Re: [sixties-l] Re. Movement "excesses"

From: Carrol Cox (
Date: 10/27/00

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    Ted Morgan wrote:
    > What Carrol argues may be true --about inevitable 'excesses' in Left organizing.
    > The point, though, is clearly to minimize them (at least unless they are seen as
    > tactically advantageous by movement organizers)
    I agree. It is always intelligent not to be stupid. But how could "we" make sure that
    Bernadette Dohrn stays at home instead of convincing many people to participate with her
    in making a mockery of the antiwar effort? How are "we" (all of us intelligent movement
    organizers) going to be sure that some brilliant graduate of Stanford or Vassar doesn't
    just sweep up a bunch of equally brilliant people sometime in 2010 and convince them
    that despite the fact that we really have only 5% of the population with us now that the
    latest atrocity of the imperialists is so unimaginably horrible (and it will be) that
    the only decent thing a morally superior person can do is run screaming down the beach
    and grabbing people by their swim trunks and saying, "Are you for humanity or against
    it? You have 60 seconds to decide?"
    It is fucking going to happen. Depend on it. It is absolutely certain that it is going
    to happen, despite anything that we can do -- those of us who know that it is
    intelligent not to be stupid. Imperialist horrors do that to people -- enough of them,
    *always*, to make the goal of preventing such excesses simply a xmas wish to Santa.
    > so that (a) the content of the
    > movement's message has a chance to reach larger audiences, and (b) the movement that
    > these audiences "see" is appealing to them, draws them in, seems to be growing,
    > etc.  A lesson can be learned, I think, from the disciplined organization of the
    > civil rights movement, though I am aware of (a) the sharp tensions within, and (b)
    > the fact that it didn't explicitly pose a radical critique of the system --much more
    > difficult to get through the media in any form!
    > Ted Morgan
    > Carrol Cox wrote:
    > > "Lauter, Paul" wrote:
    > >
    > > >         Third, I don't buy the theory that anti-Left activity derived mainly
    > > > from a reaction to movement excesses in and after 1968.  Yes, that was an
    > > > element.
    > >
    > > There is a fundamental weakness to all arguments that ascribe left weakness to
    > > left excesses. There will *always* be excesses (both "sincere" and created by
    > > police provocateurs) -- so a left that can't flourish despite any and all
    > > excesses is a left that isn't going anyplace. Complaining about left excesses is
    > > like complaining about the weather. Excesses of all kinds are just part of
    > > capitalist weather. There's a nice passage in the Anti-Duhring where Engels
    > > lists all the hangers-on in any workers' movement.
    > >
    > > Carrol Cox

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