How to build a powerful antiwar movement

Thousands of activists are giving thought to all questions related to the development of a more powerful antiwar movement. This leaflet represents an effort to directly confront the most serious questions related to the development of an antiwar movement that can deliver powerful blows against US imperialism’s war on Iraq.

Organize ourselves!

          Mass meetings and regular marches
          (including March 19 and May 1)

Politicize our movement and take it to the masses!

          Use mass democracy to fight
          the influence of the Democratic Party

Focus on our goal!

          A world without bourgeois rule
          vs. begging for peace from the gods of war

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: )

Ben Seattle Jan 15, 2005

Ben’s views do not necessarily reflect the views of

other supporters of the Media Weapon community.

January 20 Marches and Rallies

2 pm Westlake Plaza / speeches, music & events (NION)

4:30 pm March to Federal Building

5:00 – 6:30 pm Federal Bldg / speeches, events (ANSWER)

6:30 pm March to Westlake Plaza

The carrot and the stick

The great "secret" of how the bourgeoisie

works to tame the antiwar movement:

The antiwar movement is attacked on two sides.  The movement is attacked on one side by the agents of force (ie: the cops -- who will do everything possible to frustrate, intimidate and humiliate activists) and is attacked on the other side by the agents of political deception (ie: a section of the Democratic Party which promises the sun, the moon and the stars if only activists will do the "smart" thing and work within the "established channels" that have been engineered to demoralize or corrupt activists).

This is how it works: the carrot and the stick.  On one side we are clubbed by the cops.  On the other side the Democratic Party machine offers us unlimited power if only we give up our militancy and be "realistic" (ie: hitch our star to some savior from within the establishment).  This is a tag team.  This is an ancient con.  This is how everything has, from the very beginning, been engineered to work.

Experience of the movement
against the war in Vietnam
illustrates what
the bourgeoisie fear most

As the movement against the war in Vietnam developed, Democratic Party politicians (who had originally launched the war under Kennedy and Johnson) accused the Republicans (who favored continuing the war under Nixon) of undermining the system of bourgeois rule by continuing a war that was leading to the radicalization of an entire generation of young people. This helps to illustrate what the bourgeoisie fear most.

What the bourgeoisie most fear--is that tens of millions will recognize that the system of bourgeois rule stands as the fundamental obstacle to the forward progress of humanity and must be broken in order to bring an end to the current system which makes inevitable one imperialist war after another.

The Media Weapon community

Isolated from one another we are easily defeated.

Connected to one another no force on earth can stop us

The most powerful truth of our time is that a world without bourgeois rule is both possible and necessary.  The Media Weapon community is determined to help bring this truth to the working class and to the world.

Our proposed mission statement:

To help develop the theory and practice of information war to mobilize the working class for the overthrow of bourgeois rule

Our proposed program of action:

(i) The 21st century is destined to be a century of information war (understood as a struggle for ideas organized on a mass scale) in which all digital (and other) means of communication become essential components of anti-imperialist struggle and the class struggle.

(ii) Our mission requires that we ride the wave of the emerging revolution in communications in order to bring to political activists everywhere--and to the working class as a whole--the news that a world without bourgeois rule is both possible and necessary.

(iii) Towards this end we will learn to make skilled use of email lists, web-based forums, blogs, RSS and wikis (as well as more traditional printed and verbal agitation) to help:

1. Build channels to the masses

We will build interactive and democratically-run channels of communication which will feature news and discussion (as well as comprehensive coverage of revolutionary, or would-be revolutionary, organizations, projects and forums) that connect activists to the masses -- and bring political transparency to the revolutionary movement.

These channels will make use of the energy of readers to rate and filter articles and comments so that our audience will be able to easily find the most valuable and interesting content.

These channels will both (a) mobilize popular support for the current struggles of the working class and oppressed and (b) provide a comprehensive understanding of modern society including politics, economics, culture and technology.

2. Puncture the suffocating influence of reformism

We will help puncture the suffocating influence of reformism that sucks the life and militancy out of the antiwar movement (and all other mass protest movements) and channels the energy of activists into useless, dead-end schemes -- such as becoming election fodder for the Democratic Party.

3. Resolve the crisis of theory

We will help resolve the crisis of theory that has made it impossible to think in a realistic way about an alternative to bourgeois rule -- and has led to the rampant saturation of the progressive movement with the sectarian and reformist diseases -- and paralyzed the revolutionary movement.

4. Lay the foundations for a revolutionary

    mass movement that is politically transparent

We will help unite revolutionary, progressive and working class activists into a revolutionary mass movement that is politically transparent (ie: where the important political principles, disagreements, projects and organizations are known to everyone and charlatanism, sectarianism and reformism have no place to hide) and deserving of the respect and attention of the working class -- and which has the ability to mobilize tens of millions for victory against the bourgeoisie.

Contact us !

Post your Comments / Questions / Criticisms  to our website

A criticism of this leaflet was posted
February 16 on Seattle Indymedia.
You can read the resulting thread here.