Anti-War Protest

Perspectives for the Antiwar Movement and Beyond

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The antiwar movement, like the war itself, has had quite an intricate history of development. The U.S. is currently involved in two wars in the Middle East: Afghanistan, which started back in October of 2001, and Iraq, which began in March of 2003. U.S. involvement in these two wars has now gone on longer than its direct involvement in World War I, World War II and Korea combined.

Countless lives have been devastated by these wars, and to date, the U.S. ruling class has no plans for immediate withdrawal. Even the half gestures of “phased withdrawal” that have been proposed here and there still leave the U.S. military with a significant presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the thousands of private contractors.  Furthermore, some sections of the ruling class  seek to expand the war into Pakistan, as expressed by both the Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin campaigns.

It is therefore no surprise that the best and most enduring slogan has been and must remain: End the War Now! With the “now” a crucial component. Those who wittingly or unwittingly express the ideas of the ruling class within the movement have attempted to water down this demand on numerous occasions. But the growing political maturity of the rank and file has led ever broader layers to reject this. “Out Now!” has become the unifying slogan of the mass action wing of the movement, with the growing support for the National Antiwar Assembly clear evidence of this trend. The Assembly’s push for mass, united bicoastal actions next Spring should be energetically supported.

The anti-war movement started out with many illusions in “pressuring elected representatives to act in the interests of the people.” But the Democrats’ role in continuing to enable the war for two more years since they were swept into Congressional power in November 2006 has led many to draw the necessary conclusions. While many illusions remain, a growing section of the movement sees the need to press forward and expand its rank and file base of support.

ILWU ProtestThis fact was very clear at the July anti-war National Assembly – where many antiwar trade unionists spoke of the need for more labor actions against the war – such as the ILWU’s May Day strike against the war. The labor movement and the unions could bring the war to an end virtually overnight, if mobilized to do so. Every effort to broaden the antiwar movement in the direction of more labor participation will help to tap into the colossal antiwar sentiment the majority of American workers feel, but perhaps haven’t yet expressed on the streets, and more importantly, at the work place, in the form of political strikes against the war.

Additionally, the immigrants rights movement, the natural ally of the anti-war and labor movements, has been going through a process of development not unlike the antiwar movement, struggling to present its independent demands, free from the pressures of the reformist representatives of the ruling class. It is no surprise that the October 11th anti-war and October 12th immigrants rights actions have come together in several cities. It is also not surprising that the proposal for “100 days of action,” starting from the Presidential inauguration and ending on May Day 2009, is likely to be taken up in cities across the U.S. by both movements.

There is a natural reason for the beginning of a convergence of anti-war, labor and immigrants’ rights forces. These are all struggles against the war on workers at home and abroad by the capitalist class. At their root, all three of these movements are the natural outgrowth of  workers’ discontent with the capitalist system. We would urge all those involved in these movements to take up a serious study of Marxism – which is the generalized and theoretical expression of the historical experience of the workers’ movement. Marxism gives the best explanation as to the “why” of the crisis of capitalism, in all its manifestations, but most importantly, it also points to the way out of such crises for good: Socialism.

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