- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Todd Chretien
Thursday, Aug. 10, 2000 at 1:12 PM
email@example.com 510-595-7675 433 37th Street Oakland, CA 94609
Debate over movement tactics: Masses or Clashes
HOW TO BEAT CORPORATE POWER
After reading dozens of post Philadelphia emails posted to the D2K lists and talking to activists who were in Philadelphia, one this is clear: The Kensington Welfare Rights March was the most successful direct action of the whole week.
Why? It was multi-racial. It involved working class Philadelphian families. The march strengthened the fight against the central pillar of the GoreBush attack on workers: "welfare reform." The size of the march (around 3,000), and the unions' determination to defy the police ban on their rights to assemble, forced the cops to back down and retreat. In many ways, it was a model of where our movement needs to go.
NOT BY SEATTLE ALONE
Other recent successful direct actions: this spring, 12,000 janitors in LA blockaded buildings and streets during their victorious strike; 5,000 protestors trespassed on military property at the School of the Americas in Georgia last November; 50,000 Black and white people marched in South Carolina to successfully demand the Confederate Flag be removed from the roof of the capitol building this spring. It goes without saying that the mass direct actions in Seattle and DC also proved very effective, although in different ways (Seattle shut down the WTO conference, DC did not shut down the IMF, but did bring attention to it).
SIZE DOES MATTER: OK TO START SMALL, BUT GROW!
My point is NOT to counterpose smaller direct actions to bigger ones. Or to say that you can't do anything unless you've got thousands of people. I've been arrested a dozen times, at actions involving from 10 to 1,000 people. Rather, we should see direct action as a tactic and not a principle. Our guiding principle in all tactical questions should be: will a particular tactic build the movement broader, involve more workers and students, make it more multi-racial? OR will it limit those who can participate to a small hard-core.
Sometimes a small direct action can start a mass movement: In Greensboro, N.C. in Februrary, 1960, four Black students began the lunch counter sit-ins to desegregate the South - thousands rushed to join them in the next few months. Correct tactic.
Last spring, USAS students held small sit-ins at a half dozen schools - since then, millions have learned about sweatshops and UNITE (the garmant workers union) and the Steelworkers Union have built an alliance with students for the first time in decades. Correct tactic.
A minority of activists (including, but not encompassing all) anarchists, decide to trash parts of Philadelphia in order to confront the police state. Incorrect tactic.
WHY? What was the point? If it was to tie up Philly, then they should have gone to th transit unions and learned how they struck two years ago and shut down ALL the trains, buses and subways in Philly. If it was to defeat the police, well, honestly the police easily won the street war (how many cops are in jail?). If it was to "galvanize the masses into action," then "trashing" merely gave the police and politicians a means to intimidate the hundreds of thousands of workers and poor in Philadelphia who sympathized with the Kensington Welfare Rights March.
CONFRONTING THE POLICE
I am all for confronting the police in certain situations. When thousands of Black and white dockers in South Carolina fought hand to hand with state troopers to stop the unloading of a scab ship 6 months ago, they were right to do it. When UPS workers stood their ground in Massachussetts in 1997 against police attacks, they were right to do it. When hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest the Rodney King beating in 1992, they were right to do it. When thousands of peaceful protestors in Seattle and DC braved pepper spray, plastic bullets and beatings to keep control of the streets, they were right to do it. When the Kensington Welfare Rights Union defied the police and marched into the streets to protest welfare reform they were right to do it.
What unites all these situations? In each situation, confronting the police was a tactical necessity to achieve the goals decided upon by the people in action. Confrontation with the cops was not the goal, or a tactic which would somehow inspire others to join in. Rather, it was necessary to win.
COPS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR VIOLENCE
It goes without saying that the police are the real source of violence. The symbolic acts of property destruction employed by a handful of anarchists are a protest (even if ineffective) against the tremendous brutality of the police and the system. The cops are the criminals. We should all demand the unconditional release of protestors ("violent" or not) from Philadelphia's jails, especially the dropping of the outrageous charges against Ruckus and ActUp leaders.
AVERAGE AMERICANS: PART OF THE PROBLEM OR REBELS WITH A CAUSE
Our movement is not isolated. Behind the tens of thousands who've participated so far in Seattle, DC, Philly and (soon to be) LA, stand tens of millions of American workers, students and poor. We should not sell ourselves or those millions short. Tens of thousands (no matter how militant they are) have no chance at all to beat corporate power. There are a million cops in the US today. Our only chance is to organize MILLIONS. Tens of Millions. Millions to protest, millions to strike, millions to win.
How will we get millions in our movement?
*45 million without health care.
