Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

There is one glaring omission from this article, one that no one seems to be addressing: the muddled state of contemporary protests. I was born and currently live in DC, so I see my share of (and march in) lots of different protests. What I've learned is that the messages are not clear at all. If there is a progressive protest, it's always non-specific; we have everyone from socialists to anarchists to 9/11 conspiracy perpetuators. And that's for an "out of Iraq" protest.

If the message of a protest is not clear, then it's going to be ignored. These have become, in my mind, caricatures of themselves; they appear to most people ridiculous because they are ridiculous and a waste of time.

What we need is focus. We need specificity.

But how?

Eric Gade

Washington, DC

Nov 20 2008 - 9:24am

Web Letter

I remain hopeful that "the Obama campaign operation [will] be transformed into a continuing movement for reform," though it would take a different shape from movements of the past--in part because it would focus on short-term winnable objectives. The questionnaire that David Plouffe sent out yesterday asking Obama activists about their interests along that line was encouraging. I've posted a letter and have received a very positive response.

Wade Hudson

San Francisco, CA

Nov 19 2008 - 1:25pm

Web Letter

I'm more than a little confused about several things:

1. Did Piven title her own article?

2. Didn't Piven read the MSM and soft-left articles claiming that Obama was the protest movement against Bush?

3. Didn't Piven accept the universal soft-left promise that Obama was only holding back on his extremely progressive agenda and movement to be "electable," and then would be free to really "lower the boom" on the "radical right-wing "faction" that, as Al Gore states in Assault on Reason, is " contemptuous of the very belief that such a thing as "the public good" even exists."

4. Why is Piven now talking about Obama's need to be bolstered by "a protest movement" to take action against some kind of a presumably "hidden empire" that she never pushed Obama to confront before the election (not that it would have bolstered him to even whisper the word "empire," and certainly not publicly educate or commit to "working-class" Americans to "confront" it)?

5. Why is Piven now wasting her time, too late, to raise the most signal, seminal, and singular most important issue of the 2008 election: "It's the empire, stupid"--which addresses all the protest issues, and would have been the only way to save our democratic republic?

6. Why didn't Piven rationally vote for the only "democracy advocate" running, Ralph Nader, who already addressed the issue which she knows is most important, Empire--and who pledged to confront the ruling-elite "corporate Empire" hiding behind its two-party, "Vichy" facade of faux democracy, who compared our American crises "abroad and at home" (as Hannah Arendt had seen as always "entailing" Empire), and who fully recognized and shouted to the endangered American people, like Paul Revere did in our founding fight with the dual-headed political-economic (corporate) British Empire--now more dangerous still in this invisible, internal, "Vichy" corporate financial Empire--not wearing red coats that we can so simply shoot at?

7. Why does she take me for a fool who would vote for a man like Obama, (regardless of color, origin, education, religion or any other irrelevant basis) who has said nothing on the only issue, Empire, and then have to write insane articles raging about the need to bolster him so he could do anything about it (Empire)?

8. Why don't you just revise Obama’s website to promise more specific, pragmatic, and even "radical" agenda items against the common enemy of democracy, Empire, now that you (plural) have won and can take stronger, rather than weaker actions than he even promised before you (plural) won--won this great victory of a second American Revolution against the empire that is killing our country and our people?

Alan MacDonald

Sanford, ME

Nov 19 2008 - 1:13pm

Web Letter

This is a superb and accurate article. And anyone who disputes the author's claim that Obama "is not a visionary or even a movement leader" needs to read the book by Paul Street titled Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics. Street lays out, from a progressive perspective, using Obama's own words and decisions, in one place, how he is a corporate, conservative Democrat (as opposed to progressive Democrats in Congress like Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Jim McDermott, Diane Watson, John Lewis, Jesse Jackson, Bernie Sanders and many more).

As much as we need action, we also need well-informed people to lead change from the people. With that in mind, I cannot adequately express how important and good Francis Fox Piven's most recent book is. Called Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America, it has an entire chapter on the range of techniques, tactics and strategies that movements can use to force change in the "interdependent relationships" between the majority of The People and the dominant illegitimate minorities, The Few. I urge anyone who hasn't to read it, for that chapter alone.

Kelly Patrick Gerling

Overland Park, KS

Nov 16 2008 - 10:24am

Web Letter

Excellent article. I would hate to think we would have to come to food riots in the streets and other strong protest movements in order to effect change. Perhaps our amazing Internet system will become the voice for change, especially with the many strong progressive organizations that have developed in recent times. I worry about president-elect Obama's choices for important positions so far and have been able to e-mail his transition team via Change.gov and the contact choice at the bottom of the listings. Hopefully, they will hear from many others.

Pearl Volkov

Burlington, Ontario, Canada

Nov 15 2008 - 11:20am

Web Letter

America needs a protest movement. We have dropped the ball, in my opinion, during the last two years or so during what is being called one of the longest election seasons. I remember people marching in the streets against Bush and the war in Iraq. I remember it, but it is only a fading memory today, outside of a few brave organizations like the Iraq Veterans and War movement. What happened to that antiwar sentiment that was going on throughout this country, and the world over? The war(s) have not stopped, they continue on. People are still dying in the Middle East.

I realize this has been an historic time, in the sense of electing to the White House the first African-American president, and in doing so we are also finally getting rid of George W. Bush, and that is something to be proud of, but nothing has changed yet. We shouldn't just be waiting for W. to move out of the White House, we should have him arrested and put on trial for his crimes against humanity! And we most definitely should not be breathing in an air of relief just yet. Granted Mr. Obama is the symbol of change for the next four years, but we can not just sit back idly and watch and hope. Let's be realistic here, Obama doesn't want to pull all the troops out of Iraq, he wants to leave soldiers behind, which to me would be even worse. Troop presence in Iraq is what is fueling the fighting, so leaving some there will not solve any problems and it will make it a heck of a lot more dangerous for those soldiers left in Iraq. Let's not forget that Obama want to expand the size of the military, he wants to send more troops to Afghanistan, he is not making nice with Russia by even considering the placement of missiles on the border of Poland.

Mr. Obama does have the chance to really change thing now that he is officially our president-elect. He can use his enormous popularity for the good, but will he? He surely will not if we just sit back and wait for him to bring about this so called transformational government. People, we are, We have to be that transformational government, We the People. We must protest what we do not like, even if it is coming from president to be Obama. We have to let our voices be hear, heard loud and heard now more than ever. We have to continue to fight to end all the wars going on all around the world, especially the ones we are involved in. I don't know about you, but I want to see an end to American wars, American imperialism and American militarism around the world.

And domestically, ending these wars would do financial wonders for our country, maybe not for Haliburton and maybe not for Blackwater and all those private mega-corporations making billions of the blood of the innocent. But for our country, we would save billions of dollars, money that is being spent on private mercenary groups like Blackwater, that money could be used in the rebuilding of the infrastructure of America. The money we save from ending these wars could go toward paying off some of our debts, fixing the financial meltdown and be used in so many more and better ways than for killing. There are about sixty-five days left in this regime, then we swear in Obama, and I think that is when we all need to keep on our toes and make sure the promises made of hope and change do come about and come about in the right way and for the right cause. It is our duty as Americans, each and every one of us, to make sure that this plays out the right way. We need change in America, we need change in the world, let's bring that change about, together!


enemyartistkristofer.blogspot.com<br />North Hollywood, CA

Nov 14 2008 - 2:59pm

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