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<p>Bringing about progressive social change requires more than voting for Kerry.</p>
Concerning the 2004 presidential election, enough ink has been spilled to drown an elephant. From MoveON to RockTheVote to PunkVoter to thousands of voter registration drives, we have been deluged with such messages as "your vote counts," "voting is the most important right you have," and the ubiquitous "anybody but Bush."
A few days ago I received an email. "For people seeking progressive social change in the United States," it read, "removing George W. Bush from office should be the top priority." The message, which urged people to vote for Kerry in swing states, was signed by a number of high-profile individuals who were once part of the "Nader 2000 Citizens Committee." I was puzzled to see Chomsky's name on that list.
Even more surprising than Chomsky's recommendation that I should vote for Kerry is that the statement he signed omitted any explanation of why defeating Bush should be the "top priority" for progressives.
Perhaps Chomsky thought the argument would be obvious. Since he assumed office, George Bush has wrought huge devastation to people, democracy and the planet. Kerry, if elected, and flawed though he may be, would cause less harm than another four years of Bush (or so the story goes). We currently live in a two party system in which only a Democrat could defeat Bush. After Kerry is elected, then progressives can go back to work on changing the system.
Alas, that argument begs several important questions. Is Kerry the lesser of two evils? How does voting for Kerry—whatever his politics—advance progressive social change? How might voting be part of a larger progressive strategy?
There's no doubt that Bush is a monster. But while Kerry may be marginally better than Bush in regards to the "culture war" and worker's rights, they have nearly identical views on foreign policy and many domestic issues.
Militarism/War on Terror. A Kerry fact sheet lays out his plan to further militarize the U.S., perhaps even more than Bush would do. He wants to expand the U.S. armed forces by adding 40,000 troops to active duty, double the U.S. special forces capability, increase funding for high-tech weaponry (including "directed energy weapons"), and make "homeland security the primary mission of the national guard." Kerry says "bring the troops home" but in reality he wants to send more troops to Iraq by re-building a coalition of occupying forces. While Bush's cowboy diplomacy has undermined American power abroad, Kerry would attempt consolidate world support behind US imperialism through the UN, NATO, and the WTO. Hence, it would be easier for Kerry to not only continue the occupation of Iraq but to fight new wars as well. Indeed, Kerry has said, "I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in the war on terror. I believe he's done too little." and "Every nation has the right to act preemptively if it faces an imminent and grave threat."
Corporate Globalization. Kerry supported NAFTA. He supports the WTO, World Bank and IMF. It is true that Kerry made some concessions to the AFL-CIO with his proposed "Buy American" guidelines for defense and homeland security, tax credits to businesses that create jobs in the U.S., as well as his promise that new treaties (FTAA and CAFTA) will include environmental and labor standards. But that won't wash with Kerry's top campaign financiers, many of which are the same as Bush's—Bank of America, Time Warner, CitiGroup, Goldman Sachs, to name a few. He has also received more contributions from lobbyists than any other senator in the last 15 years. (Yet Kerry, whose family is worth $747 million, could be the third richest president ever. His colonial estate in Fox Chapel, worth $3.7 million, is the least valued of his five different homes.) In the end, Kerry, the consummate multilateralist, wants to keep the existing trade deals in place and use the WTO, etc., to enforce those agreements to the benefit the corporations that get him elected.
So, contra Chomsky, and as Gabriel Kolko (Another Century of War?) argues, Bush's reelection may actually be a lesser evil because he is more likely to continue the destruction of the "alliance system" on which American power and global capitalism ultimately depends.
Israel. Kerry is one of Sharon's greatest supporters, perhaps more so than Bush. He endorsed the assassination of Hamas leader Rantissi. He backs Israel's construction of a 425-mile-long Apartheid wall separating Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to Kerry's own website, he "has built a record of support for Israel in the US Senate that is second to none." Palestinians would have little cause for celebration with Kerry as President.
Cuba Embargo, Plan Colombia, Venezuela. Kerry supports the Cuba embargo and taking a hard line against Castro. Kerry voted for the 1996 Helms-Burton bill that tightened sanctions. Little change would be likely in the war on drugs in a Kerry administration, because Bush has essentially adopted the Kerry's Plan Colombia. (In addition to providing military and economic aid to fight leftist guerrillas, the plan has stationed in Colombia numerous U.S. military advisers and special forces troops along with hundreds of employees of U.S. private military firms.) Kerry exceeded Bush in his bashing of Venezuela's progressive president, Hugo Chavez, when he charged the latter with subverting democratic institutions, "allowing Venezuela to become a haven for narco-terrorists" and supporting guerrillas in Colombia.
USA PATRIOT Act. Kerry is not so far from Bush in his views on the Patriot Act. Although the DNC platform calls for the elimination of certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act (e.g., the data collection of library data—which, in fact, was never really enforced by the Bush/Ashcroft administration), it leaves many of the Act's contents intact as well as the dangerous affronts to civil liberties contained in the Homeland Security Act, the Intelligence Gathering Act, and numerous executive orders. And at the Democratic National Convention, Kerry remained silent as the Boston police and Homeland Security criminalized dissent with subway searches, massive surveillance and the construction of protest pit laced with razorwire.
Environment. Kerry has withdrawn his support Kyoto agreement. He claims he wants to protect the environment because he's opposed to drilling for oil at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But he favors continuing and expanding drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, where even a small oil spill could cause massive environmental impacts, much more so than in Alaska. Moreover, he's promised teamster president Jimmy Hoffa that he will support drilling all over the United States.
Health Care. Kerry might parrot the phrase "universal health care" in his speeches—but the fact remains that he does not support a single-payer system in which health care would be universally accessible to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. In fact, Kerry supports only a few minor reforms to the U.S. health care system (e.g., by offering government subsidies to the insurance industry in the case of catastrophic illness, offering tax credits to small businesses, etc.). His plan leaves intact the existing medical industrial complex: under Kerry's leadership, the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry would continue to reap huge profits at the expense of human suffering and millions would continue to fall through the cracks. In addition, under Kerry, who supports the Doha Agreement and the WTO's genocidal AIDS policies, people living with AIDS would fare no better.
Death Penalty. It is true that Kerry opposes the death penalty in most cases. But he supports the death penalty in certain federal cases (e.g., "terrorists") and says that in the end it's up to the states to decide. He also voted for the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which makes it harder for individuals on death row to appeal their cases.
Same-Sex Marriage. Kerry opposes legalizing same-sex marriage. In March, he endorsed an amendment to the Massachusetts state Constitution banning same-sex marriages (even though though he voted against Bush's similar Federal amendment). He might support civil unions—but without "equal" access to state-sanctioned marriage, many gay men and lesbians feel that Kerry treats them as second class citizens (of course, some queers, myself included, think that the quest for "marriage equality" is misguided, but the point is that Kerry isn't entirely homo-friendly).
The Prison Industrial Complex. Kerry vows to put 100,000 cops on the streets and fund the "coordinated regional effort at cracking down on drug trafficking." That, combined with Kerry's support for the Welfare Reform Act and his opposition to a living wage, means a young black man will face a far better chance of getting locked up than of getting a job under a Kerry administration.
Whoever you regard as lesser of the two evils, there are other aspects of the anybody-but-Bush argument that progressives should find troubling. One is its explicitly utilitarian logic. To say that "removing Bush should be the top priority" without further elaboration leaves mysterious just what sort of compromises progressives should make in order to meet that goal.
If progressives are truly committed to making the defeat of Bush their top priority, it follows that—in addition to voting for Kerry—they should do nothing else that might jeopardize the outcome. So we ought not throw cold water on Kerry, either by educating folks about his similarity to Bush, outright protesting him, complaining that the U.S. electoral system is a sham, or anything else that might deter people from voting. A similar argument can be made (and has been) concerning the allocation of resources for progressive activities that take away from the Kerry campaign. For individuals to participate in "extra-curricular" stuff—grassroots organizing and public eduction—is actually more of a potential spoiler than not voting. That's because one person can potentially sway more than one voter but can herself only vote once.
Some might complain that nobody, and certainly not Chomsky, is arguing that progressives shouldn't challenge Kerry and the System before November 2. But one need only review the comments on the www.vote2stopbush.com petition—which contains the statement that Chomsky signed—to see that I'm not exaggerating. For example, Nettie Fowler from CA writes, "We (progressives) need to get off our high falutin' horses and present a unified front for Kerry. Doing anything else in this election is unconscionable." That's the attitude that led to, for example, a small showing of resistance at the DNC, the AFL-CIO's not getting behind the Million Worker March, as well as the scare allocation of resources for public education and grassroots organizing about the war on Iraq, the FTAA, or any one of a number of issues that concern progressives.
But let's flip this argument around: Voting is least efficient way to express political power. Progressives ought to recognize that if social changes are the desired goods, direct action gets it. Historical examples abound; here is a salient one. Four years of lobbying Senators with neck ties or voting for liberal candidates did nothing to combat AIDS profiteering, bureaucratic skulduggery and government indifference. Only when AIDS activists seized the FDA, stormed the NIH, interrupted trading on the NYSE and threw ashes of their loved ones on the White House lawn did AIDS policies begin to change. Even more direct and effective was when people living with AIDS began to smuggle potentially life-saving drugs from abroad or procure scattered-site housing for the homeless.
