[This thread is reserved and dedicated to the more strange antics of the BRU. The posts with "wink" emoticons ( ) come from threads from the old boards, so this new thread consolidates them. Please feel free to post any new antics here as well. Enjoy! --bennyp81]
I'm sure the Palestinians are just thrilled that the BRU supports their liberation.
I for one am happy to hear that the BRU has branched into worlwide "justice" issues :-)
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, 8/9/02
By Mike Levy
Who’s taking a stand against Israel this week? Would you believe ... the Bus Riders Union (BRU)?
On buses and trains, BRU leaders and members are distributing a two-page flyer with an essay titled "Let the Palestinian People Go!" that likens the BRU’s stance to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign against the Vietnam War, and twice compares the Palestinians’ situation to that of Jews in Nazi Germany.
BRU first took an official position "standing with the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation" in May, when the organization passed a resolution by BRU Director Eric Mann and the BRU planning commission decried "a racist and systematic program of mass extermination and colonial conquest by the Israeli government."
The Los Angeles-based organization, founded in 1992 and claiming 3,000 members, defines itself as a "multiracial, working class-based membership organization working at the intersection of mass transit, the environment and air quality and civil rights." The organization’s primary mission is improving the quality of bus service in Los Angeles.
In 1996, BRU won a federal consent decree giving it some control over the operations of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). In March of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the MTA seeking to end the consent decree.
The essay notes: "[T]he history of the past 54 years has been a series of Israeli incursions into Arab and Palestinian land." The motion goes on to demand a "restoration of their homeland" and says, "Never again should the U.S. working class and all progressive people allow our government to use its weapons to support Israel’s expansionist and colonial rule in Palestine."
Among the philanthropic donors supporting the work of the BRU, the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF), which is "rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice," according to its mission statement, and has contributed over $300,000 since 1996. In 2000, the foundation awarded $110,000 over three years to the BRU "to support advocacy for the purchase of replacement buses, the hiring of new MTA bus drivers and mechanics and the retirement of diesel buses," according to the NCF Web site.
Stacy Han, program assistant for the NCF’s environment program, said the foundation was investigating the BRU statements and had no comment at press time.
For more information about the Bus Riders Union, visit www.busridersunion.org or call (213) 387-2800. — Mike Levy, Staff Writer
Last Edit: Jun 21, 2005 9:58:15 GMT -8 by bennyp81
The Future of the U.S. Left and Socialism: Talks by Manning Marable and Eric Mann
Marable and Mann analyze, from differing but complementary perspectives, the world crisis of socialism and capitalism, and argue strategically and introspectively that socialist principles are still critical for the rebuilding of a viable U.S. Left. Marable is a writer and scholar whose work has focused on the intersection of the black liberation struggle and socialism. Mann is a civil rights, anti-war, labor, and environmental activist whose work has focused on the synthesis of Left thought and social movements.
=============== Posted by Bob
John User ID: 9510053 Mar 22nd 9:43 AM
I think it is particularly commendable that some of the antiwar protests across the nation have resulted in traffic-slowing! How wonderful that automobiles, SUVs, "monster" trucks, and motorcycles---none of which, in my opinion, ought to be allowed on the roads---have at least been delayed in reaching their destinations!
Now, unfortunately, in some cases buses have also been delayed due to the demonstrations, and I think that is very sad. However, at least the delays have come about as the result of what is, in my view, a good cause.
Robert User ID: 8290473 Mar 22nd 11:36 AM
Grade separated RAIL would not have problems getting through traffic, be it commuter, light, heavy or even Monorail.
John User ID: 9510053 Mar 22nd 12:03 PM
Good point, Bob; and that is one reason why I like heavy passenger rail and monorail.
Andrew S User ID: 0269124 Mar 22nd 12:30 PM
... but not the nasty, cramped light rail cars where people can look at John.
From time to time, we feature thoughts from Chairman Mann. Here is his position on Iraq.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Letter to the Movement: Antiwar Strategies on the Eve of Destruction
by Eric Mann
Authors Intro. This is a 13 page essay on antiwar strategy and tactics. I have been working on it for a week, but we are finishing it up and getting it out a few hours after George Bush’s TV announcement that the U.S. would invade and begin bombing Iraq.
I was reminded of more than 30 years ago when Lyndon Johnson solemnly told the “American people” that “we” had to kill the Vietnamese to “defend” the United States from “communism.”
A group of us in an antiwar project in 1965 were so outraged we began screaming at the television set. Only a few years later the country was rocked with an antiwar movement that would not quit.
Tonight, a robotic and sedated Bush, with the false solemnity of a war criminal, told his audience that Saddam Hussein’s final outrage was his refusal to surrender, and his latest crime was that Iraqi soldiers were close to civilians, using them as “human shields” with the implication that if the U.S. murdered Iraqi civilians it would of course be Saddam’s fault.
The murders and the lies will be escalating daily. I hope you find this essay helpful as we continue to build international resistance, not just in opposition to the U.S. government, but in solidarity with the Iraqi people, who, regardless of their form of government, have done nothing to harm let alone attack the people of the United States. I am sending it in both text form and as an attached Word file.
We are living at a time of heightened inter-national consciousness of the barbarism of the U.S. empire. “Anti-American” sentiment is spread-ing throughout the entire world.
Progressives, U.S. leftists, ethical and decent people in the U.S. should embrace this sentiment—for “we” are not the United States government, “we” are not the U.S. empire, “we” are not U.S. imperialism—either the Bush/Cheney or Clinton/ Gore variety.
In fact, we in the movement should never use “we” when talking about the United States as a govern-ment or society, for we are the antiracist, anti-imperialist opposition.
Just as anti-fascist Germans realized they had to disassociate themselves with their government, realized that “patriotism” or “nationalism” could not be an appropriate sentiment in an oppressor nation, we need a new internationalism, in which progressive people in the U.S. develop a loyalty to their principles and politics and values, not to a white settler state that is the greatest danger to the world today.
