Against American Chauvinism

March 4, 2003

The following article summarizes portions of a speech given by Michael Thorburn at an anti-war forum organized in Chicago by the Anti-Imperialist News Service on February 16, 2003.

Even as humanity is saying "NO!" To war, George Bush keeps warning the whole world that the U.S. is the sole superpower, that it will pursue its own interests and agenda, that it will go to war whenever and wherever it wants. Again and again, Bush demands that every country must either be "with" the U.S. or "be treated as terrorist," that the United Nations must either support a U.S. invasion of Iraq or be considered "irrelevant," etc., etc.

In fact, all the arguments given by the Bush administration to justify its war against Iraq boil down to nothing more nor less than American chauvinism - to saying that U.S. military power gives it the "right" to do whatever it wants.

This war is not about "eliminating weapons of mass destruction" or disarmament because it is U.S. imperialism itself which is militarizing the Persian Gulf and filling the region with nuclear weapons. The war is about U.S. imperialism imposing its military blackmail and domination throughout the Middle East.

This war is not about enforcing U.N. resolutions or international law because it is U.S. imperialism which is violating countless U.N. resolutions and the very foundation of international law by preparing a preemptive war to bring about regime change in Iraq.

It is not about liberating the people of Iraq but rather about turning the clock backwards to open colonialism. It is about U.S. imperialism asserting that it alone can determine which peoples are civilized enough to be "entitled" to sovereignty and which must remain colonies of the U.S. . .

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Even while relying on military power, American chauvinism claims that American institutions (e.g. capitalism, American-style "democracy,") and the "American way of life" are "morally superior." Time and again, U.S. imperialism has invaded countries in the name of spreading and defending democracy. Time and again, U.S. imperialism has tried to hide its exploiting, colonial aims by advertising itself as a "liberator," fighting to free people from other colonial powers.

Liberalism and the Democratic Party play an especially important role in trying to cover over the stench of U.S. militarism with noble words about "human rights," "democracy," etc. It was, for example, Woodrow Wilson who brought the U.S. into WW I under the slogan of "making the world safe for democracy" just as it was Bill Clinton who dismembered the sovereign state of Yugoslavia in the name of "human rights."

This is the same tune which both the Bush administration and its "loyal opposition" in the Democratic Party are singing today when they talk about "liberating Iraq," about "nation-building," and "democracy" in Afghanistan, etc. Like the old-style colonialists they are "picking up the white man's burden" and bringing "civilization" to the "backward peoples;" they are again waging a "holy war" to "save" the Arab peoples. . . .

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The ideology of American chauvinism and the war program of U.S. imperialism do not come simply from the stupidity and greed of George Bush and his father. American chauvinism is not simply a product of some misguided individuals, of an ultra-right wing of the Republican Party.

The ideology of American chauvinism, like ideology in general, is a product of very definite social relations.

Just as the theories of racial superiority were concocted and propagated to support the social system of slavery, so too, the ideology of American chauvinism is promoted to support the present-day system of imperialism and colonialism.

American chauvinism is the ideology of the monopoly capitalist class.

When American chauvinism declares that every country must accept globalization and the "free market system," it is reflecting the drive of the U.S. monopolies to force open the door of every country, grab control of their resources and take over their economies.

When American chauvinism insists that every country accept U.S.-style "democracy," it is reflecting the drive of the U.S. monopolies to insure their political control of other countries - to establish colonial and neo-colonial regimes.

When American chauvinism demands that every country join the "crusade" against terrorism or the war against Iraq, it is reflecting the drive of U.S. monopoly capital to impose its will on the whole world by force of arms. . . .

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American chauvinism -- the ideology of the monopoly capitalist class -- is not only directed against other nations, it is also directed against the American working class and people. American chauvinism aims to sacrifice the lives of our sons and daughters in order to "defend" the empire and profits of the capitalists. American chauvinism creates a war hysteria in order to rob the public treasury on behalf of the Pentagon arms merchants. It seeks to impose a culture of racism and violence on the American people.

All along the line, American chauvinism is an assault on the conscience, traditions and deepest aspirations of the American people who, as part of their struggle for emancipation, have always fought against the imperialist wars waged by their "own" government.

Today, this struggle against chauvinism and the war program of the capitalist class is unfolding across the length and breadth of our country.

When the issue of Iraq is raised, one of the very first things that workers say is: "There the government goes again, sticking its nose into other people's business."

And the second thing that workers often say is: "And besides, who is the government to talk about 'helping' others when the problems of poverty, racism, violence and oppression are so widespread here."

Listen to the voice of the American youth who are in the forefront, exposing the hypocrisy and chauvinism of Bush and company, who do not forget that this "bastion of democracy" imposes a system of national oppression and racist violence on the minority peoples, that the U.S. government has the biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons, that the C.I.A. is nothing but a state-sponsored organization of terrorism, that the U.S. seeks to be the dictator of the world, etc.

Every day, people are ripping away the mask and making sure that everyone knows that behind this hypocrisy and chauvinism stand the real economic and strategic interests of the monopolies who are vying for oil and empire in the strategic Middle East...

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In the immediate struggle to stop the war in Iraq, two different perspectives, two different futures, two different worlds are in contention.

On the one hand, there is the perspective of the U.S. monopoly capitalists and their handful of reactionary allies around the world. Bush is telling us plainly what kind of world the capitalists have in mind - a world which remains at war for decades, a unipolar world in which U.S. imperialism imposes its dictate on all of humanity, returning to the days of colonialism to grab the wealth and exploit the labor of billions of human beings.

In opposition to Bush's "war on international terrorism," the peoples are demanding peace and an end to U.S. dictate and domination. In opposition to the world of colonialism and racism, of exploitation and oppression, the people envision and are fighting for a world of peace and friendship based on the sovereign equality of every nation and recognition of the rights of the peoples.