How to Advance the Anti-War Struggle:
THE PEOPLE, NOT THE RULING ELITE, ARE THE MOTIVE FORCE OF THE STRUGGLE FOR PEACE

The Workers Party says that Only the Peoples Can Stop the Wars! We say to the people: "We can, we must and we will organize ourselves to defeat the parties of war and fulfill our deep aspiration for peace."

As a key part of taking the issue of war or peace into our own hands, we call on every activist and all who want peace to join in discussing what must be done to strengthen the people's independent, proactive anti-war movement.

In this article we discuss the absolute need to break with the politics of the Democratic Party and the unholy alliance of pseudo "left" parties which work to keep the anti-war struggle under the tutelage of the Democrats.

The opportunists, dressed up as "leftists," like to swear up and down that they oppose both the Republicans and Democrats. Yet in the next breath they advertise the so-called "progressive Democrats" and pretend to ignore the pervasive and destructive role which Democratic Party politics plays everyday in the anti-war movement.

We say that the Democratic Party's influence in the anti-war movement is not something that can be ignored or glossed over. On the contrary. What is needed is a real and continuous struggle to criticize this politics, break the organizational choke-hold of the unholy alliance between of the Democrats and opportunism and genuinely build up the new - an anti-war, anti-imperialist movement organized by the people themselves and guided by the politics of struggle.

Let us begin by reviewing the extensiveness and destructive role of Democratic Party politics and how, with the help of opportunism, it infiltrates sections of the anti-war movement.

Of course, the recent elections are one prime example. Opportunism worked with might and main to bludgeon anti-war organizations and activists to substitute campaigning for Kerry, this rabidly pro-war, imperialist politician, for anti-war activism. This campaign caused tremendous damage, liquidating and splitting anti-war organizations, creating pessimism and disunity, diverting activities and resources and preventing the movement from consolidating itself and advancing.

But the elections were only a concentrated expression of the everyday politics of opportunism. Since November, rather than doing any self-criticism, the opportunists are working to create new illusions in the Democrats and find new ways to tie the anti-war movement to their coattails.

Let us take as an example how opportunism is working to permeate and dominate the program of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a national umbrella group. While any strength which UFPJ has comes from the many genuine anti-war activists and local organizations which participate in various mobilizations, the politics of UFPJ is dominated by capitalist parties and their opportunist helpers.

The real political leadership of UFPJ includes the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a foreign policy "think-tank" openly funded by the capitalist class, leading members of the Progressive Democrats of America as well as diehard opportunist groups such as the Communist Party, U.S.A. which is a most ardent campaigner for the Democratic Party.

In order to lead activists onto the slippery slope of compromise, the opportunists "leaders" of UFPJ rely on the classic capitalist tactic of speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

To appease the masses of genuine activists, UFPJ officially endorses the demand for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. But the UFPJ "leaders" verbalize this demand with their fingers crossed behind their backs and then proceed, through various political sleight-of-hands and double-talk to equate this demand with the calls of alleged "progressive Democrats" for an "negotiated exit strategy" and/or token troop withdrawals.

One of the major UFPJ resolutions, proposed by the IPS and the Global Exchange, and approved at the UFPJ National Assembly (February 19-21, 2005) is devoted to praising the "new efforts on Capitol Hill, led by Representative Lynn Woosley and Senator Ted Kennedy to call for an exit strategy and/or withdrawal from Iraq." Along the same lines, the UFPJ leadership is following another IPS tactic and working hard to mobilize activists to "thank the 16 Democrats who have called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq" and to focus their activities on "try[ing] to set up a meeting with your representative or their aides."

The truth is that the 16 Democrats, whom UFPJ is so ardently thanking, have not "called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq." In their letter to George Bush, they do no more than "urge" Bush "to take "immediate steps to begin (italics - ed.) the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq." The proposed Congressional Resolution, sponsored by Woolsey and 25 other members of Congress, does no more than suggest that Bush "should develop and implement a plan to begin the immediate withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq." The resolution also explicitly calls on Bush to "convene an emergency meeting of Iraq's leadership, Iraq's neighbors, the United Nations, and the Arab League to create an international peacekeeping force in Iraq..." Woolsey, in her call for Congressional hearings, further clarifies her position: "Let me be clear. I am not advocating a cut and run strategy. It would be irresponsible for the United States to abandon the Iraqi people. We must play a role in facilitating their transition to stable democracy. We ought to work with Iraq, the Arab League and the United Nations to create an international peacekeeping force that would keep Iraq secure" and allow the U.S. "to develop and implement a plan to bring our soldiers home and end the U.S. military presence in Iraq as soon as possible."

The harm of these illusions should not be underestimated. One of the cornerstones of bourgeois politics is to say one thing, yet do another. For decades the Democrats have advertised themselves as the "party of peace" even while presiding over every war made by U.S. imperialism. Yet the pervasiveness of their propaganda, so ardently supported by the pseudo "left," keeps creating new illusions about "new" Democrats.

