Editorial: A Proactive, Independent Movement

April 29, 2003

The anti-war movement is at an important juncture.

Activists are assimilating the experience of the recent struggles and addressing the question of further organizing themselves.

To begin with, we have to face up to the savageness and extent of the war program of the U.S. capitalist class.

Within the last 18 months, the U.S. has not only invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and is imposing outright colonialism on those country. Bush has also drawn up a "hit list" and is already stepping up U.S. aggression or threatening war against the peoples in Palestine, Syria, Iran, North Korea, the Philippines, Colombia and other countries. New U.S. military bases have been set up in dozens of countries and Bush is dramatically increasing military spending, including expenditures for new nuclear weapons systems. The so-called "war against terrorism," which the Bush administration has declared will last for decades, is U.S. imperialism's blueprint for world domination through force of arms.

At the same time, the massive anti-war actions of the recent period show that the American people reject this war program.

Even more importantly, people are coming into active political life.

Activists are linking together the various currents of anti-war struggles, looking into root causes and deepening their political consciousness. Recent events have brought home that the government, marching to the war beat of the capitalist class, turns a deaf ear to the people's ardent desire for peace. More and more people recognize the need to build up ongoing organizations and find the way to empower themselves.

The key thing is to channel the tremendous energy and drive of the recent period into further organizing an independent, anti-imperialist and proactive movement.

This means to create new space in which people can look into events from the standpoint of their own interests. It means that the people must politicize themselves by summing up the experience of the anti-war struggles and analyzing the balance of forces. It means exposing the real aims of the warmakers and targeting the parties of war and imperialism. It means organizing and mobilizing the broadest majority of people around their own, independent program which aims at nothing less than ending U.S. aggression in all its forms, withdrawing all U.S. troops stationed abroad, and recognizing the sovereignty and rights of the peoples everywhere.

At this critical juncture, various forces are trying to divert the anti-war movement into the dead-end of the Democratic Party and the 2004 elections.

The experience of the last 18 months proves for the millionth time that whenever push comes to shove, the Democratic Party, just like the Republicans, supports the capitalist war program. In September 2001, the Democrats in Congress voted, with only 1 dissenting vote, to cede George Bush absolute authority to wage a "war on terrorism" against any and all countries. On March 21, 2003, the Democrats in Congress, in another practically unanimous vote, gave "unequivocal support . . . To the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the on-going Global War on Terrorism."

So too, the Democrats are in the forefront of supporting Israeli aggression, threatening North Korea, Syria, Iran, and endorsing the aims of imperialism all along the line.

Recent experience taught the painful lesson that any illusion in the Democrats only weakens and liquidates the anti-war struggle.

As millions of people came out against Bush's drive to invade Iraq, a few Democrats began to advertise themselves as "anti-war leaders." But their "anti-war" positions not only lagged behind the movement, they continually tried to drag us backward by prettifying the aims of imperialism and poisoning our movement with chauvinism. Thus, the Democratic "opposition," insisted on weapons inspections and "multilateral action" in Iraq or insisted that Bush concentrate more on other fronts of the "war against terrorism." With such a chauvinist perspective, it was no wonder that once the war began the Democrats rushed to endorse it.

The undeniable fact is that, to the extent that the anti-war movement remained politically and organizationally tied to the Democrats, it was disorganized and undermined as the war proceeded. Today, the Democrats not only want to push the popular movement altogether to the background but even insist that the people accept and endorse the U.S. colonial occupation of Iraq.

No, the Democrats are not a "lesser evil" but a real trojan horse, sent into anti-war movement to poison it with chauvinism and split it.

Even more fundamentally, the people can never give expression to their independent aspirations and program as long as they remain under the domination of the Democrats.

What recent experience teaches above all is that millions and tens of millions of Americans want an end to war and militarism but that they lack the political means to achieve these aims.

In other words, the burning, relentless question facing the anti-war movement is to build up the independent, proactive movement which fully expresses the ardent aspirations of the people to live in a world of peace and friendship.

Only the people can stop the war program and aggressive foreign policy of the U.S. government and it is up to the people to organize to bring this about.