TAKE IT TO HEART

by Bill Foster

In my opinion, we should all spend some time, every day, remembering and thinking about what happened last weekend, March 19-20.

Across the country, in probably thousands of cities, towns and neighborhoods, hundreds of thousands of Americans came into public to oppose the government's war against Iraq.

These actions were not advertised or even mentioned ahead of time by the monopoly-controlled media. They were not organized by the Republican or Democratic parties. On the contrary. The entire official political-ideological apparatus of our society works on a continuous basis to promote the war and suppress the people's opposition. The government went so far as to deny people the right to hold various marches and demonstrations. Tens of thousands of police were mobilized, with full riot gear and helicopters, to intimidate the movement and prevent people from joining in various actions.

Yet still the people came out! The nationwide actions on March 19-20 were another indelible, revolutionary deed of the people and part of an ongoing and intensifying anti-war movement. And everyone knows that the hundreds of thousands who marched and demonstrated represent only a small fraction of the number of people who are opposed to the war and who, on a daily basis and in a million-and-one ways, express their opposition.

The demand for peace is the common aspiration of the masses of people. And March 19-20 proves, yet again, that the people are more than capable of organizing themselves and fighting to stop the wars.

These nationwide actions again show that there is an impassable and widening gap between the demands of the people, on the one hand, and the government and the Republican and Democratic parties, on the other. The March 19-20 actions show that this gap is increasingly manifest in a public polarization and a mass, political opposition to the capitalist war program.

The people's ever-growing anti-war movement is one of the most dynamic forces of contemporary American political life. Giving political expression to this movement and further organizing it is the task of the times.

II.

While the mass mobilizations on March 19-20 were the deed of the people, the sober truth is that the political leadership is not in the hands of the people who are working, struggling, sacrificing and creating the movement.

All across the country, Democratic Party politicians and their opportunist helpers were paraded in front of the demonstrators, given the platform and promoted as the spokepersons of the movement. But the Democratic Party officials, who sit in Congress and other halls of power and, alongside the Republicans, preside over U.S. imperialism's war machine and empire, do not represent the people.

On the contrary. In opposition to the people's demand for the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq, the so-called "left-wing" of the Democratic Party calls for nothing more than a "negotiated, exit strategy" which relies on more multilateral and Iraqi puppet troops to help the U.S. maintain control of Iraq. These politicians are the ones importing into the anti-war movement the chauvinist politics of "now that the U.S. is in Iraq, we can't just leave." These politicians are the ones fighting tooth and nail to narrow the movement to the maximum and prevent further exposure of U.S. aggression and interference in Afghanistan and Palestine, against Iran and North Korea, in Haiti and Venezuela, etc. Anti-war activists must take up this question in all earnest. As long as the people's movement is not in the hands of the people themselves, its perspective and demands will be watered down and it can be diverted at key times (the recent elections are a case in point).

How can we successfully create a real anti-war government - a government which adheres to the voice and program of the people - if we let our own movement be dominated by pro-war politicians?