All of us in the U.S. benefit from the superprofits and cultural domination of imperialism, even if we reject it in theory.
That is why taking the most dedicated and effective actions in practice to create a material force of solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Third World is so essential.
The recent heroic actions of Rachel Corrie from Olympia, Washington—who put her body on the line to try to stop an Israeli military-manned U.S. made bulldozer from destroying a Palestinian home, and paid with her life—are in the tradition of Nat Turner and John Brown, Eugene Debs and Paul Robeson, Fannie Lou Hamer and Martin Luther King.
They disassociated themselves not just from the policies, but from the essence of the U.S. As King declared, “the United States is the worst purveyor of violence in the world.”
I have spent my entire adult life as an organizer, for the Congress of Racial Equality, Students for a Democratic Society, League of Revolutionary Struggle, United Auto Workers Local 645, the Labor/Community Strategy Center and the Bus Riders Union.
Every day of my life I have seen opportunity and crisis co-existing in every situation. The present U.S. attack on, aggression against and invasion of Iraq is the latest chapter in a series of such acts within long historical epochs of U.S. colonialism and imperialism.
Many of us in the U.S. have worked feverishly to try to stop this imminent attack, and there will be no doubt moments of despair if the U.S.—not just the Bush administration but the Democratic party as well—carries out its unprovoked assault on the Iraqi people.
Others of us have legitimate fears for our own safety as “civilians” in the empire. After all, on Monday, March 17, 2003, when George Bush announced to people in the U.S. and the world that up is down, aggression is peace, and pre-emptive attack is self-defense, he then ended his litany of nonsequitors and lies with the seemingly bizarre, but most dangerous argument of all: the U.S. would attack Iraq to make the people in the U.S. safer from armed terrorist counter-attacks, and yet, since the U.S. was about to invade Iraq, it would raise its color coded “homeland” warning system from yellow to orange.
(The entire “homeland” image has strong Nazi over-tones.) Several friends from New York have called to tell me how frightened they were of a Bush-induced possibility of further attacks, and how much they blame Bush for putting them in harm’s way.
The “movement” in the broadest sense of a U.S. left, is well aware that on the one hand, there has been a geometric expansion of political consciousness and activism in the past months, and on the other hand, the Bush driven post-September 11 strategy for world domination and militarization of the home front is the most challenging period in post-Cold War history.
For movement organizers, this is a “teachable moment” because people care again. The long slumber and anesthetized stupor may be coming to an end, as waitresses, doctors, ditch diggers, welfare mothers, high school students, G.I.s and garment workers are once again, and not since the height of the civil rights and antiwar movements of the Sixties, anxious to talk politics.
This essay is not an attempt at a comprehensive overview, but tries to address some possible directions for the nascent and exploding antiwar movement—strategy and tactics for our perilous times.
The Importance of Historical Perspective: Analyzing Time, Place and Conditions in Our Organizing Work
The War is International and Ongoing. How do we begin to talk about an “antiwar movement?” Which war are we talking about?
The U.S. invasion of Iraq is simultaneously part of a long continuum of imperialist invasions of oppressed, Third World nations, and yet, in the present period, an escalation that is creating new dangers and opportunities for a world-wide united front against U.S. imperialism.
The European wars of racism and conquest that shaped U.S. history began in 1492 with the first “settlers” in North America; Christopher Columbus and the Spanish inquisition against the indigenous peoples.
The U.S. was formed as a white settler state from the outset, with the “American revolution” representing the final victory of a British-based white aristocracy finally defeating and expelling England, France, and Spain, their predecessors and competitors for stolen land.
“The war” began with genocide against indigenous peoples, slavery and the Black holocaust and continued through the Monroe Doctrine, the conquest of Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Philippines.
It morphed into the U.S. invasion of Korea, (the Korean War), the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the genocidal war against Vietnam, the invasion of Grenada, the counterinsurgency in the Congo, a century of support for the apartheid regime in South Africa, the overthrow and assassination of Salvador Allende and the support for the fascist Pinochet in Chile, U.S. sabotage in El Salvador and CIA formation of the Contras in Nicaragua.
The list goes on and on. The 20th century was characterized by Third World peoples in Asia, Africa, and Latin America fighting for survival, self-determination, national liberation, viable economies separate from the United States, and in some cases, socialism.
With the defeat of socialism in the Soviet Union and China, and the loss of an organized anti-imperialist world bloc, the Bush administration sees an opportunity to press its advantage—ironically, creating the very anti-U.S. imper-ialist coalition that had previously not existed.
This history is to contextualize the present world disaster of the U.S. aerial bombardment, invasion, and occupation of Iraq, to place the U.S. war against Iraq in the context of the ongoing U.S. war against the world.
For those who debate whether “the war” in Iraq will be “long” or “short,” a longer historical perspective is needed.
Even if we limit the discussion of “the war” to the now-as-we-speak U.S. invasion and mass aerial bombardment of Iraq, the “shock and awe” strategy—this war cannot possibly be “short.”
It won’t be short for the Iraqi people who will suffer the fall out for decades to come. Neither will it be short for the rest of the world, as the U.S. plans to carry its war to all corners of the planet.
Moreover, by Bush’s own description, the “war” will focus on “regime change.” (Yet, the demand to disarm was always conflated with the demand for the government of Iraq to cease to exist regardless of what it did.)
The planned U.S. occupation, often called “democratization” clearly means conquest of oil, geopolitical space, and strategic world hegemony. Even a very “successful” invasion by the U.S. will pose enormous geo-political costs to the empire. The greatest challenge is to the antiwar movement itself.
Will the U.S. “antiwar” movement fold up if the U.S. wins a military victory, which is virtually assured? Will it collapse if the U.S. gets Iraqi nationals to join its newly constructed occupation government?
Will it diminish if Bush’s corporate cronies, Halliburton and Bechtel, get billion dollar contracts to “reconstruct” the infrastructure of an Iraq destroyed by U.S. cruise missiles and bombers, and the rhetoric shifts from murder to “reconstruction”?
