voted to not coordinate protests with ANSWER.


the burningman

You know, I woke up this morning thinking maybe I shouldn't have written this. But goddamn it something has to give.

We have all these activist circles that are like tidal pools keeping people from actual activity. Movements become "spaces" and refer more to their own internal logic than any serious appreciation of what the stakes are.

Anti-communism passes for analysis, and with the future cut off at the knee, activists end up getting in line behind the non-leadership of the Democratic Party whether that's the intention or not.

So long as the left lets the liberal right establish their realm of possibility, we're going to keep getting our asses handed to us on the proverbial platter. It's not just that another world is possible, it's inevitable. The nature of it is ours to make, and the triangulating haberdashers of activoid atrophy need a swift kick in the butt.

It's a challenge, people. The member groups of UFPJ have independence of activity -- and should stop letting the consensus of the permaleft hinder their vision. Make mistakes. Do the WRONG thing. Experiment with dangerous alliances -- and don't wait. Stop waiting. Stop ritualizing dissent. Stop being satisfied with being right and losing. Stop stopping.

I no longer have illusions about some "united left" making a move. There is going to be a new movement that doesn't acculturate itself to defeat and passivism. I hope seasoned activists can really sit down and say, "what am I doing and what will it reap?"

I don't mean that in the metaphysical, John Holloway sense of asking the same questions over and over forever. Not at all. I mean very directly.

How many meetings have you been to in the last year? How much progress has your collective, organization or network made?

Are the methods you are using enabling new people to be brought into political life? From what social sectors? To what effect?

Are your organizations built around the comfort and presumptions of those involved, or is there an objective standard to measure effectiveness and result?

What is the value of a coalition if it makes the partipants WEAKER as a whole?

What is the value of unity if the cost is losing not just principles, but fundamental direction?

Do you think you are a revolutionary? What does that mean? What concrete steps are you and your network taking to develop the orgnized power of oppressed people? Or students?

Because I tell you, I've been a part of vital and radical social movements and watched them reproduce the same permaleft disasters we tried to rise above. Movements only matter in terms of where they are moving. And in the case of the politics of "space," we can all plainly see what's it has done to de-mobilize and incapacitate otherwise sensible people.

It's time to put activism to bed and wake up. Radicalism is not "marginalization" and it's not a question of "purity." It's about joining the reality-based community and dealing with the world as it is, not the wish list in the back of our heads.

That's what Marx opened the door to. That's why they hate communism so much. And it's why when activists accept as a matter of habit the capitalist worldview, they literally aid in their own defeat. There is no more room for liberalism. It's fucking over. There will be no "safe spaces."

There's a fight. Know your side.


Ditto, burningman.

This all reminds me of Jack London's "The Iron Heel" (actually, the whole damned 20th century reminded me of it! LOL)

But there is a dividing line between those who want radical change and those who just want capitalism to be "nicer."

It's the difference between buying from local merchants instead of wal-mart to "use your dollar as a vote" and organizing an actual radical movement to change the world.

Now is an important time to be as active as possible and we need to criticize & question those who tell us to lay down and die.

the Real World

I'm curious how "World Cant' Wait" is considered more "serious" than UFPJ's lobbying efforts. Appealing(or threatening as it may be) to wobbly Democrats concerned about their jobs would more likely affect the actual course of governence than WCW's appeals to Bush to "step down".

WCW's tactics are are part of the left's preference for style over substance. Sceaming with a couple thousand in the streets of DC for Bush to quit is more "militant" in style than getting some folks to challenge their Congressman or regsitering folks to vote.

Bush will stay in office until 08. Sorry. And the RCP will find some other way to get recruits. Meanwhile has the left built any real base in the meantime?

Christopher Day

What is "serious" is creating a critical mass of people who understand

1. We aren't going to vote our way out of this mess


2. We need to be able to imagine beyond some incremental improvements in an intolerable situation.

Whether WCW represents that is another question. But now is not the time to be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Historically the left has advanced when its vision of a better world has captured the imagination of a significant fraction of the populace such taht they are willing to break out of the boundaries of politics as usual. Lobbying works wonders when you want to increase tobacco subsidies or require side airbags on SUVs. But its never stopped an imperialist war. The simple fact is that the people with the power don't give a shit what we think of their wars until we threaten to disrupt the social peace. People will lobby anyway of course and there's little point in trying to stop them, but we will see movement when we raise the political costs of the war in the streets.

the burningman

Seconding Chris's comment about lobbying and those who will do it anyway: they can press their point as they see fit -- but social movements are never "owned." Never.

Different political groups are taking different approaches because they are fighting for vastly different things.

Some are, indeed, the deck-chair re-arranging posse infinitum. Most are getting involved with what is available to them. Some are placing the issue as the system, and the centers of its power.

Criticizing UFPJ, and by extension the general inertias of the manifold member organizations, isn't to condemn. This isn't a zero-sum game, and formations like UFPJ can actuall develop different orientations.

Getting sharp is just getting real.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Hot Shots