Fom Communist Voice #28, January 2002:
About the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Alliance (SAIA)
by Frank, Seattle
. After the September 11 atrocities several rallies and marches were held in Seattle against the impending war, as well as against the attacks on Muslims, Arabic people and other immigrants which were occurring in the United States. These events were fairly large (1000 to 4000 people in attendance), especially considering that they were called on short notice, and in the face of the tremendous flag-waving war hysteria orchestrated by the bourgeoisie. But they were also organized by clerics and the 9/11 Peace Coalition, the latter being comprised of the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party, some Trotskyist groups, pacifists and other reformists. When the bombing started it capitulated entirely to the pro-war Democrats. Thus it confined itself to calling a few craven peace vigils while urging everyone in the movement to write letters to the imperialist politicians.
. Meanwhile comrades of the Communist Voice Organization and friends had been distributing
anti-war leaflets and otherwise agitating against the war at home and abroad. As October wore on
it became clear that neither 9/11 nor any other established group was going to organize any more
protests, at least in the absence of tremendous pressure from the masses of ordinary activists. So
after consulting with comrades in the Seattle Communist Study Group (1) a CVO member placed
a call for a meeting of local activists on the Internet under the heading It's time for militant street
demonstrations! This resulted in the founding of the Seattle Anti-imperialist Alliance (SAIA) on
Oct. 21. From the get-go SAIA's aim was to arouse the masses, particularly the workers and
youth, against Bush's war program. It believed that the present anti-war movement needed an
anti-imperialist backbone if it were going to advance, and that to build this up the treachery of the
9/11 reformists and others had to be openly opposed. In the ensuing months SAIA has developed
and distributed several pieces of agitation while also participating in nearly all of the anti-racist,
anti-WTO, and small anti-war demonstrations in Seattle, and one in Portland. It remains a small
group, but one determined to make repeated efforts to link up with other activists and grow. <>
(1) The Seattle Communist Study Group consists of members and friends of the Communist Voice Organization and Redcritique. (Return to text)
. The following report on the December 16 anti-war demonstration in Portland, Oregon was originally written by Frank for the SAIA members who couldn't attend. It has been slightly revised for CV readers.
. There's one striking similarity between the situation in Portland and Seattle: In September the Portland Peaceful Response Coalition (PPRC) held rallies/protests of 2500 and 1800 people. After the bombing started it reduced itself to holding weekly "peace vigils" at Pioneer Square. The numbers of people attending these was sometimes 100. And its web page is similar to that of Seattle's 9/11 Peace Coalition: calls to write government officials and letters to the bourgeois press.
. So yesterday's event was the first large action since the war started. About 350 people were there, predominately young, and heavily influenced by anarchist ideas. It seems to have been called by a handful of activists, but the official story is that no one called and organized the rally and march. It just "happened" based on unsigned posters, leaflets, etc. The four main banners in the march were "Fight U.S. Imperialism By Any Means Necessary", "Take Back Your Life, Smash U.S. Imperialism", "Bush Is A Terrorist", and "How Many More Lives Will Be Taken Before You Decide To Act?"--unsigned, but obviously Pentagonlies politics. There were few other banners or signs.
. I think another comrade caught all of Craig Rosebraugh's speech, and can fill us in more on it.
. Craig is a great speaker, but the part I heard was very similar to what appears on the pentagonlies.org website: good denunciations of reformism, but no real elaboration of how it politically manifests itself in the movement, e. g. , what particular ideas are undermining the movement, what is their source, and how should we fight them? In place of this there were stirring calls to fight U.S. imperialism by any means necessary. But this can be interpreted from many standpoints other than militantly anti-imperialist ones, including reformist ones.