More than the re-election of GWB, the greater threat to progressive social change is progressives' myopic pre-occupation with the 2004 election. It masks questions we ought to be asking of Kerry and the Democrats, it reinvests people with a false sense that voting leads to real change, and it fails to take advantage of an opportunity to educate and organize.
Election 2004 is an unprecedented opportunity. Instead of pathologizing Bush, progressives could be pointing out the similarities between the two candidates and questioning why electoral politics is considered the defining feature of democracy. Instead of allocating millions of dollars and volunteer hours to voter registration, progressives could focus on building social movements that can change the system. Do we really wish to remain prisoners of a two-party, corporate-owned, duopoly? Our dreams cannot fit into their ballot boxes.
This article will appear in the October issue of TheNewPeople.
DAMN THIS IS GOOD!!!
by Ken Monday, Sep. 27, 2004 at 2:38 PM
I swear this is the BEST article I have read yet that reflects how i feel about this election and the state of our nation domestically and in relation to global politics.
Absolutely brilliant. I am sending this to as many people as I can and hope that anyone who is considering throwing away their vote to one of the corporate whores reads this first.
The Beyond Voting Campaign is calling for our election year debate to expand beyond Democrats versus Republicans to the larger issue of whether the U.S. will be a Democracy or an Empire. We will be helping communities mobilize from the ballot boxes on November 2nd to the streets on November 3rd with a national campaign of mass non-cooperation if Bush is elected, if the elections are canceled, or if there is overt election fraud again. No matter who wins, we will be uniting to open up a new political space to define democracy as grassroots and participatory.
A good expose on the current state of affairs and insightful comparisons between Bush and Kerry. However, the tired "progressive" whine of the way things ought to be is inadequate for the task at hand. Bush has lost all credibility in the international community. Only a Kerry presidency can heal the wounds the arrogant Bush delivered to our former allies. This must be accomplished to help solve the Iraq and the rest of the middle east quagmire.
by alex Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2004 at 8:43 AM
You’re response does not relate to the point of the original post or the questions it appropriately raises. I’m not apt to take seriously someone dismissing a tired progressive whine when they admit it’s a good piece, and the only rebut they is to say “Only a Kerry presidency can heal the wounds the arrogant Bush delivered to our former allies. This must be accomplished to help solve the Iraq and the rest of the middle east quagmire.”
Well then, given your statement. How much energy should we devote to getting rid of Bush, how much should the progressive community sacrifice, should we expect anything at all in return?
For instance I often hear dem’s “whine” about how even though the system isn’t perfect we need to be practical, “there’s too much at stake this election”, “you know, once the election is over then we can go about working towards those things we believe in” :now is the time to be practical”. I tell you what, I personally tired of that argument because it’s flawed and disingenuous. If the Democrats want to make that bargain with me then they sure as hell better be working for proportional representation or some other reform to the political system once elected, they aren’t though. So this political party actively works to ensure that my viewpoints can never be represented, that things stay a duopoly, and then every election comes to me saying I have to support them or I’ll be helping the other side. Sorry, I’m not falling for it anymore. If they want the support of progressives they need to say what they will do for us beyond not having Bush in office.
You want to come and talk to me about this election being important, Clinton killed millions in Iraq through sanctions, I don’t have time for the Dem’s sanctimonious platitudes about how I'm the devil helping Bush win right now, we need to build social movement capable of making change outside of the political parties. That’s how it’s worked throughout history, build a movement and the political parties will follow or perish.
No investigation, no right to speak
by John Lacny Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2004 at 4:30 PM
It is a grave disservice to progressive movements for someone at this late stage of the game to once again drone on about what people on the left already know -- that Kerry is not one of us -- while also minimizing or downplaying the far-reaching nature of Bush's agenda. And this, right when we're in the last stages of the political fight of our lives against the gangster regime.
What a revelation -- Kerry will not implement socialism tomorrow! Therefore we should just let Bush win! Better yet, fuck this election for president shit, I've decided that I'm running for Commissar of the Politburo in the Proletarian Dictatorship. Or maybe I'm not-running for Unappointed and Unaccountable De Facto Leader of the Consensus Process, or whatever pseudo-democratic fad in fashion with the ultra-left these days.
Give me a break and grow the fuck up!
It's a sign of cluelessness to make the claim that "To say that 'removing Bush should be the top priority' without further elaboration leaves mysterious just what sort of compromises progressives should make in order to meet that goal." As far as people on the left go, there should be no need to elaborate why Bush must go -- it should be all-too-obvious if you're paying any goddamn attention. 95% of progressives have figured this out -- in fact, I'd venture to say that 100% of progressives have, because if you're not committed to Bush's defeat, you cannot objectively be considered a progressive in this political climate. Sometimes history hands us a political "test," and there are always people who fail. Most progressives -- engaged as they are in talking to the broad masses of people, most of whom do not yet share the progressive faith as it were -- will not give the time of day to those who are effectively giving backhanded support to Bush at this late hour supposedly from the "left." They write off the Trotskyites, anarchists, and other ultralefts as crazies beyond all hope of redemption. Those of you who fit these categories should therefore consider yourselves lucky that you are dealing with me and not less-patient progressives. Since I am a nice guy, and since I still have it in my stubborn head that some of you (at least) out there in Indymedia-Land must be redeemable, let's go over a few examples of things you should know and care about if you've been paying attention, shall we? Consider me your remedial instructor.
(1) Militarism/War On Terror/Imperialism. I hardly need a refresher course in how imperialism is a system and not a policy choice, and there are even specific imperialist policies that enjoy a wide ruling-class consensus and are not capable of being undermined in the context of this election (e.g., support for Israel). But even here, there are differences that would make dealing with a Kerry administration a different matter from dealing with the Bush regime. Check out the Nuclear Posture Review advocated by the Bush regime if you don't believe me; this alone ought to convince you, unless you think that there's no difference between business-as-usual on the one hand and greatly increased risk of the nuclear annihiliation of humanity on the other.
It is important not to underestimate the demoralizing effect that an actual Bush victory would have on the anti-war and anti-imperialist movements, too; no one was under any illusion that the Spanish social-democrats were out to remake society, but their victory was a victory for all of us because it was interpreted as a repudiation of the war that Aznar had helped wage. And defeating Bush is absolutely necessary for the same reason; imagine what happens if, on Nov. 3, the entire world is left with the impression that the US people have embraced the Bush regime's naked aggression.
Also, ask the victims of US imperialism who they would prefer. Kerry was openly critical of the Bush-backed coup in Haiti. And while he may not be much better than Bush on Colombia and Venezuela and Cuba, is there any doubt who Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro themselves would prefer to face in the White House? They do not say so openly because -- unlike so many of us on Indymedia -- they have a well-calibrated sense of what is politically effective to say and when it is appropriate to say it. But make no mistake: they know what's going on. So do the oppressed around the world. Their cry is "Bush must go." A self-referential asshole like Gabriel Kolko can make all the cute arguments he wants about how a Bush victory will heighten instability and crisis and thereby undermine the system. Apart from the fact that he's simply wrong, he has the luxury to make that argument, since he won't be paying the consequences, will he?
(2) Corporate globalization/Finance capital. This is another area of broad ruling-class consensus. Nevertheless, Wall Street contributions lean heavily to Bush, and there are practical reasons for that, most of them having to do with taxes and regulation. The minority of US finance capitalists (and the probable majority in the rest of the world) who prefer Kerry to Bush are the ones who feel that the regime's adventurism has greatly increased world instability and therefore damaged profit opportunities. Given the choice between the Bush faction of the ruling class and a faction that says, "Maybe it's not such a good idea to blow up the world," I know which one I choose.
(3) Environment. The problem here, as with everything else, is not that Kerry is not going to do everything we want. The problem is that Bush's agenda is so single-mindedly vicious and dangerous. Consider the "sue-and-settle" policy that is the Bush approach to many important environmental regulations. Basically, what the regime does is find a company willing to sue the government over a regulation of some sort (logging, protection of an endangered species, etc.), preferably in a court with a sitting right-wing judge; then they settle on terms favorable to the company. By doing this they also set legal precedent making environmental regulation more difficult. Keep in mind how much environmental regulation is done not by legislation but by executive fiat; in many cases, this is how the Bush people have chosen to get rid of rules and regulations initially put in place under Clinton. If all of this escaped your attention, perhaps it is because (a) you don't read the paper much, and the issues here are too esoteric and complicated, or (b) you don't live in a poor Latino community that has to worry about PCBs.
(4) Health care. So Kerry doesn't support single-payer, huh?
GEE, FUCKING TELL ME YET MORE STUFF I DON'T KNOW! I AM SHOCKED, SHOCKED!
Meanwhile, in the real world, Bush is planning to block-grant Medicaid. Don't know what that means? It means that he wants to end the federal right to health coverage for poor people, replacing it with a block grant (lump sum of money) to the states. This is what happened to welfare when AFDC became TANF. Guess what? Kerry does not want to do this. But it's a major part of Bush's agenda. He has a deliberate plan to make the US health care system even more of a two-tier system than it is. This year the union I work with fought to get more money into the state Medicaid system for use in chronically underfunded nursing homes through a "provider assessment"; the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under Bush has been holding up the matching money despite the fact that the state has raised its share of the funds. If Bush gets his way, not only will he hold up money like this, but attempts to increase funding through the use of such mechanisms will become impossible. Perhaps this escaped your attention, but then again, you probably don't have bedsores from living in a woefully understaffed nursing home, do you?
