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January 08, 2007



Sunsara was pretty good. O'Reilly made himself look like an idiot by just calling her a lunatic. He didn't refute any of her points, which were all valid.

the burningman

Dick Morris came on later and basically agreed with her.

Which is one of the stranger media moments of the week.

But she's right, and the Fox bully shtick is looking weak (when it gets challenged).


O'Reilly is past his sell by date the real and rational is the voice of Sunsara Taylor


Burningman wrote-

"it was hot hot hot to see the Democrats put on the hot seat starting day one."

"If we fear disruption, resistance and honesty about the stakes — we are in trouble"

Last time we had a prolonged war, World Can't Wait style tactics, which were carried out a huge scale didn't exactly push the Democrats to the left.

It ended up freaking out a lot of Americans who didn’t like the Vietnam War either, but trusted Nixon more than SDS. It’s no where near as bad then, but folks like WCW (RCP) seem to be obsessed with the desire to recreate 1968 as if it was a stunning success.

People in Washington don't need Sunsara Taylor, Code Pink or any other advocate of direct action to let them know that the American people are upset with the war in Iraq.

A lot of the new congressional Democrats know that they owe their new jobs to dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq, and if they don't get a plan, they are in trouble. They aren't worried about someone screaming at them at a press conference.

I’m for keeping the heat on the Dems, but I wonder if any of these groups have any kind of daily routine for this besides boring rallies and useless media bites. Are they getting people to write them or barrage them with phone calls? How about organize buses to have sit-down meeting between anti-war constituents and their representative? I really don’t think Rep. Emmanuel gave a rats ass about activists yelling at him. He does care about a latest poll that shows Americans by an overwhelming majority think we need to get out of Iraq.

Direct action is a tactic that progressive movements have use from time to time to much success (witness the CIO and civil rights movement). It can also be an excuse for self-imposed isolation from real people and a chance to show your martyr syndrome.

You ever wonder why Taylor is always seems to be on the O’Reily factor? If you are ever invited to be on O’Reily than it’s a good idea to stay off it, because he ends up picking folks that his viewers will likely view as weird or from the fringe of reality. People who he can use to make progressive ideas seem far-out.

Taylor is quite eloquent, but she is still a member of a weird Maoist group, that no one-even many on the far-left-take seriously. The left can do better than that.

Chuck Morse

Well put. I agree.

the burningman


JJ, what's the most interesting thing you think is happening in terms of resistance in North America?

Do you think in those terms?




Bill O'Reilly might want to select guests that the viewers hate but in the case of Sunsara Taylor this does not work, she is media savy and sound byte clever and comrades should emulate her media performances if they have the chance.

Whlist ageeing that a range of tactics should be used to oppose direct action in favour phone in or sit downs is wrong - all are needed.

The comment on a wierd Maoist group is sectarian I don't care which group on the left is articulate - I will support anyone that is articulate as Sunsara Taylor.

American Pragmatist

And so we should confuse what's being done now with what is the only thing possible? Or the best thing possible?

Should we look at the best thing being done and just accomodate ourselves to that?

Has the Burningman switched his economism from piddly community-based groups to the RCP? It seems so.


"And so we should confuse what's being done now with what is the only thing possible? Or the best thing possible?"

I don't think anything of the sort was said or inferred. As Haisanlu put it, we should come at this with a variety of mediums and methods. I just don't see where anyone stated that this is the only thing possible and/or this is the best possible tactics that should/can be used in such struggles.

"Has the Burningman switched his economism from piddly community-based groups to the RCP? It seems so."

Explain, please.

Christopher Day

1968 was a HUGE success. It radically shook up the whole world and frankly redefined what it meant to be a human being on this planet. Does that mean that everything that was fought for then was won? No. Does it mean that everything that was won was maintained? Again no.

But in 1968 the world witnessed a world-wide revolt of the oppressed, the alienated, and the simply decent. The possibility that the world could be transformed was awakened in the hearts of millions, many of whom went on to dedicate their lives fighting for those transformations.

It is saddening to see someone like Chuck embrace the call to caution and faith in the Dems expressed by JJ. Hopefully he didn't read the whole thing. More likely he was simply uniting with its predictable attack on the you know whos. If so this is a textbook example of how anarchists embracing red-baiting leads them into the arms of liberals.