. One can't help but get a lump in one's throat when thinking about the armed forces of American conformity's murdering in cold blood Ramona Africa's family and comrades of the MOVE sect, and imprisoning the survivors. And it's inspiring to see that she still struggles. But on the whole I didn't like her speech. Yes, she is good at preaching defiance, for example by repeatedly slapping her hand down on the podium and challenging "how dare they!" followed by a whole series of crimes of the establishment. She also made some good points about not getting tricked by the system, i.e., it now and then jails a few murderous cops in order to give the illusion that the system is just. But instead of centering her remarks around the theme that there can be no personal liberation separate from social (class) liberation it seems to me that almost the entire focus was personal liberation: "the revolution is for you, not anyone else". This is an anarchist outlook, and there's no wonder why they so applauded her many comments along these lines. (Of course they also loved the quotation from John Africa denouncing industry which she read. )
. Ramona Africa says we should make revolution, gain our freedom by acting freely today, etc. , but unfortunately she too had little to say on any of the key questions of how to build up a revolutionary movement. She falls back to pointing out various progressive movements one can get involved in (which are all dominated by reformist politics). She wants these movements to grow, yet for them to grow in a revolutionary direction a political
critique of their problems must be encouraged. Instead of this she emphasized such everyday tasks as making sure busy activists had enough food, etc. And incredibly, she didn't mention the war in Afghanistan once in her long speech. Nor did she march.
. A dissimilarity between Portland and Seattle is the absence of most of the national Trotskyist and revisionist groups there. We saw no evidence of any of them all day. As recently as two years ago the ISO had some supporters there, but they were not at the rally or demonstration. (In the '90s the FSP was there too. ) It's possible they could have boycotted the events (which seems incredible since they were obviously going to be good sized), or that they're just gone.
. The march was illegal (no permit) but the police had been told to let us do pretty much what we wanted. Militant anti-imperialist slogans were shouted, often with anarchist anti-statist elaborations added. Besides myself, there were two young women and a guy who had brought literature to distribute to the masses. Theirs was a short unsigned flyer listing some damning facts about U.S. foreign policy. (I assume it was pentagonlies literature. ) They were very active in distributing. And both they and I passed out a lot of leaflets to people on the streets when we got downtown. People also honked horns and shouted encouragement to the demonstration. These demonstrations of the possibilities of arousing the masses may have opened the eyes of the many demonstrators under the influence of anarchist or "direct action" ideas.
. The march had no destination other than the Federal Building (which was closed because it was Sunday). So from there it went to Pioneer Square, and then back to the Federal Building. There a short debate occurred over what to do next. An anarchist guy got up and gave emotional appeals concerning people being killed and going to prison all over the world for standing up for what they believed in. His conclusion was that we should march all night. Less than an hour later the numbers in the street were rapidly dwindling so I left. A while later the police forced the remaining demonstrators out of the streets with no arrests.
. We distributed about 380 SAIA leaflets for the day (three distributing at the rally and one during the march). In my view this humble work assisted the march in being a quite positive development for the movement in Portland. <>
. The following leaflet was distributed by the Seattle Anti-imperialist Alliance at the Portland anti-war demonstration of December 16.
. Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed in the past months of U.S./British bombing
(one study of world press reports puts the number at nearly 4000). Thousands more have died , or
will die, from hunger and cold. Bush and the military planners knew this would happen, just as
Daddy Bush and Clinton knew that sanctions against Iraq would cause untold human suffering
(as many as 1 million Iraqis have died as a result). And we're not supposed to even think about
what happened to the thousands of ordinary Taliban soldiers, many of whom were forced into the
army, who were mercilessly bombed with B-52s. Blowing them to pieces was allegedly
"legitimate". So again we're seeing that human life is very cheap to the Washington political
policy-makers and military planners. Their stingy relief efforts can never make up for the lives
they've already destroyed, and will continue to destroy, in this holy "war against terrorism". What
has driven them to act in this way?
. Imperialist interests means the interests of monopoly capitalism. Since Sept. 11 we've seen how this translates at home: a bipartisan $15 billion handout to the airline industry while it threw 140,000 workers out of jobs, an "economic stimulus package" which gives the rich $115 billion more in handouts, but no moves to extend the unemployment laws to cover the majority of workers who aren't even protected, or to raise the miserable minimum wage, or to do anything about homelessness. This is because the politicians of both parties represent the interests of the bourgeoisie, the owners of the mega-corporations and banks. They're stepping up the fight to ensure its profits.
. Abroad it translates into the rape of Afghanistan. The underlying motive for this is to further expand imperialist interests to ensure more profits. But to achieve this U.S. imperialism must wage political struggles against rivals. Among these have been the would-be bourgeois rivals of Western imperialism in several countries, whose extreme wing is represented by the pan-Islamic Osama bin Laden group.
