US SWP participation in UK anti-war protests

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Thu Nov 20 06:40:29 MST 2003

The latest issue of THE MILITANT, in its lead article,
reports on events in the UK marking fifteen years of
Pathfinder Press's bookshop there, an important event.
Books were sold and funds raised to expand services of
the bookshop which is currently open weekday evenings
and on Saturdays presumably by activist volunteers.

"The store is located within five minutes of Waterloo,
a major rail station, which also houses the terminus
for trains to Europe and several underground (subway)
stations. Its store front is on a busy street that
bustles with foot traffic throughout the day," as

>From their reporting we see that a lively and productive
event was held including the participation of Oscar de los
Reyes, Political Counsellor at the Cuban Embassy in London
who praised Pathfinder and noted historical links with
Cuba's participation in the African liberation struggle.

Leaders of the US SWP traveled many thousands of miles to
the United Kingdom for this activity. And in the UK they
will join with co-thinkers, but not evidently or primarily
to protest Bush's visit. Their main goal appears to have
been to politically differentiate themselves from other
protestors, to make statements criticizing some of the
organizers of the protests, and to sell their literature,
and from what we read, apparently in that order.

They further urged listeners to, "Pay more attention to the
pronouncements of U.S. war secretary Donald Rumsfeld than
the liberal media." This may help explain the proliferation
of statements by Bush, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld in the pages
of THE MILITANT recently, at length and without criticism.

Furthermore I must admit I do not understand why THE
MILITANT does not end such reporting with calls for any
political support to, or mobilizing to bring out a massive
turnout for these protests. Likewise, not a word appears
backing the call for an immediate and unconditional US-UK
withdrawal from the occupation of Iraq, whatever other
issues the SWP might want to raise among the protesters
taking action against Bush, Blair and their accomplices.

I take it this omission is deliberate and conscious.

If the readers in the UK do know about this, please let us
know as none of the aspects which the SWP calls "national
chauvinist" seems to have appeared in the media coverage
I've seen in the last two days. I've no doubt some of the
elements they speak of are present, but to they haven't
been in the dominant media reports and it's not possible,
therefore, to know what significance or weight they might
have within the mobilized tens of thousand.

This is all the more significant when we keep in mind the
highlighted role of Cuba in these events where the US uses
its sliver of occupied Cuban territory to hold US captives
without charge or the right to counsel on an indefinite
basis. No mention is likewise made of any support work
for the Cuban Five in which they might participate while
on their visit to the United Kingdom this week.

(These observations and reflections are based on reading
the complete article excerpted below, and what's both
reported in, and not omitted from, this article.)

Walter Lippmann

London meeting celebrates
15 years of Pathfinder Books
(feature article)


Anti-Americanism, national chauvinism
Another speaker was Joel Britton, who had been the SWP
candidate for governor of California earlier this fall.
Introducing Britton, Silberman remarked that the election
success of Arnold Schwarzenegger had been a victory of the
bipartisan war party in the United States. "There'll be big
protests when George Bush comes to London next week,"
Silberman said, "but we should remember that London was and
remains central to this war. Today UK forces are occupying
southern Iraq not because Anthony Blair is a puppet of Bush
but because he's a representative of the British ruling

Britton said he would be proud to join members of the
Communist League and Young Socialists in the coming days
taking Pathfinder books and the Militant to the thousands
in the streets-joining the protests. But he wouldn't be
joining other protesters from the U.S., who, according to
the London daily The Independent, will march under a banner
reading, "Proud of my country, shamed by my president."
This plays into the hands of the British-nationalist,
anti-Bush theme of the rally, Britton said.

Most joining these actions, the SWP leader noted, are
outraged about the war in Iraq and the imperialist
occupation of that country. A conscious layer among the
organizers is trying to keep the fire on Washington, while
ignoring the Blair government's role in this imperialist
assault. "They advance anti-Americanism and national
chauvinism by pushing the 'Stop Bush' slogan of the
protests," he stated.

"A good rule of thumb," said Britton, "is to start with
directing your fire against your own rulers, and this is
London's war as well as Washington's."

Communists at these protests will do what their
counterparts in other countries do by advancing a program
and course of action that can lead working people to take
power out of the hands of the ruling class.


Britton noted that the liberal media in the United States
and the UK point to the problems Washington is having in
Iraq and predict a change in U.S. policy there. "Never
underestimate the imperialist enemy of humanity," the SWP
leader said. "Pay more attention to the pronouncements of
U.S. war secretary Donald Rumsfeld than the liberal media.
The papers today quote Rumsfeld as saying that even with a
new government in place in Baghdad U.S. forces might remain
in Iraq for two years or more."

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