Words or Deeds?

June 6, 2006

Many people are asking: "Why aren't more anti-war activities being organized?"

One of the reasons is that the opportunist political forces, which dominate the organizational apparatus of so many anti-war coalitions and organizations, are trying to channel the anti-war movement into electioneering for the Democratic Party.

According to opportunism, the 2006 elections represent a turning point - a chance to end the war and reverse the direction of government. All that needs to be done is for people to campaign for and elect the "anti-war" and "progressive" candidates.

The problem is: "just who are the anti-war candidates?"

The facts show that from day one, the Democratic Party has supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the entire so-called war on terrorism. On September 14, 2001, the Congress voted 420 to 1 to give George Bush full authority not only to attack Afghanistan but to wage a "war against terrorism" without limit and without end. The Congressional resolution ceded Bush the power "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he [the President] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons." So too, time after time, the Democrats have joined in practically unanimous votes to authorize the never-ending stream of funds for the aggressive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, again, last November even as the Democrats were widely advertising their "exit strategy," the House of Representatives voted 403 to 3 against the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The list of the war deeds of the Democrats goes on and on.

Opportunism, of course, prefers to conveniently ignore these facts. But when confronted with them, opportunism replies that the Democrats are changing, that they "are responding to the movements of the people" and that there are "good" Democrats who are against the war.

The idea of "good Democrats and bad Democrats" is one of the oldest tricks in the politicians' playbook. As part of this routine, the "left-wing" of the Congressional Democrats have long organized themselves as a "progressive" caucus which issues pious and empty words for peace.

Here is how "The Nation" promotes this tactic: "The Progressive Caucus is not yet the defining force among Congressional Democrats. But it's the one group that makes the connection between members of Congress and the grassroots activists whose idealism and energy will be essential to progressive victories in next fall's elections." ("The Nation," 5/29/06). In other words, the "Progressive Caucus" helps to create illusions that even though the warmakers are the leaders and policy-makers of the party, someday the "good guys" may take control. Of course they never do, but the "Progressive Caucus" does help keep sections of the people under the tutelage of the Democrats.

Similarly, "left-wing" candidates run in the primaries as a way to keep voters in the fold. After the primaries are over, the "left-wing" candidates campaign for the same-old hacks.

Thus, the Progressive Democrats of America endorsed a host of so-called "anti-war" Democrats during the primaries claiming that the victory of these candidates would "save the soul" of the Democrats. For example, in the Illinois primary in the 6th Congressional district, the PDA and other opportunists advertised the campaign of Christine Cegelis as the decisive task for anti-war activists. When Cegelis lost, the PDA embraced the openly pro-war candidate, Duckworth. The PDA writes: "Now that a winner of the primary has emerged . . . the most progressive next step is to assure that the Congressional District turns Democratic. Cegelis, in an April 3rd article in the "Chicago Sun-Times" highlighted the importance of this aspect: 'I think the majority of the voters who voted for me want a Democratic majority in the House. A Democratic majority is important right now. The country is going in the wrong direction.'"

Here is an example of the opportunists' sleight-of-hand. First, they assert that there are "anti-war" Democrats. Then, even though these candidates lose, their illusionary "anti-war" stance somehow rubs off onto openly pro-war candidates. The so-called "good" Democrats are only stalking horses used to keep people under the tutelage of the admittedly "bad" Democrats.

But this is not all. Again, opportunism has ignored the facts about just what their so-called "anti-war" Democrats stand for. The fact is that the "left-wing" Democrats do not stand with the people in demanding the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq. On the contrary, they advocate an "exit strategy" - that is, they call upon the Bush administration to begin discussing a plan to begin the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops, contingent upon progress in building up a puppet army in Iraq and defeating the resistance.

This is how the Democrats "respond" to the struggles of the people. They "respond" by spouting empty phrases in the hopes of diverting the people and buying time for U.S. imperialism to continue the war. This is not an "anti-war" but a pro-war stand. And it can be no other way. The very program of the Democratic Party is and always has been based on the interests of the U.S. monopoly capitalists; it is a program which openly embraces U.S. imperialist exploitation, domination and aggression in the Middle East and the world.

The method of opportunism is to de-politicize people by advertising the empty words of the Democrats to cover over their deeds - deeds which always prove that they are a party of war and imperialism.