Was the Tet offensive a failure? Right-wing idiots argue that it was, but in truth it was the turning point in the Viet Nam war and the beginning of so-called Viet Nam Syndrome which restrained U.S. imperialism's military adventures for a generation.

Of course our enemies have done everything in their power to ridicule and marginalize the expressions of revolt that occurred in 1968. They have done this precisely because they were so threatening. (Understanding HOW they accomplished this partial ideological victory and what must be done in response, demands, IMHO, the theoretical insights of Gramsci, and to a lesser degree Althusser, but I digress.)

There are plenty of negative lesons to be drawn from 1968, just as there are from every round of struggle, but JJ's call for restricting vocal public protest and resistance is NOT one of them.

The fight for public opinion is critical and actions like those carried out at he Dems press conference are something we need to see a lot more of. The majority of the people in this country oppose this war, but that opposition is impotent unless it is expressed in a manner that implies a threat to social peace for the powers that be. The action at the Capitol reached millions and undoubtedly inspired others to consider similar actions where they live.

And Sunsara's performance on O'Reilly was fantastic. Bravo.

Chuck Morse

Burningman wrote: "JJ, what's the most interesting thing you think is happening in terms of resistance in North America? Do you think in those terms? Chuck?"

There are lots of good things happening in terms of resistance, including the fact that most Americans have turned against the government’s imperialist adventure in Iraq. That’s exciting and suggests the possibility of radicalizing the public debate in ways that were heretofore impossible.

And certainly we have to attack the Democratic Party. The left’s attachment to it has been--and is--a major obstacle. I thought that Taylor did a good job at this on O’Reilly. (Chris, I think you misread JJ’s post: s/he didn’t call upon us to be cautious or have faith in the Democrats. In any case, I’m strenuously against both things).

But the RCP’s centrality in World Can’t Wait will ensure that the group will never pull off significant actions or garner mass support. The RCP epitomizes the lunatic fringe of the extreme left and elicits a reaction of bemused revulsion from 99.9% of activists (I suspect that less politicized people are just baffled by the group). You can deny this or call me sectarian for making the point, but you can't discuss WCW without discussing the RCP. Why do you think the big October 5 day of action was such a flop? The world *is* against the Bush regime, but it will never be *for* a group/coalition dominated by the RCP or its members. It's political positions are one thing, but I'd guess that the political culture fostered by the RCP is what turns most people off most strongly. Think about it. What would happen to UFPJ if it starting organizing things like “Honor Leslie Cagan Day”? That's just an example.

I thought the following piece captured what are probably very typical sentiments about the RCP:
10/not-gonna-be-dupe-for-rcp.html (I don’t know anything about the guy who wrote it).


JJ says: "I’m for keeping the heat on the Dems, but I wonder if any of these groups have any kind of daily routine for this besides boring rallies and useless media bites. Are they getting people to write them or barrage them with phone calls? How about organize buses to have sit-down meeting between anti-war constituents and their representative?"

If you want to pursue this as part of a larger strategy, fine. However, insisting that this is the primary task for "the left" renders the left completely irrelevant.

The historical implication here is that if the left in the 60's were less confrontational, we would have pushed the Dems to end the Vietnam War sooner. This is bullshit and flies in the the face of the historical record beginning with JFK.

The last comment about Sunsara being in a 'weird Maoist group' is just sectarian red-baiting that ignores the strong content of her statements.

The fact that Morse blindly accepted JJ's argument wholesale is pretty lame. I'll resist saying that it's a natural outcome of anarchism, but it does reflect the roots of anarchism in bourgeois liberalism.


Morse says: "You can deny this or call me sectarian for making the point, but you can't discuss WCW without discussing the RCP."

Yes these are sectarian arguments.

What positions and actions of WCW do you specifically object to? How strong would those objections be if carried out by some other group that RCP had no involvement with?

If people reject WCW based solely on knee-jerk anti-communism, I would expect a principled activist to argue against this. Just as I would expect a communist to argue against people who criticized Seattle 1999 just because anarchists were involved. But I guess anarchists will never lose an opportunity to attack commies. There's a word for that kind of behavior.

Chuck Morse

Leftclick, I guess I'll let JJ defend his/her views, but no one (other than you) said anything about the "primary task for the left" or being "less confrontational." You're just making inferences.

