Out Now or Out Some Day
Stan Goff vs. Tom Hayden
Earlier we posted on the Labor Standard web site a link to Stan Goff’s article “Joint Demo, Sheehan, MoveOn, Hayden.” Democrat party politician Tom Hayden sent a reply to Stan Goff, who posted it on his web site among the comments to his original article (as the 34th comment) and gave this hard-hitting reply to Hayden. For the original, click here.
I just received an email from Tom Hayden. Here is his letter, and my reply:
Stan, I thought you might support this proposal, or at least understand it. The proposal is offered as a way to implement the meaning of “out now” in a way that will draw more support. It’s not offered as an alternative to the agenda of the movement, but a complement.
You say we don’t need an exit strategy, that our military commanders can order it done in thirty days. And you call my suggestion unrealistic. Have you tried your argument on the undecided public?
Look, I used to say we made up a lie to invade so we can make up a lie to withdraw. I found the listeners wanted a little more substance.
I am not arguing that we should
rely on the Democratic Party. I am arguing that we should become a complicating
factor for hawks in congressional districts, and that we need a vocal peace
faction in Congress. Why are thousands of people descending on
My strategy is people power
against the pillars of the policy: undercut Bush in public opinion, funding,
troop recruitment, alliances, etc. The work is carried out at the grass roots
level, as the protests in
The tone of your article concerns me most. It is full of rage. We shouldn’t be turning on each other. I support and admire what you’ve written before, and the work you do. I hope you will take another look at the proposal.
I appreciate you writing on this, but my argument still stands. I appreciate you laudatory remarks about me. I love to be loved, Tom. But I oppose you on this.
My anger is with the patronizing tone that you have taken toward us for our “unrealism.” I’ve seen this movie before. As for sounding this message out, I have received around 300 emails in the last two days on this, and all but about 4 of them were supportive. They aren’t mad at you. They are rightfully fed up with parliamentarianism…which as a student of history you know has never accomplished a single radical transformation until a mass movement has threatened to destabilze the whole shithouse.
My son just came back from his second hitch over there, and they are telling him he will go back again by January. So I might be attracted to the notion of some Congressional fix that will stop this one, now, and let everything return to normal, except for a couple of things.
First, normal is why we are
seeing a generation that includes my son being done to what I and others were
done to in
So it’s not rage you are hearing
when you psychologize my writing, Tom. It’s love. My own experience as part of
that last generation to get thrown into the charnel house of capital alomost
rendered me incapable of experiencing love…but circumstances offered me a
measure of redemption, and I intend to use it to my very last breath to fight
alongside millions of others for the utter destruction of this system, root and
branch. Stopping this predation and plunder in
And the reality is that this quick-fix you are advocating will not shorten the war itself. It will prolong it. It is, right this minute.
Tom, if you offer a plan that is
genuinely unilateral, I’m there. I’ll camp on David Price’s Congressional porch
until they drag me off in handcuffs to fight for it, and I’ll call you a
national hero. But this “plan” is no such thing. Neither you nor the Democrats
nor the whole
I agree we have to move politicians. Where we diverge is on the question of how. But that is a very big divergence and goes to the heart of where we want this movement to go. I do not believe in lobbying…at least not the lobbying that involves respectfully approaching elected officials and asking them to support this and that. This leaves the power relation between pols and proles exactly the same. But when we are leveraging their inseucurity and making demands, and they are FORCED by the situation WE create to move, then that relation has changed. This is Direct Action Organizing 101.
Every time one of these elected
officials (or you) comes back with one of these dithering proposals that says
we will leave when this or that condition prevails (over which “we” have no
control), we (the “we” in which I include myself) are going to chant the same
naive-by-your-account mantra…NOW. Leave NOW. Your proposal says we have to
create certain conditions in
Now for some
realism of my own. Mass times velocity equals
momentum. There was a point not that long ago when over 90% of the American
public had been stampeded by the lies of our ruling class into supporting the
notion that we had to attack
So if the momentum is heading to the left (the NOW position), why in the world would we choose this particular moment to introduce a more equivocal position to become a new point of reference? Your proposal does NOT draw more support to the “out now” position. First, and this is no mere technicality, your proposal is not an “out now” position. Second, we are already drawing more support every day…as the polls show. Your proposal only draws more support from one quarter. Nervous Democratic Party officials. And why—when Congress is reacting on its own to catch up with this momentum—would we try to turn the initiative over to them now by diverting an increasingly militant and mobilized antiwar movement into parliamentary horse-trading? I can only think of one reason. To blunt that momentum.
Here is my love-and-rage response: Fuck that!
I have no idea how this war will end, and I have no doubt that the actual end will be overdetermined in bafflingly complex ways. But I am an activist in the Bring Them Home Now! campaign, and you know what? When we were plodding along, beating our brains out to push this campaign along on pennies, duct tape, and baling wire, building MFSO and VFP, and midwifing GSFP and IVAW, Moveon and their ilk found us to be anathema. But we stuck to our position, through a lot of struggle with people who are articulating the same thing you are now—which is NOT an “out now” position—and our patient persuasion along with the breakdown of the cover-story and the dreadful progress of the war started people moving our way. They just needed someone to catalyze them, then Cindy encamped in Crawford, the media reacted, and suddenly they, you, and everyone else shows up with a bunch of NGO-whiteboy “strategies” (and most dangerous of all, money) to instruct us all in the virtues of parliamentary pluralism.
And it will work, Tom, and
that’s the most fucked-up thing about it. These appeals will take advantage of
people’s undying hopefulness about a mythical “
I don’t have the power to stop that. The only power I have right now is to name it. So I am.
Yours for a new future,
Comment by Stan —