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On anti-war work during the Kosovo war

. Below is a leaflet which Seattle members of the Communist Voice Organization (CVO) distributed at May Day actions this year in Seattle along with a condensed version of the article "No to Milosevic, NATO, and the big power Contact Group! No solution in Kosovo without the right to self-determination!" from the March 28, 1999 issue of Communist Voice.

For a rebellion against established political trends

. To build an anti-war movement with potential we think the prevailing politics of today's actions need to be opposed. The following is a brief survey of some of those politics:

The Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia---

. This group organizes demonstrations, leafletting, etc., under the slogans "Stop the Bombing Now!" and "No War". But when it comes to providing an orientation to the masses it preaches reliance on the big powers, fills the air with illusions regarding the alleged wonders of diplomacy, the United Nations and international law, and conveniently develops a big case of forgetfulness while doing so. It's no surprise then that these champions of democracy shamelessly cast aside the question of the democratic right of the Kosovars to self-determination.Consider the following from one of the Nonviolent Action Community's flyers: "The only method to end the violence is through international diplomacy---which must include the Russians---forcing a ceasefire and providing for monitors (not NATO troops), thereby allowing the safe return of refugees. Then the process of reaching a negotiated settlement between Milosevic and the Kosovars can begin." The same leaflet demands "the illegal and exacerbating bombing be halted, and that the mechanisms of the UN and international law be pursued vigorously".

. But diplomacy has failed and the US/NATO and the Serbian governments are now at war. This didn't happen because these two sides didn't understand the arts of diplomacy, "conflict resolution", etc., nor because they didn't think of "providing monitors" instead of NATO troops.Certainly, meetings of the diplomats of these two sides will undoubtedly take place again when the conflict reaches a critical stage. But they both already agree that the Kosovars have no right to decide their own future and thus any "negotiated settlement between Milosevic and the Kosovars" implies that the Albanians of Kosova should just give up their rights and bow down to the government which has been butchering them. And what about the "mechanisms of the UN"? If we remember correctly this wondrous organization brought us the Gulf War and the continuing starvation of the Iraqi masses through sanctions.

Pacifism in general---

. The Nonviolent Action Community..., Peace Action, Seattle Women Act for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation have declared "We oppose weapons sale or other transfers of weapons to any of the parties in this conflict." Well one of the parties is the Yugoslav state and it already has tons of weapons which it has used to suppress and drive out the Albanians. Another party is the Albanian Kosovars themselves, along with such popular organizations as the KLA. Pacifism would deny the latter guns with which to fight for their freedom and even guns with which to defend themselves from fascist atrocities. This is the same stand that the imperialist Clinton Administration and NATO took during the diplomatic maneuvering before the war.

Eat The State---

. Geov Parrish of Eat the State writes the following: "(let's all repeat, loudly: IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE, NEGOTIATE.)" The April 7 article from which this is taken is full of denunciations of both the Clinton and Milosevic governments. He raises the issue of the United States being a "rogue superpower . . . a military bully that has launched unprovoked acts of war against four countries . . . since last August", castigates the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties as being war criminals, and more that one can agree with. Yet in writing for an "anti-authoritarian" political newspaper all he can do is hand everything back to the authorities he denounces. They should negotiate over the wasteland they've created. And the right of the Albanian population to decide their own destiny be damned! Clinton and Milosevic will decide their fate.

. Further, to his credit the editor of Eat The State calls for actions in the streets, etc., and for organizers to give people opposed to the war something to do. And although he has some criticism of the present left this criticism is not really aimed at the left's dominant politics (including pacifism). Instead his criticism is that the left should be searching for some right- wing opponents of the war to build rallies with. It seems that he's stuck on this idea because he presently doesn't see enough the necessity for organizing the workers, youth, and other oppressed people for a really new and revolutionary anti-war politics, nor the potential.

The Freedom Socialist Party---

. The FSP calls for "the voluntary reunification of Yugoslavia's former republics and provinces on the basis of equality" and says it supports "the right of the Kosovar Albanians to self-determination". But it then turns around to kick itself in the face with the following carefully crafted statement: ". . . we also believe that the only way that all the peoples of the former Yugoslavia will be able to coexist is if the goal of socialism that motivated them during their period of greatest harmony once again becomes a common aim." This sloughs over the fact that the "socialism" of the former Yugoslavia (Titoism) was a state-capitalist bureaucracy which lorded it over the working class and peasantry. The people grew to hate it. And although Tito's regime didn't commit the wholesale atrocities against the Albanian Kosovars which the Milosevic regime has, it still suppressed them. (It also killed, imprisoned or hounded those it even perceived as being genuinely socialist or communist.) Further, Milosevic himself is an inheritor of the Titoite political machine and drapes a socialist banner over his criminal actions.

These bankrupt political stands must be overcome---

. The economic and political interests of the Serbian ruling class versus those of the US/NATO ruling classes have driven their governments to war. These governments are all tools of an exploiting bourgeoisie which everywhere rides on the backs of the workers and other toilers.They everywhere disproportionately tax the workers and poor to pay for high-tech weaponry, they everywhere pare as much out of their national budgets which goes to benefit the masses as they dare while shoveling money to the ruling bourgeoisie, etc. And leaving aside the question of officers and hot-shot pilots, its mainly the sons and daughters of the working class who are sent to fight and die in the interests of their capitalist governments. (And it's the masses of ordinary people who suffer the most from displacement and civilian casualties as well.) True, Clinton and his NATO partners would like this to be a short and "clean" air-war (one in which only the sons of Yugoslav workers do the dying) but preparations are also under way to send NATO troops if this fails. Hence this is no scholastic question for the sons and daughters of the American working class either, the largest class in society.

. So it's obviously our view that the fundamental interest of the working class in all the countries involved in this war is to oppose their governments. Because of its position in society this is the most consistently anti-war class, the class which the anti-war movement has to learn to address and win over---win over with a politics opposed to those mentioned above however. Of course the ruling bourgeoisie everywhere works to line the workers up behind its "national interests" (exploitation and plunder) and in times of war it howls for supporting the troops and yells "traitor!" against its opponents (as anti-war activists in Serbia today are well aware). Yet just as during the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and elsewhere, we cannot let this deter from struggling to use analysis and persuasive argument aimed at bringing into being a fighting movement that can upset the dominant politics of today. During the war in Vietnam this took years to accomplish despite the relatively high number of U.S. casualties. A revolutionary critique of imperialism had to be developed. And only after thousands of activists had rejected the politics of the establishment and begun to take up and propagate an increasingly independent politics did the movement really begin to explode. The present war may be relatively short (or it may not be), nevertheless the task of building an independent political trend should be taken up. And crucial in this is to develop the criticism of revisionism (phony Marxism-Leninism) a la the CPUSA, Maoists, Castroites, etc., and Trotskyism (the FSP, SWP, WWP, and others).

--Seattle members of the Communist Voice Organization (CVO)


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