. Behind the religious veil, this group stands for challenging the prerogatives of U.S. imperialism (similarly, the cleric Khomeini fought against the interests of U.S. imperialism on behalf of rising Iranian capitalism in the '70s). And the imperialists have been particularly concerned about Saudi Arabia, which sits on almost a quarter of the world's oil reserves. The importance of these reserves is increasing because oil production peaked in the non-OPEC countries several years ago. The Saudi royal family knows this, and a section of it wants to cut a better deal for itself in its dealings with the imperialists. This section also wants to work more closely with Iran and Iraq, and it's had a certain relationship with bin Laden in the past. With the King is dying, this faction is working to succeed him. But the Monarchy itself is in trouble. While the corrupt princes have fattened themselves the conditions of the masses have deteriorated. This has increased popular unrest. Demands for democracy, jobs, that U.S. troops get out of the country, etc. , are being put forward as never before. Alongside this the Wahhabi clergy, a great many of whom support bin Laden, attack corruption and the stationing of U.S. troops from a fundamentalist angle. They and bin Laden have such a large following that the Monarchy is forced to make concessions to them. Meanwhile, al-Qaida also was supporting bourgeois oppositions in several other countries. So for these reasons bin Laden earned the hatred of Washington some years ago. Moreover, his group's launching of several terrorist attacks on U.S. political and military installations in the '90s only brought more hatred. The U.S. responded with missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan under Clinton, while at the same time using the U.N. to enforce financial and other sanctions against Afghanistan for harboring bin Laden. Thus, following the September 11 terrorist atrocity U.S. imperialism opted for war not only against the bin Laden group, but also the Taliban for not turning bin Laden over. Through this war U.S. imperialism also wants to gain a bigger military foothold in the region with which to threaten rivals in power if the need arises, or to attack revolutionary struggles of the oppressed people when they develop.
. Many anti-war forces tend to reduce U.S. imperialism's war against Afghanistan to being a war for Unocal; that is, since the Taliban was making various demands in negotiations and tending to favor an Argentine giant instead, and since the big international lenders wouldn't finance either oil and gas pipeline proposal because of continuing instability in the country, U.S. imperialism used the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a pretext for wiping out the Taliban. Now monopolizing the petroleum resources of Central Asia is certainly something which the U.S. and other imperialist powers are striving to do. And they eventually need to get them to market. But seeing the U.S. war motives as centered on the issue of Unocal's pipeline proposals leaves out the main political motives discussed above (and one could add subsidiary ones). Moreover, it doesn't consider a number of other issues: Is British imperialism fighting for Unocal, or for its own broader interests? Clinton launched missile attacks against Afghanistan in 1998 despite the fact that this would heighten tensions with the Taliban and upset the Unocal plan (which it did). It seems that Clinton's overriding interest too was against bin Laden. Since the political situation in the country is even more unstable now pipeline plans have to be put off into an uncertain future. It's hard to imagine that the U.S. State Dept, CIA, and other government agencies didn't know this would happen.
. To sum up: After the September 11 atrocity the imperialist fanatics in Washington immediately opted for war against Afghanistan. Certainly the Bush administration is packed with oil men well-versed in coldly calculating how the future profits of their industry can be assured, and this is an indirect motive in the war. But this leaves out that the government is comprised of politicians and experts whose business it is to calculate the strategic interests of all the U.S. monopolists in general. It also leaves out the Senate and Congress. Take the liberal Jim McDermott, a most "even-handed" man who can talk for hours on every side of a question. Why did he vote to give Bush and his right-wing fanatics a blank-check for a war he knew would kill thousands of innocents? The only answer is that he sees this as a way to achieve more fundamental capitalist interests. These include putting down the would-be capitalist rivals represented by bin Laden. The latter forces want to control petroleum resources when they exist in countries with them, but they also want to build up the Islamic banking system, etc. , and generally monopolize the politics and culture of all the countries they're in. The dominant imperialists fear and hate this tendency.