On Medicare, Bush's prescription drug bill does not even allow the government to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices. His people designed the bill deliberately to create yet another multibillion-dollar giveaway to their allies in industry. If you think there's no difference between Kerry and Bush on this, you're a fucking idiot.
(5) "Pro-life" judges. Look, Kerry is not going to appoint anti-choice judges. He's just not. You all know it and I know it. So cut the bullshit. He will also repeal the "global gag rule," by the way.
I could go on at some length, though I don't have the energy to go over everything in the original post. I will add some things that David Meieran didn't talk about, however.
(6) Taxes. Kerry has said that he will not repeal the portions of Bush's tax policies that could be said to have benefited the "middle class." Here I am speaking of the creation of the 10 percent tax bracket; the end of the "marriage penalty"; and the $500 child tax credit. These tax "cuts" are questionable, and to some degree they still disproportionately benefit better-off people, but they are nothing compared to the other provisions. Consider the reduction in the top rate for the income tax; the cuts in the dividend tax and the capital gains tax; and the end of the estate tax. These tax "cuts" benefited the rich overwhelmingly; in the case of the estate tax, it applies only to millionaires, but is being phased out and will be completely repealed by 2010. These massive giveaways to the wealthiest people in society -- which collectively amount to the greatest ripoff in the history of the human race -- were pushed through by Bush in several stages, and he wants to make them permanent. Kerry voted against them in the first place and not only opposes making them permanent, but wants to "roll back" these tax "cuts." In the meantime, the tax code under Bush has become stunningly more regressive (it became more progressive under Clinton, by the way), especially given "Homeland Security" unfunded mandates that require increased expenditures at the state level where taxes are notoriously more regressive. (In Pennsylvania, for example, there is a "flat" income tax as well as the sales tax and property tax, both of which are regressive.)
The Republicans have opposed even miniscule improvements to the tax code. For example, Democrats in Congress have tried to extend the child tax credit to low-income people who do not pay taxes in the first place; the Republicans have killed this on the grounds that it would be a "welfare" program.
Maybe this escaped your attention, but then again . . . well, you're probably just not paying attention, because unless you tool around in a Bentley or have a trust fund the size of Paris Hilton's, chances are you're getting royally fucked because of Bush's tax shifts from the rich to everyone else.
(7) Social Security. This issue alone is worth supporting Kerry to defeat Bush. Bush is openly talking about privatizing Social Security. Openly. Kerry is strongly against it. This is a major dividing line. It's time to start paying attention to this. This means you.
(8) Right to organize. Kerry supports the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make card-check the law of the land. It is unlikely the EFCA will go through unless the Democrats take back Congress -- but that sort of begs another question about the importance of real-life electoral choices, doesn't it? Bush not only opposes EFCA, he wants to make card-check illegal, and the Republicans have introduced a bill to that effect. Also, ask anyone -- anyone -- who has had to deal with his National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) appointments, as compared to appointments made by Democrats, and they will tell you that the difference is as night and day. Perhaps you don't quite understand this, or perhaps you don't much care. But then again, you've probably never been fired or harrassed in the course of a union organizing drive, or actually had to organize workers in such a climate of fear.
(9) Regulatory appointments in general. Worker health and safety; protections against discrimination (remember that the Bush regime filed a brief against affirmative action in the University of Michigan case, by the way); the Environmental Protection Agency; and the general disposition of many more agencies are all at stake, along with the entire federal bench. If you're simply not interested in this and would rather spend your time making ever-more-colorful giant puppets instead of occasionally reading a newspaper or a think-tank study, then be my guest, but don't call yourself a progressive.
Once again, I could go on. The point here is that you could list a thousand things where Kerry is bad, and on each one Bush is worse. And many where he is not only marginally worse, but deliberately, single-mindedly and diabolically committed to attacking the people for capital's benefit. His people get up every morning and do nothing but dream up new ways to slit our throats, and still there are some self-described leftists who have convinced themselves and -- criminally -- try to convince others that it's not really a big deal. But once we've dealt with the facts, all that remains for Bush's apologists on the left (for that is what they amount to) is a lot of hackneyed cliches, most of them involving coins and the two sides thereof.
Parenthetically, I don't get the obsession with Noam Chomsky's position on this, and I especially don't understand the surprise. He's been consistent over the years in taking this position. In 2000 he explicitly warned people in swing states that they needed to vote against Bush. In earlier years, it was much of the same thing; hell, I personally heard the old man say plainly "I vote Democratic myself" way back in 1995 or 96. Contrary to the handwringers and left-wing circle-jerk aficionados who maintain that we can't walk and chew pesticide-free organic granola at the same time, Chomsky -- in accord with the vast majority of progressives -- has always seen participation in electoral politics as a necessary though obviously not sufficient component of any political strategy.
In that vein, rather than arguing in generalities, I will give some specific answers about how much time this election is worth. The past is past, and while the abstention of all too many self-proclaimed progressives thus far is an irritation to me, I think that -- now that you have reviewed the facts, and hopefully come to your senses -- you now have the opportunity to redeem yourselves. Here, then, is how much time this is worth:
* The election is worth all of the time you would normally allocate for political activism from now through Monday, October 4. October 4 is the deadline for voter registration in Pennsylvania. If you're not yet registered -- and as a Democrat, at that -- you should be ashamed of yourself, but we'll let that slide, provided you do it immediately. Then, from now until Monday, all of your political activism -- unless you have responsibilities to some mass organization and need to put out fires, as it were -- needs to be geared to registering new voters in poor and oppressed communities. (I should note that registration done now also has a potentially good long-term effect on grassroots local electoral insurgencies and referenda.) Details below, by the way.
* The election is worth at least half of the time you would normally allocate for political activism from now through November 2. Keep in mind that this is a minimum. If you can do more, you should. Once again, possible places to plug in are below.
* On election day, you should make sure you have the day off from work and that you can put in all day at the polls or doing get out the vote (GOTV).
I would not necessarily recommend doing this through the Kerry/Edwards campaign proper. Such operations are rarely the best-equipped to carry out field mobilization. Here are possible ways to plug in:
If you are a union member, you should be doing "labor walks" every Saturday. Labor walks involve knocking on the doors of other union members and talking to them about the election. To participate, get to the Steelworkers building (downtown) every Saturday at 9:30 AM from now through the election.
America Votes has ways for people from all over the community to plug in. You should call (412.434.6192) or e-mail Ted Andrews of America Votes to put your time and talent to use. They will find a use for you. Most urgently, before the deadline for voter registration, they need 70 volunteers to talk to voters and register new voters on the North Side this Saturday. So meet at 10:00 AM on Saturday, October 2, at the Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church, 416 West North Avenue on Pittsburgh's North Side.
Make phone calls to newly-registered voters. America Votes and other groups have registered a whole lot of new voters. You, too, will be registering new voters over the course of the coming week until Monday. But these people need to actually get out to the polls. You can also help make phone calls to those that have registered. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 6:00 PM through 8:00 PM, Law and Finance Building, Suite 1100, 429 Fourth Avenue (near the Oxford Towers, downtown). Once again, contact Ted Andrews for more information.
If you're "not a people person" or don't like phone calls or what-have-you, there are surely other ways you could participate. If you're good with computers, you might be able to help with the database. Or even if not, you could still help with data entry, putting volunteer packets together, etc. So you shoudld call and get involved.
by alex Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2004 at 7:22 AM
Telling people to "give me I break and grow the fuck up is" not conducive to dialogue. Most people will simply dismiss your reply due to its self-centered and condescending tone. It seems you don't believe other thinking individuals can hold an opinion contrary to yours, that's a sad reflection on you. Ultimately it's also something that compromises your effectiveness and ironically enough will probably hurt the very arguments your making about the cause you believe is so important.
I'll let the author of the original article respond to your reply regarding his statements. I do have some questions and opinions of my own.
The rhetoric you use has been used in EVERY election I can remember. Wasn't it just as important to get Gore over Bush? wasn't it just as important to get Clinton over Dole, and Clinton over Bush 1? Reagan over Mondale? etc etc etc. If I can ask you a question when was the last presidential race that your rhetoric of must vote democratic didn't apply to?
Since we (progressives) seem to be using voting strategically, with no illusion that it will produce great gains we have a responsibility to carefully consider the bargains with the devil that we make. I mean I'm sorry but after the things Clinton did with welfare/"free trade" and the sanctions that killed millions more than Bush in Iraq I've got some issues with this blind sheep mentality that presuposes (without discussion) that Kerry is better and that all progressives need to jump in line to help without do anything else. Like a well organized boycott I do think progressives withdrawing support from a party is one way to pressure them. An important question to me is how do we unify as a voting bloc around a series of achievable issues. For instance, I couldn't personally support Gore in 2000 since I watched many of my friends get shot and injured by the LAPD outside the DNC convention, attacks by the police that came with the support of the Democrats. It was pretty difficult listening to DNC hacks come to me in the months following about how important it was to elect Gore. Me: Oh, ya because my friends don't believe the Uwa should die they almost lost an eye when your party had them attacked so DNC delegates wouldn't have to deal with seeing protesters. Him: Do you know how important this election is?
