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Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003 at 5:33 AM
We can and should do bette than ANSWER!
5 Reasons ANSWER is not the answer
The military aggression of the United States Government has led to a resurgence of street protests and anti-imperialist action. In the United States, diverse organizations have mobilized to oppose global rule, whether corporate or military. Unfortunately, International ANSWER has acted to ensure that it monopolizes the planning of national anti-war demonstrations. We should not allow our feelings of urgency let ANSWER dictate the course of the current anti-war movement. While WE do most of the hard work of getting people in the streets, THEY take all the credit. This declaration does not seek to create an alternative anti-war movement, but to create an anti-war movement that is strengthened at the roots by including diverse voices in a PUBLIC decision making process.
1. Lack of Participation- In the last year ANSWER has capitalized off the need to fashion an immediate response to George W. Bush's cowboy militarism by positioning itself as the sole decision maker. While this has shown to be shrewd organizing on their part, it betrays a strong belief in top down decision making by a small group. Instead of mimicking a coalition by seeking a large number of signatories to legitimize their effort, ANSWER should accept the fact that a dynamic and thoughtful anti-war movement will only come from wide ranging participation in the decision making process. ANSWER must give up its monopoly over the decision making process and open meetings up to all of the diverse groups involved in building a strong anti-war movement.
2. Lack of Creativity- While keeping eager and excited protesters at a rally to hear umpteenth speakers may give ANSWER ample opportunities to hit us up for money, it does little to ensure a positive protest experience. Many frustrated activists have tried to inject satire, camp and civil disobedience to these actions. Their actions are welcome to bored protesters, but not sufficient. While protests need to respect the safety of all involved, they also need to do more than herd folks from point A to point B. Also, who needs slogans shouted at them? Don't we already know why we're there? Monotony and sloganeering are not successful organizing strategies. No more sound trucks, no more bullhorns!
3. Destructive Past Practice- Over the years, ANSWER has alienated numerous social groups because of their overly aggressive and selfish organizing activity, including acts of physical intimidation and misinformation. ANSWER should understand that it exists to further social justice, not its own ends. Although WE do the majority of the organizing by renting buses, writing articles, planning teach-ins, posting flyers and braving arrest, ANSWER takes all the credit. Just look at all the posts that defend ANSWER by saying that they get tens of thousand to protest. WE are the tens of thousands, and WE do this out of OUR OPPOSITION, not because ANSWER tells us!
4. Alienating Policy Positions- For some reason ANSWER adheres to the old adage that "the enemy of my enemy if my friend." This makes for an over-simplicity which is neither necessary nor effective. Combating US imperialism does not require defending odious figures like Saddam Hussein, or characterizing North Korea as a "people's paradise." Clearly, these dictators are ideologically diverse, and so repudiation of ANSWER for actively supporting them is not red baiting. While every coalition will have and should respect differences of opinion, no movement for social justice can abide the enshrinement of despotism here or abroad.
5. We Can Do Better- There are already other coalitions which are ready to create an anti-war movement that is committed to the principles of participatory decision making and organization. The various organizations which form the coalition supporting www.unitedforpeace.org represent both diversity and cooperation. Below is a list of the various groups involved in this group that stands as a viable alternative to ANSWER. Some organizers worry that such a shift will take away from this brilliant and growing movement, it won't. As we grow, we must know when to shed our skin! The time to do away with the monopoly of ANSWER is now and the way is easy. However, the fact that no single group should have sole decision making authority means that ANSWER would participate in future coalitions as well.
Remember our purpose, continue to struggle against War and injustice! See you on the streets!
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