A question: is it possible that the extreme threat posed by the Bushites, the realistic possibility of endless war for control of Middle East oil and escalating political repression at home using the threat of terrorist attack as the excuse for it, could lead to a qualitatively and quantitatively higher level of unity on the part of those organizations genuinely committed to the struggle for justice, democracy and peace?
I think so. I believe it is possible. I believe this based upon my work over the past several years helping to build unity among groups that don’t ordinarily work with each other. I believe it based upon what I perceive as a maturing and a deepening process that has taken place with many grassroots and progressive organizations. I believe it based upon the success of the difficult unity-building process that culminated in a unified demonstration of 80,000 people in Washington, D.C. this past April 20th. And I believe it based upon the massive and mushrooming opposition to the Bushite’s war plans against Iraq which, as this is being written, show signs of actually pushing them back and forestalling their dangerous plans, at least for now.
We can’t sell ourselves short! We are having an impact all over the country. But we can have a much bigger impact if we find the ways to form an umbrella united force, a broad front against war and repression, that can magnify and multiply our efforts in powerful ways.
What are some of the minimum prerequisites for such a united force to come into being, stay together and become all that it can be, all that it needs to be at this historic moment?
-It must be politically and organizationally independent of both the Democratic and Republican parties. This doesn’t mean it would be solely composed of people outside those two parties, people committed to the Greens, the Labor Party or some other “third party.” To have the breadth and therefore the power needed, it would have to involve not just independents but also some Democrats and maybe even grassroots Republicans. But it must in no way be influenced or controlled by either of the two corporate-dominated parties.
-It must be committed to finding ways that many of its members can join together in concrete political activity. It must be an activist grouping. It can’t be just a place for discussions and communication, as important as those are.
-There must be a healthy internal process, one which upholds the principles of inclusiveness and democracy and establishes procedures and processes which ensure that it functions consistent with those principles. It is essential that there be significant leadership from people of color, women, young people and lgbt people, within a reality of being a predominantly working-class political formation, broadly defined, and an explicit commitment to dealing with issues of racism, sexism, heterosexism and ageism.
Such a united force, a national activist network for justice, democracy and peace, could play several roles:
-It can publicize and help build support for major initiatives undertaken by its member organizations. A process would have to be worked out to determine how such decisions would be democratically arrived at and the different ways in which support would be given.
-It can come up with initiatives that it would undertake itself. For example, it could take the lead on organizing major national demonstrations against the government’s war plans or on other issues, or unfold multi-faceted campaigns that utilize a variety of different tactics. Indeed, one important role of this people’s network would be to provide an arena for open and democratic debate over the soundness of various strategies and tactics as we attempt to build a grassroots-based, multi-racial, popular movement.
-Finally, it can be a place where coordination is furthered looking toward the national political year of 2004. This will be a critical year. There will be many hundreds, perhaps a thousand or so, Green Party and other progressive independents running for office, including a Green Party and possibly other independent Presidential candidates. As of right now two progressives, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton, are actively exploring possible Democratic Party primary challenges. There will without question be action in the streets. If we can find the ways of connecting these efforts, minimizing tactical differences and striving for unity on the major issues, 2004 could be a big year for us.
It has to be. The times are too serious for us to accept anything less than a committed effort on our part to get it together this time, and to keep it together. Bush/Cheney and Co. are deadly, bloodily serious about their plans for war and repression. We must respond accordingly.