[Marxism] Open Letter: A Pre-Post-Mortem

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Wed Dec 15 12:07:14 MST 2010

Mark Lause

My concern is that these things can serve as a substitute for the
mobilizations and organization.  Why are there no picket lines or demos
(public, visible, credible popular responses) to these outrages.


This is the first post on Wikileaks (on any of several lists) that I have
found interesting. For one thing, it honors what, I think has always
constituted the real punch to petitions -- it's not what they say; it's not
even the number of signatures gathered. It is that they reflect face-to-face
meetings of agitators and a wider (potential) constituency. 

P, an organizer/agitator asking Q (passive to this point) to sign a petition
or solidarity statement. A conversation ensures. (And it is ONLY in such
conversations that information such as Wikileaks provides has _any_
political impact.) Now Q has, at least for a moment or so been ACTIVE. He
has acted. (A very trivial act one might say -- but I suspect it has been
the take-off point for quite a few of the people who subsequently got their
names in the history books.) And two people who were unrelated now have
shared an action (the signing). 

It is, I think, this evidence of _organization _ and outreach that sometimes
scares those in power sufficiently to affect their action.  This would also
explain why presidents so often have made a big fuss claiming that only
private letters rather than form letters 'influence' them. (This was the
Kennedy Brothers' refrain in responding to the anti-nuclear testing
campaign.  Before the Civil War Congress didn't try to prevent personal
letters condemning slavery -- but they did try to stop petitions being

I think that on the whole internet petitions have the same null effect as
personal letters. They simply do not reflect growing mass involvement as
door-to-door petitions do.


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