Militant 'endorses' March 15

John M Cox coxj at
Sun Mar 16 07:38:59 MST 2003

Just two points on the SWP adjustment to its ultra-sectarian position
towards the antiwar movement:

1. To a larger degree than older veterans of the SWP may be able to
imagine,today's party really is governed by the capricious whims of one man,
who happens
to be an eccentric with little direct contact with the human race or with
contemporary political realities. So it's quite unlikely that the decision
to lend some grudging support to yesterday's demos was the result of
pressure from the party ranks; the Helmsman simply woke up one day in the
last week or two with a new revelation. The party's internal culture
completely suppresses any expression of critical or independent thought,
and there is no such thing as genuine debate.

2. I agree with Jose and others that we should welcome SWP members, as we
would welcome virtually anyone, other than rightists etc., who wishes to
join the movement. But we shouldn't certainly shouldn't expect too much
from them -- first, SWP members are no longer particularly skilled at mass
work; second,
they've made it pretty clear that they view the
demonstrations principally as a place to peddle some literature, for,
within the sea of "pacifism and patriotism," they'll find a few youths who
are "open to revolutionary ideas." See any recent Militant for examples of
what I'm referring to; I detect the same tone in their most recent issue.

Also, we should keep in mind that they have openly
attacked the antiwar movement, for example in this report on the big Jan.
18 protests, and more recently in a swipe at the "Stalinists" of the
Workers World Party. Although I wouldn't say this publically, should the
SWP appear here in Chapel Hill, the fact is that they can only be, at best, an
untrustworthy ally in the struggle against the war.

The Militant, Feb. 3 issue
Tens of thousands
protest U.S. war drive
(front page)

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Amid news of the U.S. governments stepped-up
military deployments in the Middle East, tens of thousands of people
gathered here on January 18 around the slogan "No War on Iraq." A
similar crowd gathered in San Francisco, while smaller demonstrations
were organized in Tampa, Florida; Portland, Oregon; and elsewhere.

In this capital city the turnout included high school and college students
who, along with others, traveled in buses, cars, and vans from as far away
as Mississippi, Illinois, Minnesota, Vermont, and Florida. Sixteen buses
came from Minnesota and 18 from Detroit.

The demonstration attracted people holding a wide range of political
viewpoints. Among them were thousands of youth, many at their first
political protest, who came to Washington because they were repelled by
Washingtons drive toward war in the Mideast and wanted to do something
about it.

The national protest was called by a coalition called International
A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). The list of
endorsers of the action included groups such as the Fellowship for
Reconciliation, Global Exchange, Not In Our Name Project, and
IFCO/Pastors for Peace, along with several Democratic Party and religious

The most prominent speakers at the event included Democratic politicians
Jesse Jackson, Alfred Sharpton, and Rep. John Conyers. Others ranged
from actresses Tyne Daly and Jessica Lange to Vietnam War veteran Ron
Kovic and Rev. Herbert Daughtry of New York.

The national demonstration was timed partly to commemorate Martin
Luther Kings birthday. Invoking the name of the slain civil rights leader,
some of the speakers as well as many demonstrators sounded a pacifist

Several speakers argued that the impending military assault on Iraq was a
"weapon of mass distraction" from social and economic problems in the
United States.

"Poverty is soaring while social programs are being diverted for a war and
occupation of Iraq," read the leaflet for the march. Some "1.5 million
people in New York have to go to food pantries," said Brian Becker,
co-director of the International Action Center, who co-chaired the
concluding rally at the Navy Yard in Washington. "We want the $250
billion used for military spending to feed the people."

Patriotic themes
Nearly all the speakers presented President George Bush and the
Republican Party as the ones responsible for the drive to war. The leaflet
for the march called on "the people of the United States to act now to
Bushs planned war of aggression."

"President Bush cant wait to launch a war," said Democratic Congressman
John Conyers. "There is still time for the president to change his
course, which will only lead to an inflamed Middle East and increased

Conyers, who has cosponsored legislation to reintroduce military
conscription, struck a patriotic note that was repeated by many of the
speakers and organizers. The president "will call you unpatriotic, but you
are showing your patriotism by being here today," he said, adding, "Only
the American citizens can stop this war now."

Placards carried by many marchers also expressed these themes. "War in
Iraq Wont Solve Americas Problems," read one sign. "This Patriot Is For
Peace," read another. Some participants carried U.S. flags.

"Peace is patriotic, war is nothing but chaotic," chanted one small

Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark told demonstrators that
"unlawful detentions [of immigrants] are a major campaign of the
Republicans." He offered a slogan, "impeach Bush," that was chanted by
thousands at the rally.

The virtually exclusive emphasis on Republican responsibility for the war
drive raised questions with some....

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