Letter to Anti-War Activists: Don't Let Our Struggle Be Sidelined

July 1, 2003

by Michael Thorburn

The anti-war movement is going through a very important period in its development.

Across the country, tens of thousands of activists have committed themselves to building an ongoing movement. They are summing up experience, looking into root causes and working to consolidate new organizations and take new anti-war initiatives.

In my view, one of the biggest obstacles hindering the consolidation and growth of our movement, is the pressure of Democratic Party politics.

- In terms of practical political activity, anti-war activists are being pressured to campaign for one or another Democratic Party presidential candidate. This only leads to siphoning off the energies of the anti-war movement.

For the last year and one-half, tens of thousands of new activists have been standing up and speaking out against war, exposing the lies of the government and demanding an end to its war program, organizing anti-war discussions, study groups, demonstrations, etc.

Now, instead of continuing on this path, people's time and energy are being diverted into electioneering for the Democratic Party.

In other words, the question is: should we keep building the anti-war movement as an independent movement of the people - deepening our consciousness, strengthening our organization and spreading our anti-war actions - or should we give up this work and convert the movement into a plaything of the capitalist politicians?

- Electioneering means covering over the deeds of the Democrats.

The Democratic Party, in fact, has a long record of talking about "peace," only to support the capitalist war program whenever push comes to shove.

We would do a great disservice to people, if we to cover over or erase the fact that Kucinich, Dean, Sharpton and all the Democratic candidates supported the war in Afghanistan.

Isn't part of the work of activists to learn to evaluate politicians and parties not by their empty promises but by their deeds and by their real interests? Aren't we obligated to help others learn this simple truth about politics?

- Advertising Democratic Party politicians as "peace" candidates hides the cause of the problem and weakens the struggle against the parties of war.

The problem is not that "good ideas" fall into the heads of some politicians who become "doves" while "evil ideas" dominate others who become "hawks." The U.S. government's war program is a product of the economic and strategic interests of the monopoly capitalist class which is becoming ever more warlike as the crisis of its empire deepens. And its is precisely because the Democratic party is financed and controlled by big business, just like the Republicans, that Truman dropped the atom bombs, Kennedy invaded Cuba, Johnson waged the war in Vietnam, Clinton bombed Yugoslavia, and today the Democratic Party has thoroughly embraced Bush's so-called war against terrorism.

- Coming under the tutelage of the Democratic Party means giving up the independent voice of the anti-war movement, means suppressing the people's own program which calls for nothing less than an end to U.S. intervention in all its forms, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, an end to the militarization of the economy and the recognition of the sovereignty and rights of all countries and peoples.

Isn't giving independent political expression to these profound aspirations and demands of the people, the real burning issue facing the anti-war movement?