How to build a powerful antiwar movement
US imperialism has run into trouble in its war on Iraq.
The war started well. The obedient lapdogs in the mass media saturated the airwaves and newsprint with hysteria about “weapons of mass destruction”. The obedient poodles in the Democratic Party rubber-stamped Bush’s war authorization and budget. The most advanced military technologies on earth were used to obliterate the Iraqi army and accomplish the real goal of the war: planting 14 permanent military bases in the heart of the oil-rich Middle East.
But the Iraqi people have had other ideas. After suffering enormously under US imperialist occupation (including 100,000 dead and the complete destruction of the city of Fallujah) they are making clear their determination to kick out US imperialism and its hated puppet government. The elections scheduled for January 30 will change little because, more than anything else, they are being used as a fig leaf to provide legitimacy to behind-the-scenes control of Iraq by US imperialism.
Now even the imperialist strategists are looking into the face of defeat and scrambling to avoid the humiliation of a Saigon-style evacuation of their dependents and collaborators.
The antiwar movement in this country is playing a very important role: US imperialism appears to be unlikely to win in Iraq without hundreds of thousands of additional troops. These troops would not be available without a draft. And the reimposition of the draft would pour gasoline on the smoldering antiwar movement and cause it to ignite. Hence the antiwar movement (even though it is still relatively small and struggling for independence against the suffocating embrace of the imperialist liberals in the Democratic Party) represents a major obstacle in the war plans of Bush and the ruling bourgeoisie.
How can we make the antiwar
movement more powerful?
Antiwar activists today face a difficult situation. Our movement suffers from many crises:
● a crisis of orientation
Do we place our hopes on saviors from within the establishment – or orient our movement toward mobilizing the working class and masses for struggle?
● a crisis of organization
Who do we work with and what organizations are worth the investment of our energy? If the kind of organizations which we need do not exist – then how can we create them?
● a crisis of theory
What is the goal of our movement? Should we try to return to the mythical “democracy” that supposedly existed before the 9-11 terrorist attack? Or should our focus be on eliminating the political and economic system of imperialism that makes war inevitable? And if our goal is the elimination of imperialism (and the system of bourgeois rule from which it is inseparable) – then with what would we replace it?
What is decisive?
The decisive issue for the development of the antiwar movement is the struggle of the movement to (1) break free of the restrictions of bourgeois political ideas and (2) mobilize the masses.
On one side of this struggle are the politics of mass democracy (ie: where activists have an opportunity to discuss, debate and decide all the important questions) and political transparency (ie: where all the important political principles and disagreements in the movement are known to activists).
On the other side of this struggle -- is the Democratic Party -- an imperialist party which specializes in sucking the life energy and militancy out of the mass movements.
The Democratic Party does not like to see the antiwar movement turn in the direction of mobilizing the masses. The Democratic Party would prefer that we do something "safer" -- something less powerful and less effective -- like becoming doorbell ringers and election fodder for one of their "progressive" candidates.
All of the existing political organizations on the left, in the view of this writer, are deeply flawed. Some organizations allow saviors from within the Democratic Party establishment to speak from their stage and promote one of the most blood-soaked lies of our time -- the idea that the imperialist Democratic Party can be turned into a vehicle for the antiwar movement. This is the disease of reformism.
Some organizations attempt to isolate activists from one another (for example NION recently banned me from their public meetings because I posted comments on Indymedia criticizing their failure to adequately publicize the Jan 20 marches). This is the disease of sectarianism. Most organizations on the left suffer from both of these diseases.
Lack of space prevents further review of these topics here. I hope that activists who would like to pursue this join me online in the Media Weapon community (see the “ad” to the right) or follow the “What to do after J-20?” series posted on Seattle Indymedia by Frank (a former comrade of mine). Frank has proposed marches on March 19 and May 1 and the need to find a more mass democratic alternative to the current scene. (See: http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2005/01/244089.shtml )
Ben Seattle • Jan 15, 2005 • http://struggle.net/Ben