No one disagrees that there are small differences (that often make a big difference to individuals or specific groups) between the candidates. Some statements indicate Kerry would be worse for social movements in Argentina, Bush is more likely to kill people in Syria, etc. I don't disagree that voting can bring about positive change, I don't disagree with the notion that Bush is worse then kerry, what I disagree with is the opinion that electing Kerry is the most important thing for those seeking systemic change to work towards right now or that we should simply do so without discussion or debate. Personally I think the best course is for progressives to think hard and vote strategically, encourage friends to do the same, and be done with that, spend the rest of your time working to encourage people to go beyond voting and use the election as a platform to talk about the type of political change we need in order to make sure the next 10 elections aren't just the same as this one.
Your rhetoric of you know all! and all other progressives should too! so everyone should essentially shut up and do what you think is best is extremely not helpful.
by i Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2004 at 9:01 AM
"I mean I'm sorry but after the things Clinton did with welfare/"free trade" and the sanctions that killed millions more than Bush in Iraq..."
Of course there's not a word about Saddam being the cause for those sanctions in the first place. This is precisely why your 'cause' is utterly doomed with regards to lack of support by the American people. 99% of them can see through the bullshit theories you advance.
by ... Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2004 at 9:21 AM
so what was the purpose of the sanctions? did they work? were they expected to work?
don't rewrite history. our country has never been concerned with the welfare of the iraqi people. the reponse to saddamn has always been about our geo-political interests and nothing more. so ya, i think it's fair to blame a president for continue policies he knows are killing millions. Albright even said she thought the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children was worth it.
we used to support saddamn, we gave him weapons, we didn't depose him after the 1st gulf war, we let him suppress the rebellions, we invaded again, and we still haven't "liberated" the people of iraq. Well we have liberated millions of them from thier lives over the last 20 years so I guess that's something. Democrat or Republican president, they are all mass murderers. As chomsky says you are responsible for the predictable consequences of your actions. The blame for those deaths under sanction falls under both Saddam and Bush/Clinton.
by ..-.. Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2004 at 9:28 AM
Speaking of US involvement with fundamentalist terrorists, don't forget that al Qaeda's founder was recently buried with much fanfare.
None other than Ronald Reagan.
Oedipus loves Daddy
by Arson Daily Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2004 at 10:25 AM
Mr. Lacny's sentiments are typical of the Jehovah's Leninist dinosaur paperboys of the authoritarian left.
They have to have a leader, no matter how horrible. Apparently choosing which foot kicks you is more important than not being kicked. I don't know which is worse, the apologizing for the Bolshevik atrocities or shilling for the DLC.
This is one of the reasons the post-left tendency (warts and all)is gaining momentum amongst anarchists. The Red fascists cannot be trusted. Trotsky killed so many anarchists that Stalin had to go Spain to carry on his work.
The authoritarian left has quashed popular revolutions for the past 100 years. From Petrograd to May Days in Spain to Paris '68, the counter-revolutionary vanguardists are always looking to place themselves atop the old hierarchy.
by ...... Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2004 at 10:47 AM
Chris Crass has an excellant essay on voting, everyone should at least check it out.
Lean on Me
by John Lacny Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2004 at 6:25 PM
I am glad to see that thus far, only Alex No Last Name still appears to be failing the test of history on Pittsburgh Indymedia. (Well, him and the right-wing trolls -- and in this category I include Guy With Pseudonym Based on an MTV Personality Who Reminisces About the Good Old Days of Trotsko-Anarchist Sabotage of the Spanish Anti-Fascist Struggle and Uses Terms Like "Red Fascist" Straight Out of the McCarthyite Playbook.) The rest of you must be out registering voters as I suggested. Good to see!
Alex, however, makes reference to "this blind sheep mentality that presuposes (without discussion) that Kerry is better and that all progressives need to jump in line to help without do [sic] anything else." I suppose I should admit my shortcomings as an instructor, in that I forgot that some students may be coming to class with insufficient capability in other areas, such as reading comprehension. But the fact remains that I didn't "presuppose without discussion" that Kerry is better than Bush; I laid out a multitude of reasons. Also, no one has suggested that we participate in the election "without doing anything else." This is not even a straw man, it is a phantom, existing only in Alex No Last Name's imagination and in the imaginations of any of his remaining co-thinkers.
No Last Name further resorts to the "shoot the messenger" technique, attempting to make me the issue. Unfortunately, not only is this politically dishonest, it's also futile, because I'm all you've got. As I've pointed out, 100% of progressives are for Bush's defeat. If, when it is nearly October 2004, you consider yourself a progressive and still need to be convinced of the necessity of Bush's defeat, you are in the remedial class. And I am the instructor by default, because no one else cares enough about all of you right now to even bother to administer the "tough love" that I am doling out. I'm sort of like the quixotic younger teacher, low on the seniority list, who gets stuck with the "problem kids" and ends up loving it. I may occasionally lash out with streaks of impatience, but my impatience does not even compare to the hostility you would receive from other progressives -- the ones who don't even want to bother with you right now. From me, you might get a "You make no sense, and it's time for you to grow the fuck up," but from them you would probably get a simple "Go fuck yourself" or "What's your problem, you crazy motherfucker, do you want Bush to win?" (You may recognize the tone of voice; it's similar to when people have told you, "No, I don't want to buy a copy of Socialist Worker. Or "No, I don't want to stay afterwards for your six-hour consensus meeting lubricated with soy milk and carob cookies." Or perhaps my favorite -- and I'm guilty of using this one myself -- "A chicken in every pot, and an icepick in every trot!" Here on Indymedia teaching remedial class, however, I try to be on my best behavior!)
And while I do love you all, I need to remind you that the provisions of the No Infantile Ultraleftist Left Behind Act do still require you to pass the test of history, and I regret to inform Alex No Last Name and anyone still in his mindset that you are on track to fail miserably.
To deal with some other points made by Alex No Last Name: This is not a class about history per se; it is a class about the present as history, or, if you prefer, making history. We could presumably have a discussion about which election which year merited voting Democratic and which did not (and which of them required active participation to get the Democrat elected and which did not, which is a crucial distinction). It seems to me that the last time not even voting for the Democratic candidate for president was an option was probably 1928 (Al Smith vs. Herbert Hoover). This is a reflection of the fact that the US left has long been tiny and pathetic, and even in times when it was strong and growing in influence, it still made no sense to go off on some quixotic "third party" quest that risked a victory for reaction. But all of that is neither here nor there. The issue is what to do now. And the issue is Bush's extremely virulent brand of reaction, which represents a renewed assault on the remaining planks of the welfare state (including not only poor people's programs like Medicaid but the non-means-tested ones like Medicare and Social Security) and a frontal offensive in the class war to permanently reshape the institutions of the country in capital's favor -- that is, when it comes to the tax code, regulation, the courts, and much more. The Bush regime is made up of a faction of the right that was not dominant even under Bush's father, but which characterized the Reagan presidency and had its origins in the Barry Goldwater reactionary insurgency of 1964 (see Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus for more on this than you'll ever need to know). They are all the more dangerous because they now control Congress as well. These people have a strategy to crush us and then make sure that the working class and oppressed people are prostrate forever. They need to be defeated if we want to survive.
To the extent that we on the left have a strategy, Kerry does not share it because he is not of the left. But he is also not of the extreme right, and insofar as he opposes them, he is an ally. On other things, he may be a vacillating ally or an outright opponent. But we are required to approach the world as it is and not as we should like it to be, so am I saying that when it comes to electoral politics on the national level, we are more or less stuck with a battle to defeat the right in alliance with more or less bland and unappetizing figures, until such time as we can find our own strength? You're damn right that's what I'm saying. These people have been at it for forty years. We need to be prepared to take them on for longer than that. I hope it doesn't take that long, but it may. We can hope that a more sudden change will happen, but some things are beyond our control. We make our own history, but not exactly as we please, and not under circumstances of our own choosing.
Further on the point about making me the issue: I have not said that "I know all and all progressives should, too." My point is that all progressives already understand this. My outlook just happens to be in accord with them. It's all of you here in the remedial class who don't get it, but who think that you see something they don't, and that you are the smart ones while they all have "blind sheep mentality." A wise man once said that it is the people who are the real heroes while we "revolutionaries" are often foolish and ignorant. The base for progressive politics -- in the working class and communities of color particularly, and among the oppressed generally -- when they turn out to vote, are going to vote to defeat Bush. It turns out that they know something that at least a few self-proclaimed "progressive activists" do not.
In fact, Alex No Last Name has effectively given away the game by saying that there may be "small differences." This means that he thinks that the privatization of Social Security; the massive giveaway of literally trillions of dollars to the very wealthy in the form of tax "cuts" over the next ten years; and the dismantling of Medicaid (to name just a few things) are all "small" matters and not worth much attention, if any. Perhaps they're small matters for him, I don't know. But if you think they're small matters, you don't get to call yourself a progressive. You don't graduate from Progressive High or get your progressive GED, and you certainly don't get to go to Progressive U.