. A "new kind of war" which will go on indefinitely makes no sense if it's really only a war to
defend the U.S. from terrorist attacks. With bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders dead or on the
run, dealing with scattered terrorist cells is a matter of police work, not war. "Unending war'' only
makes sense if it means a series of wars to overcome constraints to U.S. imperialism's agenda for
world empire. And this requires suppressing domestic opposition.
. The bi-partisan "Anti-Terrorism" Act includes such features as search and seizure without warrants or warning, almost unlimited rights for the government to snoop anywhere and seize assets (the judicial "overview" is almost meaningless), the right to "disappear" someone it arrests for 7 days, etc. It also puts the CIA back in the business of domestic spying.
. And if you're an immigrant, forget about any rights whatsoever. In the days after Sept. 11 the Feds grabbed more than 1100 people. Some they summarily deported with no right to defend themselves. Others were held in secret locations. The government wouldn't release the names of most, it interfered with the right to counsel, it didn't charge anyone with anything to do with Sept. 11, and for 6 weeks or more many family members couldn't find their relatives. Some of these detainees have now been released, but many others still remain locked up. Although it's possible a tiny handful of these people had some connection to Sept. 11, it's also possible that none of them did. If there are no charges then everyone should be released immediately. More, at minimum the government should financially compensate these individuals for loss of homes, apartments, income, jobs, schooling, etc. , due to their imprisonment.
. Along with the post-Sept. 11 legislation we're also confronted with numerous executive orders,
Justice Department and CIA rule changes, etc. The looting of Somali-owned businesses in Seattle
was carried out under executive order 13224 (of Sept. 23). On Nov. 1 Bush ordered that past or
present presidents can block access to White House papers forever (a "hide the evidence" order).
In mid-November Bush issued another order allowing military kangaroo courts to try, sentence or
execute non-citizens the executive branch claims it has "reason to believe" are members of
terrorist groups. If that's not enough, these military panels can sentence someone to death even if
a third of the members think the person is innocent! Meanwhile the Attorney General has issued
a rule that allows the government to listen in on conversations between prisoners and their
lawyers, and to intercept mail between them. Thus from the bi-partisan legislation to Ashcroft's
latest rules we're seeing the stepped-up building of an American police state. The pretext is Sept.
11, but since this is a class government the results will ultimately be used against the struggles of
the working class, environmental activists, or anyone organizing to oppose imperialist war.
. The "war on terrorism" can't end terrorism. The ruling class knows this, and to quote a former British Intelligence officer speaking at an anti-war rally in London: "I don't know of one officer who thinks it's possible to beat terrorism with terrorism". For example, the Israeli state has been built on murdering, driving out and terrorizing the Palestinian Arabs since its inception--a more than 50-year long "war against terrorism" by what has become the most militarized state on Earth. But the ordinary Jewish people are not any more secure because of it. The terrorist policies of their state only give rise to resistance. And because of the desperate conditions the Palestinian Arab masses are forced to live under, some are attracted to clerical and bourgeois-nationalist trends (like Hamas) which include terrorist murders of Jewish civilians in their arsenals.
. In Afghanistan the medieval Taliban (which the CIA once supported and the State Dept. initially welcomed to Kabul) has been fractured. Bin Laden, the former U.S.-supported "freedom fighter", is holed up awaiting martyrdom. And thousands of ordinary people have been killed by today's unrivaled military superpower. Thus new seeds for further rounds of terrorism have been sown. Meanwhile, all the old ones continue growing: the decade-long starvation of Iraq, wheeling and dealing with the rich and corrupt monarchies and other repressive regimes in the Middle East while the living conditions of 100 million people deteriorate, support for the terrorist state of Israel, troops in Saudi Arabia, etc. Moreover, in order to maintain its prerogatives in the region (and in South and Central Asia) the U.S. has for years worked to undermine and wipe out the secular-democratic movements of the masses against the reactionary regimes (its business partners) by supporting religious fundamentalists. It's helped create the fundamentalist monster which gives rise to most terrorist attacks.
