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Embryo



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icarus502 wrote:

Bah. The compromise never works both ways. If helping with a letter writing drive or electing some candidate for president meant that liberals would "compromise" in turn by not snitching, then I'd see this. But I don't see that happening. Ever. Radicals "compromise" by bending to the will of liberals and helping them accomplish their goals, even when they are against ours. But I don't see liberals "compromising" the other way. When they have decent numbers, and they did in '99 and for the few years afterwards, radicals don't need liberals. And when they don't need numbers (i.e. for covert action in small groups), they don't need them either. That's sort of how I see it: I remember back in '99 and thereafter, there was no "compromise" from liberals, they were scapeboating direct actionists and black blockers, locking arms in front of Niketown, and pointing fingers to the cops. I seen it like a zenith. So, with all due respect, please don't talk about "compromise" unless you really mean it. Both ways.

I'm sorry everyone that I have a hard time discussing this matter without getting really heated. It's one of the only things like that to me.


Ic, you've lost me here. I remember this dynamic, but I no longer see it as looking quite this way. The center is moving left and a lot of previously-radical issues have become progressive ones, and there is a strong progressive presence in DC -- the more we work at it, the more this is true. And there's a lot of room for critiquing the way radicals dealt with a lot of issues in the 90s. But the fundamental difference is that during the 90s we had a "liberal" president who was really a centrist. Now we have a "radical" President who is really a progressive and is open to a lot of the ideas that were radical in the 90s. It's complicated!

Where do you see a clear radical consensus that liberals are ignoring or pushing against these days? There's nothing like the anti-globalization movement that existed then. The Iraq War has become a political reality we can't raise our fists to change. What is there right now that radicals can really say, we all agree on this and demand it must change?

I understand the frustration you're articulating and regarding mainstream liberals I completely agree. But those liberals are getting old in the tooth and there's an argument to be made that they matter less and less and less.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:56 pm
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icarus502
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I completely agree there. I just meant to say that I remember a lot of compromises that were one-way and our supposed allies, at the Sierra Club and so forth, were lightning fast to condemn us and to aid either tacitly or explicitly in investigations. And the locking arms in front of Niketown will be an indelible image in my mind.

But, yeah, you're right.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:01 pm
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Embryo



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TurnpikeGates wrote:

I like what you say about accountability. The reason I harped on the righteousness of radical action (specifically property destruction) is because someone (maybe you even?) said "Violence is for radicals who've lost hold of what made them righteous" (approximately).



I could have articulated that more gracefully -- I think that my last response was a much more graceful way of making that point. So thanks for challenging it and giving me that opportunity.


Quote:

In theory I agree about accountability. I believe broadly in the principle of democracy, and that direct action should represent interests beyond those who carry out the action.

BUT, remember that in the case of hardcore animal rights activists, their constituency is not US or the SPCA, it's the animals. And yes, they'd all put in a vote for the wirecutters or the molotov.


How do you know that? See, that's what I'm talking about. Sometimes radicals just plain lose the thread. I understand -why- the ALF believes they are justified in making the choices they make, but I also think they're completely out to lunch. The fact that they have a valid point doesn't mean that it's so valid that they can run out into left field with it and claim that -we're- the ones missing the point if we don't follow them there. I think we agree completely about why the ALF does what it does -- but what I'm saying is, fuck them. They're wrong. They've lost the thread. They don't know what they are doing and they have no credibility as vocalizers of their viewpoint.


Quote:

I know this probably sounds like off the deep end shit, but that's the point. Ideologies go all the way from the center to both ends (if you want to even simplify it to a binary). And being at one extreme doesn't make you wrong. ALF folks ARE too far out to compromise with people who want 2 inches more of space in the chicken cages or 5 minutes more outdoors for the cows.


No, being off to one side doesn't make you wrong, but it doesn't make you right either. And in this case, ALFers are no more right than people who think that making cosmetic changes to animal treatment will solve the problems we have with animal rights and exploitation.


Quote:

Now, if we're talking more about general leftist ideology and action, I'd have to defer to Icarus' statement above. Obama's election is a case-in-point. I could spend all day pulling posts from last year about how progressive Obama is going to be, so even the Nader liberals and the commies and anarchists should vote for him. We were hearing the same things about Kerry in '04.

And dammit, it worked. A lot of people who knew better voted for Obama. And shit, it was STILL probably the right thing to do. BUT, no torture charges, no end to Iraq war, escalation of Afghanistan, full support for Israeli apartheid.

