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Which way forward for the development of a powerful anti-war movement?

by Ben Seattle Monday, Mar. 10, 2003 at 7:02 PM

Thousands of serious activists are giving thought to all questions related to the development of an anti-war movement that can strike even more powerful blows against this latest round of imperialist wars. This article represents an effort to directly confront the most serious questions related to the development of the anti-war movement.

Which way forward for the development
of a powerful anti-war movement?

Millions are marching in the streets of hundreds of cities around the world to protest Bush's plan to invade Iraq and occupy the Middle East oil fields. These mass actions are a powerful blow to the plans of US imperialism and are complicating its war planning and even delaying the war--but they will not prevent this war.
Thousands of serious activists are giving thought to all questions related to the development of an anti-war movement that can strike even more powerful blows against this latest round of imperialist wars. This article represents an effort to directly confront the most serious questions related to the development of the anti-war movement.

Question: Can the anti-war movement become a more powerful social force than it is at present?

Answer: Yes

Question: How can the anti-war movement become more powerful?

Answer: The anti-war movement has already become large in size. The decisive step forward is for the anti-war movement to develop in depth so that it can give tens and hundreds of thousands a clear understanding of the class nature of our society and the need to end the rule of the bourgeoisie (ie: the class that owns the largest corporations and controls the Democratic and Republican parties, the courts, the police, the mass media, etc.)

Hit them where it hurts

The bankruptcy of the Democratic Party, which has rubber-stamped Bush's war plans at the same time as millions are marching in the streets against this war--helps to prove that American "democracy" is an illusion used to hide the rule of the rich. The anti-war movement, by exposing the nature of bourgeois rule (which launches one war after another) and the necessity of breaking the system of bourgeois rule--can help to smash up widespread illusions in "bourgeois democracy" and, by so doing, will greatly increase the social cost, to the bourgeoisie, of the current round of imperialist wars.

The experience of the movement against the war in Vietnam helps to prove this.

As the anti-war movement developed, Democratic Party politicians (who had originally launched the war under Kennedy and Johnson) accused the Rebuplicans (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 bourgeoise fear most. What the bourgeoisie most fear--is that tens of millions will recognise 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 anti-war movement will become an increasingly powerful social force as it breaks from bourgeois influence (ie: the orbit of the Democratic Party) and tells the masses the truth about the need to end the system of bourgeois rule.

How to move the Democrats
to the left

Such a course of action by the anti-war movement (ie: an orientation toward the masses and away from all bourgeois politicians) will certainly piss-off the entire strata of liberal-labor Democratic Party politicians who will argue that the "smart thing" is to work within the system and seek alliances with powerful saviors within the establishment (ie: Jim McDermott, Dennis Kucinich, etc.)

According to this argument, we should focus our precious time and energy on attempting to move the Democratic Party (an imperialist party, owned and controlled by the same big corporations that control the Republican Party) to the left.

But if we want a section of Democratic Party politicians to move to the left--the most effective way to accomplish this--is to turn our backs to them--and make clear that we recognize them as the flunkies of the rich that they are. As the anti-war movement abandons illusions in saviors from within the establishment--the bourgeoisie (which keeps these "saviors" on a leash) will be forced to give them permission to move to the left in order to better maintain the illusion that the system of bourgeois democracy can be made to work in the interests of the masses.

In this way the anti-war movement can help to transform the current political climate and greatly complicate the plans of the warmakers.

Further, by developing in the direction of independence from bourgeois influence, the anti-war movement will better prepare itself for the day when, as the bombs begin to fall, the "saviors" within the establishment attempt to pour cold water on the idea of militant mass actions.

The need for revolutionary organizations
that are deserving of the respect
of the masses

Why is it so easy for liberal-labor politics to dominate the anti-war movement? Because at this time the progressive movement is naked to its enemies.

The great problem of the present time is that there exists no genuinely revolutionary organization that commands respect; that is deserving of the trust of activists; that has its feet on the ground and (to continue this analogy) does not have its head shoved into a place that can't be reached by sunlight.

Hundreds of revolutionary organizations were created in the U.S. in the wake of the the brutal police repression of the massive anti-war protests at the National Convention of the Democratic Party in Chicago in 1968. Most of these organizations considered themselves to be marxist in one sense or another. Especially popular were Trotskyism and Maoism. At that time Cuba and/or China were widely considered by activists to be models of societies that were not ruled by a privileged class.

In the years since then nearly all of these groups have evaporated. The decline of the revolutionary movement was related to the ending of the war in Vietnam. But there were other reasons also. These groups fell victim to the diseases of reformism (ie: essentially being in orbit around the bribed strata of liberal-labor politicians and their myriad institutions) and sectarianism (ie: allowing the competition between rival groups to undermine the cooperation necessary for the development of the revolutionary movement). More than this, these groups were all undermined by the crisis of theory (ie: the inability of the revolutionary movement to offer an alternative to the capitalist-based system of bourgeois rule that would make clear how the working class can run society better than the bourgeoisie) which undermined their moral authority and the morale of their members--leading to demoralization and passivity.

