Push Forward the Anti-War Struggle!
March 8, 2010
The American people in their millions and tens of millions, are demanding: "U.S. Troops, Out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Now!"
The huge size and breadth of this ongoing movement is being hidden from the public by the monopoly controlled media which refuses to present most of the news about anti-war protests and meetings. Since the so-called "war on terrorism" began, massive demonstrations have taken place not only in the major cities but also in smaller cities, towns and suburbs throughout the country. In communities, workplaces and schools people keep getting together to develop new anti-war initiatives. People keep broadening the struggle to oppose U.S. war and intervention in Pakistan, Palestine, Haiti, Iran, Syria, Korea, Venezuela, Colombia, and elsewhere.
Already the people have raised the banner of determined opposition to the wars and have shattered the myth of a "national consensus" behind the government's war program. We have won and are winning the battle of public opinion and are bringing our agenda for peace to the forefront. This new, nation-wide movement is a great deed of the American people and no one should underestimate the strength of the people. The anti-war struggle, which has erupted not only in the U.S. but which already comprises hundreds of millions of people on a world scale, has scared the imperialist war-makers and already is a check on the appetite of the imperialists as they strive to widen the war and draw more peoples and nations into it. Even though the reactionary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were started by the U.S. government in defiance of the will of the peoples, neither the duration and course of the wars nor their outcome will necessarily be determined by the will of these war-makers. The peoples' struggle can hasten the end of these wars as well as create conditions for a genuine and permanent solution–for guaranteeing the sovereignty and independence of all nations, free completely from imperialist intervention.
Moreover this struggle can play a big role in changing the balance of political forces in the U.S. The necessity of opposing the wars is releasing the political energies of millions. Many are taking political action for the first time. A new atmosphere of struggle is emerging, the masses of people are unifying their ranks and broadening their political experience.
But this does not mean that we should take a euphoric attitude to the growing anti-war movement. On the contrary–to nourish and invigorate it and push it forward to victory, we must squarely and realistically face up to various problems.
To begin with, the anti-war struggle is under all-sided attack. We have mentioned how the monopoly controlled media is censoring and blockading the news. In tandem with the government, the media is trying to overwhelm public opinion with chauvinism and pro-war hysteria. While the government sends the workers to be slaughtered in this war for profits and empire, the politicians scream that anyone who opposes the war is "anti-American" and "against the soldiers." In countless workplaces and schools, the bosses and administrators are trying to ban any discussion against the war and taking repressive measures against the people. In addition, a racist campaign of persecution and harassment, accompanied by relentless propaganda about the alleged threat of "terrorism," has been launched not only against Muslim and Arab-Americans, but national minorities generally.
With the fear-mongering, chauvinism and relentless war propaganda, the capitalists aim to overwhelm the anti-war movement, to create a feeling of isolation and intimidation amongst anti-war activists as well as to confuse various sections of the people about the true aims and character of the war. While Obama and the mass media never stop harping on the so-called "threat of international terrorism," all the past and present crimes of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and throughout the world are covered over and ignored.
While the ferocity of such attacks on the anti-war movement can have a temporary effect, it can never erase or defeat the anti-war movement. The important thing is that the working people and the anti-war activists strengthen their resolve and enhance the work of politically mobilizing the people. All the propaganda of the capitalists can be counter-attacked and punctured if we merely stick with the interests of the people, expose the true facts about the war, expose the history and aims of U.S. imperialism and popularize the growing strength of the anti-war movement.
While the capitalist class and government are attacking the anti-war movement and trying to overwhelm it from the outside, they are also attacking and trying to undermine it from the inside. Precisely because there is so much opposition amongst the people to the war program of U.S. imperialism, the Obama administration is relying heavily on the tactic of imperialist pacifism–of talking about "peace" while waging war, of promising "negotiations and compromise" while imposing U.S. dictate. The real content of the peace plans and negotiations sponsored by the Obama administration are to try to get the peoples to give up at the bargaining table what imperialism cannot win on the battlefield–to get the people of Afghanistan to give up their struggle for independence and to accept a neo-colonial arrangement, to get the Palestinian people to give up their struggle for national liberation, to get Iran to give up its sovereignty and independence, etc. Within the anti-war movement, this tactic is designed to slow down the mobilization of people, to create the illusion that war might be ended by the war-makers themselves and that the people need not go into action, even though the Obama administration is escalating the wars and doing everything to prepare for new wars.
As a result of the emergence of a gigantic, spontaneous opposition to the war, the capitalists have been working hard to rig up an apparatus to catch this movement and contain it. Anyone who has participated in the manifold demonstrations, meetings, etc., while inspired by the breadth and vigor of the movement as a whole, has also experienced various problems. Already splits are being fomented in various coalitions. Dozens of competing voices, including some that are counterproductive, pull the movement in different directions and split it.
At practically every demonstration, various politicians from the so-called "left-wing" of the Democratic Party show up and are declared, by some, as the "leaders" of the movement. Of course these politicians do not bring anybody to the demonstrations, but arrive on the scene after the people have come out. These politicians do not denounce the leaders of their party who are prosecuting the war. Instead, they merely issue a few pious phrases in hopes of reassuring the people that the same political parties, the same capitalist class and imperialist system, which is carrying out this brutal war program may one day bring an end to it.
The new result of all of this is that while the people gain tremendous inspiration and confidence from the mass protests, many people often leave such actions feeling at a loss about what to do next, lacking a clear direction and orientation.
