The Attack on WTC and the Pentagon: A Sociaist View

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxx.xx
Wed Sep 19 16:50:34 MDT 2001

>From the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (England and Wales),
section of the Committee for a Workers' International.

The Attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center:
A Socialist View  

    In opposing this atrocity and sympathising with the thousands of
ordinary people who became innocent victims we stand apart from George Bush
and other spokespersons for the ruling elites across the world whose
statements of condemnation are pure hypocrisy.
    Bush has talked of a battle between the forces of Œgood¹ and Œevil¹. If
by Œevil¹ he means the actions of people who have a complete disregard for
human life and who are prepared to indiscriminately massacre innocent
civilians, he would have to list the political and military establishment in
the US in this category.
    The horror that was inflicted on those unfortunate airplane passengers
or those who happened to be in the twin towers of the World Trade Centre was
captured on film and relayed around the world. But there were no cameras or
film crews allowed in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in the Lebanon
when the US backed Israelis sealed them off while the Phalange militias went
on a murder spree against Palestinian men women and children.
    Likewise no one was there on the ground to record the human suffering
when US bombers carried out the US threat to return Cambodia to the Stone
Age. Nor have images been circulated to show the suffering of the civilian
population of Iraq, where, according to journalist Robert Fisk, sanctions
have destroyed the lives of half a million children.
    The litany of crimes carried out by the US and other capitalist powers
goes on and on.
    The rage that creates suicide bombers capable of acts like this comes
from the nightmare that capitalism  has  inflicted  on  the  peoples   in
the  ex colonial world. It is also because the weakening of socialism in the
eyes of the masses means that there appears no way out of the poverty and
the tyranny of the imperialist powers and the despotic local rulers.
Under these conditions people can turn in desperation to ideas like
fundamentalism, just as nationalism and even racism can gain a base in more
developed countries. Prolonged social and  economic crisis can also bring
about social disintegration and produce elements of barbarism as we saw in
    However to understand the horrors that capitalism has inflicted on the
peoples of the neo colonial world is not to justify similar horror being
inflicted on ordinary people in the US.
    Marxists have always stood against the methods of individual terror as
practised by groups like the IRA and the PLO. The working class is the only
force that can overthrow capitalism and can only do so using the methods of
mass struggle not isolated military attacks.
    But the attack that turned the twin towers of the world trade centre
into a mass grave for thousands goes beyond what we mean by individual
terror. The individual terrorist carries out military attacks mainly against
the state or individual members of the establishment.
    Those who turned passenger planes into guided missiles aimed at
buildings crowded with civilian workers did so to kill as many people as
possible. The scale of what they did makes the term individual terror
inappropriate and inadequate. This was indiscriminate terror, the mass
murder of innocent people.
    Also  far  from  being  done  in  the  name  of  any radical cause or
any genuine liberation struggle this appears to have been the work of quite
reactionary groups who have links with backward and utterly oppressive
regimes like that of the Taliban.
    Individual terror, far from weakening the State, ultimately strengthens
it, providing it with the excuse to reinforce itself with extra "emergency"
powers that very often end up being used against the struggles of the
working class. 
    The message of the individual terrorist is "leave it to us". The only
role they give to the mass of the people is to stand and watch and applaud.
Their actions lower the understanding of workers of the need to struggle.
The more "effective" the terrorist act the greater the confusion and
disorientation it produces among the working class. This is borne out by
this latest attack which goes beyond individual terror in its scale and it
    At first it created shock and confusion among the US ruling class. But
as the dust has settled the Bush administration has emerged strengthened,
able to whip up patriotic fervour and a mood of national unity.
The attack has given the excuse for more repressive measures, not just from
the US but also from other powers. International measures against
"terrorism" are being discussed.
    The repression will be felt far beyond the shores of the US. Already
Muslims have been attacked in a number of countries as racist ideas develop
on the back of the huge propaganda effort aimed at demonising a whole people
in order to maintain the mood for military retaliation. And the post Vietnam
reluctance of the US people to commit ground troops to a war abroad that
might result in sustained casualties has been partially evaporated in the
wave of anger that these attacks have produced.
    The disorientating effects on the working class and anti capitalist
movements are already clear. The anti capitalist demonstration that was due
to be held in Washington at the end of September promised to rival Genoa in
its size will not now take place.
    The US working class, along with workers across the world, is facing an
economic recession, a recession that had begun before these attacks, but may
be made more severe by them. It will now be harder for the working class to
resist the job losses and attacks on living standards that recession will
    All these effects will be temporary. The working class will regain its
confidence and will again take the road of struggle. What these attacks have
done is make this more difficult.
    Does this mean that our message to the peoples of the ex colonial world
is to preach passivity and an acceptance of "their lot"? No. We are for mass
struggles of the working class and the other oppressed sections of these
societies to shake off the political and economic yoke of capitalism.
The big battles that have shaken much of Latin America in opposition to the
neo liberal policies dictated by world capitalist institutions like the IMF
and World Bank have shaken capitalism and at the same time have struck a
chord of sympathy among the working class in the advanced capitalist
countries. Mass struggle by the peoples of the ex colonial world for
socialist change accompanied by an appeal to the working class of the west
for support would have a decisive and positive impact, not the decisive but
negative impact of these latest actions.

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