For a United Anti-War Movement: Statement by the WIL

The world situation is characterized by extreme political, economic, social, and military instability. Humanity has entered an unprecedented period of wars, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. This is at root a reflection of the crisis of the world capitalist system, with the crisis of US capitalism at its center.

Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and the relentless pursuit of profits. This leads to vicious competition between rival capitalists for control of the world’s natural resources, markets and labor. Under capitalism, national governments negotiate trade deals, use diplomatic pressure, and often resort to military force to defend the interests of “their” country’s corporations.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, US imperialism emerged as the world’s dominant power. It has arrogantly sought to impose its will on the peoples of the world, bullying them economically and militarily. This is exemplified by the war in Iraq, a war not only for oil and strategic control over the region, but to teach a “lesson” to any country that dares “step out of line.” But none of imperialism’s objectives have been achieved. The lies and deceptions the government and media used to justify the war have been exposed, and the social effects of the war are hitting home. Far from demonstrating US imperialism’s power, the war has demonstrated the limits of its power.

The working class has nothing to gain from imperialist wars. Not only are these wars fought overwhelmingly by members of the working class, who are compelled to join the military for lack of jobs that pay a living wage, but we are forced to shoulder the financial burden as well. The war on Iraq has been accompanied by brutal cuts in education and social services. During the past three decades, real wages have steadily declined, the work week has increased, and the retirement age has been raised, while the military budget has exploded. The mass demonstrations that preceded the war reflected not only opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq, but the deep-seated discontent with the way things have been going for 30 years. For all these reasons, we believe that the struggle against the war is inherently a struggle against the capitalist system itself.

The war is now the top issue on Americans’ minds. The Democrats were swept into power last November on a wave of anti-war sentiment. But instead of ending the war, they have approved billions more in funding, condemning thousands more Americans and Iraqis to death and dismemberment. This combination of the ever-worsening situation in Iraq and the lack of a political solution here at home is fertile ground for an explosion of the anti-war movement in the coming period.

The Workers International League enthusiastically endorses ANSWER’s May 31 call for a peaceful, legal, united front antiwar demonstration. The united front is defined by the coming together of various groups and individuals who may have an array of political differences on other questions, but who agree on a single point, in this case, opposition to the war.  This approach maximizes the size and effectiveness of the demonstration, while allowing all organizations and individuals to raise their own demands and perspectives. The larger and more united the movement, the greater the prospects for success. The basic unifying slogan “End the War Now!” can effectively mobilize the millions of workers and youth who want the war ended immediately. Our massive numbers will provide overwhelming proof of majority opposition to the war.

While fighting for maximum unity and energetically building a united demonstration, we will defend and explain our own ideas and perspectives on the war. We believe the movement must maintain its political independence in relation to all capitalist parties, whose interests are diametrically opposed to ours.  We believe the labor movement must give a bold lead, placing itself at the head of the movement to end the war.  In short, we believe that this is above all a class question, requiring working class political and organizational independence. The working class, acting independently, can stop this war. We can rely only on our own strength, organization, and methods.

A united antiwar movement is US imperialism’s greatest nightmare.  During the Vietnam War, the US government was shaken by the size of the antiwar demonstrations, not only because they feared the demonstrations would turn troops in Vietnam against the war, but also against the government itself, which is exactly what happened on a mass scale.  History shows that when millions come out on the streets to voice their collective opposition to government policy, a revolutionary logic of its own is unleashed. Through their own experience, working people become aware of the tremendous power they have when their actions are consciously organized. They come to realize they have the power to transform society from one ruled by a tiny handful of rich people in the interests of the minority, into a society democratically governed by the vast majority, in the interests of the vast majority.

As long as capitalism continues, humanity will be ravaged by war, misery, and oppression. The same class that wages wars of exploitation in the pursuit of profits abroad, wages a constant war of exploitation in the pursuit of profits here at home. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are just one side of the equation. The other side is the relentless attack on workers’ jobs, wages, conditions, health care, education, and dignity.

The WIL believes that the only real solution to the problem of war lies in the overthrow of the capitalist system through the conscious action of the organized working class. In other words, to end war, we must end capitalism. To accomplish this, we must build the forces of revolutionary Marxism in the US and internationally. If you agree with this perspective, we invite you to join the Workers International League and the struggle for a better world—socialism.

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