Monday, May 02, 2005

IAC, ANSWER, and UFPJ: Time for an Obituary?

Did anyone but the most dedicated observer of political activism notice the two rallies held in New York City on May 1, 2005? The International Action Center, through a new "coalition" called Troops Out Now!, organized a march and rally to "Revive May Day," attracting only 1,000-1,500 according to organizers' own estimate. United for Peace and Justice, meanwhile, marched and rallied to "Abolish Nukes!" (as May Day fell on "the day before the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference begins at the United Nations"). Perhaps, 10,000-40,000 attended the UFPJ march and rally. It is clear that neither May Day nor nuclear disarmament resonated with many Americans.

Whether you look at the home page of UFPJ, Troops Out Now!, or International ANSWER, you don't see any more plan for a big national mass action to Bring the Troops Home Now. Delegates to the UFPJ National Assembly on February 19-21, 2005 did vote for a proposal to make September 10, 2005 "World Day of Mobilization on the U.N. against War," but mobilization for it apparently has yet to begin.

Anti-war activists nationwide, who have always had only tenuous relations to the main US anti-war coalitions headquartered in New York City, are effectively on our own. Is it time to write an obituary for the IAC, ANSWER, and UFPJ?

Ron Jacobs, arguing that ANSWER and UFPJ are not "the proper vehicles" to raise the political and economic costs of the Iraq War high enough to compel the US power elite to abandon it, calls for the creation of "a broad anti-imperialist coalition," rather than trying to change ANSWER's and UFPJ's nature and direction ("If Imperialism Is the Cause, Shouldn't the US Anti-War Movement Be Anti-Imperialist?" CounterPunch, 2 May 2005). Whether we agree or disagree with Jacobs on his call, it is undeniable that there is a big vacuum in the anti-war movement.


Anonymous said...

You should be commended on your final point - there is a big vacuum in the central leadership of the anti-war movement. But I want to make a small but, I think essential, quibble with the "obtituary" tone. Yes, we need more and maybe it should be outside UFPJ and IAC/Answer. But why should creating something different (and perhaps overarching) be cast as a call for an obituary?

Surely we can be more postive (and more comradly) than that? And in the case of UFPJ, whatever their shortcomings (or really the short comings of their base) we have to credit them that they have not pretended to be more than what they were and not tried to block others trying to do more/different than what UFPJ could do. The leadership even turns up, as ordinary marchers, in other peoples rally's (such as the one on anniversary of the start of the war). Form another umbrella group if we think that is the "ripe" move - but lets not get caught up in adjuticating the death of others.

Anonymous said...

ANSWER is, and always has been strongly anti-imperialist.

Carl Davidson said...

"Broad anti-imperialist" is something of an oxymoron in today's US, isn't it? While a majority of Americans are critical of the war and occupation, only a minority of them would consider themselves 'anti-imperialist.' And even that could get smaller if you wanted to view imperialism as Lenin did, wouldn't it? So 'broad anti-imperialist coalition or front' really translates into 'militant left bloc.' That's fine and even useful, but then it still begs the question: How do we turn the relatively passive non-left majority critical of the war into an active campaign of a majority opposed to the war, but not necessarily left or opposed to imperialism as a system?

That's the key question, whether you're a left bloc or a broad antiwar front.

For our part, CAWI in Chicago, we've been busy since St Louis doing outreach and base-building--holding forums in neighborhoods, doing anti-recruitment, holding teach-ins at VA hospitals, etc. We're certainly up for a big demo in the fall, but please, no obituaries for us! Our slogan is 'keep on keepin' on'...

Anonymous said...

I realize this comment is belated, but I like your post, Yoshie. I think ANSEWER and IAC have written their own obituaries by being manipulative and deceitful goons. UFPJ is just a weak, though in a more democratic manner.

Upon receiving ANSEWER's emails about the sept. 24 demo, I touched on feelings similar to this post:

I think we need to admit that these mass marches aren't very effective and since they're the main tool being utilized by these groups, then these groups clearly aren't being effective.

Personally, I just think about all the money the left has wasted on these types of things and how that could have been better spent. I'm in favor of foresaking the mass marches and really starting to work locally to build an infrastructure and culture of resistance. I don't really know how to best going about doing that. I doubt how effective a "broad anti-imperialist coalition" will be. But I think we're on the right track in questioning the direction and "leaders" of this anti-war movement.