There is nothing the capitalists would like better than for the anti-war movement to exhaust itself in actions without consolidating and developing its political unity and program. While the media seeks to demoralize the movement and create maximum confusion, the Democratic party politicians and their hangers-on within the anti-war movement want to prevent people from looking into and addressing the various political and ideological issues facing the movement, want to prevent the masses of the people from taking the practical matters of organization and politics into their own hands. This 2-pronged attack aims at keeping the anti-war movement passive, unable to reach out and mobilize new sections, unable to strengthen the unity in its own ranks.
The key to countering the attacks on the anti-war movement, the decisive factor for broadening and deepening the movement are to 1) adhere to the path of unity in action against the war-makers and 2) build up the independent politics and organization of the working class and people in the course of the struggle.
Since the war affects such broad sections of the society, people from all walks of life are coming into the anti-war movement. This is an excellent thing. Obviously different people bring different ideas, degrees of allegiance to various political parties, etc., etc., into the movement with them. This is also natural and good. We say that everyone who opposes the war should unite in action against the war-makers.
At the same time, in the course of the struggle, people naturally share opinions, discuss their varying analyses of the cause of the war and especially focus on the way to push forward the struggle. This discussion also is an essential and vital part of the movement. Summarizing and learning from the experience of the people, gaining clarity about the causes of war and how to advance the anti-war movement are decisive factors for the people to take the question of war and peace into their own hands.
In the final analysis, the capitalist war-makers are able to prosecute the war and determine the policy of the government because they are organized and the masses of the people, who aspire to a world of genuine peace, are not organized. The extent to which we are able to undermine the war program of the capitalists, the extent to which we are able to implement our aspirations for peace is indissolubly linked with the extent to which the working people are organized in their own mass organizations and their own political party, independent of and in opposition to the capitalist war-makers.
In this respect, we want to summarize some of the experience of the Workers Party and the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) in the anti-war struggle. Of course, compared to the movement as a whole, our work is very modest, but we have thrown ourselves heart and soul into the struggle and can report many extremely positive results.
From the beginning, we have consistently pointed out that both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan are reactionary, aggressive wars – wars which originate in the imperialist system and the drive of U.S. imperialism for strategic and economic domination. We have shown the horrible price which the people, in the U.S., the Middle East, Central Asia and the world pay for such aggressive wars. We have emphasized that only the peoples and their struggles can stay the hand of the war-makers and that the fundamental thing is to build up the independent politics and organization of the working class and people in the course of the anti-war struggle. The anti-war struggle advances with sure and firm steps only when we see clearly the economic, social and political forces which stand behind the war program–see clearly that the capitalist-imperialist system based on the exploitation and domination of other nations–necessarily breeds war.
This politics is the irreplaceable starting point of our work. But it is only the starting point. The main work is to take this politics as widely as possible amongst the people. Over the last several years, we have distributed hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature and engaged in thousands upon thousands of in-depth discussions about the character, the aims, causes and solutions to the current wars. We have joined vigorously in city-wide, local and national anti-war actions and meetings. In various areas we have organized independent programs and actions to mobilize the people on a wide scale.
In all this work our aim is both to encourage people to take the road of mass action and struggle against the wars as well as to create an atmosphere in which the people can discuss and clarify the issues, strengthen and organize themselves so as to draw yet more people in. Our experience shows that by maximizing the political discussion amongst the widest section of the people, by combining mass actions with serious political analysis, we help both invigorate the whole movement as well as to build up an ever-stronger conscious and organized section of the movement.
On the one hand we work hard to advance the movement as a whole–to develop the unity in action of the whole people and to strengthen the independent politics in the movement. At the same time the successes of our work stem from the fact that we have already been working, over a period of time, in definite areas–in various schools, communities and workplaces–speaking out and organizing the people against imperialism and its war program, as well as fighting in defense of the interests of the people on many fronts.
Our daily and continuous program of organizing the workers and people as an independent force means that, in various areas, we have strong links with the people and common experience in many struggles. This, combined with our principled line on U.S. imperialism's war program and our practical program for advancing the struggle, gives us and the people maximum initiative in times of sharp struggle. To the extent that we have created political organizations of the people, the people have a weapon for mobilizing themselves and advancing their struggle. It is live contact with the people and constantly assisting the initiatives of the people themselves which is the basis of accelerating the anti-war struggle. By building up their own political party and mass anti-imperialist organizations in the course of the anti-war struggle, the people consolidate their victories and nourish new initiatives.
We have found that by fearlessly defending the basic interests of the people, by clarifying things, every discussion that we have only enhances the experience of the people. Some people come forward and are active more quickly, others continue to think things over. But as long as we build political organizations devoted solely to the masses of the people and linked with them, over time the strength of the people is multiplied continuously. Approaching the anti-war struggle from this standpoint of quality, from the standpoint that it is always the consciousness and organization of the people themselves which is decisive, is fundamental both because the struggle against the U.S. government's war program is bound to be complicated and protracted and because it is necessary to build up a force which can sustain the struggles against war and imperialism. The government's war program reveals again that in this period of the all-sided crisis of imperialism, the U.S. capitalist class is preparing more imperialist wars abroad, turning towards fascism and imposing economic devastation on the working masses in the U.S.
Building the independent politics of the working class and people, building the political party of the working class and the mass organizations of the people, in the course of the struggle against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the way to win victory in the immediate battles as well as to bring into being that world so ardently desired by peoples everywhere–a world of peace, a world of friendship amongst the peoples based on recognizing the sovereign equality of every nation