[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
delivered!

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.

Carrol






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