. Presently the big powers are trying to finesse a "broad-based" Afghan government; "broad" in the sense that it represents warlords, corrupt politicians and generals from the several ethnic groups or religious sects, not in the sense that it represent the interests of the broad masses of people. This cabal includes former president Rabbani (whose forces murdered 50,000 people when forced out of Kabul in 1996), General Dostum (notorious for tying rebellious soldiers to tank tracks and shredding them to pieces), southern warlords ideologically close to Hekmatyar (the ultra-reactionary founder or the Wahhabi Islamic Party and main U.S. ally for years), and others. They're all murderers and terrorists in their own right, and all of them will be angling to grab the lion's share of food-aid for their militias. All vie to exploit and oppress the masses of people. Some favor doing away with the burqa, others are as bad or worse than the Taliban. But none are going to wage a serious fight for equality of women or other democratic demands.
. The imperialist "solution" to terrorism won't work. The only realistic solution is the development in these regions of democratic and revolutionary political trends fighting in the interests of the oppressed and exploited masses. This is the alternative to the reactionary fundamentalism of bin Laden and other would-be exploiters. And it ultimately involves uniting with the working people of all countries to not only resist, but to overthrow the biggest terrorists of all: the imperialists. In Afghanistan our allies in this world-historic struggle are represented by the leftists and revolutionary democrats who continue to struggle in underground conditions. Their ranks may be small and scattered, but they represent the future of the people.
* * * * * * * * * * *
. This is a winter of mass hunger, starvation, and continued bloodletting in Afghanistan; a winter of new attacks on the living standards, democratic rights, and environment of the masses of American people; a winter of discontent. Let us stand up and denounce the imperialist overlords who have caused this. Let us unite to build the anti-war movement on a firmer foundation. Let us unite to build a social movement intent on doing away with the imperialist system itself.
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Alliance
December 14, 2001
. The following leaflet was produced by Seattle members and supporters of the CVO on Oct. 16, 2001.
. The Bush Administration is using the Sept. 11 terrorist atrocity as a pretext to step up attacks on
the masses of people at home and abroad. For their part, the Democrats are giving these attacks
their full backing.
At home: attacks on the living standards and democratic rights of the masses--
. Before the terrorist acts US capitalism was already going into a recession. Now the only question is how deep will it be. Before Sept. 11 the budget surplus had "disappeared". Now the bourgeoisie is talking of budget deficits. This means the government will further bleed the masses, gut social services still more, worsen health-care and education, further wreck the environment, etc. Why? So that more money can be funneled to the monopoly corporations for bailouts, more money can be thrown to the war industry, and so that the capitalists can go on reaping a bundle of money no matter how many people are laid off or what is done to the world's ecosystem.
. Before Sept. 11 the government had been building a police-state apparatus for years. Now draconian measures have been proposed to further increase government snooping and violate civil liberties. These are to be permanent. They have little to do with catching a few suspected terrorists and everything to do with repressing domestic opponents of the bipartisan program of the rich. And they're not just an aberrant desire of Bush's, the whole establishment is behind them. Already newspaper writers and TV personalities have been fired for mildly critical remarks about the "great leader" (Bush); the "Boondocks" comic strip for Oct. 4 was pulled by the corporate overlords for mentioning the fact that the Reagan- Bush administration funded bin Laden, and so on. Behind the Nazi-sounding "Office of Homeland Security" stands the very real growing fascism of the ruling class.
. Before Sept. 11 bestial racism was alive and well in the United States. Racial discrimination,
racial profiling, and police murders of African Americans were everyday occurrences. Now
Bush's war propagandists and the servile corporate media have helped incite racist violence and
religious bigotry, including murder, against people of Middle Eastern and Indian ancestry, and
against Moslems. When they set their sights on a new "enemy" it will be someone else. (And
since Bush has already promised that his war on "terror" is going to go on and on, we can expect
there will be many new "enemies". )
Abroad: imperialist war--
. The bi-partisan screams against terrorism are utterly hypocritical. If Bush really wanted to
"smoke . . . terrorists out of their holes" he could begin by bombing the School of the Americas
at Ft. Benning, GA. There the US has trained terrorists responsible for the murders of hundreds
of thousands of people in Latin America and elsewhere. He could continue on to bomb the CIA
H. Q. --source of one military coup after another, one destabilization campaign after another, one
terrorist manual after another. And if Bush was really against terrorism his administration
wouldn't be working overtime to patch together an alliance "against" terrorism with such
luminaries of terrorism as Israel's Sharon, the Kurd-killing Turk militarists, the feudal monarchs
of the Middle East, etc. Bush's hypocrisy, like that of the Democrats, is driven by the desire to
keep the masses of people in the dark as to the viciousness of American capitalism's drive to
dominate and plunder the labor and resources (including Middle Eastern oil) of the entire world.
