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News ::
An Open Letter to Student Anti-War Protesters (english)
11 Mar 2003
Modified: 10:29:40 PM
On Wednesday, March 5th, a few hundred of you at Stanford University participated in a 'National Student Strike' against an attack on Saddam Hussein's murderous regime.
This mass hooky was sponsored nation-wide by an organization calling itself the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition; locally, it was purportedly organized by a collection of Stanford student organizations called the Coalition of Students Against War, closely affiliated with the Stanford Community for Peace and Justice. Others have already shown the links between the national front groups and shadowy Stalinist organizations like the Worker's World Party. The same sort of thing is true locally. To find out who really ran the show at Stanford, one simply has to go to the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition's website, and search the list of participating campuses. There, the Stanford organizers are plainly listed as the Stanford Labor Action Coalition and the Young Communist League - the youth branch of the Communist Party, U.S.A. The president of the Stanford Young Communist League, a Clara Webb, is the contact person for both organizations.

That the anti-war demonstrations are led by communists, while underreported in the mainstream media, is not exactly breaking news. However, the reports from the protest indicate that a new stage of radical quislingism is about to begin. Desperate to prevent President Bush and the American military from liberating the Iraqi people, the Communists have begun openly recruiting college students like you to participate in illegal acts, designed to disrupt the lives and empty the pocketbooks of ordinary Americans. All of this took place last Wednesday with the tacit approval of many Stanford professors - a full two dozen cancelled their classes in support of the demonstration, and, according to the protest organizers, a full sixty pledged their support.

I cannot simply be silent about this. In fact, I have a moral responsibility to speak up, for once, not so long ago, I was the one organizing. I was the one manipulating others. You see, I was once a Communist.

I began my career as a communist radical in Toronto in 1996, when I joined an organization called the Communist League of Canada. The Communist League was oriented towards factory workers; when I decided to go back to university in 1998, I left it and joined a mostly student Communist organization called the New Socialists. Both of these groups were split-offs of split-offs, tracing their lineage back through the 1960s Left to the heyday of American Communism. Although small in numbers, thanks to their activity they and other groups like them had a great deal of influence over the broader left. While in these groups, I helped organize and participated in many protests - demonstrations against 'globalization,' demonstrations against war, and demonstrations against the government. As a communist, I used people as simply means to an end. I discarded people as they ceased to be useful, and came to my senses only long after I was discarded in turn. Now, doing graduate work at Stanford, I try to avoid politics. I don't know Clara Webb. I don't know any of the radical leftists at Stanford, and I hope I never do. But I do know the system of front groups, the 'non-violent direct action,' and the system of 'affinity groups,' all too well. This is a system that controls the individual protestor almost perfectly while giving the illusion of freedom; this is the system being used by anti-war protestors in America today.

What is an 'affinity group'? In theory, it's a small group of people, maybe ten to twenty, who decide to work together by consensus for a political action. In practice, it's a ruthlessly effective way of manipulating the less extreme into greater acts of extremism, all coordinated by the group's leaders, who invariably belong to the shadowy communist organizations who run things behind the scenes. These groups are nothing more that the translation of communist leader Che Guevara's armed 'military focos' to the American city, as popularized by the French radical Regis Debray. In America, they work on the same 'dictatorship of the most radical' principle as most leftist front organizations, which consist of two groups - a small core clique of fanatics, and a slightly broader group of willing stooges, with varying degrees of commitment to the cause. The fanatics obtain and control their flock through the force of their personalities - they are admired for their experience, commitment, and knowledge of authoritative-sounding leftist dogma, and generally adopt a hip, trendy, and friendly demeanor. While the communist organization of the fanatics is run by majority vote, the front organizations and affinity groups are run by consensus. No action is taken unless all within the group concur.

On the surface, consensus sounds very open and democratic, but fans of the system fail to take into account the admiration the flock has for the fanatics, who pose as their friends. These elite members of the organization meet beforehand, in a secret and unpublicized gathering, where they make the actual decisions. They are then presented to the group as 'ideas' or 'suggestions' - suggestions that quickly find seconders. People are asked if they concur, and they almost always do, for the social consequences of dissent are great. To dissent is to issue a 'block,' which prevents the group from acting until the action is resolved. It positions the odd man out in opposition to the entire group, which is often that person's entire social network. A stubborn blocker condemns the meeting to a long, dry contest of wills, with them the twelfth man on the jury. And so the dissenter keeps quiet - or dissenters, since for every decision there are usually several people with misgivings, all unknown to each other. And therefore a radical proposition that would have been rejected by a large majority in a secret ballot will be accepted unanimously in a 'consensus.'

