Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fun with Factions

Like Fractions -- but way less cool.

By factions I mean the socialist, communist and other flavors of red groups in the United States. It's hard to keep track of them, and probably not a productive use of time to do so, but I used to at least follow which of them had which major front groups. I stopped paying attention at some point. But now I want to check in on who's-who of some of the major fronts.

In terms of who the parties are, there's a wonderful chart here. It's out of date, but no less amusing. I found a bunch of info on the ANSWER-related factions -- which seemed to check out well -- in an article by Bill Weinberg.

So here's a rundown of some of the major front groups of today and recent years, to the best of my understanding:

  • Not In Our Name -- These folks seemed so innocuous! They organized one of the first big anti-war demos in the fall of 2002 - in the East Meadow of Central Park. They had this obsession with the globe image on top of a black background, and they were also really into that 'pledge' thing that people signed against the war. They are a front for the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), fans of the Shining Path in Peru, among other bad things. At some point a few years ago, they wound down, and in their place came..

  • World Can't Wait -- The difference between NION and it's successor is that by the time of World Can't Wait, things were so bad that the world was on fire! Yikes. WCW has had somewhat of a focus on the issue of US torture; they often use orange Gitmo-jumpsuits (other groups do too, but WCW has used them a lot). WCW is a front for the RCP.

  • Refuse & Resist -- Yet another RCP front. They started back in 1987; I'm not sure if it was a front from the beginning or if it later got taken over. At some point, they were big on abortion rights ("Abortion on Demand").

  • ANSWER -- ANSWER formed just after 9/11 as a front group for the International Action Center (IAC), which is in turn a front group for the Workers World Party (WWP). But in 2004 there was a factional split, and the faction that retained the ANSWER name is actually NOT the WWP/IAC faction, but rather a faction that created the new Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). This PSL/ANSWER faction included many of the Bay Area people.

  • Troops Out Now Coalition -- TONC is the group that was the other faction in the ANSWER split. These are the IAC/WWP people, who needed a new front group after they (left? were expelled? from ANSWER). They are stronger in NYC than on the West Coast. And yet, ANSWER seems to be turning out far more people than TONC at recent demonstrations. The WWP, it should be noted, supported Milosevic and Saddam Hussein.

  • Campus Antiwar Network -- The International Socialist Organization (ISO) has had many front groups and attempts at front groups (United For Peace & Justice, while non-sectarian, has had quite a few ISO people trying to get very involved, I believe). But CAN was (is?) actually something of a success -- in the days of 2003 and for a few years after that, they got anti-war groups on dozens of campuses in the same rooms. I don't know what their deal is now, but their website is down ( I remember them having hundreds of people behind their banner at an anti-war march in NYC as late as 2006.


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