How to Advance the Struggle Against War
September 2, 2007
The Workers Party is calling on all anti-war activists, on everyone who longs for peace, to join us in discussing the way forward - in sorting out what needs to be done to advance the anti-war struggle and win the peace. As part of this ongoing campaign, we are reprinting the following article which is an excerpt from the book, “Only the Peoples Can Stop the Wars,” by Michael Thorburn. The article outlines major points resulting from discussions in which anti-war activists summed up their experiences and worked out guidelines for advancing the struggle. Minor editorial changes have been made.
1) Bring anti-war, anti-imperialist politics to ever-broader sections of the people.
Within the last six years, millions of Americans have already come into the public arena to express their opposition to the government’s war program. This is truly a great beginning.
But it is only a beginning. The fact remains that the vast majority of people, while opposed to the war, are not yet actively organizing themselves. One key reason is that our country’s political life is organized in a way to exclude the majority of the people.
2) Anti-imperialist politics is the key to releasing people’s initiative.
Anti-imperialist politics not only exposes the demagogy and lies of the war propaganda. It shows people, with concrete facts and analysis, the aggressive character and exploiting aims of government’s foreign policy.
Anti-imperialist politics exposes the monopoly capitalist class and the imperialist system as the cause of war. Anti-imperialist politics relies on the people and inspires them with their decisive role in the struggle for peace. In the immediate struggle, we work to unite the broadest possible sections of people to fight against each and every aggressive step taken by the government. At the same time, we work to build up the independent movement of the people as the only way to eliminate the scourge of war and militarism altogether.
3) Anti-war activists must carry out far-ranging and in-depth theoretical and ideological work in order to popularize and consolidate anti-imperialist politics.
One of the most exciting developments of the last year is that the anti-war struggle is becoming a great political school for the people. Every day more people come forward to look into the history and roots of things and to assert their own vision for society. Anti-imperialist politics nourishes and assists this enlightenment as a decisive foundation upon which to build the anti-war movement.
Thus anti-imperialist politics creates new space in which people can discuss and sort out their own interests. The aim of such discussions is to assist the people to take all the questions of theory, tactics and organization of the anti-war movement into their own hands.
4) The anti-war movement can only develop through struggle against the parties of war and imperialism.
Already, within the last year, millions of people have seen that the Democrats and Republicans are unanimous in their support for the war program - in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and throughout the world. And it can be no other way precisely because this war program is the inevitable product of the crisis and decay of the capitalist-imperialist system and both the Democrats and Republicans are bought-and-paid-for by the big capitalists.
Yet, even as millions of people are coming forward and trying to take the path of independent struggle and politics, opportunism keeps advertising the Democrats as the leaders of the anti-war movement. This politics not only pressures the movement to narrow its scope and water down its demands, it also imports the chauvinist aims and ideology of the capitalist class into the anti-war movement.
Most importantly, the alliance between opportunism and the Democrats works to create illusions and prevent the people from taking things into their own hands and consolidating their own independent movement.
5) In order to consolidate anti-imperialist politics, activists must organize themselves and the struggle.
Firstly, activists must initiate and strengthen a variety of independent, anti-imperialist organizations, from networks of people to carry on continuous discussion and mobilization, to anti-war and anti-imperialist discussion groups, to more disciplined organizations of anti-imperialist activists.
In addition, coalitions and actions, which unite varying groups and tendencies, can help galvanize people into action and create new space for the masses to come forward. The success of such forms of struggle and organization is very much dependent on the degree to which activists develop anti-imperialist space within such formations. Anti-imperialist politics is decisive to defeat diversions and unprincipled splits and to continually reach out to the broadest sections of the people.
The particular forms and methods of organization depend on a variety of objective and subjective factors but the key thing is to develop organizations which rely on and release the initiative of people as the conscious builders of their own movement.