If the fear of being the lone dissenter shapes organizational meetings in a student lounge, how much more does it shape the decisions made by an affinity group on the city streets, while a protest is underway? Pumped up by their simple slogans and the press of other bodies, these groups of radicals make their decisions relatively quickly. Here there is little debate, no time for debate - the group looks to its leader, the person with the most experience, who will offer a 'suggestion' that, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, will be accepted immediately. Reservations get swept aside as the flock fears holding the radicals back, of appearing cowardly, of letting them down.

While appearing chaotic, the mash of affinity groups is always under tight control. Large numbers of people are managed efficiently through a convened central body, the 'spokescouncil,' consisting of one or two members from each group - the ultra-radical 'leaders' admired by the rest. Here they regularly sell out the desires of their adoring charges. On the one occasion I witnessed where several affinity groups rebelled against their masters, refusing to rush a barrier separating them from a meeting of the Organization of American States, the members of the spokescouncil decided to tell each and every group that they were the only dissenting group - causing each and every group to change their mind (which wound up getting some of them pepper-sprayed). The spokescouncil, of course, has its own leaders, prominent radicals and communists, who either direct the protest on site or from a distance, using cell phones. The average person, suckered into this mess, believes and is told he has complete freedom over a non-hierarchical process where everyone is equal. And in fact, they are equal, in theory - as equal as every Republic was in the Soviet Union, as equal as every party was in the Communist International.

That is how an affinity group operates. That is how a mass of students in Toronto ended up spending a night huddled miserably on the floor of the lobby of a major bank in the middle of winter, without food or water, urinating in a garbage container barely shielded by a pair of plastic plants, surrounded by riot police - when they thought, starting out, that they'd be going on a simple march. Of course, the organizers, having planned everything in advance, had brought their own supplies. That is how, should war on Iraq begin, the college students being recruited at Stanford today will become useful idiots, finding themselves in jail for committing criminal acts. Unless you are willing to bolt and run, to leave the group, to let down all your friends gathered around you, you will do exactly what your communist controllers want you to do - controllers several steps up on the radical hierarchy, controllers you probably don't even know by name.

My advice to potential protestors: bolt and run. Friends you can replace; your freedom, you cannot. You are being wooed into crime, something easily visible from the website of the Stanford Coalition for Peace and Justice. Underneath the call for recruitment to affinity groups, is one for more information about these groups, which leads to the web site Direct Action to Stop the War (DASW). And beneath that, a notification: that "neither DASW nor any of the AG [Affinity Group]-formation is connected with SCPJ [Stanford Coalition for Peace and Justice] in any formal capacity."

Apparently, the mobilization of all of its membership to fill these 'affinity groups' with na´ve young bodies is not sufficiently 'formal' for the Stanford Coalition for Peace and Justice. But why the disclaimer, right underneath a call for recruitment? No doubt the genteel professors that take part in the Stanford Coalition for Peace and Justice feel the need for a little behind-covering, for the cause they're sending you to is openly seditious. The goal of Direct Action to Stop the War is to "impose real economic, social and political costs and stop business as usual until the war stops;" their 'Action Menu' contains a list of almost three dozen key intersections and places of employment in San Francisco that they want shut down. In plain English, sabotage. This attempt to damage the American economy in a time of crisis will hurt the largely immigrant, hard-working service staff of San Francisco hardest, as you, students of one of the wealthiest, most-privileged universities in America prevent them from getting to their jobs and supporting their families, but the tolerance of such treason will indirectly hurt us all. It shames this great nation in a time of crisis; it demoralizes the troops in their time of greatest need. It runs absolutely counter to the proper role of the university.

Those of you who wind up being used as pawns are responsible for your actions; when you are arrested, you will deserve what you get. However, the administration and professorate of Stanford University must share the blame - in particular, those twenty-six Stanford professors who refused to teach this last Wednesday. They have allowed an America-hating fringe to transform you, their students, into communist dupes. The administration weakly tolerates their machinations. Parents, alumni, and ordinary Americans should not, and, above all, you should not. Right now, protestors, your radical leaders are scheming to control you. I know, because I've seen it for myself, done it for myself. For yourself, your future, and for your country - don't be fooled.

Don't be their dupes.
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um.. (english)
11 Mar 2003
I am not a fan of the WWP or CPUSA, but linking affinity groups to extremism or saying that communists are desperate to prevent the liberation of the Iraqi people is ludicrous.

See also:
Please Explain your logic (english)
11 Mar 2003

Please explain your position in your comment backed by some facts. There is NO inbetween. Either your for the status
quo of Iraq and her People, or your for their liberation.

Where is the inbetween?
Dude what have you been smoking? (english)
11 Mar 2003
Must be goood dude your off the map!