In opposition to two-faced bourgeois politics, which for years has alienated millions of people from political life, what the people need is a political leadership which always shows, on the basis of the real facts of political life, the actual stands - the real deeds and underlying class interests - of all the political parties and actors. And it is especially necessary to continuously expose the Democrats precisely because, due to the role of the monopoly media, the "default" position of contemporary politics is to regard the Democrats as the "party of peace." A genuine anti-war movement must help create a situation where the Democrats cannot hide and cannot come into the peace movement with their pro-war politics.

But opportunism not only covers over the real stand and deeds of the Democrats, it insists on telling the American people that winning over these warmakers, rallying behind them and leaving the initiative in their hands is the key thing - the very basis of the strategy of the peace movement.

Another UFPJ resolution, also cosponsored by the Global Exchange and approved at the February convention, spells out the following strategy: "Now is the time to augment an all ongoing and intensifying protest strategy with a grassroots Congressional strategy that will give UFPJ member groups and activists the ability not only to make their demands from the streets but also to move the levers and mechanisms within the system to achieve policy change that brings the troops home....An effective Congressional strategy is also key if we are serious about ending the occupation....since it's difficult [for] the grassroots to directly impact the policies of the Executive branch, we need to pressure Congress, which in turn will bring pressure on the Bush administration."

One immediate "goal" of this "grassroots Congressional campaign" is to "change the position of at least 75 House members by the mid-term 2006 elections" and get "active participation from groups and activists in at least 150 Congressional districts." To get these 75 House members, the UFPJ advocates initiatives [to] "move conservative Democrats or moderate Republicans."

To begin with, this entire "strategy" is nothing but a rehash of the pabulum taught in high school civic classes - that "American democracy," is a system in which the "elected" representatives listen to and respond to the will of the people. In a political statement featured on UFPJ's homepage (11/23/04), Tom Hayden, a former Democratic state Senator from California, emphasizes this point: "When trapped between imperial elites and their own insistent constituents, members of Congress will tend to side with their voters."

This fairy tale is designed to cover over the real basis - the economic and class interests - which determine the political stands of all parties and politicians. For the last 60 years, and more, the Democratic Party, which openly and unabashedly is a party of war and imperialism, has, along with the Republicans, led hundreds of aggressive wars and armed interventions against other countries on behalf of the exploiting interests of the capitalist class. It was Truman who dropped the atom bomb; Kennedy and Johnson escalated the war against Vietnam; Carter escalated the wars against El Salvador and Nicaragua; and Clinton bombed and carved up Yugoslavia. The absurdity of pretending that politicians will "change their position" based on the views of the people is especially vivid today when all across the country the overwhelming majority of people have already come out against the war in Iraq while the government continues to spit in our face.

The extreme impotence of this strategy further reveals the opportunist sham of putting faith in the Democratic party's opposition to the war. The scenario envisioned by the UFPJ does no more than hope that 75 Congresspeople may "change position" over the next 2 years. The UFPJ insists that the movement must adapt such a strategy because all it can do is try to "move the levers and mechanisms within the system" and "bring pressure on the Bush administration." Again, Hayden echoes this line, insisting that the "left cannot create a majority" but can only "threaten the hawks in both parties" and "push the Democrats to become an opposition party, ally with anti-war Republicans."

Of course, at its root, the entire line of opportunism negates the role of the people and insists that the burning question of war or peace - the very fate of humanity - lies in the hands of the capitalist ruling class. All the propaganda about pressuring Congress to "change position," thanking "progressive Democrats," etc. is nothing but the opportunist version of the ultra-elitist theory that history is made by the Kings and Queens and that the masses of people are no more than slaves who can only petition the masters for some occasional dispensation.

Phyllis Bennis of the IPS and frequent spokesperson for UFPJ further underscores the view that the ruling class is the decisive force for peace. In a December 18, 2004 article featured by UFPJ, Bennis insists that we should base ourselves "especially [on] the fissures with sectors of support for the War. Our job is to widen those fissures into large gaps." She advertises "within the Republican Party, there's a growing division." the anti-war movement "need[s] to figure out how to strengthen this popular opposition, perhaps linking it with the growing elite and particularly right-wing opposition." She identifies the "key constituencies" for the anti-war movement as "Democrats, who so far have failed to raise serious critique and peace movement sectors with ties to Democrats, and the "rational semi-multilaterialist voice within the administration."

These calls to concentrate our efforts on getting behind some mythical sector of the capitalist ruling class are being made at a time when everyday the mass opposition is growing - when, tens of millions of ordinary Americans have already come into public to protest the wars.

Shouldn't the attention of anti-war activists be concentrated on the burning need to politicize, politicize, and politicize the movement of the people which already exists but which is lagging behind in terms of independence, consciousness and organization? Isn't the overriding task to empower the people - the real motive force of the struggle for peace - by assisting them in building up independent, proactive organizations?