imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Dangerous Logic of Blocking Protests in the Name of Electing Democrats

by Sunsara Taylor Sunday, Aug. 03, 2008 at 3:41 PM

At a time when the tens of millions of people who have the potential strength to stop this war are being pacified and corralled into a dead-end, what meaning does it have to call oneself “anti-war” if you are not protesting outside the convention? Anyone serious about stopping this whole direction of unjust war, torture and fascist repression should be in the streets.

download PDF (246.5 kibibytes)

The Dangerous Logic of Blocking Protests in the Name of Electing Obama

by Sunsara Taylor

Millions believe Barack Obama is the anti-war/anti-Bush candidate. In reality, Obama is proving to be the candidate most effective at getting all-too-many “leaders” of the anti-war movement to shut up and even urge others to go along with wars for empire.

In the name of getting Obama elected, the anti-war movement is being demobilized, and firm opposition to the so-called “war on terror” is being silenced.

In May, Chicago anti-war activists brought Scott Ritter, John Mearsheimer, Stephen Kinzer, and Doug Cassel to speak at a town hall style City Council meeting and everyone expected the City Council to pass a resolution against an attack on Iran the next day. But before this could happen, Mayor Daley objected, saying, “Passing a resolution like that puts a lot of burden upon [Obama’s] candidacy and injects something that should not be injected” into the presidential campaign. Since then, the resolution has been sidelined by City Council aldermen and some of the activists who claim to personally support the bill but have accepted Daley’s logic.

And now, as the Democratic National Convention approaches at the end of August in Denver, people like Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice are working to pour cold water on attempts to bring forward meaningful political protest. Recently she suggested that the anti-war movement just “drop the idea of a big march on Sunday, August 24th” and has insisted that “while there is plenty to be critical about in terms of the Democratic Party leadership we would NOT want [people] to see this as an anti-Democratic Party protest.”

But is it true that toning down anti-war criticism and protest in order to elect Democrats can lead to good results?


It is worth it to recall how a similar logic played out in 2006.

In October of 2006, just weeks before the mid-term election, the Democrats joined Republicans in Congress to pass Bush’s Military Commissions Act. Even though this bill shredded habeas corpus and legalized torture, many “progressives” excused the Democrats, arguing they had to go along in order not to appear “weak on terror” and thereby lose the elections. At the same time, there was a growing movement for impeachment based on iron-clad evidence of the Bush regime’s illegal wire-tapping and the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Iraq. Still, when Nancy Pelosi—and not long after, John Conyers—insisted that impeachment was “off the table” many anti-war leaders curbed their criticisms. Again, the argument was made that such “compromises” were necessary in order to get the Democrats elected.

Remember how jubilant people across the country felt when the Democrats did win? Then, remember how, once they had more “reasonable” people in Congress these “anti-war leaders” pulled out all the stops—calling nation-wide walk-outs, street protests, and major town hall meetings—to apply their much-touted “pressure”? And how after that, how the Democrats immediately cut the funding for the occupation of Iraq and started shipping the troops home, while at the same time they opened investigations and tried for war crimes the high-ranking officials who had LIED to launch that war?

Oh wait. That’s not how it went down. As soon as the election results were in, Nancy Pelosi began reinterpreting what people had voted for. Over and over she repeated the lie that, “The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington D.C.”

And then the new Democratically-controlled Congress, including Obama, approved every single Iraq war spending bill. This “more willing to listen” Democratically-controlled Congress, including Obama, legalized Bush’s warrantless wire-tapping. This Democratically-controlled Congress secretly granted Bush approval to conduct Special Operations—including the use of deadly force—within Iran’s sovereign borders.

All along the way, these “anti-war leaders” weren’t calling people into the streets to apply their oh-so-promised “pressure.” Instead, they’ve been busy doing their part to keep people’s energies focused on the longest-ever presidential race. Outrage after outrage, they push building real opposition into the never-never future, rendering people passive and accepting as torture and war crimes are furthered.

Instead of “moving the Democrats to the left” this strategy resulted in moving the anti-war movement to increasingly accept the monstrous “politics of the possible” and—despite a growing anti-war sentiment in the country—become less and less visible and less and less effective. You couldn’t get a more vivid demonstration of what Bob Avakian was cautioning against when he wrote, “If you fall into the orientation of trying to make the Democrats be what they are not, and never will be, you will end up becoming more like what the Democrats actually are.”


Why is this so? Most fundamentally it is because the essence of this country is not democracy, but capitalist dictatorship. Political power is monopolized by a ruling class of capitalists that sits at the top of a whole global network of exploitation and plunder. It is this class that controls the armies and sends them to carry out wars for resources and geo-strategic advantage against rivals. It is this class that controls the elections and it is this class that the major political parties—both the Democrats and the Republicans—are representatives of. When those parties differ, sometimes quite sharply, it is over how to pursue the interests of their system in a high stakes and increasingly volatile world.

This is the case with Obama’s criticisms of the Iraq war, of the Bush presidency, and of his opponent, John McCain. From his very first “anti-war” speech until today, Obama has made clear that his objections to the Iraq war flow from his belief that it has weakened the military, economic, and political strength of the U.S. And he wants to withdraw some troops from Iraq in order to escalate the war on Afghanistan. Meanwhile, he promises his willingness to act forcefully—including potentially using nuclear weapons—against Iran and that he is willing to launch military operations inside Pakistan. None of these positions are crafted in order to reflect the interests of the majority. They are part of his attempt to convince the ruling class that he would be the bestcommander-in-chief for American imperialist interests.