With the help of a dedicated instructor who just doesn't know when to quit, however, I know you'll all make it!
by Lacny of X-mas Past Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 6:12 AM
"Noam Chomsky, for example, has severely criticized those intellectuals who make apologies for the Establishment and its atrocities, but Chomsky has done so as an intellectual and with respect for the intellectual tradition."
by alex Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 6:52 AM
Oh, how I love your increasingly condescending tone and strawmen arguments. Luckily John, someone like you will never get under my skin. You just keep telling yourself I'm saying Bush shouldn't be defeated and all the other things your making up. It's a nice way of avoiding debate or discussion.
As far as a lot of other people not responding I'd suspect it's more a product of the fact few people read indymedia anymore and the fact you made such an incredibly long post many people won't read.
Wait, I didn't actually read your original post. Let me go and read it now, holy shit, you're right. What was I thinking all this time, discuss? debate? imagine this isn't a dichotomy with between good kerry voting progressives and the formerly progressive scum you've cast out as no longer progressives because they didn't pass the test of the line in the sand you created. What's that loud voice in my head? Oh my god, must go out and register voters, must register voters. Stop all other activism, Kerry, kerry, kerry. The anarchists and POUM were traitors in spain. To think all my past was a result of skipping history class in high school and college. It's so great you were here to enlighten me and all the other dumb people. You are a great marxist intellectual, I will worship your ego from this point on.
List of things to do tomorrow, in order-
Pray to Kerry
Register people to vote
Read JohnLacny blog online
Avoid critical thinking
Read JohnLacny blog online
Avoid critical thinking
Pray to Kerry
Register people to vote
Alex (no last name)
by Arson Daily Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 7:29 AM
Rewind a few months and substitute 'dean' for 'kerry' and it'd pretty much read the same.
We also owe John Lacny an apology, you for your lack of last name and me for use of a pseudonym. If you can't be a psychopomp who does democrat campaign promise karaoke, you're a right-wing troll.
Dear Arson Daily
by marxist proletarian intellectual for life Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 8:16 AM
Arson Daily: it appears John does not get your sense of humor. Please refrain from making remarks without first stating "the following remarks may contain humor, satire, or verbal jesting."
by quinten Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 9:04 AM
"As far as a lot of other people not responding I'd suspect it's more a product of the fact few people read indymedia anymore and the fact you made such an incredibly long post many people won't read."
Actually, Indy Pittsburgh readership has steadily increased over our two years of existence. We now average between 13-16,000 hits per day, or at least on the order of 1-2,000 unique visitors each day. (The exact number of unique "visits" is impossible to determine since we don't log IP addressess)
What's more, more people know about Indymedia now than did 2 years ago. I'd say we're an established institution in Pittsburgh. The number of people actively contributing to the organization ironically has fluctuated with an overall decline at the same time. I think it would be great for everyone if some of the people who were involved 2 years ago got involved again...
true point quinten
by alex no last name Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 9:21 AM
good points quinten no last name :) apologies on the generalizing and incorrect assumption. thanks for the info.
From my perspective it probably just "seems" like less progressives I meet/talk to read indymedia regularly. That's probably just a byproduct of who I talk to though rather then any type of statement on indymedia as a whole. If more folks are checking it out that's awesome. I do think it's true that a lot of people who used to regularly post/read here stopped because of the intense right wing spam attacks that were overwhelming articles, but hopefully those days are in the past.
Dear marxist proletarian intellectual for life(last name?)
by Arson Daily Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 10:46 AM
Mr. Lacny is way, way too into being proud of himself to notice humor from elsewhere. His use of boldface text is reminiscent of his beloved right-wing trolls use of the caps-lock.
I'm gonna go try and register some Kerry symps right now!
by i Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 11:23 AM
"Speaking of US involvement with fundamentalist terrorists, don't forget that al Qaeda's founder was recently buried with much fanfare.
None other than Ronald Reagan. "
Could you GET a more simplistic view of a complex situation? Expand your mind beyond Norm's Choad.
by Noamy C Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 11:29 AM
we don't all have time to write thousands of words in reply every night.
by Arson Daily Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 11:41 AM
Norm's Choad? Sorry, I don't speak or read the language of freak republic. If you have a point, could you express it in English?
Whew, what a relief to know that I imagined that the US built camps, armed, funded, and trained 100,000+ fundamentalist lunatics (the ones who don't shave, not the GW or Ashcroft kind). It does seem like a bad idea; who could be that stupid? Though it makes me sad to think that Rambo III was make-believe. I'm also thankful that I dreamt the State Dept. gave the Taliban $43 million in spring 2001.
by PJD Thursday, Sep. 30, 2004 at 8:41 PM
Dear John Lacny:
I was ready to consider all your arguments. After two terms of standing by principle and Supporting Nader, I just might hold my nose and vote for Kerry myself.
Then I read the following:
"If you're not yet registered -- and as a Democrat, at that -- you should be ashamed of yourself,...
So, not only must we all line up behind you, vote for Kerry, adore him and don't dare criticise him over his possible but (due to his spineless, even almost non-existent campaign), unlikely upcoming term.
Yes, we will just sit and obey, just like all you ass-licking liberals did over the 8 years that Clinton was dismantling welfare, presiding over declining or stagnant wages and union membership, pushing through every anti-worker global economic agreement out there; harboring Cuban and Hatian terrorists in luxury; starving Iraq while bombing their water and baby food and sewer plants; then a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, then Yugoslavia...
Then, finally people got fed up and went to Seattle, and hope began...onward to DC, Quebec, Genova... but what did we get from you elite liberals and your corporate rags like the NYT? SLANDER!
Yet, even that isn't enough, you want us to all join your UTTERLY USELESS, SOLD-OUT DEMOCRATIC PARTY!
Fuck You; I will remain a registered as a Green, thank you...
P.S. Chomsky, is not a registered Democrat; he is a Wob. I I don't think any IWW member would be a stinking Democrat.
Remedial class nearing completion
by John Lacny Friday, Oct. 01, 2004 at 7:43 AM
It now appears that some of the students are bringing up a bit of recreational trot-bashing of mine from several years ago. That thing has one hell of a shelf-life! I don't think I'd change much in it even today, save to say one good thing about trots (it's painful to do that, but I will): after interacting with anarchists, I'm reminded that at least the trots were on our side at Kronstadt!
Anyway, it seems that "PJD" is on the right track, saying s/he'll vote for Kerry. (Still doesn't want to do any work, though. What's up with that? Look, it's only a month away now, and I guarantee that there is nothing you're doing that's so important and so urgent that you can't spare some serious time over the course of a mere month doing something to actually defeat this regime.) I'll let pass the comments about "asslicking liberals" and my supposed apologetics for Clinton (totally untrue), since while "PJD" hasn't the slightest fucking idea what s/he is talking about here, I will attribute it to mere ignorance rather than conscious lying.
But why anyone would be registered as anything other than a Democrat in this city, where all of the electoral action of any consequence takes place in Democratic primaries, is just baffling. You're left with no ability to participate in possible progressive electoral insurgencies, and cut yourself off even from the ability to vote in the more important phase of the election. It just doesn't make sense, unless you have some religious attachment to the so-called "third party" idea that has little relationship to the facts on the ground.
As I said before, the Chomsky obession is also very weird, though I will reiterate that I take Chomsky's word on the subject of his own politics over that of the otherwise oh-so-reliable (ahem!) folks on Indymedia. By this I refer to his statement in my presence about eight or ten years ago, "I vote Democratic myself," which he said as if it were a matter of course -- which of course it is, even though it's only a small part of what needs to be done.
The remedial class is ending very soon, though, and even the instructor is losing patience with the more obnoxious students. Keep in mind that David Meieran started this whole thing with a lengthy post full of things we all already know, capped off with the non-sequitir that it's somehow irrelevant if we allow Bush to win. I responded with a litany of facts that are not going to be refuted, and some of you started complaining that it was "too long." Guess what, folks? If you had been paying attention and doing your reading and taking notes all along, you wouldn't have to play catchup now! I generously put a good chunk of information all in one place; should you choose to ignore this, that's your problem, because you're about to fail the test of history. Time to put up or shut up! See my earlier post about voter registration this weekend, and get out there and do it -- or prepare to fail!
by Lost me Friday, Oct. 01, 2004 at 7:54 AM
The trots have always quashed non-authoritarian social movements, is that what you mean by 'our side'?
When did the the left-wing of the US War Party get so vanguardist?
I'm must admit I really confused by the whole Demo-Bolshevik thing.
thank god for john
by Emma Goldman Friday, Oct. 01, 2004 at 3:44 PM
This is a classic thread. John's attitude towards those of differing opinions has essentially proved the original posters point about the current state of the Anybody But Bush movement.
Changed My Mind...
by pjd Friday, Oct. 01, 2004 at 11:40 PM
I will be voting for a principled minority-party candidate of my choosing. After further consideration, I refuse to play into the cynical game, really a trap, the Democrats, with the cooperation of their fellow elites, the republicans have laid for us.