Will it recoil if after days or weeks of the most murderous assaults on Iraqi society, or after weeks or months of occupation, small groups of angry militants, regardless of ideology, attack the U.S. or British political, economic, cultural, and even possibly “civilian targets?”
In that the U.S. peace movement does not control events, but can only react to them, we need to understand the “war” as already having begun, with the U.S. supported Israeli attacks on Palestinian self-determination and the UN’s already brutal and inhumane “sanctions” against Iraq. It is the escalation of that war, not its beginning, that we have to address.
New Political Openings—a New Internationalism. The anti-“globalization” actions in Seattle, the World Conference Against Racism and the U.S. walkout in Durban South Africa, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development were three arenas of international struggle against global capitalism and the United States’ role that helped set the stage for the present events.
But the U.S. aggression against Iraq has created a qualitative break. We have qualitatively different opportunities corresponding to a qualitative leap in U.S. imperialist practices: the arbitrary creation of the theory of pre-emptive attack that violates every international law, all the principles of the United Nations, and which has torn at the fabric of the ground rules of even capitalist world domination.
These actions have created a new alignment that strengthens the objective world-wide united front against U.S. racism and imperialism.
The worldwide demonstrations against the war, and the U.S. have been a major historical break-through, and have created a dialectical relation-ship between grassroots resistance from the bottom up and major breaks in the worldwide imperialist alliance that has in turn emboldened and encouraged that protest.
New Contradictions in the Imperialist United Front. The U.S. and the Bush administration have now set in motion a series of irreversible political events that will shape the next years if not decade.
The U.S. has declared war on France and Germany, and any others who oppose them, causing deep splits in U.S. structures of domination—the United Nations, NATO, the G8, and between the U.S. and the European Union.
The present U.S. propaganda that it must invade Iraq because the French were intractable in exercising their veto is part of the endless tripletalk of the era. Now the U.S. elite sing “Blame France, Germany, Russia, China, Canada, and the UN Security Council.”
In the past, the imperialist bloc in the UN has dominated the Security Council and then used that to dominate the General Assembly. Let’s look at the myriad and escalating set of risks, and tactical defeats, the U.S. has suffered in pursuit of its objectives in Iraq.
The United States is used to winning unanimous votes in the Security Council, forcing even its most strident opponents to “abstain.”
Just this past year, the U.S. was able to browbeat the Security Council into giving the U.S. an exemption from the International Criminal Court, when every member wanted the U.S. to ratify it.
From the beginning of its Iraq adventure, the U.S. reduced its goal to getting nine votes in the Security Council, which from the outset signaled weakness.
When did the United States accept a “majority vote” on the Security Council for a war? This time the U.S. could not even get the nine needed votes out of 15 countries on the Security Council.
The U.S. has never experienced a veto by anyone since the end of the Cold War. It is the U.S. that wields its veto power to kill any resolutions, any actions it does not want.
In the present situation, the U.S. forced France to publicly commit to a veto if the U.S. wanted a second resolution to justify an invasion.
Then the U.S. overrode the entire process, saying it did not need a second resolution, or even the UN’s authorization. The Bush hyper-imperialism scared off even usual imperialist countries or their allies.
As establishment reporters commented, the U.S. could not even get the support of Canada and Mexico, two very strong pro-capitalist allies who are very dependent upon U.S. power.
Even Chile and Guinea held out, nations with significant dependence on and fear of the U.S. China and Russia, both with nuclear weapons and now both pursuing capitalist roads, have tried to accommodate the U.S. in the short run while building up their own economic capacity to be a more formidable competitor in the long run.
Yet, they too have been willing to stand up to the U.S. The vote of the Turkish parliament to oppose a U.S. launching of an invasion from its soil was another massive defeat.
Turkey is a brutal military dictatorship that suppresses the Kurdish people and is one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid.
When a rogue superpower pursues a particular tactical aim at the cost of attacking its allies and breaking apart its worldwide pro-capitalist united front, that presents a tremendous historical opportunity to coalesce a united front against U.S. imperialism for more extended purposes, that we have to cultivate and expand.
Bush, Powell, and Rumsfeld’s acceleration of these contradictions has resulted in the creation of an organized bloc that was able to survive months of U.S. bludgeoning and did not back down.
The bizarre efforts by the U.S. Congress to outlaw the words “French fries” and “French toast” in their cafeteria, and proposing the new alternative, “Fascist Fries” and “Fascist Toast” shows the level of xenophobia and madness at the ideological core of this hyper-imperialism.
The U.S. attack on Iraq may solidify Russian, French, German, Chinese, and Arab opposition to and hatred of the U.S. government.
On the one hand, Bush is counting on France and Germany to capitulate if he wins an easy victory over Iraq with the offer of the spoils of rebuilding what the U.S. plans to destroy.
On the other hand, the European Union today announced that they had found “bugs,” that is wire taps, at their meeting and charged the United States with planting them. Bush is playing a “winner take all” game, and the winning and losing cannot be understood in the first few weeks or even months of the war, even if it leads to a rapid capitulation of the Iraqi government and the imposition of a U.S. puppet regime on a foundation of Iraqi corpses.
Proposals for the Growing Antiwar Movement: Mass movements do best when there are splits in the ruling classes and elites, when there is a sense of motion and change, when formerly hostile and intractable forces change their behaviors, when there a sense of openings and options.
We Have to Warn People in the U.S. that Bush is Consciously and Calculatingly Provoking a Probable Counter-Attack to Legitimize and Accelerate his Strategy.
The juice from exploiting “September 11” (Bush used “September 11” 10 or more times in one of his last speeches) is declining. Even the New York City city council voted against a war against Iraq without “UN authorization.”
Bold voices need to warn the people that Bush’s plan seems predicated on provoking armed counter-attacks from small armed groups, which in turn will be used as a pretense to justify a greater police state at home.