Imperialism and war are the logical products of modern (monopoly) capitalist economy. The
drive to maximize profits forces this. But the ruling establishment doesn't want us to ponder this
for it leads to revolutionary conclusions.
The war against Afghanistan
. Were it just the American politicians and CEOs mixing it up with Taliban thugs and bin Laden's terrorists we would say "let them go at it". But of course this isn't what's transpiring. Millions of Afghanis are now facing the twin terrors of American bombs and starvation. And already hundreds have been killed by the terror from the skies. (But, not to worry, the US government may drop 30 thousand meals now and then . . . for cheap propaganda purposes of course. ) Moreover, US imperialism's game plan for the future of Afghanistan, what there is of it, will not end the suffering of the people. It will only bring more tyranny.
. All progressive people would like to see the medieval anti-woman Taliban regime overthrown. We would like to see a democratic government come to power, something which would be a truly historic development in this backward country. But we realize that a democratic revolution has to be the work of the Afghani people themselves. Further, it is the opinion of Marxist-Leninists that for democracy to be anything but a charade the masses of workers and exploited peasants must rise in struggle for their class demands in the democratic revolution: they must put their stamp on it.
. The perspective of US and British imperialism does not involve democracy for the people in the slightest however. The Northern Alliance, which the US can only carefully support because the US's Pakistani militarist allies hate it, is a basket-full of anti-democratic forces. It includes corrupt officials of the former government, forces following regional, ethnic and clan agendas, and anti-Taliban religious fundamentalists. This basket of crabs is riven by so many contradictions that the US has had to propose bringing back another relic from the past, the King, to try to bring some order to the chaos. Problem is that the King was not known for his abilities to even keep the Royal House in order when he had power. He also was no democrat. Banning of political parties, restrictions on the press (when it was even allowed to exist), murder of opponents, etc. , were his forte.
. After Afghanistan, the US "plan" is for a continuous state of war. Whether reactionary
governments like that of Saddam Hussein are attacked, or progressive movements as in Palestine
or Colombia are attacked, it will be the people who pay the bill and suffer. We must be prepared.
The anti-war movement
. The anti-war movement has come into being right in the face of the brutal slanders and intimidation tactics of the flag-waving establishment. It's been pointing out the hypocrisy of the administration in proclaiming itself "anti"-terrorist while it supports the Saudi monarchy, the Israeli state which is built on terrorism, and a long list of other terrorists. The movement has been pointing out that Washington has knowingly starved to death hundreds of thousands of Iraqis over the past decade through sanctions. It's been pointing out that wars such as that launched against Afghanistan only sow the seeds for more terrorism, for among the oppressed it's desperate social conditions aggravated by the neoliberal policies (including war) of the dominate imperialist powers which give rise to terrorist trends. Moreover, such trends gain more adherents than they otherwise would because of the disorganization and ideological confusion presently existing in the movements of the workers and other oppressed people. Reactionary bourgeois elements like bin Laden speculate on this to sweep desperate people into their fold. The agenda of such elements is thoroughly anti-people, just as is that of Bush.
