This letter is a personal appeal for your active involvement with World Can't Wait, on your own terms, starting now.

Momentum is building for the Oct. 5 protests, but many activists have yet to step up -- or even investigate for themselves the scope of this effort. The lull in the protest movement since the start of the war, exactly as the population has turned against this disaster is more confusing than it should be and, I'd argue, related to a passive orientation towards the elections.

Let's stop waiting. Let's stop pretending like Bush will change his mind or the Democrats will "grow a spine." They have backbone, but they don't as a party represent us. After literally years of this same wishing game, we have to learn the lessons that are there in plain sight. That's right. I'm using the imperative "we have to." We have to act consciously, resist, and stop politically pussyfooting around.

Too many of us have been involved in day-to-day activism that isn't taking into consideration the political root of the current situation. Massive popular revulsion at the legalization of torture, surveillance without warrant -- and Bush's recent legislation exempting himself and his cabinet from war crimes prosecution must be galvanized, mobilized, given tangible expression. This requires experienced activists, media workers, community-based organizers. It requires that we put distrust aside, and work like what we do matters.

If you are not now involved, please question why. What is holding "radical" movements from radical action? It certainly isn't that people aren't ready to move. Hardly. The problem as I see it is in the habits of the organized left and its refusal to get with the times, leave comfort zones and challenge all the orthodoxies of political passivity.

We cannot be afraid of leading, of breaking consensus, challenging ineffective if comfortable habits. We can't just reduce every political initiative to a "been there, done that" when too many of us haven't been here and haven't done this. Talking about "it" isn't doing it, and by "it" I mean taking resistance out to millions of people when 70% of the country is moving against the Bush agenda.

For many long-time activists, involved in community-based activity and institution-building, this ongoing hard-press by the Bush regime is seen as just a little more of the same old shit. It is not. It is a fundamental change in the structure of the state -- and much worse is threatened. Many folks who have never been involved in "the left," or called themselves "activists" are stepping up, without the cynicism and turf mindsets we've come to know as the pathology of our own movements. We have to rise above this; and this requires a conscious decision.

While there are hopes that there will be a change in Congress during the upcoming mid-term elections, this is like praying for change without backing it up. Watching Democracy Now on Friday, Amy Goodman confronted a Democratic Party senator over the fact that Democrats provided the crucial votes in the Senate for a law which allows Bush to arrest any person anywhere on earth on the merest claim that they are "enemy combatants." Habeus Corpus, one of the most basic rights of American law, has been "shattered," according to Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Now. Not later, not some later worst-case scenario. This is it, here we are: and what are we now going to do about it? Let them withdraw from Iraq through Tehran? Hoping Hillary Clinton will end this war (that she supports) and stop the repression (that she votes for)? That's not politics, that's faith-based organizing. I'm a part of the reality-based community, and we need to change reality -- the very choices people think they have. And if you already know all that, then what are you doing now to back it up?

Without a massive, ongoing demonstration of resistance to this far right-wing program, we will continue to be rolled over. We will continue to lose one "constituency" fight after another. We will continue to "oppose" what we refuse to resist. We will be governed by our very enemies down a dangerous path.

The Democratic Party's leadership has allowed this new legislation to pass without effective or even theatrical resistance. The incoming Supreme Court will likely overturn Roe v. Wade, already in tatters, and uphold every repressive piece of legislation Bush and Congress have put forward. They are not slowing down.

Here is an option. Here is a way to take up the frontal fight over the direction of this country.

Maybe you will vote, some will work on the mid-term campaigns. Some of you are active, some are rarely, a few of you have yet to volunteer in any capacity. We all have a way to engage this whole assault. World Can't Wait wants and expects participation on your own terms, with your own politics and culture, in agreement with the initiating call. Period. Anyone who says otherwise would rather you stayed home than took up this fight. We've seen where this kind of cynical passivity leads: to more to the same and worse.

Participation has spread far beyond the initiating group, and this is as they want it to be. I can say this, but coming to the forum tonight at Cooper Union is the best way to see who is actually involved, not the rumors and half-baked shit-talking that passes for debate too often. We can't let a fear of our movements' most radical (and honest) participants justify apathy, despair and disengagement. You can't let it.

Again, the genuine breadth of this movement is near unprecedented.

Cindy Sheehan, Jonathan Kozol, Suheir Hammad, Michael Eric Dyson, Alice Walker, Howard Zinn. From inside the system, Democratic lightning rods like Al Sharpton, congressional representatives such as Cynthia McKinney, John Conyers, and Major Owens have joined radicals like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Ward Churchill and Sunsara Taylor. Ralph Nader is urging people to come out. Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun Magazine and the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and Medea Benjamin of CodePink have urged everyone to get involved, and to make this their own. The very army general who ran Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has joined, as did the first State Department official to resign over Iraq and career CIA man Ray McGovern helped disrupt a Rumsfeld presentation on national TV alongside WCW activists.

Prominent signatories are one thing. The infrastructure of a successful movement is another.

Speaking directly, the range of signatories to the World Can't Wait call is broad, diverse and speaks to the unfolding moment we are in. Specifically among activists, including many receiving this email, there is considerable skepticism regarding communist involvement.

The role of the Revolutionary Communist Party is not a secret -- but despite claims to the contrary, World Can't Wait is not a "front group." This kind of accusation is not "telling uncomfortable truths" -- it is a distortion. This crude, dishonest and unprincipled red-baiting aims to convince honest activists (read: you) that they will be "secretly" controlled by some shadowy group. Nothing could be further from the truth. This kind of argument-by-slur aims to hinder participation without principled discussion by using fear instead of engagement. It's time to retire these vapid Karl Rove-style attacks within the left. Reject it, or at least don't accept it as the end of the discussion.

In my experience, those who urge "caution" or rely on crude political stereotypes to end discussion are arguing for passivity in the face of open horror. If you are not engaged in this fight to stop Bush's agenda in an ongoing, explicit way -- what are you waiting for?

Investigate World Can't Wait for yourself and make informed choices about involvement. If you are in NYC or SF, come to tonight's rallies and the Oct. 5 protests. See with your own eyes who is really involved -- and make your choices for the coming week (and months) accordingly. No one is trying to control anyone in this movement. It is about putting some new facts on the ground, refusing to accept the "new normal" and kicking Bush when he is down through the power of the people.

REGARDLESS, we must be in the streets -- and you must find a way not to just "get behind" the WCW banner, but to take up this campaign on your own terms.

Specifically: You have the space to operate as direct action activists, anti-authoritarians and community/labor-based organizers. This is a straight-up political pitch. It is not about signing up for any man behind the curtain. What you see really is what you get.

Seize the day, friend. Make history, and put that little cynic in the back of your head out of its misery.

In struggle,

Jed Brandt

--------
This article can be viewed with embedded links to related materials at:  http://burning.typepad.com