Cindy Sheehan and the Crossroads of Crawford

Revolution #012, August 21, 2005, posted at

"If you fall into the orientation of trying to make the Democrats be what they are not, and never will be, you will end up becoming more like what the Democrats actually are."

Bob Avakian

Millions of people across the U.S. are seething with anger. Where are the "weapons of mass destruction"? they ask. "Why have we been continually lied to by President Bush and his advisors? And what is the real reason behind all this seemingly pointless slaughter in Iraq?!"

Last week, Cindy Sheehan showed just how deep and broad that anger is, when she set up camp outside of George Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch for the month of August. Her son, a U.S. soldier, was killed in Iraq in April 2004.

"I want him (Bush) to tell me 'just what was the noble cause Casey died for'?", she declared. "Was it freedom and democracy? Bullshit! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East.

"We're not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT ACT. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism! There, I used the 'I' word--imperialism, and now I'm going to use another 'I' word -- impeachment--because we cannot have these people pardoned. They need to be tried on war crimes and go to jail."

Cindy Sheehan's actions proved to be a lightning rod for the questions and sentiments of millions. Spontaneous support began generating from across the country. Discussion of her stand and the Iraq war in general began to race across the Internet and soon broke into the press. Blogs and chat rooms were filled with commentary, debate and discussion. There were hundreds and eventually thousands of phone calls, e-mails, and statements of support. Many people wrote open letters of support to major newspapers, others wrote their senators demanding that they urge Bush to meet with Cindy Sheehan.

Organized demonstrations of support were held in different parts of the country. Still others jumped in their cars and started driving to Crawford to join the encampment. As the news spread, people all over started to debate this story, including basic working people.

Right wingers like Matt Drudge and outright fascists like Bill O'Reilly heaped slanderous attacks on Cindy Sheehan for daring to challenge Bush to answer for the lies that were the pretext for the Iraq war and for daring to say her son's death was not for a "noble" cause. Other reactionaries even threatened her. By week's end the right wing was on the counter-offensive, with a lot of people saying "they weren't sure what to think"--but the war was suddenly "up for debate" again.

There is clearly a long long way to go. But the major spontaneous show of support by huge numbers of people indicates something very important: a lot of people are very pissed and hungering to do something. Many are actively outraged not just by the war and the lies, but the whole trajectory of the Bush administration. And when an opening like this occurs, that dramatically ruptures the atmosphere, they are galvanized. All this is good and very welcome and important.

Their Dynamic. . .

But a major question is where this anger will go and what it will really take to end the insane path of the Bush agenda. This is the crossroads question posed in Crawford.

For example, if you look at the internet, you can find literally thousands of angry and impatient letters to U.S. Senators e-mailed over the internet, demanding that these congressmen get Bush to meet with Cindy Sheehan. This is an example and expression of something bigger that sharply divides into two.

It is good--it is very important and very positive--that people are justifiably outraged by the ugly, illegitimate, unjust and immoral war this system has waged on the Iraqi people and are seeking to act politically against it. That outrage and that desire are something to build on.

At the same time, the instinctive reliance on going to the senators or congressmen reveals a serious weakness. This is the established "way you do things" in this country, when you get mad--you go to your congressman or senator, to demand they do something, or you wait for the next election, or you even hope that somehow the pendulum will swing while you root for your side in your living room chair. All these paths amount to hoping that one section of the elite, or one group of rulers, will oppose the group that's doing the bad things, and deal with the situation for the people. And it is precisely this sort of thing that time and again has not just confined but strangled and suffocated people's deep desire and real interests in getting rid of the Bush regime, and all it does and stands for.

If the terms of things are such that the goal of people's activities is to get one section of the rulers to oppose another competing section of the elite, and to take up the cause of people's struggles, then very quickly those terms will be changed to accomodate one or another group of rulers. The elite will turn the struggles of the people to their own interests and change the agenda. And at the end of the day people will end up betraying the very cause they were fighting for in the first place, despite their best intentions.

Look at the last elections. Almost all of the antiwar movement found themselves pouring all their energies into electing John Kerry. John Kerry! A man who wouldn't call Bush the liar that he was, a man who barely spoke out against the torture at Abu Ghraib, a man who didn't even oppose the war! And what happened? Kerry got trounced, it was declared that Bush had a mandate for his program, and people become severely demoralized and demobilized. The point made by Bob Avakian--that "if you fall into the orientation of trying to make the Democrats be what they are not, and never will be, you will end up becoming more like what the Democrats actually are "--was borne out, sharply.

Why is that? Because fundamentally, the established and dominant political apparatus does not belong to the people in the first place. Instead, it was built by and is run by--it belongs to-- those who rule over the people. And their interests are in fundamental opposition to the people and the people's struggle for a better world. Their interests lie in expanding the U.S. empire and the imperialist stranglehold on the world. The Democratic Party--which is part of that apparatus and fights for those same interests, in their own way --functions in particular to corral and control those who protest against the system, and to derail their struggles.

