Fall-out continues from the http://protestobama.org/ letter
to prominent petty-bourgeois figures
of the left/liberal establishment
who waged an unconditional war of support
for Obama for the last few
years. [See note below from LBO Doug Henwood for Tom Hayden's response
to the letter.]
Unending war, immigration round-ups,
bold assaults on democratic rights, and a
condescending contempt for working
people of all races and genders during the
last two years has finally started some
motion [or at least thoughts about
motion] in the Popular Front/liberal milieu.
The December 16 White House civil disobedience
by Vets for Peace is specifically
mentioned in the appeal letter at protestobama.org.
The left/liberal intelligentsia in the
Democratic Party, on the campuses, in the
foundations, NGOs and the labor bureaucracy
have less than 2 years to present
themselves as a grassroots movement to
reclaim an "authentic" Democratic Party,
thus derailing and disorienting those
who wish to build independent and
predominantly labor/oppressed peoples'
actions which objectively pose a threat
to the Democratic Party and to the whole
trap of seeing the electoral arena as
the be-all and end-all of any political
In about a year the pre-season for the 2012
presidential primaries will be in
full swing, and momentum for independent
action will be under assault on all
fronts by the "market election" circus.
The Democrats may
even enact a charade that a bourgeois
Democrat to Obama's left is exploring the
possibility of running in order to make
absolutely sure activists come running
back. The "Eugene McCarthy Gambit."
Instead of "Anybody But Bush," we will
have entered the age of "Nobody but
LBO News from Doug Henwood
Tom Hayden doesn’t like that letter
Posted: 11 Dec 2010 11:02 AM PST
Tom Hayden didn’t like that open letter to him et al. His response—sent to John
Halle, organizer of the letter, but not as I erroneously said at first addressed
to him in the polite “Dear John” salutational sense—follows. (The subject
heading of the email was, inexplicably, “Weirdness.”) Gotta say, this is a
beaut: “I supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, and am glad I did so. At
the time I also said progressives should disagree with him on Afghanistan,
NAFTA, global warming and Wall Street….” Well, what’s left to support, Cde
So I started reading this letter which sounded pretty good and it looked like I
signed it, so I read further and discovered that it was to as a member of a
group I didn’t know I belonged to called the “Left Establishment.” As I kept
reading, it was a vile, toxic diatribe ending with a demand that I, along with
the rest of the “Left Establishment”, endorse a demonstration this week in
Washington featuring civil disobedience at the White House fence.
To whomever sent the letter, I have to say I’m sorry that I just don’t respond
positively to nasty invitations. I hope you can understand. Calm down and tell
me who you are before the conspiracy theories mushroom.
Actually, I thought the Dec. 16 action seemed somewhat justifiable in light of
current events – the WikiLeaks releases and erupting divisions within the
Democratic Party. And I love the people who plan to get arrested. Maybe a big
crowd will show up, but not because it was a smart idea to begin with.
Mid-December is not the best time to turn out masses of people. But stuff
happens, and now many people are boiling.
My personal best to those who are being arrested. They include a former Pentagon
official, former CIA agent, a former New York Times reporter, and a mother who
lost a son to war and was radicalized as a result. The lesson for me is that
people can change from hawks to doves, from spies to whistleblowers, if
organizers organize and events reshape their perceptions. That’s the lesson of
WikiLeaks, that folk on the inside sometimes come find their situation
intolerable and break away from old thinking.
Civil disobedience is a moral expression, and can be a personal healing.
Sometimes it ignites a larger movement, or inspires other individuals to step
up. We need more of it.
But I also think we need an outside/inside strategy that shifts public opinion
more and more against the war. We need to persuade the undecided, not simply to
create images of dissent. The peace movement will grow steadily in the months
ahead, on its own, but also in its relation to other compelling causes, among
them: Wall Street regulation, clean energy/green jobs, and the steady shift
towards an unfettered market philosophy over our lives. Civil disobedience can
light a flame, but the case for thoroughgoing radical reform must be made on our
streets, our workplaces, our religious institutions, and yes, within the
Democratic Party – whose overwhelming majority support progressive objectives.
Members of the Progressive Democrats of America, and the Congressional
Progressive Caucus, are vital elements of our movement.
I would like every person who signed this letter to read it again, and be kind
enough to retract their signatures or explain why.
This is not the time to inflict internal damage on a community which is already
weak enough. It’s important to get a grip.
The peace and justice community is a fragile form of social ecology, with
diversity being an essential quality. Everyone is entitled to a different
approach, but there also is an essential unity that can be achieved, unless a
malign force is introduced.
I have been working every day since 2002 to end these wars. I will never stop. I
supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, and am glad I did so. At the time
I also said progressives should disagree with him on Afghanistan, NAFTA, global
warming and Wall Street, and I have pursued progressive alternatives every day.
I have been so busy on the WikiLeaks crisis since August that I just haven’t had
time to drop by the White House and pick up my marching orders.
Peace and Justice Resource Center
Posted: 11 Dec 2010 07:43 AM PST
I’m one of initial signers of this open letter to the left–liberals who
enthusiastically supported Barack Obama in 2008, and said many silly things
about him back then. Please read and then, if you agree, add your name to the
growing list of endorsers.
Here’s an unintentional endorsement: Tom Hayden, one of the addressees,
denounced the suggestion that he protest Obama as “vile” and “toxic,” and
damaging to the “fragile social ecology” required for the growth of the peace
movement. What a strange view of politics—give the imperial warriors free rein,
because criticizing them might impede opposition.