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September 25, 2005

The Economic Idiocy of Yesterday's March

So assume that 200,000 people attended the march yesterday in DC.

And assume that they each spent an average of $60 on bus tickets. (Some spent less but some spent far more on plane tickets and hotels because they were coming a longer distance).

Multiple $60 by 200,000 and you get a total of $12 million spent on a one-day media event.

I hear lefties complaining about how the rightwing wins because they have more money, and then they blow $12 million on a one-day media event.

Was that the best use of scarce antiwar political dollars?

For the same money, you could just about fund the salaries for one year of a community organizer in every single Congressional district, who could spend their time organizing local activists to do outreach, local demos or help build support for primary campaigns against incumbents-- whatever was needed to put pressure on Congress.

So $12 million spent on one day versus a year of local organizing in every Congressional district.

Which do you think would be more likely to build a movement actually capable of stopping Bush's war?

Update: On an email list where I raised this issue, I was asked about the need for networking among activists to share strategy and build morale. My response:

I'm not against all marches and such. I'm just against the single-minded focus on them among too many activists, abetted by the ANSWER folks who are incapable of any other organizing.

And it's a reasonable debate on resources to ask whether the networking on a national basis is worth $12 million? A lot of folks are allergic to leadership but it's cheaper to elect delegates to a national meeting do that networking, while other folks do other tasks.

Part of what bothers me is that marches are more fun than other political work and we basically have the national leadership spending their time telling people that the best use of their money and time is to eat dessert.

So they spend $12 million and 2 million volunteer hours on dessert, while leaving most day-to-day organizing on antiwar work chronically underfunded and with with few volunteer hours on boring outreach work.

My criticism is of the antiwar leadership. If they were spending most of their time promoting institution-building and the more prosaic mobilization work, I'd be far more friendly to the occasional march to raise morale.

But it's the disproportion between priorities that gets my ire.

Posted by Nathan at September 25, 2005 12:33 PM