Yeah, I suppose you're right, I am being sectarian. I don't think that makes my views any less cogent, but "sectarian" is probably a fair term. However, you're wrong to scream "Red baiting!" every time someone criticizes the RCP. Lots of communists criticize the group too: is that just some form of internalized self-red baiting?

In any case, my objection to the WCW rests primarily on the centrality of the RCP.

the burningman

Sure Chuck is making a sectarian argument, that casually avoids any comparison of actual efforts.

I helped moderate a World Can't Wait forum at Fordham in December. Besides Susnara Taylor, there were panelists from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Cindy Sheehan, GI Resister Lt. Watanda's mother and John Nichols. 150 people turned out, it was organized in a week. Thankfully, the panelists and audience had more to discuss than your anti-communist hang-ups.

I wonder what 99.9% of activists Chuck gathers his data from. And more importantly, I wonder what they are up to. All I hear is this whistling sound. In other words, it seems more like a confession of how narrow his circles are rather than some larger truth.

And its a tautology. "Ignore what they do 'cause it can't be good."

Oct. 5 was a flop? You think? Protests in over a hundred cities?


Many WCW activists were let down by the protests, I was not among them. The protest in New York was several times what I expected, 2,000+ folks on a workday.

Imagine what could have been brought out — what can be done now! – if instead of saying what can't be done and who is beyond the pale, that so-called activist community spent its time reaching beyond itself instead of policing ideological borders and deflating.

It's an open door, an outreached hand and the hope of a better world.

In any case, I keep hoping Chuck has something to add here beside cannards about the RCP we've all heard before. It's startling how much more principled they are in their rap on other radicals, their willingness to build principled unity without sacrificing their own vision.

Or put another way, the RCP does not define itself by what it thinks about you, through denigration or mockery – but through the work of resistance and the honest promotion of its program.

Or, I just disagree with you and while that kind of distancing no doubt carries some rooms... it won't fly here.


This weekend there is a national organizers meeting for World Can't Wait here in New York.

World Can't Wait is an open movement, and I would encourage activists to attend, even if already committed, to see how their efforts can join a national movement to push Bush out and pick up resistance to this war.

Check out the WCW website to get the info.

the burningman

Chuck, and anyone who agrees with what he's saying about the centrality of the RCP to WCW:


Join by collectives and networks and see what happens.

Create parallel efforts that don't force you to talk with dread commies, but focus your work on creating ungovernability.

Build a national direct-action network against this war.




But this weekend there is a conference for organizers, where you can see for yourself who is involved and how you can plug in.

The RCP has no interest in being the only dog in the fight. That should be obvious by now.


Morse sys: "In any case, my objection to the WCW rests primarily on the centrality of the RCP."

I don't scream red-baiting every time the RCP is criticized. It is red-baiting when one screams 'communist' without concrete analysis of behavior, letting popular anti-communist prejudice do the rest of the work. You might ask when was the last time commies objected to any organization due to the presence of anarchists.

I asked for specific objections and you just explicitly said your primary one was than their centrality.

My 'inferences' about JJ's position come from actually reading it: downplay direct action, emphasize appealing politicians, otherwise people wind up trusting "Nixon more than SDS."

JJ'S criticism is that WCW tactics won't "push the Dems to the left." This is the starting point of the post. Who said that was the purpose? And why should it be? Do you agree with JJ on this point? Is this a primary task for anarchists too?

Triumph the Comic Insult Anarchist

Give up! Be quiet! Reds under the bed!

We should discuss failures in Spain a generations ago and freeganism!

I poop on you!

Chuck Morse

I think it’s great when activists criticize the Democrats. In fact, I find/found the mainstream of the anti-war movement repellant because of its failure to oppose the Democrats, who are pro-war (of course). One of the reasons that I like this blog is because there’s none of the softness about the Democrats that is so common elsewhere.

Leftclick, I think your main issues are with J.J.. For my sake, I didn’t outline my criticisms of the RCP because I’ve done so elsewhere and don’t think this is the right thread for that.

Burningman, when you say that the WCW is an open movement, do you mean that political decisions are made by the base/membership (in popular assemblies, etc)? Is it democratic (small d)? Is it not the RCP that defines WCW’s goals, structures, and methods? This is genuinely not a rhetorical question.

the burningman

I mean you are free to join existing local groups or form your own.