This whole issue of having to support Kerry to avoid Bush would be moot if the US were even a minimal democracy by the standards of, say, Latin America, i.e it voted presidents by direct popular vote, and for all elections, an absolute majority (50%+1) utilizing runoff or instant runoff elections, was required to elect....and we aren't even talking about other enhancements such as proportional representation, a palliamentary system, etc.
If Europeans, Latin Americans and others actually knew how our electoral system actually worked, they would be apalled.
So, the US is not a democracy, and there is NO reason to believe the elites would ever allow even these most minimal reforms to our electoral system. Such change is only going to occur through revolutionary establishment of a whole new constitution and order, poissibly with the help of intervention from other nations. So, our discussion should be how to move forward to the point of being ready to engage in revolutionary change. Of course, once we start, we can change a whole lot more than just the electoral system, like teh whole economic system while we're at it, but the whole idea that even mere electoral reform will require revolution (through mass nonvoiolent movements, but armed if necessary) should hopefully convince a lot of poeple to participate.
Certainly, continuing to participate in the profoundly undemocratic existing system WONT get us there....
...and another thing...
by pjd Saturday, Oct. 02, 2004 at 9:05 PM
If Bush is re-elected, we will have to weather 4 miserable years, but then have a shot, admitedly slim, at nominating a true progressive on the Democrat tickiet. This will be facilitated by a populace which after 4 more years of Bush will be sufficiently fed up to the point in which there could be a complete party revolt against the right-wing DLC and it's henchmen and the nomination of someone like Kucinich.
If Kerry is re-epected, we could face potentially 8 years of the right-wing DLC, before any kind of progressive alternative is possible.
So, the choice is:
1. 4 years of terrible, then a shot at hope; or,
2. 8 years of slightly less terrible for US citizens, but probably more terrible for Iraqis, Syrians, Palestinians, Persians, Cubans, Hatians and maybe Venezuelans, follwed by slim hope.
I choose alternative #1.
I know this is a variant of the "the worse, the better" argument, but under the vile existing system we have to work under, the "worse, the better" stategy has merit.
Talking before Working is like Shitting before lifting the seat
by Josh Ferris Sunday, Oct. 03, 2004 at 8:15 AM
First off I think John is completely justified in saying that you all need to grow up. It is absolutely ridiculous to believe that what you are doing is beneficial to defeating Bush. As of right now, this very moment, we all have one goal in mind, and that is to remove George Bush from the White House. Admittedly, we can all realize John Kerry is not the leader of the imminent class war, however he is our ally. So for the moment, I want to say shut the fuck up. This debate is just some stupid pissing match, so you can show how kewl you are by criticizing Kerry at the moment. Well way to fucking go, man you are really pitching in to help Bush. Thank you so fucking much for putting me on the correct path. To hurt Kerry at the moment is to help Bush, and in doing that YOU ARE the one responsible for all of the prophesied atrocities that are bound to happen with Bush in office. NO ONE is asking for blind acceptance of Kerry, what we are asking in to stand with an ally in the ultimate goal of destroying one of the most dangerous and irresponsible administrations in history.
YOU ARE NOT HELPING, and I have no problem in saying if you are not helping than you are the enemy. So instead of sitting on you high indy media horse and participate in some ridiculous debate on how bad Kerry is, why don’t you try to get some people to defeat Bush. We need every fucking person on the doors of new voters, because right now you are in ground zero mon ami and if you do not realize that than you are truly a pathetic member of our side.
by Joe Thrill Sunday, Oct. 03, 2004 at 4:38 PM
So is this last comment satire?
sadly, probably not.
by lkhdfg Sunday, Oct. 03, 2004 at 5:12 PM
sadly, probably not.
Nothing like having a bunch of fellow progressives tell you if you're not doing what they say to get Kerry elected YOU ARE THE ENEMY, you are pathetic, you are on the wrong side, and more derogatory put downs. This thread started with someone trying to ask legitimate questions for those concerned not only with defeating Bush, but trying to build movements for change, and it's ending with statements proving the very reasons we need to be asking these questions. Pathologizing Bush is not all that's necessary right now, but sadly enough some people can't seem to see past that right now.
we're all helping Bush win
by seriously Monday, Oct. 04, 2004 at 6:36 AM
this is ridiculous. everyone wants to see Bush defeated.
adopting a i'm better then you and i know what everyone else should be doing is stupid. this election is bringing out the worst in the liberal left.
going to school, helping Bush win
working on a union drive, helping Bush win
running a community event, helping Bush win
debating what to do after the election, helping Bush win
protesting kerrys stance on the war, helping Bush win
spending time to encourage people become active outside of electoral politics, helping Bush win
typing on indymedia, helping Bush win
talking to family who've already decided to vote for Kerry, helping Bush win
pointing out the areas that kerry is similar to Bush, helping Bush win
sleeping, helping Bush win
I hear ya
by Joe Thrill Monday, Oct. 04, 2004 at 8:24 AM
Union drives. I guess that's why many AFL-CIO unions have cut-back on organizing. Gotta put that $$ into the Kerry campaign. I guess when you have lots of cushy card check agreements pending...
OK, class -- time for the final!
by John Lacny Monday, Oct. 04, 2004 at 3:53 PM
As I said, other progressives are far less patient than me when it comes to dealing with people on the "left" who support Bush. Josh Ferris just told you all to shut the fuck up. I can understand his sentiment -- though you have to at least give me credit in that I attempted to go over some facts first. But the fact remains that you people are not like regular, confused, "undecided" voters. You are self-proclaimed progressives, revolutionaries even, which means you are to be held to a higher standard. If you're still deliberately doing things that might contribute to a Bush victory, you are the enemy.
This thread did not begin with someone "asking legitimate questions" about Kerry. It began with someone going over a bunch of stuff that all of us already know, insulting our intelligence with irrelevant observations with an obvious objective not of strengthening the movement with constructive ideas on what to do, but to purposely undermine the movement's key goal in the field of electoral politics. It essentially said, "Kerry is not a revolutionary."
BIG FUCKING SURPRISE!
As yet another exhibit for why no one should take you people seriously -- though I have made the mistake of doing so during my intermittent stops here over the past week -- can anyone find a rational reason for "PJD" to have changed his supposed position in favor of a Bush defeat to one not just objectively, but explicitly in favor of a Bush victory? S/he of the Three Initials takes an "After Bush, Us!" position that is based on . . . what rational reasoning, exactly? The idea that beaten-down progressives will somehow emerge from a second Bush term completely reinvigorated and at the head of a major insurgency? Have you ever heard of such lunacy? Does S/he of the Three Initials think that movements spring up all by themselves, and that people aren't responsible for actually organizing them? Who, precisely, does s/he think will organize this post-Bush mass movement? The brilliant revolutionary strategists of Indymedia? Let's get back to the real world: if a movement does emerge in the wake of a Bush victory, it will be in spite of, rather than because of, the behavior of people like S/he of the Three Initials. It will be organized by people who are already doing real work (as opposed to juvenile, adventurist acting out) among regular people right now -- and these people are uniformly in favor of Bush's defeat. Meawhile, juvenile adventurists can continue with all the harebrained speculation they want about how a new order will emerge from Bush's reactionary chaos -- after all, people like "PJD" are usually not the ones paying the consequences. But can you find any explainable reason at all for this behavior, apart perhaps from his/her personal determination to behave in the manner of a petulant child? "Oh, boo hoo, John Lacny said some harsh things and told it like it is, which I'm not used to hearing, so I think I'm just going to give the middle finger to the whole progressive movement and hope for a Bush victory."
Once again, time to grow the fuck up, people!
Before my permanent departure from this discussion, however, I'd like to deal with another participant whose assiduously-cultivated idiocy is emblematic of the Bush supporters on this forum. The person calling himself "Joe Thrill" identifies with people who counterpose defeating Bush to, say, union organizing (actual union organizers differ strongly with him, of course, in fact by this time the less-patient ones would be telling "Joe" to go fuck himself). He then says that "I guess that's why many AFL-CIO unions have cut-back on organizing. Gotta put that $$ into the Kerry campaign." I think it's time for me to address "Joe" (who will hereafter be known as "Guy Who Doesn't Know Dick About Unions But Pretends He Does") personally:
Guess what, moron? Most of the money that unions are spending on the elections comes from either political action committees or money otherwise raised for explicitly political purposes. The portion that does come from dues goes to "non-partisan" political education, which means that we can't explicitly talk about candidates, but we can talk about the issues at stake. (Which of course means that union members, most of whom are pretty smart, end up voting the right way even if we don't tell them explicitly, e.g., for Kerry in this election, once they hear about the issues at stake. Morons like yourself, however, don't quite get it.)
Also, it just so happens that the unions that are spending the most money and devoting the most resources to this election are also the ones that spend the most and devote the most resources to organizing. To take the biggest example, SEIU is famously spending $65 million on this election in one form or another. SEIU also mandates that each of its locals spend 20% of their budgets on organizing, and there are sanctions with real teeth for the locals that don't measure up to that. (You might call that "authoritarian." Oh well! You could try getting a fucking clue!) And they require that each local pay a per-capita payment (to reach $5 per member per month in a few years) to the International union's "Unity Fund" which is also devoted to organizing. The distinction of course is that spending on organizing can come straight from dues money (though who knows, that could change if Bush wins), while much of the money spent on politics has to be raised in other ways. The point, of course, is that you're too dumb to have investigated the reality before pontificating about shit you don't know.