This is why the government went ahead with the Iraq war, on the basis of egregious lies, despite the massive opposition to the war, in the U.S. and worldwide, even before this war began. This is why even today no serious Democratic politician will call for an immediate end to this unjust, immoral and utterly illegitimate war and instead mainly offer up plans on how to fight it more "intelligently"-- meaning, in fact, more viciously.

And let's be clear--to choose, or even drift, into this path, whatever your intentions, has real consequences. It has consequences right now as to whether people live or die. And it has consequences for the future of the whole planet and the lives of every person on it--from the prisoner in Abu Ghraib to the Tennessee teenager who desperately needs an abortion, from the AIDS victim in Kenya to the immigrant detained in some New Jersey prison, cut off from her family.

These kinds of abuses come from a system, a system of imperialism.

In the final analysis, the endless abuses and horrors of this system can only be done away with through communist revolution. The communist revolution is about a whole new society based on the rule of the working people and their allies that aims to abolish classes and class exploitation; the different kinds of oppressive social relations that come out of and reinforce that class exploitation; and the backward ideas that also reflect and reinforce those class relations.

This, of course, does not mean that it is impossible for or unimportant for the masses of people to affect the political direction of society, even short of overthrowing the system--quite to the contrary. But what it does mean, and emphasize, is that this can only really be done by breaking out of the confines of the established political framework and reliance on it.

Don't let your anger be wasted in a squabble between different sections of an imperialist ruling class that care nothing for the people of the world and differ only in their strategies for domination and exploitation; don't let your best aspirations be betrayed once again by their politicians, who've deceived you a hundred times; take history into your hands.

...And Ours

Think about it. Think about the lies that justify a horrific war; the torture and humiliation in the dozens and dozens of military prisons; the denial of fundamental rights concentrated in things like the Patriot Act; the government-sponsored moves toward theocracy and the suppression of science; the denial of the rights of abortion and even birth control to women here and around the world. Think about the roughshod destruction of the environment, all for the sake of imperialism, as it assumes a more grotesque form than ever.

And think also about the anger and frustration and seething bitterness against all that on the part of millions of people, revealed by the response to Cindy Sheehan's bold stand in Crawford, Texas - -people who, however, will in the end not accomplish their aim if it goes under the wing of the Democratic Party.

The stakes are hugely high. But there IS a way to do what we need--to fight and work our way into a situation where the people (and not the various imperialist elites) are setting the terms--through uncompromising mass struggle against this whole regime and everything it stands for. There is not just one dynamic open to us--there is also the dynamic that can come into being when people take responsibility into their own hands and in their own interests. Then things can be different. The only way to fundamentally effect social change is through people taking independent historical action, not seeking to side with one or another section of the elite--but fighting without compromise for what they actually think is right, and opening up a new road in the process.

Listen to the call issued for massive demonstrations on November 2 to DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME:

"We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush's outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

"To that end, on November 2, the first anniversary of Bush's 're-election', we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. . .

"November 2 must be a massive and public proclamation that WE REFUSE TO BE RULED IN THIS WAY. November 2 must call out to the tens of millions more who are now agonizing and disgusted. November 2 will be the beginning--a giant first step in forcing Bush to step down, and a powerful announcement that we will not stop until he does so--and it will join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped."

If you are someone who excitedly e-mailed your relatives, or angrily wrote your congressmen; if you are moved and inspired and gladdened by what is going down in Crawford; if you were talking with people at work about it all--then you are among those who hold the key to making this happen. Nobody is going to do it for you. But the last week has shown again that, yes, there are millions who have not made their peace, who still hate this wretched Bush regime and all it stands for, and who are waiting for a way to act that can make a difference. Now is the time to step forward, draw forth and organize those millions into a force that will take independent action that will not compromise on the crucial issues before us and humanity until they are solved. Time to put all you have into making November 2 a turning point in history.

Make no mistake--this truly is a battle for the future. The other side of the equation has the ruling clique in power, a very hard core of Christian Fascist supporters, the major media, and the armed force of the state all on their side. We are going to have to mobilize and organize all those who oppose this direction and then reach into even the supporters of the current regime, peeling them off by struggling with them over where their real interests--and the interests of the people on the planet--lie. We are going to have to get a lot better organized than we've ever been before, a lot more unified, a lot more creative and a lot more determined than we've ever been before.

Can this be done? If hundreds organize thousands, right now; if those thousands in turn reach out and touch the hearts of millions; then there can really be a whole new ballgame. As the call for November 2 concludes:

"The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US."

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