Revolutionary Worker #1194, April 13, 2003, posted at rwor.org
If you try but fail to stop a monstrous crime before it is committed, should you support it, or be more "restrained" in opposing it, now that it is being committed?
In the March 29 edition of the New York Times there is an article whose title is a tip-off to its purpose: "Antiwar Movement Morphs from Wild-Eyed to Civil." The heart of this article is its claim that the antiwar movement is becoming more "moderate" now that it has failed to stop the war. What is done with this article is very similar to what is done with the never-ending, ever-present polls: people are told what to think by telling them it is what they already do think--or what they ought to think because most everybody else thinks that way. (If there had not already been literally millions of people in the U.S. itself, as well as millions more around the world, protesting the war, even before it began, is there any doubt that those who are running this war-- and running "the polls"--would be claiming that something like 90 percent of Americans support this war? But in the face of the massive opposition, they couldn't get away with a blatant lie to that degree, so instead we are told that "the polls show" that something like 60 or 70 percent support the war.) As the Chuck D/Public Enemy song says: "Don't Believe the Hype." And don't believe it when things like this Times article tell the antiwar movement what it should do by pretending to "report" what it is doing.
One of the great strengths of this movement has indeed been its tremendous breadth--involving huge numbers of people of many different viewpoints. But that breadth and diversity has had strength exactly because it has been united in clearly opposing the war, in rejecting the government's rationalizations for this war, and in its determination to stop this war. Now, just at a time when it is becoming evident that this war will not be the quick and easy victory that the government/media led people to believe it would be, things like this Times article are attempting to influence the movement to "water down" its stand, and to slide down a slippery slope into a position of basically accepting this war, with whatever horrors it brings, and at most engaging in weakened rituals of protest.
Think about the title of this Times article in light of the reality in Iraq: There is nothing whatsoever "civil" about the war that the U.S. government is waging on Iraq, and the continuation of this war will mean even greater death, destruction and suffering for the people of Iraq. So why should the antiwar movement tone down and water down its basic stand and its determination to stop this war?
And what is the logic that this Times article is attempting to promote? Well, the antiwar movement did not succeed in preventing the war from happening...so therefore it should be less firm and resolute in its opposition, now that the war has started? Huh?...what kind of logic is that! Of course, this is said to be necessary in order to appeal to, or not to alienate, the "mainstream." Once again, the fact is that the movement which aimed at stopping the war, before it started, was truly massive--it was unprecedented in the outpouring of people from all walks of life-- precisely on the basis of its clear and firm stand of opposing and resisting this war . The problem, the reason this movement did not succeed in preventing this war, is clearly not that the movement was not broad and large- scale.
The reason and the problem is that decision-making in the U.S. does not follow the popular will but is dominated by a small group of people--heads of corporations and their political representatives--whose interests are fundamentally different from, and opposed to, those of the masses of "ordinary people." This ruling class of capitalists not only monopolizes and controls the economy but also the politics and the key institutions of American society and government. They preside over a network of global exploitation, which has to be maintained through threatening to use, and actually using, massive military force. As the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has bluntly put it: the hidden hand of McDonald's cannot prosper without the fist of McDonnell Douglas. And the fact is that the clique now sitting at the core of power in the U.S. has been planning to wage this war on Iraq and determined to wage it for years--going back well before September 11, 2001...well before the "election" of George W. Bush. This war is part of a whole strategy of extending U.S. imperial domination in the world through massive military force--a strategy that Cheney and others like him have been working on since "the end of the Cold War."
To stop this war of mass destruction on Iraq and turn things away from this whole course will require not lowering but raising the level of the opposition. It will require mobilizing even more massive outpourings of protest and resistance, of many different kinds, in unity with people all over the world who are opposing and resisting this war. The aim must be nothing less than transforming the political terrain and the terms of things in society, so that continuing with this war, and with this whole direction, would land the ruling class of the U.S. in a profound political crisis.
This does mean that even greater numbers of people need to be won over. But that is just the point-- they need to be won over . The way the movement will become even broader, and at the same time more powerful , is not by watering down its basic position of opposition and not by trying to avoid "offending anyone": To win people over means challenging them. It means reaching out to them, yes, but also struggling with them, in a good way. It means explaining, with concrete facts and meaningful analysis, what is really going on--exposing the lies that the government/media repeatedly drum at people, and bringing them the truth of why this whole war of mass destruction is being waged on Iraq, why the U.S., and the world, is being dragged in this whole direction, whose interests this does and does not serve, and why this must be firmly opposed. And it will be more possible to continue winning over more people if at the same time the great numbers of people who already are against this war continue to mobilize in powerful opposition to it.
In the face of the determination of the "rogue state" in Washington to proceed with this war and this whole course, what is needed is for the movement of opposition to be not "wild- eyed" but clear-eyed , and to be even more determined .
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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