Don’t get me wrong, there’s many sincere reformists trying bring about change. Whether it’s organizations like DailyKos who believe the Democratic Party can be reformed, or tilting further leftward, groups like Democracy Now and Media Channel, they present lots of analysis, some advocacy, but rarely calls to action.
Plus, they bizarrely assume our current political crisis is just some kind of terrible misunderstanding, that they just need to convince the rulers of the errors of their ways, then things will be peachy. As if one day Dick Cheney will call up Amy Goodman and say, “Democracy Now has made me see the light, I will repent and do no more evil, the troops are coming home now.” Ain’t gonna happen that way, of course. Worse, reformists never challenge the structure of the system. That’s because they have no real criticism of the system and its institutions. Oh, they say, a few things have gone wrong, but government is our friend and supports the people, we just need to make the system responsive again.
This would be the same system that has invaded other countries for decades, exploits the Third World, where a tiny few get richer while the rest get poorer. This isn’t a system that needs a few Band-Aids, this is a system that needs replacing.
The anti-globalization mobilization at the Battle of Seattle in 1999 was an opening salvo that change was coming. But after 9/11, the anti-glob protestors retreated, unsure of what to do next. They had no real plan. Meanwhile, a mere two days after 9/11, the ANSWER Coalition formed. The groups involved knew what was coming, unjustified invasions of other countries, and they were right. ANSWER, of which I am a member, has been in full mobilization mode ever since, organizing multiple mass antiwar demonstrations, with the next round coming March 18.
ANSWER is anti-imperialist. We have a viewpoint and organize based on it. Imperialism is the problem, it’s a rogue system, not a rogue president. Reformists don’t have this kind of viewpoint, they look at things piecemeal, hoping a few tweaks to the systems will somehow set things right.
By not challenging the system, you end up doing things like the predecessor organizations to United for Peace did prior to the Iraq invasion, saying “let the sanctions work”, a policy that even Madeleine Albright admitted led to the deaths to 500,000 Iraqi children. I’m sure the parents of Iraqi children who starved to death appreciated the noble efforts of the reformists who wanted sanctions to work. Worse, these reformists never even questioned why the US was applying sanctions. That’s what I mean when I say by reformists support the system – even when it leads to atrocities like dead babies.
Thinking that President Hillary will somehow bring the troops home now is, well, delusional. She won’t. Nor will reformist efforts change the system. Real change starts with people in the streets and ends when the rulers are either replaced or forced to do the will of the people. That’s what we need to work towards.