Many people in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles are very worried that Bush is using them, us, as a human shield for his aggression.
If there is a second attack on the U.S., no matter how aggressive and belligerent the U.S. military is to provoke it, there will be another major shift to the Right in the country, and the antiwar movement will have to withstand it and again change minds about the U.S. actions that generate resistance.
We must begin that discussion now, while there is greater political space and openness to make it.
Here are a few arguments we have to make.
First, the entire creation of Right-wing religious zealots whose specific tactics are small armed attacks to destabilize governments were recruited and trained by the United States (such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Contras in Nicaragua) to be used against pro-socialist, and at times, pro-Soviet regimes.
Vijay Prashad in his essay, “War Against the World,” has documented the role of the U.S. and the CIA in overthrowing democratically elected, secular governments and engineering the mass murder of Middle Eastern leftists and building conservative groups in their place.
Second, if the purpose of the Bush assault is to demolish Iraq in 24 or 48 hours or a week, what can those in opposition in the Middle East do in self-defense or to deter future attacks?
It is only through clandestine, armed groups that any possibility of “self-defense” or retaliation is possible if the U.S. carries out its “awe and shock” war crimes tactics. We must understand and defend the right to self-defense for peoples under attack by the U.S.
Third, there is very little “terrorist” tradition in socialist and anti-imperialist revolutions.
The use of armed attacks on civilians has been used by people and groups denied other political avenues, such as the IRA and Algerian revolutionaries.
The South African armed struggle was never focused on civilians, as much as military targets, but the U.S. and the Apartheid government thought nothing of killing tens of thousands of Black South Africans.
The “terrorist” tradition in its specific manifestations today is primarily a creation of the United States.
Fourth, while the Islamicist politics reflected in some of the groups the U.S. is targeting are very conservative and in some ways reactionary, their fundamental grievances about U.S. contempt for and conquest of the Arab and Muslim peoples is not.
The Israeli crimes against humanity inflicted on the Palestinians are paid for and encouraged by the United States.
The efforts to pulverize the people of Iraq, the hypocritical sanctions that have killed so many Iraqi children, the mock horror of the U.S. about abuses by Saddam Hussein when the U.S. is financing and training most of the dictators in the world to advance its interests is hubris and deceit to the max.
Many people in the United States do not have to “agree” with Al Qaeda to understand its rationale. Others, often people I would not consider Left or “political” have asked, “If ‘we’ bomb them and attack them what are they supposed to do? What would we do if we lived in Iraq and the U.S. killed our children and stole our oil and took over the country?
I worry about my kids, but I blame Bush for provoking this.”
Fifth, the U.S. has a political and diplomatic alternative, even after a possible second attack on the U.S.
The U.S. does not have to lead another round of mass murder and declaring war on still another country or countries or further tighten the U.S. police state.
After September 11, the U.S. could have pursued a diplomatic, restricted, and pacifying approach., to calm international tensions, to restrict the scope of the response, and to re-assure people in both the U.S. and the world that in fact the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were relatively limited actions on a world scale (compared, for example, to the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
The most relevant response by the U.S. could have been to cut off all military aid to Israel, to demand the full self-determination of the Palestinian people, and to re-assure the world that the U.S. would treat the attacks as isolated, if serious, incidents requiring the help of international bodies with limited scope.
Signing the International Criminal Court’s banning of war crimes would have placed both those who attacked the U.S. government, and the U.S. government on a common ground of behavior.
Obviously such alternatives would be “reforms” that the U.S. will never implement, but we have to explain the profound danger of Bush escalating a crazy if fully theorized world war that will dramatically expand the option of small armed retaliation, and place the onus squarely on Bush.
In fact, many allies including those in the Middle East have warned Bush that he is provoking such actions, which is one reason he could not get nine nations to vote to support his pre-emptive strike on Iraq that he had planned long before September 11.
Building a Grassroots Base. This is a lot easier said than done. Yet, it is at the heart of expanding the influence and power of the antiwar movement whose best tactic so far has been mass demonstrations of impressive scale. U.S. society is disintegrating from within and without.
Class and race contradictions have become so severe in the U.S. In California, for example, hospitals and emergency rooms are falling apart, community colleges are cutting their programs and raising their tuition, and the state has manufactured a budget crisis leading to even more cuts in social services because of Governor Gray Davis’ and the Democrats’ financial speculation in energy markets, while the only program that continues to expand is the prison-industrial complex.
We need to make a synthesis, an integration of the class war at home, and support for movements of national liberation and self-determination both inside and outside the U.S.
Imperialism is not something the United States does. It is what the United States is.
If you are working in a trade union, or as a public school teacher, or in a low-income com-munity, then you can organize “teachers against the war” or “community college students against the war” or “trade unionists against the war.”
But if you don’t have a base, a grassroots consti- tuency, you can only march and go home alone.
In our case, the Bus Riders Union, a grassroots, anti-racist organization of several hundred active members, 3,000 dues paying members, and 50,000 on-the-bus supporters in Los Angeles has taken a strong stand of unconditional opposition to a U.S. war against Iraq.
That is, we reject the myth of “inspections” and oppose the already murderous sanctions that have been imposed on Iraq. But more important than our “position,” we are taking our views out on the buses in English, Spanish, and Korean.
It will be the construction of independent social movements—independent of the two party war system, independent of labor union bureaucracies—that can build broad united fronts with many other forces in society, but must begin with their own political independence, their own social base.
It is hard for individuals to build a base, only organizations can build a base, and within that individual organizers are critical.
There are many groups on the ground already doing this important work, I have used my own organization, the Labor/Community Strategy Center and one of our frontline grassroots membership organizations, the Bus Riders Union/Sindicato de Pasajeros, as an example of on-the-ground organizing to build the antiracist, anti-imperialist tendency in the broad antiwar front.
If you are an unaffiliated activist, find an organization that is closest to your own political views, and work to build it.