We got Cuba (sort of), Chavez gets a smile, we might have progress on health care that McCain would have been forced to anyway (no single payer), we got the same trillions that McCain would've given to the banks...


We just don't agree here. Obama's not a good example of this and frankly I think your assessments here leave a lot to be desired in terms of accuracy. I don't want to dilute the conversation we're having now though so I won't wade into it.


Quote:

And I don't mean to make this about electoral politics. You're talking about dialogue and compromise. And generally speaking, these groups ARE in dialogue. They're right to feel marginalized because, dammit, the SENSIBLE course on the environment is about 10 miles "left" of the current course. You have to be an 'extremist' to even be CLOSE to what's necessary to have an Earth worth living on in 100 years.


But ALF isn't about the environment. It's about animal rights, which is nowhere near a universal concern, in large part because of the bonkers mindset and strategies of ALF and other animal rights advocacy groups. And we have a government right now that is getting ready to do some drastic shit to fight climate change. Expect it. They're taking it really seriously. A sane, realistic, pessimistic POV about the environment is no longer radical.


Quote:

A lot of things radicals believe in aren't even on the table, and they're not getting there through dialogue.


Like on what? What conversations are radicals having that don't enter the mainstream at all? And what makes you so sure they won't? Radical conversations on gender, class, race, the environment, globalization, the war on drugs, prison reform, and on and on and on, have all entered the mainstream. Some of these viewpoints have even come to dominate -- some of these issues have changed so much that radicals need to re-learn the issues at hand before they can get back to pushing things forward.


Quote:

And if you want to go deep on it, how can radical politics EVER have a mass constituency when media's on lockdown? Maybe it's condescending or ivory tower, but a big chunk of the population is simply narcotized, they're sleeping. Explosions wake people up.


Explosions scare people. They startle them awake and make them crazy. There is no basis for the assertion that explosions help advocate for a cause unless it is already broadly shared.

The media is a problem, but a decreasingly important one. The Internet is a big deal. It's changing/changed radicalism a great deal. It's making all our our marginalizing political categories obsolete. It will continue to do this until labels stop being useful as tools of marginalization and reduction.


Quote:

There's been coalition building forever, and there really is communication across the political spectrum, but it's understood that nothing more than a few notches toward economic justice or social progress will ever happen legislatively.


Tell this to John Lewis. If this is "understood", it needs to be rethought.


Quote:

By the way, you're still using the word "violence" very loosely. We're not even talking about injury and loss of lives. Apparently in the history of both the ELF and ALF, over hundreds (thousands) of actions, ONE or TWO people lost some fingers? Christ, if that's violent action, then let's lock up ALL the cops. We're supposed to be compromising while people are getting locked up for being on the same sidewalk as someone with a bandana over their mouth? The cops just took one in London. How many cops (wait, how about PEOPLE) have leftists killed in England this decade? How about the U.S.? The Unabomber was a misanthrope, and I'm not even touching that ideology. My point (and I know I'm ranting at the moment) is that the "violence" is overstated. Radical action in this country in particular has been so overwhelmingly NON-violent, that the "accountability" argument can't hold much water. And on the topic of accountability, let's not forget that both the ELF and ALF have explicit manifestos that delineate what type of actions should be taken in their names, so it's not just individuals run amok.


I'm talking about property destruction, which always carries a risk of loss of life. You can't separate it from that basic fact. You're drawing a false dichotomy between destruction of property and destruction of life. Once you do this you're begging for someone to wander into your blast zone. It is reasonable to expect radicals to assume that if they are using bombs there is a risk of human loss of life.


Quote:

As to certainty of rightness... Well, I don't think--with a colluding news media, indoctrinating public schools, and the clampdown on public organizing--that what's "right" is going to (or should) be determined by broad national consensus. There's no point in even having dissenting beliefs if we don't "know better." Eventually radicals will have to win over broad sectors of the public, and the Right has done such a great job of demonizing some of the Leftish institutions that keep this country even livable that it will be a hard sell when the time comes. But I don't think any of us know the order in which things work, and it's just possible that individual direct action is the first step.