But apparently you would join the National Right to Work Committee, Linda Chavez, and your objective allies in the Republican Party generally in saying that unions should never be able to spend dues money on political education (or supporting gay rights, or progressive legislation, or for international solidarity with embattled trade unionists in Colombia, for example, all of which I have seen unions do). If that's the case, I say straight-up: Go fuck yourself, you loathsome little scab.
And how about the rest of your post, about "cushy card check agreements"? What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Do you think that workers should always have to go through the awful NLRB elections process if they want to have a union? No wonder you're in favor of Bush's election, then! Some people actually do have to fight through the bullshit NLRB process to get unions, and they succeed despite the odds. But it's hard going, and if we have to slog on under these labor laws for much longer, the labor movement will not survive. The only rational explanation for your comments is that you would actually favor this, and that that's why you want Bush to win.
Earlier in this thread I quoted the famous Chinese revolutionary watchword, "No investigation, no right to speak." Perhaps the wording is a little too refined for some of you. I will boil it down, and say also that this is a piece of advice I have always striven to follow, no matter how much it annoys me when others do not (though I will call them out on it):
If you don't know what the hell you're talking about, shut your goddamn mouth!
So this posting was meant to be here not there. Make sense now?
I had a dream last night...
Actually, it was a nightmare.
It was the year 2016... John Lacny had just been elected President of the United States of NAFTA representing the Democrapublican Party. Under a new law, any attempt at forming a second party was now punishable by life imprisonment...
I woke up screaming.
This dream was brought to you by Pfizer-Monsanto, makers of the meds that now control John's rage attacks.
* see John's website...
by Danny P Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2004 at 7:09 AM
I take much exception to your comment "If you don't know what the hell you're talking about, shut your goddamn mouth."
Firstly, it reeks of arrogance, and secondly, it is a clear attempt to silence views that in your opinion are uneducated. That, in turn, creates an entire class of people who shouldn't be involved with politics, but rather should just shut up and listen. To me, that's disgusting, as I imagine it is to most people who don't wish to create a "revolutionary class." It's amazing how strongly you criticize the communists, when you take a stance like that.
We are not your "students." We do know "what the hell we're talking about." And every time you speak down to us, liberals lose more respect and Kerry loses another vote.
Politics is something for everyone, and people should feel free and encouraged to share their views, whatever the hell they may be- even if you disagree.
Annointed by Sweeny & Shea
by Unsaved Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2004 at 7:27 AM
How dare anybody question one of the white-savior college boys the AFL has chosen to enlighten and elevate it's po' ignorant rank & file?
The "scab" speaks
by JT Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2004 at 8:18 AM
"The portion that does come from dues goes to "non-partisan" political education, which means that we can't explicitly talk about candidates, but we can talk about the issues at stake. (Which of course means that union members, most of whom are pretty smart, end up voting the right way even if we don't tell them explicitly, e.g., for Kerry in this election, once they hear about the issues at stake. Morons like yourself, however, don't quite get it.)"
I think I get the distinction, but as you state, it basically ends-up being support for the Democratic Party. I've worked at a number of places where this is thinly veiled support for the Democratic candidate, though perhaps the SEIU is more careful than other outfits.
As to card check agreements, I don't support abolishing them. I think workers should be able to show majority support without jumping through the NLRB hoops and giving the employers a chance to mount a counter-offensive. But there has been a lot of criticism about unions like the SEIU and HERE getting card-check agreements from bosses under conditions that sound a bit fishy. Labor Notes does have some good coverage of this. How do we deal with this assuming it is a few SEIU locals and not the position of the International?
by jrp Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2004 at 11:44 AM
step number one in getting bush out: vote for kerry, whether you like him or not. why? because it is the only way to get bush out so we can at least try and repair some of the catastophic damage caused to the country and to the planet by dubya. steps numbers 2 and 3: see number one. sorry, but if you know a better way to get to work on saving the planet, i'd love to hear about it, and i have lots of ideas, and i am working on many of them, but first things first. many of the people reading on an indymedia site are working to truly help repair the world and let's face it little georgie porgie is just in the way. you just can't play nice with some people. he needs to be kicked off the playground of the world stage. vote on nov.2--don't intellectualize too much. voting for nader, though he is probably the best man for the job won't work--you know it and i know it. (this really will help bush win as another person commented.) PLEASE HELP DEFEAT BUSH. if we get bush out, nader will have a better chance in '08.
WOW !!!! THAT'S BRILLIANT
by Deux Bierre Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2004 at 3:08 PM
Brilliant. Absoeffinglutely Brillinat. You would probably vote for a work-released child molester just to get Bush out of office. THat is not insane...it is stupid and reckless.
Regardless of what you think of Bush, you should not take so callously your obligations to vote for a "leader". Don't be so certain that Mr. Kerry would serve your goals. Change for the mere sake of change is a pretty good recipe for disaster. Keep in mind that when things get worse, they have changed.
John Kerry has a 20 year record of failure in the U.S. Senate. Elevating him to a higher office would represent the Peter Principal on a grand and dangerous scale.
Kerry is a duplicitous opportunist. His idea of diplomacy must be to insult the leaders of the world (or else why would he be calling our alies in Iraq "frauds" and a "coalition of the bribed". Yet, in the debate, John Kerry offered this criticism:
"If the president had shown the patience to go through another round of resolution [meaning U.N. resolutions], to sit down with those leaders, say, "What do you need, what do you need now, how much more will it take to get you to join us?" we'd be in a stronger place today."
So we now see that John Kerry beleives that the problem is that Bush didn't bribe enough.
His policies of perpetualt appeasemetn and negotiation will do nothing for America or the world (or the environment). Check out htis Reuters article http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/nm/20041003/pl_nm/nuclear_iran_kerry_dc
Iran on Sunday rebuffed a proposal by U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry who has suggested supplying the Islamic state with nuclear fuel for power reactors if Tehran agrees to give up its own fuel-making capability":
Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said it would be "irrational" for Iran to put its nuclear program in jeopardy by relying on supplies from abroad.
"We have the technology (to make nuclear fuel) and there is no need for us to beg from others," Asefi told a weekly news conference.
So this is what it means to be strongerathomerespectedintheworld. Is America ready for four years of it?
What the Fuck?
by Ruben Salazar Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2004 at 8:19 PM
As a Mexican I am shocked at how easy you all can suggest that Bush being re-elected can have any positive outcome for the movement. I suspect it's because you have not been touched by the reality of Bush.
Bush is death, my people are dying in the desert because of his policies, in Iraq and along the border. We are choosing between buying food or medicine, I suspect you are not. His immigration proposals amount to endentured servitude- Have you ever been forced to keep working for an ass hole boss or be shipped thousands? I suspect not.
How fucking wonderful to be able to sit around and debate whats best for the people while you munch on your tofu and whine about how awful life is.
Life is pretty fucking awful right now and Bush is plannning how to make it worse. Get of your priviliged ass and realize that for millions four more years of Bush in office isn't something to theorize about but something to fear.
It's so fucking easy to critize unions when you don't depend on them for your survival. Workers represented by HERE, UNITE, and SEIU are under constant attack by thier bosses, and their families depend on their jobs to survive. My family thanks god for card checks- no threat of la migra coming around for union supporters, no getting fired and not being able to go to the unemployment office, and no more waiting for years for the result of your struggle. By having card check elections my family's union was able to save money to strike and throug down with thier boss.
I wonder about the poster who made some stupid remark about white people in the afl-cio- aren't you fucking white.
you all are willing to rick my life for your adventure. You'll let bush win re-election so you can experience struggle-I and millions of others live struggle and struggle to live. Take your privilage a shove it up your ass.
I may be just a high school drop out, but I know a little about communist Danny P.
I don't see john attacking communist any where, but it's seems like he is usuing communist ideology to explain why we need to defeat bush. What he wrote sounds like a mix of "Left Wing Communism and infitile Disorder"(lenin) and "Against war and facism"(Demitrov). I think John could teach you all a few more lessons.
everyone seems to get off on talking about shit they read but have never experienced. Try going out and surving under bush with out mommy or daddy bank rolling your adventure- I guarentee a dose of reality will have you working to defeat bush pretty fucking quickly.
just remeber :
nadar spoiled and people died
Ruben=Lacny in a Sombero
by Unsaved Wednesday, Oct. 06, 2004 at 5:48 AM
A democrat may be a republican in a cheap suit, but Lacny's Mexican charade takes that nonsense even a step further. Including a link to buy 'anybody but bush' merchandise is even cheaper.
Sorry Johnny, mommy and daddy didn't send me to school so I could be a top-down, piecard headhunter to fill the coffers of the democrats, while colluding with the bosses. Yeah, I guess you do have to root for the horse that you and the parasitic beauracrats bet on with the rank and file's money.
John, the democrat donkey dick has gone in one of your ears and out the other, with nothing to pass through but the dead air of make-believe marxism (discredited since 1872).