If you do not see a group with which you agree that meets your needs, think of organizing one. But it must involve a direct outreach to new people, door to door, worker to worker, bus rider to bus rider.
An internet mobilization of isolated people who show up for big marches, march to a designated spot, listen to speeches that denounce the war, and go home is not a movement, is not powerful enough to challenge the empire or its policies. Those events are important and essential, but not sufficient.
Create Political Crises Inside Existing Institutions—Force Someone To Do Something. The broad antiwar and civil rights movements of the 1960s forced actual institutions to change their policies, and created crises inside many mainstream institutions in the U.S.
The recent efforts, for example, to get city councils all over the United States to vote antiwar resolutions are very positive models, for many of those elected officials changed their votes because of grassroots pressure. But we have to go beyond votes.
A few examples: Campaigns against Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, Halliburton, Bechtel and other war manufacturers and profiteers—including challenging corporate recruiters on campus.
Campaigns to push unions and universities to carry out specific actions. For example, students can organize to stop ROTC on their campus.
Unions can organize to reject military contractors from pension funds or call one hour, one day, or longer antiwar work stoppages.
Student and worker organizations can be a part of major campaigns against military (not “defense”) spending.
There has been a discussion of “civil disobedience” and “militancy” which is good, but often it is put forth as a tactic without an objective. During the war in Vietnam the campaign against Dow Chemical, the makers of napalm, drove Dow recruiters off campuses.
It was just one example of a campaign with specifically targeted demands that could be evaluated both by the level of new support, but also the actual changes in policy.
Its goal was to punish corporations that profited from war crimes, to develop an anti-corporate, anti-imperialist sensibility among students, to challenge the traditionally safe and upwardly mobile haven of the campus for corporate recruitment, and in turn, to pressure some corporations who in turn would put pressure on the government to end the war. We need a similar assessment of targets today.
Challenging the Base of the Pro-War Democrats. Tariq Ali, an editor of New Left Review, has written that the “soft underbelly” of the British antiwar movement is their opposition to England’s participation in the war “without UN approval,” assuming that if Bush and Blair did twist enough arms to get those votes the war would be O.K.
At this point, that contradiction will not be confronted because the U.S. and Britain squandered their “diplomatic” cards and in fact begun to launch the most hostile attack on the United Nations.
Still, his point is that any antiwar movement that is essentially saying, “Invade Iraq, but do it right” is not anti-imperialist and is vulnerable to cooptation and compromise.
In the U.S. however, the soft underbelly of the antiwar movement is its love affair with, or addiction to, the Democratic Party.
Bush has written off the antiwar movement as mainly rooted in pro-Democratic party voters and forces. He has some reason to be right.
If Clinton or Gore were leading this war, would the antiwar liberals be as active, or active at all? Would the AFL-CIO, with its weak but important antiwar resolutions, be visible at all to challenge the Democratic gravy train?
Would many Black Democrats who benefited from Clinton’s massive patronage machine stand up against him? No. And Bush knows it.
Defeat the Pro-War Democrats. Since September 11 the Democratic Party has given sycophant a bad name, as Democratic Minority Leaders Gephardt and Daschle have openly boasted they have given George Bush a blank check on ‘the war on terrorism’ The Democrats, with very few exceptions, have supported every Homeland Security, “anti-terrorism” Pentagon spending bill, and war resolution Bush has asked for.
Worse, the leading Democratic presidential front runners and party leaders have tried to act as super-hawks, accusing Bush of not spending enough on “domestic” counter-terrorism, and asking for further attacks on North Korea as well.
The strategy of hawks and opportunists like John Kerrey, Richard Gephardt, Tom Daschle, and Joseph Lieberman has been:
1) Posture pro-war, so that if the war goes well they can take credit for their loyalty, and if the war goes badly it can hurt Bush, without the Democrats being in any way vulnerable to being “antiwar”;
2) Hope “the economy” continues its downhill spiral, so that in 2004, if the war goes badly and so does the economy, the Democrats can position themselves as the “party of change” without having done anything to change anything.
(Kerry is running as a chameleon, a pro-war and antiwar candidate depending on the audience, but his votes have been strongly supportive of Bush.)
It is essential for the antiwar movement to begin targeting the Democratic Hawks in mass demonstrations—not just Bush; to target Kerry, Gephardt, Daschle, and Lieberman now, with signs that oppose their presidential candidacies.
Begin the Democratic and Green Party Antiwar Campaigns Now. As the presidential elections grow closer, the very difficult debates about how progressives should vote, including a possible anti-Bush united front, or a possible Green Party revolt, can be debated in greater specificity as the actual roles of each candidate are made more clear.
But right now the Democratic “peace” candidates include former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, civil rights official Al Sharpton, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and former U.S. Senator Carol Mosely Braun.
Apparently, Ralph Nader has spoken at several antiwar rallies, but in Los Angeles, neither Nader nor the Greens have been a visible force in the broad antiwar united front.
That does not preclude a Green presidential campaign as a viable tactic, but it does reflect some of the weakness of the Green’s as an antiwar alternative so far.
Given the system’s two party dictatorship, and “winner take all” electoral system, and the power of a very conservative white majority, buttressed by a racist electoral college system, the ultimate game plan for an antiwar, antiracist electoral strategy faces a series of interrelated dilemmas.
While very liberal candidates can occasionally do well in Democratic party primaries, in the final vote, Kucinich, Dean, Sharpton, or Mosely Braun have very little chance to win.
Then if a Kerry or Gephardt is nominated, the Democrats will move even further to the Right to try to attract “Reagan Democrats.”
This will drive many people into the Green party, and Democratic liberals will scream that Nader is the cause of their problem, when in fact the Democrats have moved to the Right consistently since George McGovern in 1972.
The point is that while it will be very hard to nominate, let alone elect a Democrat who will in any way campaign on a platform that is objectively antiwar, that effort must be made.
While it will be hard to push the Green’s to really become more than a white anti-corporate populist group, that effort must also be made.
