Thoughts on the peace rallies

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at
Sun Feb 16 15:38:11 MST 2003

Something very important has happened. We haven't seen this level of mass
anti-war consensus before the start of a war since the run-up to WWI and/or
WWII, if ever.

What's brought this on? I suggest two factors:

1. the experience of the anti-capitalist movement (Seattle, Genoa etc)
which re-established the idea of a global opposition to the system.
2. the angst coming out of most ruling classes at the prospect of a world
dominated by one superpower, which would have a stranglehold on the oil as
well as overwhelming military power.

The first point means it should be possible to win sections of the anti-war
movement to broader political awareness relatively quickly. It also means
that the Marxist argument for an international struggle and international
solutions to the ills of capitalism will be immensely more credible.

The second is deeply ambiguous. It has led to a split among the imperialist
powers, which in turn means anti-war sentiment is legitimised in
"mainstream" political discourse. So in Australia the Labor Party leader
spoke at the Brisbane rally. That goes some distance towards explaining why
such large crowds come out so early. This political space is fantastic and
we need to use it in a non-sectarian way. Yet at the same time there is a
danger that the movement falls in behind ideas of looking to the UN, or to
the French and German imperialists -- who are really just saying "keep
starving them with sanctions and keep threatening them with invasion, and
they'll be under control". The article by Paul Foot and the posts by one of
my recent debating partners on this list show how easy it can be even for
revolutionaries to fall into this trap.

Finally I think we need to consider the class base of the movement. The
Melbourne demo struck me as based primarily on the same forces that
mobilised on S11 2000 against the World Economic Forum and which voted
Green in the last Victorian elections:  tertiary educated workers,
students, and sections of the middle class. Organised labour was there, but
did not put its stamp on the rally. I would be interested to hear what
comrades think about the class composition of the rallies in other places.

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