Chinga tu Madre
by Ruben Salazar Wednesday, Oct. 06, 2004 at 7:45 AM
Hijo de su chingada madre,
?eres tan menso que no sabes que hay un chingo de Ruben Salazares? Es cierto que fui nombrado por Nuestro Martir pero la familia Salazar ha existido por decadas, si lo dudas visita mi pueblo natal San Nicolas Toletino, Izucar de Matamoros Puebla para que mi familia te parte su madre.
Que racista presumir que un Mexicano no es capaz de expressar su propio opinion. Siempre cuando digamos algo en contradiccion a los izquierdistas falsas presumen que hay un gringo atras- como que no somos capazes de formar nuestra propia opinion.
Si no son capazes de responder a la realidad que presento pendejos, digalo. Vale verga sus chingaderas.
No se olvidan a votar Noviembre 4- queremos asegurar que sus pendejos votos en apoyo de bush sean echados como los pendejos que son.
Still not buying it
by Unsaved Wednesday, Oct. 06, 2004 at 8:06 AM
Gee, People's Commissar Lacny, I'm almost impressed at your use of the freetranslation website, I intended to play along with your charade and do the same, but a little respect for yourself and others goes a long way.
by alex Wednesday, Oct. 06, 2004 at 8:15 AM
To me this thread did start with someone asking legitimate questions and I think it's pretty clear that his goal isn't to elect Bush. You seem to feel that what he's saying harms the effort to defeat Bush. I agree that educating people on Kerry's positions has the potential to harm the Kerry campaign. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what Kerry actually believes and correcting those could sour some people on voting for him, I don't believe however that is a reason not to inform people. For instance I was flyering for progressive stuff in Squirrel Hill when Fahrenheit 9-11 opened. There were a lot of Kerry supporters (along with seemingly everyone else) handing out literature. The Kerry volunteers actually stated that Kerry was going to end the war/occupation in Iraq, and they were quite skeptical when told that he actually wanted to send more troops there. Now I imagine this might not be the case now (with a lot of people having seen the debates etc), but it's still an interesting point that we shouldn't always assume that people all know the same information.
One of the legitimate questions asked in the original post was how much time and resources progressives concerned with systemic change should devote to the election/defeating Bush. There is no universal agreement on this point. You said that people should be devoting at all of the time they would be spending on activism to register voters till the 5th of Oct. and then at least 1/2 of their time on defeating Bush. I can respect you believe this, but I disagree that you have some magical insight that allows you to draw arbitrary lines in the sand that determine who is helping Bush win and who isn't due to where they decide to devote energy. I'm starting to think you don't necessarily believe people should only (or 1/2 time) be working to defeat Bush at the expense of other projects, I think it may be you are making judgments on what projects are worthwhile to prioritize over working to defeat Bush and that you feel the original poster was in favor of projects that you don’t agree are more important then the election.
I think we can agree there are many struggles going on in Pittsburgh right now, and if progressives honestly followed your directions on where to put their time/resources there would have been no bus trip to Harrisburg yesterday to lobby for transit, in fact there would be no save our transit group right now at all, it would be on hold till after the election when likely we would already have lost the fight to continue weekend and nighttime service. There also would have been no SEIU bus trip to Harrisburg yesterday to lobby against mandatory overtime because those individuals would have been spending their time on more important electoral work. The Merton Center would have shut down by now, because with all progressives spending time on registering voters there would have been no one to staff it, and no point in doing so as no groups (Haiti solidarity committee, SOT, Push) would be organizing. The TMC would not be taking on the SEIU Center City Janitors struggle because they'd be too busy working to defeat Bush. My point in this is obvious; there are ongoing campaigns, struggles, and movement building that must be continued regardless of the election. Some of these cannot be put on hold. Stating arbitrary thing like people I don’t know should spend X time on defeating Bush or they aren’t progressives is ridiculous. How can you know what commitments they already have and how important those issues are?
There is also the question of whether, and if so, how much energy to devote to outreaching to the electorate about the need to go beyond voting. While presenting a systemic critique to voters about inherent problems in our political system and the need to get involved beyond voting does mean you probably aren’t giving as hard a sell on defeating Bush (although most of the agit-prop about beyond voting hasn’t been anti-voting or anti defeating Bush like a lot of the reactionary anti-voting left sometimes is) I personally believe it’s necessary. Perhaps this issue, rather then the issue of campaign work above, is where most of our disagreements rest. If so, It would be worthwhile to continue the discussion from this point without the rest of the baggage we’ve been discussing.
I also disagree with your assertion that everyone here already knows everything contained in the original post; do you have evidence to back that up? In following your mantra of investigate or don't speak, what investigation have you done into who the people are who read indymedia and what they know?
Elections really do bring out the worst (and often the best) in the left, maybe we can agree on that as well.
by Ruben Slazar Wednesday, Oct. 06, 2004 at 9:14 AM
Orale- trata de traducir esquinkle malcriado,
eres un sincio chicuelinche racista. Vuelvo a insitir que eres incapaz a responder a mi realidad, culero. No hay ninguna programa que traduce espanol mexicano tan chipicudo como el mio. Vivo la pesadilla que es tu sueno- anda despierta racista. Deja de ser un bollio gabacho sin cesos ni huevos en tu taco.
Tiahui Mexica Tiahui
Trate otra vez Muestra
by Unsaved Thursday, Oct. 07, 2004 at 5:49 AM
Anunciar las tonterías en el español mexicano son no tonterías más creíbles que anunciando en inglés. Usted es rápido llamarme un racista porque yo lo disiento de, pero su odio obvio de mujeres es la mayoría de su poste. Los demócratas son de cada bit como culpables para el ALCA, CAFTA, el WTO así como la mayor parte del enfermo usted culpa en Bush.
Register Democrat, vote Specter
by mike Thursday, Oct. 07, 2004 at 11:53 AM
I'm unsure about your insistence on registering Democrat. I am a card-carrying Czolgosz Republican. In the primaries, I was able to vote for Toomey, who if nominated, would have been crushed by Hoeffel.
Correct me if I am wrong (not that you won't if I'm right) statistically it looks bad for the GOP if you vote Democrat (or abstain) in the general election?
Also, John, where is your lengthy polemic on the importance of voting for Arlen "Single Bullet" Specter? I checked the IMC and your 'blog and saw no mention of him. You wouldn't want that to get back to the AFL-CIO collaborators, would you?
Lacny & Nader
by no lacny fan Thursday, Oct. 07, 2004 at 12:32 PM
I thought John was a Nader supporter in 2000. Am I mistaken? I seem to recall him being rather chummy with some Trots, and someone else I spoke with recalls him chatting about his admiration for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (a "soft" neo-Maoist group which I doubt is supporting Kerry). Oh how the winds of change have been blowing! Maybe this was all part of his undercover work. The anarchists and Trots might have to form the POUM-Durruti Icepick and Backstab Defense Committee Against Piecards (PDIBDCAP).
by Ruben Salazar Monday, Oct. 11, 2004 at 8:06 AM
Su espanol es una porqueria-
No habia nada anti-mujer en mi poste- tan solo dichos Mexicanos, cuales salieron cuando tu el racista presoponia que no soy lo que soy y que un mexicano no es capaz de poner un poste.
Unsaved- you continue to avoid responding to the reality I posted, probably because as a racist you are uncapable
It amazes me that no one cares that unsaved is a racist asshole who assumed a Mexican is incapable of posting, and that a white person must be behind my thoughts. Don't forget to vote november 3
Viva Atzlan, Viva la Raza
by Unsaved Monday, Oct. 11, 2004 at 8:28 AM
I in no way implied that a Mexican misogynist is incapable of posting to something as irrevant as Indymedia. Far stupider people than you post to IMC's everyday. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but you were simply mouthing the same positions as the 'anybody but Bush set'. Your style, diction and opinions resembled that of Lacny. Oftentimes white-savior types, will post as what they feel to be protected minorities to lend legitimacy to their sorry positions. I still do not agree with your assessment.
P.S. The (s)Election is November 2nd, but only a racist would bother to point that out.
all the more important
by Ruben Salazar Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004 at 6:52 AM
that racist like you vote on November 3rd which of course was my point. And your furter insistance that there was anything mysogynist in my posting is furter evidence of your total lack of understanding of Mexican use of the spanish language. Free translators can't translate culture. Interesting that you still have no response to my arguments or life experience. This has been interesting in a sick sort of way but I gotta go get working on GOTV. This string has become irrevlevant to defeating bush, which can only be done by electing kerry or having a revolution which doesn't seem very eminent.
Culture is no Excuse
by Unsaved Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004 at 7:39 AM
I'm still waiting for you to point out the racism in my posts. I don't need a translator to tell that you hate women. Maybe you should do a littel inner work to do something about your obvious misogyny instrad of wasting your time fighting for a white billionaire who signed NAFTA and the FTAA.
But it's your life.
by Unsaved Thursday, Oct. 14, 2004 at 6:59 AM
John, er Ruben,
It's difficult to respond to your posts, because they are so inconsistent. You live in Mexico, but belong to US business unions and are registering Mexican folks to vote in the US elections?
Coincindentally enough, when the omnipotent Lacny quit posting, you appear and say basically the same things.
It reminds me of the anti-Semites who pose as Arabs on indymedias, if you are who you say you are I am sorry.
let it end
by wendy cambell Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2004 at 6:01 PM
let the terrorists kill ecah other off