Independent Politics and the Anti-War Struggle

April 1, 2003

On March 16, the Anti-Imperialist News Service (AINS) held its regular monthly forum in Chicago.

The meeting focussed on the role of independent politics in the anti-war movement and the discussion was especially lively because the participants are actively involved in organizing the struggle in workplaces, schools, and communities across the city.

Many participants came to the forum immediately after demonstrating against the war in downtown Chicago. Just within the past week those attending the meeting had participated in a broad range of activities, including teach-ins, study and discussion groups, literature distribution, research and writing groups, etc.

During the discussion, people looked into such important issues as:

- the role of independent politics in empowering people to be the active organizers of the movement rather than passive spectators;

- the need for in-depth theoretical work to assist people to zero in on the root cause of war and analyze the balance of political forces;

- the need for continuous ideological and organizational struggle against the influence of capitalist ideology and politics which try to overwhelm, confine and degrade the anti-war movement.

- the need to build anti-imperialist collectives which can develop anti-war politics in a planned and systematic way and on a daily basis amongst the people.

Below we summarize some of the important points presented by Michael Thorburn in his opening speech.

The problem facing us is really quite straightforward: the people want peace. Even Bush has admitted that there is an extensive anti-war movement. But the government is going to war anyway.

In other words, the problem is that the decision-making power is not in the hands of the people. The public authority -- the political power -- has been usurped by the monopoly capitalist class.

The capitalists have always used the state as an instrument of war on behalf of their expansionist, colonial aims. But today, the crisis of the imperialist system is such that the capitalists want and need war.

All the objective processes of the contemporary world -- the growing competition and rivalries amongst the imperialist powers and capitalist states, the struggles of the peoples for liberation and emancipation, the economic crisis of the capitalist system itself -- all these things inexorably undermine the dominant position of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class. And the response of U.S. imperialism is to try to hold back these forces -- to preserve and extend its empire and exploiting system -- through force of arms. Bush's so-called "war against terrorism," which has already been extended to Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Colombia, and the Philippines, is U.S. imperialism's strategy for world domination.

In other words, the capitalists can no longer rule in the old way.

Inside the country, the warmakers are so isolated, so incapable of winning the battle for public opinion, that they must resort to calling the anti-war movement "unpatriotic" and to preparing their apparatus of repression.

Internationally, Bush has pitted himself in opposition to humanity. He is trampling underfoot international law and the sovereignty of countries. His doctrine of "preemptive strikes" is tantamount to a declaration of war against the whole world.

And recent events are teaching the peoples that none of the parties and institutions of the old world -- of capitalism and imperialism -- can save the day. People were told, for example, that weapons inspections would prevent the war. But this is not the case. People were told that the U.S. ruling class was "split" and that the Democrats would save the day. But this is not the case.

The entire experience of the last 18 months again confirms that only the people -- their struggle and organization -- can save the day and defeat the program of war and fascism.

This struggle should not be underestimated. Already tens of millions of people in the U.S. have come into the public arena to demand peace. On a world scale, hundreds of millions have come out against the war program. Already this movement is isolating U.S. imperialism and branding it as the aggressor. Already it is weakening imperialism's war drive. The people are forcing their agenda to centerstage.

And this is only the beginning. Everywhere -- at work, in the communities, in the schools, in the churches, in the families, etc. -- the American people are asserting themselves and taking a stand, side-by-side with the peoples of the world, in the struggle against war and colonialism. People are insisting that they want the say-so in the affairs of their country and that our America -- the people's America - - is not about chauvinism and war but about peace and friendship.

Carrying this struggle through means that the people must take up the question of politics -- the question of who holds the power and makes the decisions. Carrying this struggle through means that the people must strengthen their independent political movement and aim at defeating the parties and government of war so that the people can reclaim the public authority.

Everyone knows that if it were up to the American people, the Iraqi people and the peoples of other countries: there would be no wars at all. Our very humanity demands a world of peace and friendship, a world which recognizes the equality and rights of all the peoples. War, racism, colonialism, exploitation -- these things only exist because the public authority has been usurped by an exploiting minority, a tiny class which for the sake of its selfish interests of empire and profits is willing to impose the horror of war on the peoples.

Independent politics, anti-imperialist -- the politics which relies on the people as the decisive force in winning the peace -- is the only way out.

Independent politics targets the capitalist class and imperialist system as the source of war.

Independent politics calls for a genuinely democratic foreign policy which withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad, ends U.S. aggression and intervention in all its forms and recognizes the sovereignty and rights of all peoples.

Independent politics maximizes the immediate struggles of the peoples and step by step consolidates the peoples strength and organization with the aim of creating a new political power -- the people themselves.