It is not really necessary to debate among ourselves (many of us are not Democrats in the first place) which Democrat should be supported, but I do think some participation in progressive Democratic campaigns is one piece of the puzzle, as is building the antiracist and antiwar wings of the Green party.
At some point we will have to debate what to do if a Gephardt is the Democratic nominee and Nader runs again.
That is, should the priority be to develop an anti-Bush united front or to take the risk to try to dramatically expand the Green Vote, with the high probability it would hurt the Democrats?
The main objective in the present, however, is to create many mass electoral campaigns with a strong antiwar platform, especially those who would be willing to challenge Bush NOW.
Groups with a grassroots base can help organize candidates’ nights and get both the antiwar candidates to forge some type of principled united front, and try to compel pro-war candidates to attend and be held accountable for their views, with the understanding that their pro-war politics may hurt their chances for winning state primaries for president.
Reach Out to the GIs with Compassion but Also Firmness—We Do Not Want U.S. GIs to be Killed, or to be Killers. During the war in Vietnam, U.S. GIs were recruited through the draft from some of the poorest areas of the country, with vast overrepresentation of Black and Latino working class youth.
They were trained to kill and be killed for an imperialist war of aggression. Since Vietnam, the U.S. has become even more sophisticated—focusing on a “volunteer” army and an even greater emphasis on aerial bombardment and missile attacks.
Militarily it has focused even more Pentagon funds on technological weapons that can pulverize entire countries (like nuclear bombs without the radioactive fallout), even as threats of U.S. nuclear weapons still are raised.
The plan is for U.S. troops to come in after the murderous bombardment that will terrorize civilian and military opposition, and then—the most horrible of terms—“mop up.”
That is, walk over the dead bodies, those who have not been pulverized or incinerated by the “smart bombs.”
The U.S. government knows that a majority of the U.S. electorate (more white, more middle class) still supports imperialist wars but does not want to see their own sons and daughters killed in the process, and has evolved its war plans accordingly.
During the war in Vietnam, the antiwar movement—through GI coffeehouses and very effective “draft resistance” counseling, agitation, and political education—argued with the GIs that the war was wrong, and that they were being used to commit war crimes against civilian populations and to put down a revolution led by a Third World people.
Those same arguments hold today, but we need to add several additional ones.
First, the U.S. has contempt for its GIs and is using them. How many people are now on the streets with signs, almost 40 years later, “Vietnam veteran, will work for food”?
How many drug addicts and alcoholics are walking the streets still in post-Vietnam syndrome?
How many GIs are suffering from Gulf War Syndrome after the U.S. Army denied for years there was any such condition, and accused the soldiers of lying? Veterans health benefits are being cut, and now a six month wait to get medical assistance and doubling of co-payments for prescription drugs.
As Dennis Kucinich observed, “There are 17,000 nursing home beds needed for veterans, but it has cut 5,000 beds. No money in the budget for 250,000 homeless veterans. It has however, asked for $108 million for new cemeteries.”
Second, the “volunteer” army is still generated by young Black and Latino men facing jail and unemployment, who see the “army” as a “career.”
Yet, many do not want to fight. Today’s news had a story of a young Black man who had joined the army to try to get out of a gang life, and was having an emotional breakdown on the frontlines of Kuwait, terribly afraid of dying never seeing his family again.
In essence the army is still primarily based on forced conscription and we should speak to GIs with an awareness that they are not “free” to “be all that they can be.”
Third, we have to face squarely the role of the new “volunteer” army in generating a new generation of out of control men, many of whom have been turned into rapists, brutalizers, and killers by their commanding officers.
These young men are not only being trained to kill oppressed peoples the world over, but they are also turning that violence against themselves, their families, and society.
A recent article indicated that virtually every woman in the Airforce academy had been raped by fellow “class mates.” It was almost part of the “basic training” as the men felt protected by the system and the women were afraid to protest.
If the U.S. has the kind of military training that considers the raping of women integral to its orientation, imagine the treatment of any oppressed peoples under U.S. military occupation, or the families of the “servicemen” when they return.
Similarly, four soldiers at Fort Bragg in North Carolina are accused of killing their wives, three of the soldiers had recently returned from Afghanistan.
The Special Forces spokespeople explained that the murdering of wives by returning servicemen was not unique to Ft. Bragg. Indeed!
The Pentagon has reported 11,000 cases of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse last year among military families, and everyone knows those abuses are so underreported that the number could be ten times as high.
The U.S. soldiers are being revved up to kill in Iraq, that is their job. A young man in the army just killed himself. The army said the “stress” of wanting to go into combat and having the deadline postponed and postponed led him to take his own life.
Imagine 250,000 troops on a hair trigger just waiting to kill—what are we producing and what will happen to them and us when they return home?
We need parents of GIs and former GIs and Vets to help lead the antiwar movement, for they know the enormous lifetime cost of being a trained killer for a series of unjust wars of aggression and conquest.
We need to reach out to GIs and explain firmly and clearly that they are both being used in an imperialist war, but also that they are being trained to be violent and out-of-control human beings who will return a menace to themselves, their loved ones, and society. They should turn against the war.
Expanding the Demands to Talk About the World War. The antiwar movement is situated in a worldwide movement for self-determination in which peoples all over the world are seeking independence from U.S. domination.
The Strategy Center has generated a new document, Towards a Program of Resistance, that goes into detail on the strategy, tactics, and politics of an anti-imperialist program. Here are a few examples of how the movement can also broaden the scope of the war against the Bush war machine.
· The demand for Reparations for Black people in the U.S., the African nations and peoples, and other peoples of the African Diaspora are both just and urgent, and also call into question the entire history of conquest and racism of the U.S.
As such, they can help generate a transformative movement based on self-determination for Black people in the U.S., in solidarity with oppressed peoples throughout the world.
· Self-determination for the Palestinian People—a politically and economically viable self-determination and the return of all land taken for Israeli settlements and annexations.