*2 million in prison - 50% people of color (50 million with a close relative in prison).
*UNIONS have 16 million members
*Public education collapsing = one million teachers, several million high school students
*Public universities under attack = 10 million college students
*If only 5% vote for Nader, that's 3 or 4 MILLOIN potential activists
Our movement does not lack an audience. We must set our goals higher. We must organize millions in unions, nieghborhoods, in schools. OR we will lose.
WHY THE WORKING CLASS?
80% of people in the U.S. are workers (steelworkers, teachers, temps, truckers, nurses, hotel workers, etc). Overwhelmingly students become workers after they graduate (or don't graduate). So, we're the large majority.
BUT MORE. Since capitalism relies on us to do all the work, we have tremendous power to shut it down. By far the most effective direct actions are strikes. They can shut down GM, the transporation system, schools, factories, trade, etc. As the great German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg used to say, "Where the chains of capitalism are forged, there they must be broken." This not to say that other direct actions or marches or protests can't be effective. Clearly they can - look at the gains that have been made since Seattle! But if our movement doesn't get to the point where workers are taking the corporations down from the inside, we simply won't have the power to win.
Our movement has the chance to do what did not happen in the 1960's: weld together the fight for racial justice, sexual equality, enviromental justice and workers rights into one giant battle to transform the system from one based on profit (capitalism) to one based on human need (socialism). If this isn't our goal, then we don't even have a chance to win it. And if it is our goal, then we need to raise our sights and understand that our goal in LA is NOT to prove that WE are the movement. Rather it is to show the MILLIONS of working class Los Angelenos that THEY are the future. Everything we do should be geared towards that.
Ralph Nader's run for president will bring millions into politics and give them a way to express their hatred of corporate power. His campaign will explode after Labor Day. My guess is that a majority of the protestors in LA will vote for him in November. His campaign will not detract from our struggle, but will give it a huge new potential audience. During the RNC, Nader spoke at a health care march and even snuck into the Republican Convention to denounce them from the floor (before being thrown out). As of now, he is not scheduled to appear in LA during the DNC, we should make it known that he would be welcome.
HUMAN NEED, NOT CORPORATE GREED
The mass march on Monday August 14 will be a great success. Thousands will show the Democrats that we mean business (pardon the pun). It will be a tremendous display of unity and determination. There are also important direct actions planned throughout the week, like a youth march, protests against sweatshops and prisons and a march to defend the U'WA. (check out www.d2kla.org for details)
We also have a huge opportunity to create closer unity between street activists and the labor movement. Hotel workers are protesting Sunday afternoon at 4pm in Santa Monica at a hotel owned by a Gore supporter. We should go to support them. Then on Tuesday at 4pm teachers and public employees will be marching to demand decent contracts. These protests will undoubtedly be the most multi-racial of the week and involve the most people from LA itself.
Our movement's correct tactic is to get out and support these local workers with everything we've got. Their struggle is our struggle. Together we are the future.
International Socialist Organization
Report this post as:
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
||Friday, Aug. 11, 2000 at 9:31 AM
More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke
Change Links 2018 July posted
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California
Change Links June 2018 posted
The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years
Unity Archive Project
Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi
CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police
Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies
California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings)
Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico
Change Links May 2018
Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
More Local News...
“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen, Saturday, October 6th
Illegal Russians Invited to West Bank at Invitation of Israeli Government Outside jewish
Nous sommes le système
Prosecuted: Have you had an experience that changed your opinion of the justice system?
Big Brother chez vous, Big Brother partout
Change Links August 2018
Vietnam Labor Watch Tackles Outside and Inside Exploitation of Nation's workforce
What it means to be an artist
Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land
Video: Lawrence Tribe: To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment," 59 min
Génétique de l'environnement
Video: Thomas Frank: Rendezvous with Oblivion, 58 min
Philippines – Duterte 2 Years on: Destructive, Divisive, and Despotic
Anarchie et anarchisme
July 2018 Honduras Coup update
The iranian Backed Militia Hezbollah Bombs Communty Center in Argentina July 1995 85 Dead
The Shortwave Report 08/10/136/18 Listen Globally!
Paraphysique du taulard
Pantarchy: Voluntary State and a New Catholic Church: Stephen Pearl Andrews
Against Market Radicalism
Négoce du vol organisé
Paraphysique de la litote
Kudzu Root grows in many US states has anti alcoholism help
Syrian People Suffe after years of Russian Air Bombings and Attacks by the Syrian Army2018
Over 20 State Attorneys General Call for Shell Company Transparency
Paraphysique d'ostracisme, du ça va, d'aparté
More Breaking News...