Yes, it is. I'm all about direct action. But direct action should clue people in, not scare them. That's the difference we're discussing. I'm not against radical action! I'm against radicals choosing violence as their means of action. If you are radical, if your viewpoint is radical, if your base of support is not broad enough to build a revolution, it is folly and it will destroy you and at worst your cause.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:10 pm
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
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Embryo wrote:
icarus502 wrote:

Bah. The compromise never works both ways. If helping with a letter writing drive or electing some candidate for president meant that liberals would "compromise" in turn by not snitching, then I'd see this. But I don't see that happening. Ever. Radicals "compromise" by bending to the will of liberals and helping them accomplish their goals, even when they are against ours. But I don't see liberals "compromising" the other way. When they have decent numbers, and they did in '99 and for the few years afterwards, radicals don't need liberals. And when they don't need numbers (i.e. for covert action in small groups), they don't need them either. That's sort of how I see it: I remember back in '99 and thereafter, there was no "compromise" from liberals, they were scapeboating direct actionists and black blockers, locking arms in front of Niketown, and pointing fingers to the cops. I seen it like a zenith. So, with all due respect, please don't talk about "compromise" unless you really mean it. Both ways.

I'm sorry everyone that I have a hard time discussing this matter without getting really heated. It's one of the only things like that to me.


Ic, you've lost me here. I remember this dynamic, but I no longer see it as looking quite this way. The center is moving left and a lot of previously-radical issues have become progressive ones, and there is a strong progressive presence in DC -- the more we work at it, the more this is true. And there's a lot of room for critiquing the way radicals dealt with a lot of issues in the 90s. But the fundamental difference is that during the 90s we had a "liberal" president who was really a centrist. Now we have a "radical" President who is really a progressive and is open to a lot of the ideas that were radical in the 90s. It's complicated!

Where do you see a clear radical consensus that liberals are ignoring or pushing against these days? There's nothing like the anti-globalization movement that existed then. The Iraq War has become a political reality we can't raise our fists to change. What is there right now that radicals can really say, we all agree on this and demand it must change?

I understand the frustration you're articulating and regarding mainstream liberals I completely agree. But those liberals are getting old in the tooth and there's an argument to be made that they matter less and less and less.


Food for thought.

I also want to throw on the table that I don't go back to 1999. I mean, I was alive and politically conscious then (I was 14), but I defer to you guys' experience.

The think that upsets me about your post is what you say about the Iraq war. Anti-war is a liberal-radical consensus... it's an easy bridge. But it's also an example of why compromise sometimes seems like selling out. How can we even be calling ANYONE liberal who voted for engagement in Iraq, and isn't demanding an immediate pullout. IF that's what liberal means, are radicals and liberals even on the same page?
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:14 pm
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Embryo



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icarus502 wrote:
I completely agree there. I just meant to say that I remember a lot of compromises that were one-way and our supposed allies, at the Sierra Club and so forth, were lightning fast to condemn us and to aid either tacitly or explicitly in investigations. And the locking arms in front of Niketown will be an indelible image in my mind.

But, yeah, you're right.


I feel this. I think these were important battles. It's interesting though -- I feel like a lot of the struggle here came from expecting institutions to do things that didn't make sense for them to do. The Sierra Club does a lot of great lobbying and preservation work. But what role should they have really had in fighting globalization and global environmental exploitation? Shouldn't they be the ones pushing the mainstream edge, not the radical one? They had to fall back because it would have jeapordized the crucial, non-radical work that they do.

So that's why the Internet is so key. Because it's allowed us to build organizations that can achieve the goals that we really have, without asking oldstyle liberal organizations to change their missions, which we learned the hard way will never happen.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:17 pm
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Embryo



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TurnpikeGates wrote:
How can we even be calling ANYONE liberal who voted for engagement in Iraq, and isn't demanding an immediate pullout. IF that's what liberal means, are radicals and liberals even on the same page?


Unfortunately there is a classic liberal thread of nation-building and utopian thought. It gets us into rough places. The utopianism of neo-conservative thought actually originated when those guys were Leninists. Politics is complicated like that.

But I don't think it's compromising for me to tell you that I don't think that an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is a very respectable idea from a viewpoint of radical justice. This is another whole conversation, but the Iraq War now has become a completely different issue from what it was when we were trying to stop it.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:20 pm
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Embryo



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There's no one I'd rather debate this with on this board than you, Icarus. My radical connections have frayed over the last couple years, and although I'm trying to make life choices to turn that around I've also found the distance to be educational in a lot of respects. It's a little surreal for us to be on different sides of this debate but I'm glad we're having it.