. The movement has been fighting on other grounds as well. A section of it is pointing out that the capitalism is the cause of imperialist wars, exploitation and ruination of the masses and their environment, etc. , and that Bush merely acts in the interests of big capital, particularly in the interests of the US oil monopolies. We think this is crucial if the anti-war movement is to become more militant and also be able to sustain itself. But we also think that this section of activists has to go farther in its analysis and theoretical understanding if it is not to ultimately become a play-thing in the hands of the establishment. For example, very often capitalism is only defined as being the multi-national or monopoly corporations. This leaves the door open to Naderite dreaming about going back to a prettified pre-monopoly capitalism. The problem with this view is that the 18th and 19th centuries were also filled with wars, and very exploitative social relations existed. Moreover, capitalist competition of that era gave rise to monopoly and the multi-nationals. Break them up and the whole process would begin again. Another view that is often expressed sees imperialism as only a policy of evil men rather that something which is driven by the needs of capitalists to come out on top in their struggles with rivals. This opens the door to dreaming that "true" liberal or Laborite politicians won't be imperialist when in power. The problem with this view is that the liberal Democrats supporting Bush's reactionary war are true liberals, and Prime Minister Tony Blair is a true Laborite. And Representative Barbara Lee, who made a show by casting the single vote against Bush's open-ended war program in Congress, assured the bourgeoisie of her overall loyalty by running up to congratulate their great leader after he gave his Sept. 20 war speech!
. So these ideas in the movement work to direct us toward seeking futile reforms of the very system which has given rise to this war and which will give rise to more wars. Moreover, they lead us toward being voting-cattle for the liberal or Laborite politicians. Meanwhile, there are definite political trends in the movement which tell the truth that capitalism must be overthrown but present no liberating alternative. Anarchists dream of autonomous groups somehow bringing down the imperialist monster and somehow bringing into being a communist society. But they're at a loss when it comes to explaining how independently acting communes will not give rise to competition and "invisible" markets (which inevitably give rise to strife and wars). The revisers of Marxism-Leninism (CPUSA, Trotskyists, Guevarists, and Maoists) speak of overthrowing imperialism (the former very softly, some of the latter very loudly), but they too have no viable alternative. Even the CPUSA now has its criticisms of the state-capitalist Soviet Union from the time of Stalin until its collapse, and the Trotskyists, Guevarists and Maoists always had criticisms. But all of them propose some prettified version of this same state capitalism as being the liberating alternative to the monopoly-capitalism we're familiar with in the West. They vainly work to cover up its essence, because state capitalism enslaves the workers too, resorts to reactionary repression, and gives rise to imperialist wars in the same way. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (which the CPUSA and many of the Trotskyists whole-heartedly supported) is a clear example of the latter.
. Our conclusion from this is that alongside the struggles in the streets against Bush's war (as well
as against repression, racist attacks, and the economic onslaught against the masses) a struggle
must also be waged against the ideas enumerated. They hold back the movement. More, the
ordinary activists have to stand up to wage this ideological battle for it is often the leaders of the
movement, the speakers at rallies, etc. , who promote the worst illusions about the establishment
and thereby undermine the consciousness that a really militant movement must be organized. The
flimsy politics which have dominated the anti-war movements which have arisen since the end of
the Vietnam War must be overcome. And this requires that we, the activists in the streets, look
more deeply into revolutionary theory (studying and discussing Lenin's "Imperialism, the Highest
Stage of Capitalism" is just one example). We need ideological clarity. This is what will lay the
basis for an anti-war movement with confidence, one that has activists all over the place arguing
and organizing, one that has the power to seriously contest the brutal challenge which Bush has
--Seattle members and supporters of
the Communist Voice Organization, 10/16/01 <>
. The following leaflet was produced by Seattle members of CVO on 18 September.
. In response to the horrible attacks on September 11, the Bush administration has launched an all-out campaign to wage a "war on terrorism". Such a war would, in fact, be a betrayal of the memory of the innocent victims of these attacks. The terrorists who acted out their blind religious fanaticism by causing their own deaths and the deaths of thousands of other people were enraged by many of the very policies that Bush advocates, which have brought misery to poor peoples in the under-developed countries. The Bush administration now thinks it can use these attacks to intensify those same policies. It views this as a golden opportunity to clamp down on all the struggles of the oppressed around the world in a vain search for all the members of a supposed "network of terror". In fact, what they are promising is the creation of a US-sponsored reign of terror, a monopoly of terror around the world to deprive the people of any means of resisting its greedy thirst for maximum profit.