Today, anarchism is rising in popularity but activists inclined in that direction are faced with the same problems as an earlier generation of activists: reformism, sectarianism and the crisis of theory.

One big factor today that will assist in overcoming these problems is the transparency that is emerging from the revolution in communications. This will allow activists to better link up with one another and create revolutionary channels of communication to the masses.

Those activists who would like to see a mass trend develop that is (a) independent of the Democratic Party and the liberal-labor reformist swamp, and (b) not into religious cult-building, should link up with one another. A mass political trend that is independent of the bourgeois influence is needed. One step in bringing such a trend into existence--is to talk about it. So let me hear from you.

Ben Seattle -- March 5, 2003
(500 copies of the above leaflet were handed out at Seattle demonstrations on March 5 and 8) The local left ecosystem in Seattle
created for The Future Transparent Workers' State,
an essay from The Anarcho-Leninist Debate on the State

Legend of militant (or pseudo-militant) trends:
SWP = Socialist Workers Party, WWP =Workers World Party (ie: leads A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition), SA = Socialist Alternative, FSP = Freedom Socialist Party, ISO = International Socialist Organization (corresponding to SWP in Britain), RCP =Revolutionary Communist Party, CVO =Communist Voice Organization,
=anarchist movement.
The placement of various militant-appearing trends in this diagram may be somewhat inexact or arbitrary. Any resemblance between the left wing of the Democratic Party and the head of a bloodsucking leach is a coincidence.

Links • Post comment
post your comments, questions or criticisms
• Look at comments
what do our readers say?
• No to Bush's war for oil and empire!
One of the best agitational leaflets I have read. Very useful to many activists attempting to make sense of the news and wondering what to do. Written by supporters of the Communist Voice Organization, who also wrote this. Unfortunately these folks oppose transparency and are unable to deal with public criticism.
• Behind the Invasion of Iraq
This may be the best in-depth analysis I've seen, going into Iraq's history, including Saddam's alliance with US imperialism against Iran
• What is our alternative to imperialist war?
A leaflet I wrote in February 2002
• The Left Ecosystem
Artist's rendition of the local left ecosystem and the bourgeois machinery of political control
• Seattle 2002
• Resolving the "crisis of theory"
Here are some of the highlights from the anarcho-leninist debate on the state: • A scenario for the overthrow of bourgeois rule in the U.S. in the middle of the 21st century
Here is one way events may unfold
Politics, Economics and the Mass Media when the working class runs the show
• Will there be elections?
• The three economic sectors (private capitalist, state capitalist, gift economy)
• The evolution of the mass media (commercial media, state media, free media)
The Future Transparent
  Workers' State

Will a workers' state be a brutal police state or a machine controlled by workers?
Finding the Confidence
  to Build the Future

How will the working class keep supply chains running and bourgeois apologists from flooding the airwaves on the morning after bourgeois rule is broken?
• Wag the Dog
Should we support the Democratic Party? (An Indymedia thread)
• Anti-War Portal
This obsolete skeleton can be considered an illustration or sketch of the kind of portal that is needed. The anti-war movement needs something that is organized better than Indymedia. It would be cool if there were one or more volunteers who were interested in keeping this updated. No html skill required.
• Ben Seattle's site
Index of my projects, elists, theoretical and infrastructure work

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 20 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
I'm not sure ronny Monday, Mar. 10, 2003 at 8:19 PM
What do I think? MadMaxim Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 3:10 AM
What do I think? Pissed Off In Ohio Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 4:00 AM
Up against the Wall! MadMaxim Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 4:16 AM
As opposed to the War Hawks.... Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 4:31 AM
But at least we have a conscience MadMaxim Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 5:52 AM
Conscience? Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 6:09 AM
I hope you're wearing your Aluminum Foil Hat MadMaxim Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 6:40 AM
Ok i suspected it before but... POIO Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 6:53 AM
Whoa, you may have somethin there POIO! MadMaxim Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 7:12 AM
COINTELPRO Is Alive and Well Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 7:23 AM
Before, or After? MadMaxim Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 7:31 AM
that form is probably a tracking implement too POIO Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 7:34 AM
I'm not biting Diogenes Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 7:39 AM
Wooo Who! MadMaxim Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 7:42 AM
To site admin POIO Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 7:46 AM
Reply to absurd accusations that I am a cop Ben Seattle Tuesday, Feb. 08, 2005 at 12:01 AM
POIO was a whacko nutcase... Jack Mehoffer Tuesday, Feb. 08, 2005 at 12:08 AM
yeah where is POIO? Billions Moron this War Tuesday, Feb. 08, 2005 at 12:32 AM

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