One year after September 11, 2001

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This issue appears one year after the events of September 11, 2001. Previously, we had predicted a period of unprecedented instability and severe shocks, but no one could have expected that airliners heavy with jet fuel would topple the twin towers and crash into the Pentagon. As we explained in the first issue of Socialist Appeal, this act of individual terrorism not only shocked the world, but served to strengthen the hand of reaction in the US and internationally.

Although the horrors of world capitalism existed long before S11, for the US working class it marked an abrupt and rude awakening. With massive layoffs, speed ups, eroding job and social security, and piles of debt, most Americans couldn’t afford to worry about the broader world picture. Previously oblivious to the real conditions of the rest of the world, average Americans were now jolted from their daily routines to face one unprecedented event after another.

Although the US is seen by billions around the world as a behemoth which stomps around the world like a bull in a china shop, there was an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy for America’s loss. This is a clear example of the deep-rooted international solidarity of working people around the world. It was primarily workers who perished in the fire and rubble of the WTC and Pentagon, and the sorrow of workers globally was genuine. But all this good faith was rapidly squandered by Bush and his clique of arrogant and ignorant representatives of US capital.

The subsequent open-ended “war on terror” marked a new phase in the predatory marauding of the US ruling class. Everyone and anyone is a potential target – the “Axis of Evil” was declared, and around the world, little George Bushes sprouted like mushrooms after the rain, each intent on waging an implacable war against “terror”. With a little spin-doctoring, anyone from national or religious minorities to trade unions and political opposition can be discovered to be a “friend of the terrorists” and linked to the mysteriously powerful al Qaeda network. From Sharon to Musharraf, from Palestine to Pakistan, the rights of the working class and poor, hard-fought and won over the bodies of countless workers are being trampled and curtailed.
The first “front” in the new US foreign policy (an openly imperialist policy) of “with us or against us in the war on terror” was Afghanistan. True enough, the Taliban regime quickly collapsed – but only to melt into the imposing mountains and dangerous urban slums to harass US and other occupying troops in the coming years. The gangster Karzai government is still in power thanks only to his US bodyguards (literally!).

Now the ex-oil man Bush and his pals have their eyes set on a “regime” change in Iraq – which just happens to be one of the world’s largest producers of oil (unfortunately his buddy Kenneth Lay from Enron won’t be able to get in on the action!). In a campaign of jingoism worthy of William Randolph Hearst’s “journalism”, the stage is being set for action against Iraq – regardless of what anyone says. Saddam Hussein is alleged to be planning the destruction of America through the use of “weapons of mass destruction” – although not a shred of proof has been offered.

Make no mistake – Saddam is a monster – but is it up to the US imperialist war machine and its greedy capitalists to get rid of him? They seek his removal not in order to help the oppressed masses of Iraq and that part of the world, nor to “defend Liberty”, or to make the world “safe”. They want to dominate that oil rich and strategically important part of the world in their own interests – they want to make it “safe” only for them to continue to exploit and crush the working people and poor of the entire world – it’s that simple. Let us not forget that the “peace-loving” US ruling class produces 40 percent of the world’s arms, and accounts for 37 percent of world arms expenditure. This with just 1/20th of the world population! With this unprecedented might, US imperialism has committed acts of state terrorism on a scale dwarfing any individual act of terrorism.

Before S11 , the US economy was already entering a recession. Undoubtedly the WTC attacks had an effect on the economy – but the real problem is with the capitalist economic system itself. In the last two years, Trillions of dollars have been “lost” on the stock market, and over 2 million workers have been laid off. Debt continues to weigh down the economy, and the “double dip” recession we predicted is more and more likely as the economic recovery has lost steam and begun to sputter.

Many people complain that the American working class will never move, will never form a mass political party to defend its own interests, will never fight for the ideas of socialism. But we need to remember that these processes take time. After decades of relative peace and stability, both economically and politically as well as militarily, Americans are now faced with tremendous instability and uncertainty. In recent years we saw the explosion of the anti-globalization movement, the election fiasco and Nader campaign of 2000, the collapse of the “new economic paradigm” and the dreams of early retirement for millions, not to mention the recent spate of massive collapses of companies and the accompanying scandals. Far from being at peace, the US is now perpetually “at war” against any number of as yet unknown enemies.

Bush’s approval rating has already dropped dramatically, and we can be sure these official polls do not reflect the real situation. All of this has and will continue to have an effect on how American workers perceive their world, and it will force the at a certain stage to move decisively to protect its interests – which are the same as the interests of workers all around the world.

The following lines were written just days after last year’s attacks. In our opinion, they are just as applicable today as they were then.

“The consequences of last week’s attack will be far and wide, and we can only begin to appreciate the effects it will have on a world scale. It is still impossible to say at this point whether it will lead to an all out war, how deeply it will affect the world economy, its lasting effects on the class struggle, the anti-globalization movement, civil liberties, military spending, and so on. Over the coming weeks, months, and years we will have to follow and analyze these events carefully. But most importantly we must build the forces of genuine Marxism in the US and internationally. The need to provide a clear socialist alternative to capitalist barbarism is more urgent than ever!”

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