The ruling class uses elections not as a means through which basic decisions are made, but primarily for the purpose of legitimizing their system and their politics and their decisions. Then, the elections allow whoever wins to claim a “popular mandate.” But remember 2006, and note this lesson well: they will tell you what your vote, and their supposed mandate, means. And just as we saw in ’06, and as we are seeing repeated now with Obama, elections are a way this system and its representatives channel and confine the political activity of the people into a meaningless dead-end.

To bring about the kind of change humanity needs, people have to step outside of—and in opposition to—the whole framework of official politics in this country. Most fundamentally this means making revolution—getting beyond a system that is rooted in the most brutal and degrading forms of oppression, reactionary violence, and exploitation here and all over the world and throughout its history, and completely breaking free of the terms and elections that this system uses as part of how it governs.

Movement “leaders” not only fall into this election trap—cycle after cycle—they lead others into it, and they try to silence those who do try to mount actual protest. Whatever they may personally believe or understand, these forces portray the Bush crimes as a betrayal of American ideals rather than an extension—albeit an extreme, and in many ways unprecedented, extension—of what this country has always been about, founded as it was in slavery and genocide, and soaked in the blood of people from Latin America to South Africa butchered by repressive regimes backed by the U.S. Flowing from their desire to “perfect”—not overthrow or even disrupt—the system of American democracy, they repeatedly act to cool out anything that would step outside official channels.


But there are also others—who do see something rotten at the core of the United States system, and yet still insist that even revolutionaries must support Obama. In a recent email exchange one such friend of mine insisted that he “agreed [that] Obama is part of the system. And, I agree, we need revolution. But unless that is around the corner—we have to be realistic and support Obama.”

This is also wrong.

No one can promise that a revolutionary situation is around the corner. But what can be said with certainty is that very often in history revolutionary openings have emerged all of sudden and seemingly out of nowhere. Such openings mainly come about owing fundamentally to the nature and working of the system itself—to the ways in which the underlying social and political “faultlines” can suddenly split open. But what revolutionaries do in the whole period leading up to that has a lot to do how the situation does present itself. And if revolutionaries are not working every day towards—and measuring everything they do up against—hastening the emergence of a revolutionary situation and bringing about a revolutionary people . . . if they are not “preparing minds and organizing forces” for just such a rare opening. . . then they won’t even be able to recognize, let alone seize on, a revolutionary situation when it does arise.

Revolution is not just an idea to “believe in” in the abstract and then put aside as we putter around in the world as it is. It must be actively striven for through a whole ensemble of revolutionary activity—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution. A key aspect of this is confronting—and telling others the truth about, not covering over—the true nature of bourgeois elections as a vehicle for exercising and obscuring bourgeois dictatorship and that what humanity really needs is communist revolution and a whole different system. And this also means building massive political resistance to the main ways in which, at any given time, the exploitative and oppressive nature of this system gets focused up in policies and actions of the ruling class and its agencies. Right now this includes coming out at the Democratic National Convention and demonstrating against the wars, the repression, and the other key elements of the agenda that need to be opposed, and defeated.

You see, it is NOT the case that short of revolution—or that for those who don’t agree with the need for or desirability of revolution—there is nothing we can do but accept the “lesser of two evils.” The choice we face is not really between Obama and McCain. Our choice is between accepting the ruling class spectrum of Obama to McCain as the limits of what is possible—or—rejecting this whole framework and instead waging meaningful mass political resistance to the whole fascist direction they are dragging things in.

When people did break loose in massive political protest in 2002 and 2003 in the run up to the Iraq war, it mattered. It gave the whole world hope in the knowledge that the people of this country opposed what their government was doing and were acting to stop it. These protests, which were then joined by millions of people across the globe, stripped Bush of legitimacy as he launched that war anyway. Then, as the war began to go badly, the challenge that had been put before people by those protests continued to influence the thinking of people broadly as more and more turned against the war and the President.

Who would even know, to the extent that people do, about the war crimes and torture carried out in this war, if it weren’t for acts of courage and defiance of the people? It was not the Democrats, but the anti-war soldiers and veterans who stepped forward to expose the war crimes in Iraq. It was not the elected officials making compromises in order to get elected, but the officials who answered their consciences and forfeited careers who blew the whistle on torture. It was not by campaigning, but by sitting down and refusing to be moved, that the parents who lost children in this illegal war captured the hearts of and moved millions.

Since the time of those world record size protests, the outrage and disgust at the Bush program and its wars has only grown deeper and more widespread. But now, what will become of this outrage? Allowing it, or helping it, to be channeled into supporting Obama when he is busy telling you he wants to better prosecute America’s wars is the most unrealistic idea there is!

Yes, millions will vote for Obama believing, or at least telling themselves, that he will bring the change they want to see. But as the policies of a murderous empire advance, in one form or another under the next administration (assuming the Bush cabal allows the elections to go forward), will these people be demoralized and demobilized, or will they become radicalized and energized?

The answer to that question has a LOT to do with what the anti-war movement does now. Whether we tone the message down so, as Leslie Cagan put it, it’s not seen “as an anti-Democratic Party protest,” and we don’t offend the delegates—or plant a pole of real opposition right up against the misplaced hopes that will be projected onto the Democratic National Convention?

At a time when the tens of millions of people who have the potential strength to stop this war are being pacified and corralled into a dead-end, what meaning does it have to call oneself “anti-war” if you are not protesting outside the convention? Anyone serious about stopping this whole direction of unjust war, torture and fascist repression should be in the streets.

Report this post as:

Local News


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy