How to Advance the Struggle Against War

September 21, 2004

Tens of millions of Americans are coming out to demand an end to the war in Iraq and to the entire aggressive foreign policy of the U.S. government.

The urgent question is: "how do we advance this struggle?"

The Workers Party says the people must mobilize and organize ourselves and unite the broadest numbers of people against the war. Through this struggle, and side-by-side with the peoples of Iraq and the world, we can force the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

At the same time, we must build up a proactive anti-war movement which aims at a genuinely democratic foreign policy - i.e. an end to U.S. interference and aggression everywhere, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, and an end to the militarization of our country.

Ending U.S. aggression in Iraq and winning a democratic foreign policy will be the deed of the people and can only be achieved through struggle against the parties of war and imperialism, the Republican and Democratic parties. The way forward is to strengthen the people's own, independent organizations and political initiatives

- the way forward is through mass anti-imperialist struggle and organization. The goal of this movement is a real anti-war government which makes a radical break from the parties of war and imperialism.

In our view, this is an urgent and practical program. Militarism and war are part of the way of life of the monopoly capitalist ruling class in the U.S. U.S. imperialism is trampling on the freedom and peace of the peoples throughout the world; in the process the capitalist war program is devouring our country - taking the lives of our youth, undermining the people's democratic rights, robbing the public treasury, etc. The program for a democratic foreign policy, for mass anti-imperialist struggle, opposes every aggressive step of the government in order to stay its hands and stop its wars. At the same time, this program consolidates the organized force of the people which can bring about fundamental solutions.

The experience of our Party shows that this principled politics can unite the overwhelming majority of people and empower them to come forward to assert their deep aspirations for peace and fight for the new world which beats in the hearts of people everywhere.

Aside from the capitalist warmakers themselves, the main stratum which refuses to take up this principled politics is the organized force of political opportunism. Political opportunists - who may dress themselves up as "anti-war leaders," "union leaders," "socialists," "revolutionaries," etc. - represent the influence of capitalist ideology and politics within the people's movements. Today, political opportunism is working against the unity of the anti-war struggle in 2 main ways.

Of course, the main line of opportunism is to work to keep the anti-war movement under tutelage of the Democratic Party. This politics not only covers over the crimes of the Democrats and the source of the war program, it continually liquidates the practical initiatives and struggles of the people and corrodes their political consciousness. We have written extensively about how opportunism works as a so-called "left-wing" of the Democrats. For now we emphasis that the anti-war movement can only advance through opposition to and struggle against the Democratic Party and the forces which insist on subordinating the people to the Democrats.

Of course, everyday more and more people are rejecting the Democratic Party and looking for the way to advance the anti-war struggle. As people reject the Democrats, opportunism tries to divert them into a myriad of opportunist "sects" each of which presents its "special brand" of "socialism" or "revolution" as the holy graille.

These sects insist that the war cannot be stopped without "the revolution" and hence activists should stop trying to organize the anti-war struggle and instead devote themselves solely to propagating the special doctrines of the sects.

While these sects posture as ultra "rrrrrevolutionary," they, in fact, are promoting defeatism and completely capitulating to capitalist politics. To insist that the war in Iraq cannot be stopped is to leave the question of war or peace totally in hands of the capitalists and in fact to claim that the capitalists are all powerful.

By counterposing "socialism" or "communism" or "the revolution" to the necessities of advancing the ongoing anti-war movement, these sects are, in fact, opposing both. Their deeds show that they are neither socialists nor anti-war activists.

The fundamental starting point of any progressive politics - and, of course, the very essence of genuine socialism and communism - is recognizing that it is the actual struggles of the working class and broad masses of people which is the motive force of change and progress in society. From this starting point, the task is to help give consciousness, organization and independent program to the real struggles which the people are forced to take up.

"Left" opportunism completely negates the real revolutionary character of the workers and people - their ability to unite and organize themselves so as to have their say over the issues confronting society. Instead of assisting the independent activity, thought and organization of the people, the sectarians want people to give up their actual struggles and wait until "judgement day" when everyone has adopted the "right consciousness" and sectarian mantras of the opportunists.

In fact, despite their "rrrrevolutionary" phraseology, the "left" sectarians, in actual practical life, capitulate to the Democratic Party. While criticizing the Democrats for not being "socialist" or "revolutionary" (what a revelation!), the sectarians still push the Big Lie that the Democrats (or at least some of them) are "anti-war" and belong in the anti-war movement. Thus, at certain times, the sectarian can be found campaigning for a "broad coalition" with the Democrats, while at other times, they curse the entire anti-war movement for being "reformist" and "pro-capitalist."

In sum, left opportunism is the mirror image of "right" opportunism. Both deny the role of the people as the decisive and leading force of the anti-war movement. Both surrender real political leadership over the issues facing us to the Democrats, while creating a divisive atmosphere on the basis of sectarian bickering over sterile ideologies.

(to be continued).