[lbo-talk] Politics vs Policy -- An Introduction

Cox, Carrol cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sat Oct 14 11:51:49 PDT 2017

In the summer of 1966 a group of scholars organized a Conference on Viet Nam in Ann Arbor. There were actually two quite separate conferences. The first that of the Scholars themselves, and this conference was not open to the public. Its purpose was to work out a correct U.S. policy in Vietnam. The second conference (held simultaneously with the first) was open to all -- in effect to t hose who had already decided that they were opposed to any U.S. presence in Vietnam and was therefore focused on tactics.

That second conference ultimately contributed to what Andy Nachgeboren has characterized as "saving the world." That is, the second conference e was the seedbed of the national movement that culminated in the huge Moratorium demo in Wshington D.C. in the fall of 1969. According to some former members of the Nixon Administration, plans had been made to use nuclear weapons to destroy the Chinese installations in North Vietnam through which supplies from the USSR and China flowed to Vietnam. The size and militancy of the Moratorium startled Nixon and those plans were cancelled.

The first conference, the conference of Scholars devoted to working out policy recommendations had no effect whatever on U.S. policy. Neither did the Second Conference, to begin with, but it clearly was one of the most important political events of the 20th-c.

I will argue in subsequent posts that "The Left" has _no_ concern whatever with policy); its fundamental (and usually sole) concern is with politics -- that is with recruitment of new activists and the development of tactics both to recruit and to develop politically those new recruits.

And this is the context in which I will return to an important lbo-talk thread from July 2003. The Subject line for that thread: Howard Dean: "Now That We're There We Can't Leave."


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