Throughout the Middle East and the Arab World the U.S. $5 billion in annual support for Israel that prevents Palestinian self-determination is a deeply felt and urgent issue, and will expand anti-U.S. imperialist sentiment in the region until those policies are reversed.
· Self-determination for Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba, and other Latin American and Third World move-ments. The U.S. policy of dictating “regime change” to the Palestinians, Iraqis, and trying to overthrow and sabotage progressive governments that place any restrictions on capitalist markets and profits is at the core of the Bush “war against the world.”
It expands by military means what the Clinton administration tried to achieve by primarily economic and political threats.
· Motions of censure against the United States in the United Nations. The U.S. has used the United Nations to its will, boycotting its resolutions, withholding its dues, and using Kofi Annan as its representative.
It has boycotted the World Conference Against Racism, refused to sign the Kyoto Accords, refused to join the International Criminal Court.
There are some who simply say the UN is a fig leaf, but right now the UN is a critical forum in which antiwar forces throughout the world want to pursue their debate and disagreement with the U.S.
U.S. Stop! There is no need to make glib prognoses and predictions. The short-term military power of the United States and its barbaric use of armed force and weapons of mass destruction is the greatest threat to world peace and stability.
The U.S. scares the hell out of everyone, but many are hoping for its overextension and decline.
We need to make it clear that we know the U.S. has its sights on virtually every nation, every progressive movement, and the efforts to chal-lenge U.S. forces in Palestine, the Philippines, Venezuela, and Los Angeles are part of a larger worldwide strategy.
It is now 11 PM Wednesday, March 19, 2003, tomorrow in Los Angeles we will assemble at Olvera Street, in the heart of a Latino area of downtown, and march to the federal building.
We will share our sense of outrage, denounce the war, and wonder, if not out loud then to our-selves, what can we possibly do to stop this massacre, to stop the U.S. barbarians breaking down the gates of Iraq.
I write strategy for therapy as well as for a sense of orientation. I am part of an organi-zation. I will march with 100 or more of Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union members and friends, and feel a simultaneous sense of power and powerlessness as we march and chant and the bombs continue to fall.
For all of us in “the movement,” fighting against racism in a racist country, fighting against imperialism in the heart of the empire is a daunting, and at times, a lonely journey.
This essay is an effort to explain that the Bush administration faces profound international contradictions, and the nascent antiwar movement has achieved enormous victories in a very short time, with an even harder job ahead.
Each individual, each group, has to have the most soul-searching debate about the best path to take to advance our objectives.
Fortunately, we have cards to play, options to choose from, opportunities to raise the stakes and join an international united front in which people all over the world join us in asking, “How can we stop the United States?”
In that context, living and working in the belly of the beast gives us an enormous international responsibility. Our resistance can give encouragement and hope to people fighting on our side who are often in struggles far more advanced than our movement—part of a worldwide united front against U.S. imperialism. It makes you feel it is worth fighting another day, and every day.
Eric Mann is a long-time organizer with the Congress of Racial Equality, the Students for a Democratic Society, and the United Auto Workers.
He is the director of the Labor/community Strategy Center in Los Angeles and a member of the Bus Riders Union.
His latest book, Dispatches from Durban: First-hand Commentaries on the World Conference Against Racism and Post-September 11 Movement Strategies can be ordered at www.frontlinespress.com
The Strategy Center’s Towards a Program of Resis-tance can be ordered at www.thestrategycenter.org He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Lian Hurst Mann and Layla Welborn of the Strategy Center for their political editing and collaboration on this essay.
Bus Rider MTA User ID: 1606604 Dec 21st  6:39 PM
This is a good example where our groups need to get involved. BRU has no real ownership in this, but they are placing a stake in the action.
We need to investigate and take a position. Read way down and see if we want to put together an action plan to promote clean electric light rail in addition to more buses.
Let me know what we should do. Ourside groups that don't know the real situation in Los Angeles have attached themselves to the BRU. Perhaps we can join or get the Sierra Club not to be involved in this false effort. Bart!
********************************************** From the Sierra Club to: Darrell, Daniel, Jan and Jim,
Would the Transportation Committee or the Air Quality Committee be interested in doing some organizing around the LA Auto Show on Jan. 10?
The Sierra Club, LA Bus Riders Union and Global Exchange are teaming up to put public transport-ation and fuel efficiency in the spotlight.
If you're interested, please let me know as soon as possible.
Cheers, Johanna Conservation Program Coordinator Sierra Club Angeles Chapter
-----Original Message----- From: Brendan.Bell@sierraclub.org Sent: Friday, December 12, 2003 7:18 AM Subject: LA Auto Show clean car event
Johanna, I left you a message about this, but here is more information on the upcoming event at the L.A. Auto Show.
We have been working with Jason Mark at Global Exchange on our Automaker Accountability Campaign www.sierraclub.org/fordaction for the past year.
Jason has been working with the LA Bus Rider's Union to organize a hybrid event outside the LA Auto Show on January 10th. They are aiming to turn out 200 people for the rally and would love to get some Angeles Chapter Sierra Club members out to the event.
I think this will be a fun event for folks as well as a great media opportunity.
I've attached the action alert that outlines the event. Please let me know if you think this is something that Angeles Chapter volunteers would be interested in.
Take care, Brendan
Brendan Bell Conservation Assistant Sierra Club Global Warming Program ph: 202-675-7913; fax: 202-547-6009
Breaking Our Oil Addiction IS NOT Rocket Science: Show the Gas-Guzzlers What They Could Be Driving
Hybrid Rally and Parade at LA Auto Show Saturday, January 10,12:00 Noon Downtown Los Angeles (Assemble at St. Vincent¹s Church Parking Lot, Adams and Figueroa [entrance on Figueroa], 1 mile south of Convention Center; then drive together to the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa).
The LA Auto Show is a premier event for the auto industry, a chance for the car makers to show off their new models and get the public excited about their products. But when it comes to improving fuel efficiency and breaking America¹s deadly addiction to oil, most major car companies have very little to boast about.
