David Welch on the STWC

D OC donaloc at peterquinn.com
Fri Nov 29 03:00:20 MST 2002

DW: A "wide" (that is: a social-democratized) movement isn't a stronger
one -
as comrades posting about the situation in Germany have illustrated - if
the Europe anti-war movement takes as its basis 'the US vs. the rest of the
world' then given the antagonism between European and American imperialist
what is it protesting about? If anything it ought to be critising its own
governments for not acting on their own policies more decisively. Even
the Blair government has tried to play this angle by arguing that it can
only be a restraining influence on the US by taking part in the aggression
against Iraq.

For a start, is a 'wide' movement necessarily equivalent to a 'social
democratised' one? No. That's probably the crux of the difference here. You
are creating an argument not being made by painting words onto it.

Who's saying that the Europe anti-war movement should take as its basis 'the
US vs.the rest of the world'. I haven't heard it anywhere. What we're
arguing about is the need to build broad, single issue campaigns which will
get the maximal numbers out and which have the capacity to raise
consciousness not just about the issues themselves but of wider issues. No
need to shut up about domestic imperialists (in fact I would be staunchly
against that) but a need to focus on the hegemonic imperialism.

As to the very specific issues involved in organising in Germany, I just
can't comment. As for Britain, I would be the last person who would cave in
to social chauvinism and have argued fervently against what I perceive to be
such tendencies in the past.

> Leaving aside anti-Americanism there is also the question of the tactics
anti-war protest. The ruling class undoubtedly regards the current consensus
on its right to intervene in the Third World as supremely important and will
fight tooth and nail to prevent any chink from opening up - what is required
as a matter of practicality to stop the war therefore is not just large
demonstrations but militant working class action: strikes, refusal to handle
produce war material, sabotage, etc. Even though the main organisation
behind the STCW recognizes all of this in principle - by tying itself
to a 'broad' movement acceptable to Labourites and christians-pacifists -
in practice anti-war activity is reduced to Sunday afternoon marches and
actions (one recent example of the latter reported on UKLN was to blockade a
city bus station during rush hour.) All of which the bourgeoisie just
brush aside.

What's needed, as you say, is to open a 'chink' in their armoury. That will
take involving a broad anti-war coalition. The key here is to build the
context in which more militant actions can gain success. That situation
remains a long-way off.

> It is also curious that Louis Proyect cites the Vietnam war as an
example of the triumph of sensible behaviour over the 'ultraleft' - material
posted a few months ago by Carrol Cox (?) showed that in fact it
was the revolt of soliders in the US army which forced a withdrawal -
a possibility which was surely only raised in a propagandistic sense,
even by left critics of the SWP(US)'s line, during the earlier stages of the

That successful revolt was only possible within the material circumstances
of that time. I'm sure that there had been many individuals or even small
groups of soldiers revolting for years before but their actions, although
morally right, could not gain a significance until the wider culture had
changed. That wider culture would be a function of popular sentiments back
home. Again, it takes us back to the need to involve a broad front and to
challenge bourgeois culture.


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