The basis of unity is the World Can't Wait call.

I suspect you will agree with it essentially, in terms of diagnosis and prescription.

National decisions are made by the steering committee. Local decisions are made by the group doing it.

A couple folks here in New York are setting up a new chapter in Jackson Heights. How? They just did it.

I imagine someone with a hangup about the RCP could find that conflict if they were looking for it. That hasn't been a problem in my experience. But I'm down with the .01%.

The structure is pretty loosy goosy, with agreement defined by the public statement.

This is different from the process posse, where we "converge" to discuss for days what we already know, LOL.

Instead, it starts with the basis of unity and orientation, and says "come who will to do this work."

The forms of local structure are up to the groups which form.

Also, there is no demand for participants to be a part of any subculture, use any particular vocabulary, adopt any standard of hygeine or dieatary habits.

World Can't Wait supports a diversity of tactics.


Morse says: "Leftclick, I think your main issues are with J.J.. For my sake, I didn’t outline my criticisms of the RCP because I’ve done so elsewhere and don’t think this is the right thread for that."

Yes my main argument is with JJ but you did say "Well put" indicating your agreement with the position. If your agreement was only with the RCP criticism, then you weren't specific.

Also I did not ask for a criticism of RCP. I asked for a criticism of WCW positions/actions and RCP's behavior within that. Your position seems to be that RCP's presence itself is explanation enough.

Christopher Day

A couple comments on terminology:

1. Red-baiting doesn't refer to simply criticizing communists, their ideology or their practice. It refers to attacking actions and organizations simply because of the involvement of this or that communist group. Have the actions of the RCP made WCW self-limiting in some ways? Sure. But then they should also get some of the credit for its accomplishments -- organizing large numbers of actions across the country when groups with considerably more resources won't.

2. Sectarianism. Labelling groups sectarian and refusing to work with them is the modus operandi of most sectarianism these days. An anti-sectarian is not someone who runs around attacking all the sectarians, but rather one who rises above that sort of shit and makes their criticisms in a principled manner that focuses on the politics involved and that seeks to establish unity where it can be established, even with folks you powerfully disagree with.

Finally, newsflash -- most people in this country think anarchists are just as fucking nuts as they think communists are. Why? Well, in addition to the actually nutty behavior of some representatives of both trends, there is a powerful machinery of ideological indoctrination that is quite effective at branding EVERY challenge to the profits and power of our rulers as nutty. Does the RCP sometimes do some nutty things? Sure, but no nuttier than many other groups (anarchists being well represenetd here) looking for a way to break through into popular consciousness. The point is not to avoid criticizing these follies, but to do so in a more comradely manner that seeks to advance the capacities of the people and organizations who are looking for a way out of the nightmare that is this society.

If there is some real reason to think that the action at the Capitol was ineffective or might have been made more effective, lets hear it. If there is some way that Sunsara should have conducted herself differently on O'Reilly (or shouldn't have gone on in the first place) again, lets hear it. But it is the essence of sectarianism to attack a well organized action and a well conducted TV interview simply because you have OTHER problems with one of the groups involved.

Triumph the Comic Insult Anarchist

I poop on you Christopher Day!

Chuck Morse

Chris, I didn’t attack Taylor’s performance on O’Reilly: I praised it (I don’t think it was “fantastic,” as you said, but she did pretty well). I took issue with the centrality of the RCP, which is an issue for the group .

Burningman, do you know if RCP members are a majority on the WCW steering committee?

the burningman

Click my name for the current national steering committee with bios.

Father Luis Barrios
Elaine Brower
Samantha Elena Goldman
Mark James
Allen Lang
Prachi Noor
Debra Sweet

James Abourezk, former U.S. Senator, South Dakota

Rosemary Candelario, pro-choice activist

Warren Hern MD, Physician and pro-choice activist

Mark Leno, CA State Assembly

Mark Crispin Miller, professor & writer

Tomas Olmos, attorney

Boots Riley, hip hop performer

Lynne Stewart, attorney

Gore Vidal, writer

Sunsara Taylor, writer

Howard Zinn, historian


Three cheers for the .01%

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