March 19, 2003
This is not the time for the usual self-indulgent let-a-thousand-flowers bloom, let the nutty Spartacist have his turn at the podium, let Sheryl Crow talk about how war is bad for flowers and other living things, approach to political action. This is not a festival or a be-in or a happening. Its not a space for creative frolics and really cool paper-mache puppets.“Organizing steadily, laying down deep connections with actually existing communities, thinking about what kinds of rhetoric carries water in the public sphere, and disciplining or ignoring errant nutcases and fringe elements.” Seems to I recall when people left of center knew how to do that. A first step toward recovering the ability would be learning the different between enacting a political idea and implementing one. [01:56 PM]
The war is coming, unless Saddam Hussein blinks in the next 24 hours. None of us can stop it. Give that up right now: you cannot stop the war. Dont even try. Dont even fantasize that you can.
You can only prepare to exact a political price from the people who led us so poorly to this point, and to do that, you need to make the war a bigger issue than the antiwar.
[…A]ll the plans for direct action that involve “no business as usual” gimmicks like blocking traffic, chaining oneself to fences and the like are pure, unadulterated narcissism. Theyre about anointing yourself a virtuous, righteous person and performing your virtue on the public stage. You want that, come by my office and I’ll give you a little “I’m a Good Person Because I’m Against the War” badge to pin on your shirt and I’ll applaud you every time I see you walk by.
The “direct action” visions circulating out there now are not about building the largest possible coalition of opposition to the Bush Administration, not about building a political consensus, not about laying the groundwork for 2004. If you really care about opposing the war, you need to put your own selfish needs to proclaim your virtuousness aside and keep your eyes on the prize. Large public gatherings that are respectful, quiet and rhetorically modest would be a good thing, sure, but for the moment, little more than that. […]
Prudence, patience and planning are whats needed now. Thats what has worked for the Republican grassroots: ever since Barry Goldwaters defeat, theyve been organizing steadily, laying down deep connections with actually existing communities, thinking about what kinds of rhetoric carries water in the public sphere, and disciplining or ignoring errant nutcases and fringe elements. If you want to exact a price for this war, led in the way that it has been, youre going to have to be similarly focused.