And I started making this post because: Turnpike, I want to give you a shout out before we go any farther. I'm glad you're here, thanks for this debate. One of the best I've ever had on this board.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:27 pm
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icarus502
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I like having this debate with you too, even though I can't participate as fully as I'd like. Thanks Turnpike, btw. I think this is an example that opinion on this board is actually rather diverse and broad.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:30 pm
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Jascha



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I don't have a lot to add to the rest of this discussion. I think my viewpoint is quite clear from what I said.

But I think I would like that add that I am very much convinced of the fact that radical, violent animal rights/etc actions have very, very severely damaged the movement for not just animal rights, but also decent animal treatment, fur trade etc.


It utterly discredits such movements that have not yet made it entirely into the mainstream (although significant progress has been made on this front).



Just two months ago I was in a university class filled with incredibly intelligent people, and a talk about non-mainstream approaches to politics/international relations got entirely sidetracked because almost half of the class started talking about 'crazy radicals' 'blowing up houses' and 'trashing stores during anti-globalization protests'.

Now, these are genuinely smart people, that understand a lot very quickly... but these few actions by a bunch of jerks have sidetracked this entire discussion.

It took nearly an hour for me and maybe two other people in that class, to put forward a convincing argument that these fringe groups do not represent genuinely concerned, more mainstream activists, and that activism has in fact NOT declined since the Seattle/Genova protests. Meanwhile we were derided for being in cohorts with these ALF / black block fuckups.
I'm certainly not a very active person in such movements, but even for me it was disheartening to have to explain my very unradical ideas to a bunch of people my age, while being derided as a radical nutjob...

I mean, some of those peopel were clearly not up to date on realistic facts on what's happening outside of their safe, status-quo political spectrum. But we ARE talking about a genuinely left-wing organized body of university students here...

Fucking disheartening.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:32 pm
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Hellen Earth
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if by diverse and broad you mean center of the road to far-left radical, then yes, definitely.

we need more right wing radicals on this board to spice it up.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:33 pm
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Embryo



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Hellen Earth wrote:
if by diverse and broad you mean center of the road to far-left radical, then yes, definitely.

we need more right wing radicals on this board to spice it up.


to ruin this conversation, you mean?

This conversation has been really enlightening because it's been among radicals on the left. a different conversation would happen with radicals on the right. The usual conversation is the one that pits anyone even slightly radical-left against everyone who is either apathetic or not radically left. Those conversations usually suck ass.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:37 pm
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Hellen Earth
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i was joking. it was a good read. : )
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:47 pm
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TurnpikeGates



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Embryo, I agree with most of what you said there. If I understand correctly, you're for direct action, conditionally. And property destruction falls under direct action, but you're not for that brand of DA. I can understand that.

I still think the distinction between violence and property destruction is key. I've been playing too fast and loose with the distinctions, and also rapidly switching back and forth between talking about animal rights, environmental justice, and plain old Red shit. But it is possible to carry out destructive action with a virtual guarantee of no human harm. Monkey-wrenching is property destruction, too. But I might come around that bombs and fires are inherently violent... maybe.

Here's what I wanted to get across about animal rights:
I'm not sure what part of ALF you think is out to lunch, the value system relative to animal rights, or the praxis relative to direct action (read: property destruction). Or both.
It's just that when you truly believe that (this is a rooouuugh formulation) lab/food animals are enslaved or tortured "people" (that is, bearing equal rights to life and freedom as humans), then busting down doors isn't THAT radical. It seems to me that you're still arguing the path from the ideology to the action, when you can't get on the path because the ideology is so distant. Straight up, you don't think animals have (intrinsically) the same rights as humans. Most people don't. But I mean, I feel forced into dangerous analogies here... fuck it , I won't go there. I'm just saying, it's valid to think ALF is loony bin, but like you said, THEY have a valid point. And you're saying their valid point doesn't give them the right to run off with it, but that's because you're diminishing the GRAVITY of their point. It's PEOPLE, MILLIONS OF THEM, BEING TORTURED. It's not my belief, I'm just explaining how the logic is internally consistent. But I'm definitely willing to drop the ALF thread, cause it's not even my cause. (Vegetarian 7 years, animal lover, no molotovs).

As for the environment, I totally dig that 2009 is not 1999. I want to believe you that people in power are taking the environment seriously now, that big moves are coming... I'd love a breakdown of what to expect in the next year. Very skeptical, though.



