In Defense of the SWP/anti-war mov't

Robert Malecki malecki at algonet.se
Tue Oct 15 01:43:00 MDT 1996


Hugh writes;

>Bob M and David W are having a go at each other over a very important issue
>-- the best slogans for mobilizing an anti-war movement in the imperialist
>countries especially the US during the Vietnam war.
>
>Let's remember that there was a tremendous and growing upsurge against the
>war among the youth and many young workers in uniform.
>
>David argues:
>
>>The Usec Majority wasn't anymore "left" than the Maoists were here.
>>First of all, the position held by the SWP at the time and the slogans
>>rasised were supported by close to 40% of the Usec membership, insofar
>>as the old Leninist-Trotskyist Tendency (and later Faction) represented
>>this perscentage of the Usec. At any rate, their position was "Victory
>>to the Vietnamese" and "Support the NLF" and similar slogans. Of course
>>the anti-war movement in Europe was from the point of view of Europeans
>>looking at what the US imperialists were doing. Even so, their slogans
>>failed to address the main enemy and what to do about it: US Out Now!
>>was, IMO, the only REAL anti-imperialist slogan during the anti-war
>>days of the 60s and 70s.

Hugh writes;
>I think we can see here a clear difference between agitational needs and
>propaganda needs. Mobilizing the masses on the one hand and sharpening the
>spearhead vanguard of the mass movement on the other.
>
>Compare October 1917. The mass agitational slogans were Bread Peace Land.
>The propaganda vanguard slogans were All Power to the Soviets! and Down
>with the Provisional Government! Both sets were needed, in their proper
>places.
>
>David is arguing a more agitational position:
>
>        Troops Out Now!
>
>But this only makes sense in a revolutionary strategy if it grows out of a
>defeatist position in relation to your own imperialist bourgeoisie. There
>was enough feeling against the war among the troops to nourish propaganda
>along the lines of:
>
>        Not a single bullet against Vietnamese workers and farmers in uniform!
>
>        Vietnam to the Vietnamese!
>
>        Down with the US imperialist warmongers and their government!
>
>        For an anti-capitalist and anti-military government!
>
>Unconditional support for the armed struggle of the Vietnamese against the
>US imperialists did not in any way imply writing a blank cheque for the
>politics of the Stalinists "leading" the revolutionary war. (For this
>reason the slogan Victory to the NLF! was a copout.) Just the opposite. In
>the propaganda battle for the leadership of the antiwar movement, the blind
>alley of Stalinist policies had to be warned against and fought. Difficulty
>is no argument against this. As always the battle was being fought on two
>or more fronts simultaneously. The decisive factor was the relationship of
>the militants to the mobilized masses.

Naturally Hugh's slogans above are not bad but hardly enough or clear in
relation to the goals of the anti-war movement,nor how to address the
working class and the popular front politics that dominated the anti-war
movement. Nor does the slogans address which side Communists are on while at
the same time not giving a free ticket to the Vietnamese Stalinists and
their history of betrayal.

The Sparts had a five point "Class Struggle Program" which was;

1. NO Liberal Bougeois Speakers at Anti-War Rallies!
Under the rubric of "non-exclusion" and "independence" the SWP-NPAC
leadership welcomes the class enemy into the anti-war movement. The major
activity of the movement's "mass actions" has been to provide both the forum
and a captive audience for liberals to do their canvassing. The only real
"independence" for the movement is irreconcilble opposition to the class enemy.

2.For Labor Political Strikes Against the War!
No amount of student strikes and weekend peace crawls can force U.S.
imperialism to end the Indochinese war. But a strike by U.S. workers in
solidarity with the Indochinese working people could compel the capitalists
to face an enemy even more potent than the Vietnamese Revolution--a
powerful, organised and concious working class in struggle for its own class
interests in the very citadel of imperialism. The NPAC leadership opposes
this perspective because it wants to maintain its alliance with the liberal
bourgeoisie, trading away the potential of a powerful, working-class based
mass movement in order to win the adherence of "moderates" to a classless,
implicitly pro-capitalist line. A struggle for this demand means the
struggle against the conservative, self-interested labor bureaucracy which
mortally fears any class action which would upset its peaceful coexistence
with the bosses and their politicians.

3.Break with the Capitalists Parties--For a Political Party of the Working
Class!

The U.S. working class will remain politically trapped until it has built,
by struggle against its fake "leaders," its own party. A workers party must
have a consistent class program as well as a working class base. We do not
call upon the tested servants of capitalism, the labor bureaucrats, to form
a party; we do not seek to pressure them into a trap for the workers along
the lines of the British Labor Party. We must fight from the beginningto
makethe workers party a revolutionary party.

4. Smash Imperialism--All U.S. Troops out of Asia Now!

We must expose the pro-imperialist liberals who speak at the invitation pf
the AWP-NPAC-- no negotiations, no timetables! We must make it clear that we
want no bougeois evasions--de-escalation, troop shifts,moratoriums-to
interfere with the defeat of imperialism in Asia!

5.Victory to the Indochinese Revolution--No Confidence in Sellout "Leaders"
at Home or Abroad!

The SWP-NPAC demands "self-determination" for Vietnam. But for Marxists
there is an even higher principle at stake: the class nature of the war. We
have a responsibility to take sides. Our commitment to the revolutionary
struggle of the Indochinese working people demands that we must give no
confidence to the Stalinist traitors who have repeatedly sold out the
struggle (from the Geneva Accords to the People's Peace Treaty). All
Indichina Must Go Communist!

Naturally this 5 point program was in relation to the specific situation
existing in the United States. However popular front politics and uncritical
support to the Stalinists was a central pillar of the movement Internationally.

The popular fronts in Europe must be seen in the light of the Stalinists
line of peace co-existence with imperialism and the maoist stage theory of
revolution. However there were even maoists at least here in Sweden that had
the "Red Front" and "send cannons to Vietnam" line.

But the key to intervention in Europe should have been independent
mobilization of the working class under its own banners. Against the fake
opposition of the European Imperialist liberals. Against the peaceful
coexistence line of the Stalinists
and especially against pick up the gun rhetoric where Vietnam and Latin
America coincided.

Because in the final analisis the main enemy here in Europe was at home!
Plus the treacherous politics of the Social Democrats and the Stalinists. In
fact the Swedish Usec did make and attempt to do just this and broaden the
struggle. However they were late on doing this and the war ended. Then came
their capitulation to the popular front in Chile and the solidarity work
involved in this plus the bankrupt Mandelite line of pick up the gun in
Latin America.

One of the things i most disagree with Hugh here on is not taking sides in
Vietnam!
Thus the slogan of military victory of the Vietnamese against the americans
but without giving and ounce of political support to the Stalinists i find
extremely important. Because if you avoid it you avoid the very basics of
Leninism that Communists take sides! In this case the side of the Vietnamese
workers and peasants. In a situation of defeatism the side of the working
class in the various countries.

Bob Malecki




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