Drivers of gasoline-electric hydrid vehicles know it doesn¹t have to be this way. Using proven technologies, hybrid vehicles get double the gas mileage of the average car on the road. As the growing number of hybrids on the road proves, breaking our oil addiction is not rocket science.
The technologies for change exist; it¹s the will that¹s lacking.
On Saturday, January 10, environmentalists, human rights groups, and public transit advocates will hold a rally at the LA Auto Show to demand a doubling of average car fleet gas mileage and a doubling of the number of buses in LA.
Hydrid drivers will join them to show the positive alternatives that exist on the roads today and to build public awareness about the promise of hybrid vehicles.
If you or anyone you know drives a hydrid, please invite them to this important event.
This sound like a good idea, but what is the possibility of the Convention Center having the cops come out and kick us off the property. This is a big money maker for the Convention Center, so I don’t think they would hesitate to do such a thing. Regardless of the cops, I'm still down; Show off how our Metros are way better then buses, and how PT is good choice to travel on.
James Fujita User ID: 2156654 Dec 22nd 11:36 PM
man, the Sierra Club sure picked the wrong friends to team up with. and I'm not talking about Global Exchange...
anyhoo. there's a light rail station right in front of the convention center. there's gotta be a way to tie that in with the protests.
as far as having the cops there... as long as they have the right permits and whatnot, police shouldn't be a problem
Dane User ID: 1473814 Jan 12th 3:27 PM
If we were wondering what the next incarnation of the BRU was to be after the consent decree, I think this is it. I just read the webpage setup for this protest "jumpstartford.com" and it reads just like a BRU brochure.
Just switch Ford with MTA for the protest/litigation target, and you have the same beast.
If you read the credits further, you'll notice that the person mentioned in the above press release (Jason Mark) can really be reached at his primary contact at, yes you guessed it, The Labor/Community Strategy Center.
PForce User ID: 0247944 Jan 12th 7:08 PM
I showed up a little late--but they were still giving speeches when I got there. There was a crowd of maybe two hundred. The speakers were good, and they were mainly focused on anti-war protest and budget cuts. They were a lively group. Too bad they kept the demonstrators quite a way from the entrance to the car show.
They did form a line walked around after the speeches, carrying signs and slowing down traffic. There was a long line of cars along Figueroa trying to get around the corner to get into the parking garage. Lots of angry men in SUVs. They all had to look at my sign for awhile. (I had made a sign making a point about the danger to the environment from automobiles, and making a pitch for light rail.)
I would love to see the BRU( in a truly honest agenda) that could fight for pedestrian rights throughout LA.
Dennis Lytton User ID: 2504764 Jan 19th 3:20 AM
I see that what you did was type "BRU" into a search engine and came up with this. Very cute.
Ken Alpern User ID: 0923684 Jan 19th 1:18 PM
I would love to see the BRU( in a truly honest agenda) that could fight for pedestrian rights throughout LA.
There's already a "BRU" that's already fighting not only for pedestrian rights, but for the rights of bus riders, train riders and even automobile motorists.
It's called "The Transit Coalition".
Robert User ID: 9962683 Aug 2nd 3:07 AM
The Bru link above is not of any valid use anymore, the link is No Good! Maybe the BRU will take this hint. ;o)
G. Johnson User ID: 0714654 Aug 4th 2:11 PM
Re: The following was taken from an article allegedly written by the BRU:
Clean Air Campaign - Overview & Demands
The Bus Riders Union is a mass based, multi-racial environmental justice organization. Our lead campaign is "Billions for Buses: Fight Transit Racism,” a civil rights/mass transit campaign to fight transit racism and clean up L.A.'s lethal air.
Los Angeles residents, especially inner-city residents, who are overwhelmingly Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander, are exposed to a toxic soup of airborne chemicals, many of which are tied to three interrelated, transportation-based problems: 1) high levels of gasoline-based emissions from autos, 2) high levels of diesel-based emissions from trucks and buses, and 3) industrial emissions from factories and businesses.
The BRU's public health work has both international implications and direct regional impacts for L.A. and the United States. Our growing Clean Air, Clean Lungs, Clean Buses campaign aims to:
Dramatically reduce air toxins and greenhouse gas emissions from autos, and reduce overall auto use in Los Angeles Lead a widespread public health education campaign among the 400,000 daily L.A. County bus riders.
The campaign proposes to:
Reduce the autos on L.A.’s roads and highways by 50%—from 8 million to 4 million Pressure automakers to dramatically increase auto gas mileage and dramatically reduce production of high-profit, high-mortality pick-ups and SUVs Double the MTA bus fleet from 2300 buses to 4600 buses Develop a trilingual environmental health campaign Create bus-only lanes on L.A. freeways that expressly prohibit auto use Create bus-only lanes on key LA surface streets that will be routes for the MTA’s new Rapid Bus Program, including the Wilshire, Ventura, Vermont, Central, Hollywood and Slauson corridors Create “auto-free zones” in Los Angeles—entire areas of the city that are prohibited for auto use and only accessible to pedestrians, wheelchairs, bicycles, and public transportation
These goals are part of our long-term strategy to radically improve public transportation and public health, especially for low-income urban communities, in one of the most air- polluted and auto-dominated megacities in the U.S.
All in all...guess I'm really stupid...but will putting MORE BUSES on the streets help to achieve those goals? Why aren't automobile drivers already incentivized to jump on buses now? Someone here is psychotic...maybe it's me, but I doubt it.
N.Y. State Of Mind User ID: 8555343 Oct 19th 8:17 PM
They campaign for all that, yet they are against rail? How tha hell do they expect to get cars off tha road and its drivers into buses, and clean up tha athmosphere if rail transit is out of tha picture? With a magic wand?
Robert User ID: 2037954 Oct 20th 12:45 AM
Will you please put a source, date, and any URL if still valid for the above article.