Quote:

What conversations are radicals having that don't enter the mainstream at all? And what makes you so sure they won't?

You mentioned class... I mean... every one of the issues you mentioned BESIDES the environment has gone backwards over AT LEAST the last 8 years. We got medical marijuana and apparently we're getting the Crack/Powder balance. Globalization- I've seen no progress, and no signs of it. We're still losing U.S. jobs, and "our" corporations are still paying criminally low wages and destroying the earth abroad. We have more prisons and prisoners than ever before, and counting. The CA budget might literally be the only step toward prison reduction I've seen. Race, well, I think it's more stutter step than steps forward. I'm up in the air about the significance of a black president, I'd say institutionalized racism is at about a standstill, and racism racism is one step forward, one step back. Gender, dunno. It's 30-40 years since second wave feminism and Sarah Palin got as much coverage about her appearance as her politics. Wage equity's better, but the culture is stagnant on gender.

I'm not SO SURE these issues won't improve in the near future. I'm an atheist praying for it, but the bottom line for me is that the poor of this country and the world are worse off than they were 50 years ago. And that issue is only on the table rhetorically. Class is the kicker, and capitalism is still capitalism.

You've got me thinking on property destruction. It's not even a tactic I advocate, but I think I was considering it in a moral light (like, it's justified dammit!) rather than in a strategic light, about whether it actually works.

And then, John Lewis. Look, I'm not saying that nothing good happens through voting, petitioning, lobbying, etc. I mean, I'm in Barbara Lee's district. It's just, are we gonna get there at a snail's pace?

Finally, two things:

I want to hear how I'm wrong on Obama.

And I want to hear why we shouldn't immediately pull out of Iraq.

I'll give you time on those. Don't worry about sidetracking the discussion, cause nobody else is in it anymore!

And Jascha: I think scapegoats like you're talking about, just layer onto pre-existing beliefs about the mainstream of a given movement. Like, Timothy McVeigh didn't convince me that the Ron Paul fringe is crazy (sorry for being atemporal), it just confirmed it. Likewise, I just don't think the black bloc is making people disagree with liberals, or ALF is making people want more factory farms. They're handy scapegoats which confirm the beliefs of the already swayed.

I'm hearing your counterexample there, but do you really think those kids' misguided archetypes and symbols of leftism are really the thing in between them and radical politics?

By the way, too add to the choir: I've been enjoying this as well, everybody.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:13 pm
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Jascha



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Quote:

I'm hearing your counterexample there, but do you really think those kids' misguided archetypes and symbols of leftism are really the thing in between them and radical politics?



Yes, or, partially at least.

I'm sure these actions are more of a confirmation of a pre-existing stereotype. These studentsy had a REALLY hard time coming to terms with my explanations of how the people they talk about are actually very reasonable, clear-thinking people that are far more eloquent and smart than they get credit for. They also were very skeptic about the concept of government agent-provocateurs, false information etc.

But in such an environment, where groups looking for change are already fighting against suchs stereotypes, the violent groups only work to sustain and confirm the existing situation and pre-conceptions.

This is also why government agencies are so eager to place agent provocateurs in such groups, imo. It just serves to dissuade the general public from allying themselves with groups 'outside the system'.
Post Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:35 pm
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jrspudsquad



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I just read almost every word of this thread and it's been wonderful.

i'll try to keep my few thoughts short.

Contrary to what Icarus was saying at the begining, solving a societal problem such as animal testing is exactly a PR campaign. You arn't tacking an engineering problem- the problem exists within the habbits of the masses and you need to attack it as such if you want to have any long term success. If you're turning moderates to the other side, you are failing your cause in terms of practicality.

If they broke in and unlocked 100 monkey cages, this wouldn't be a debate. Blowing up a building with the possibility of accidentally killing someone is not a very clear arrow to the goal. Clearly, most people view this as intimidation tactics before they think of it as looking for immediate results. Bombing is not quite tree-spiking. Once again, setting aside morality, bombing is not practical for the goal.

The most interesting part of the discussion to me:
On one hand you have the right of a person to act in moral urgency with extreme means. How can we expect them to stand by and let something they deem emmensely wrong continue?

On the other hand, if we want to call it like it is, this is imposing yourself over another persons' will using physical force. Are we ready to say this is ok under certain conditions other than democratic opinion? and what conditions?

I'm not sure where i stand.
Post Thu Apr 30, 2009 1:58 pm
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