. Terrorism is not in fact the result of single individual or a single network. The terrorism of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network is not the same as the terrorism of the IRA or the Palestinian Hamas movement or Timothy McVeigh. All of these different terrorist groups or individuals have in fact very different political objectives and very little relationship with each other. Many of the terrorist groups in fact were trained and promoted by the US imperialists, but have since, as in the case of bin Laden, turned against the US, although this has not changed their fundamental political features. What they share is a common contempt for the masses of working people of the world and a vision of themselves as the single active element in a passive world of inert victims, who are frequently sacrificed in a fruitless act of terror. While it is certainly true that terrorism is a form of war, it is also true that war is the continuation of politics by other (violent) means, and the politics of a terrorist who kills himself and thousands of people are not much different than the politics of an imperialist such as Bush who would lay waste entire countries and utterly destroy their peoples while seeking to "smoke the terrorists out of their holes".
. The oppressed masses of the under-developed countries are suffering tremendous misery as the imperialist powers and their policies of "free trade" ruthlessly subject the entire world to their fanatical thirst for greater profits. In such a situation, any voice of opposition, no matter how fantastic its message, fills a void in their minds as they seek to mount a struggle against this Goliath. Such a voice is that of Osama bin Laden, who promises his followers a return to the golden age of Islamic purity and exhorts them to bring it about by massive self-sacrifice. Their terror is an expression of their powerlessness, but it cannot bring about any solution to the plight of the masses. Working people the world over, however, should not see such a campaign of terror as a true solution to their plight. What they should see instead is that revolutionary class struggle, guided by the insights of Marxism-Leninism, is the proper way to answer the fierce campaign of the capitalists and their imperialist chiefs such as Bush. Revolutionary Marxists see the working masses as the active element in history, and see them as the true inheritors of society being wrecked by the mad passion of big corporations. Revolutionary Marxists see that Bush is using the hysteria about the September 11 attacks to unleash a wave of corporate downsizing and bailouts which can violate all existing US laws under the pretext that this is an extraordinary situation brought about by an act of war. Revolutionary Marxists see that Bush is launching his own reign of terror; that under the cover of patriotism he is seeking to abridge civil liberties by engaging in widespread violations of privacy and draconian security measures. Revolutionary Marxists call on all working people to answer Bush's reign of terror with stern resistance, and to work to build a mass movement which can show the capitalists that we will not let them destroy our livelihood with the excuse that so-called "security" requires it.
--Seattle member of CVO September 18, 2001
. The leaflet concluded with the following statement by the Editor of Communist Voice:
On the Bush administration's response
to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11
. The terrorist atrocity of Sept. 11 caused thousands of deaths. Since then, the Bush
administration has vowed to retaliate by committing its own atrocities against a substantial part
of the world. In the name of fighting terrorism, the Bush administration intends to step up
military imperialism around the world. It is taking aim at a wide variety of forces, from the
struggling masses in Palestine, Colombia and elsewhere, to reactionaries and former U.S. allies,
such as bin Laden, who have since bit the hand which once fed them but have not thereby
become friends of the working masses and who may be butchers in their own right. This step-up
of militarism and war will only increase the atrocities, racist attacks, and repression against the
working masses around the world and in the U.S. It will not relax world tensions or bring
freedom to the world's people. It has nothing to do with ending terrorism, with terrorists such as
bin Laden having gotten their start with encouragement from the CIA. What the Bush
administration is aiming at is not ending terrorism, but monopolizing it; not ending
bloodshed, but channeling it in accordance with current White House objectives; not
ending assassinations, but authorizing them; not ending retaliations against civilian
populations, something for which U.S. imperialism has long been known, from its
sponsoring of dirty wars to its constant recourse to economic blockades, but stepping them
up. This is a united objective of the establishment parties and trends, Democrat or Republican,
liberal or conservative. They are putting aside their usual squabbles and eagerly displaying their
true colors as great-power bullies, eager to trample on the rights of the American workers and
minorities and the very lives of working people around the world. The only answer to this is for
all progressive people to dedicate themselves to the long-term work of rebuilding an independent
proletarian movement which can stand against imperialism and the bourgeoisie, both the
arrogant, swaggering bourgeoisie of the big-powers and the local reactionary factions, and which
can support struggles for freedom and economic survival by oppressed peoples everywhere.
by Joseph Green
Editor, Communist Voice
Sept. 15, 2001<>
Last changed on January 19, 2002.