The Seattle Anti-Imperialist Alliance was formed by seven local political activists on October 21, 2001. We were dismayed that after the U.S. government had been bombing Afghanistan for seemingly interminable weeks the established anti-war groups had called no demonstrations, and they had none on their agendas! Instead, the 911 Peace Coalition was spending its time calling on anti-war activists to write letters to the politicians who had rubber-stamped Bush's entire war program. In what it advocated, and in what it practiced, 911 was liquidating the anti-war movement which had come up in September. But we wanted to draw it together and further develop it. So we formed a political alliance with this aim. Our first act was to call a demonstration on October 27 as an initial step in reaching out to other activists to conduct joint activity.
Our primary purpose is to arouse the people, particularly the workers and youth, against the U.S./British imperialist war on Afghanistan and starvation of its people. When the U.S. launches further imperialist brigandage we'll oppose it in the same way. Thus our main work is agitational (leafleting, talking with people, postering, meetings, etc.). But since we think that under the present-day capitalist system all the political representatives of capital are driven to be imperialist, and to use war as a means of defending or extending the prerogatives of American capitalism (whether they be Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative) we stress in this work that there are no saviors within the establishment. We must rely on ourselves. And if the anti-war movement is to grow and flourish it must adopt a politics independent of those of the establishment. To end imperialist war after imperialist war the capitalist system must be overthrown. This is the truth, and we strive to find ways to explain it to the workers and other progressive people.
Hence we want to build up an anti-imperialist backbone in the anti-war movement. Moreover, if one has a scientific understanding of imperialism one has to conclude that to be anti-imperialist in this society is to be revolutionary. But through the coalitions the present-day anti-war movement is being saturated with reformism. The reformists see imperialist war as being the result of "mistaken" or "stupid" policies of the government, and particularly as the result of the Republicans or the right being in power. From this standpoint they foster illusions that the establishment can somehow be depended on to correct itself. All that is needed is prodding, letters be written, press conferences called, the media's attention be gotten, etc., (or weeks be wasted politicking with Rep. Jim McDermott!). This undermines the consciousness that anti-war activists must rely on the masses, and mobilize them to struggle in their interests. There is no other way.
Furthermore, reformist groups, as well as those which try to reconcile reformism with revolution, and even many fairly serious revolutionary groups, often engage in sectarian behavior and adopt an "us versus them" attitude in relation to other left groups. Sectarian behaviors include boycotting mass activities organized by other political trends, and divisively trying to force unscientific dogmas onto the movement. This is an ill which we must struggle against both in the overall movement and within our own ranks. In our struggle against these tendencies in ourselves, we are committed to making serious criticisms of us public, and we will respond, within the limits of time and practicality. We will engage in careful analysis and exposure of how particular sectarian activities are harming the interests of the movement when they arise. Key in the struggle against sectarianism is keeping our focus on the needs and real life of the movement.
The tasks which SAIA has taken up are not something which is going to be finished in a few weeks, months, or even years. We call on all wanting to fight imperialism to join with us in this endeavor. The times demand it of us.