[Marxism] RE: Anti-imperialism "vs." the working-class struggle in theUS

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 25 08:39:53 MDT 2004

I never counterposed the working class struggle in the US to 
anti-imperialism, Lou.  Your thread title here implies that I have done 
such.  If anything, what I am saying is that anti-imperialism is the key to 
building a working class movement here in the US.  It must be the center and 
focus of all work that socialists do.  But not the only work that socialists 

We have to admit that the US working class is divided deeply around the 
issue of supporting the capitalist military and police.  Most workers 
support them both, so how do we deal with this?

Many socialists on this list believe that we should only respond with a 
campaign against imperialism when some part of the whole machine's 
operations raises doubts about a particular intervention.  This is not 
leadership of the US working class, but a timid,follow the US herd attitude. 
  Once again, I would stress that as internationalists we should not take 
this approach.

Let me use an example of how to function in a revolutionary manner, and how 
not to.  In Seattle, socailists should not just try to raise bread and 
butter issues at Boeing.  Boeing is huge there, and employs at times over 
100,000 directly at its own plants, and indirectly gives employment to many 
other thousands of workers.  The Seattle area also has two huge military 
bases in south Tacoma, a nuclear submarine base hidden away across Puget 
Sound, and the Hanford center of nuclear reactors across the mountains on 
the Columbia river.  Spokane also has a number of large military bases, and 
there are other assorted firing ranges and what nots scattered in places 
like Yakima, etc.

A revolutionary approach to organizing against the military is to not just 
do bread and butter unionism at Boeing and talk it up against US troops 
occupying Iraq.  That is not all that much of anything, and if the US is 
forced to retire from Iraq, then what?  Socialists then just forget about 
all the rest of the apparatus that continues to go about its business 
operating as before?  Wait around if some other US intervention sours some?

Socialists that don't call for de-militarizing US society are not doing 
their job.  We want military operations at Boeing closed down.  Say it to 
the US workers!  Tell them the truth.  We want  the bases closed down in 
south Tacoma.  We want Hanford shut down and the area decontaminated.  Your 
current jobs are helping fuck the world up!  We want better work.

But instead of doing this type of campaign, many socialists there in Seattle 
think that their job is
simply to struggle for a better contract at Boeing!  Or to support a livable 
wage, etc.  While who can be against those two things?  Certainly not I.  
But is that to be the centerpiece of our socialist internationalist work 
there?  Oh yes, and get out of Iraq...

Or should we campaign constantly against the military because it 
impoverishes us all, destroys the planet, and destroys democracy at home and 
abroad?  Yes we should, and we should not just leave it to the pacifists, 
who we then disrespect as being petti-bourgeois to boot!  It should be a 
socialist constant to try to mobilize always against the national 
security-military apparatus here in the US.  We need to go out and tell the 
soldiers.. You made a mistake when you signed up.  And you know, some of 
these soldiers will agree.  But most might want to kill you for telling them 
the truth.  But those soldiers who agree  might just join the socialist 
movement.  But not if you don't tell them the truth about US miliatraism.

On another question.  The struggle against racism should not be counterposed 
to anti-imperialist work.  But it can't be hidden away that many Latinos and 
Blacks are strong supporters of the military, and also at times of the 
police and the INS.  And a big part of this, is simply that socialists have 
not been campaigning against the military.  Latinos and Blacks would be much 
less likely to have such strong support within their communities for the 
militarization of US society, if simply we had tried to make a campaign 
against the military, and had come out strong with a message that militarism 
sucks. Thats' right, Militarism Sucks! That's a simple message, and one that 
Molly Ivins and Michael Moores of the US are not going to give out to the 
workers instead of us.

I do not counterpose anti-racist work to anti-imperialist work.  They are 
both very important.  But we are going to hit up agianst the fact that many 
in the US Black and Latino communities think of the military as advancement. 
  And you know, our message to them has got to still be; Militarism Sucks!  
The US Military Sucks!  And you are as scab if you think that it is just ok 
to go out and join the military and go kill people elsewhere for the US 
capitalist class.

You are a scab if you go join the police.  You are a scab if you cross 
picket lines.  And you are a scab if you go volunteer for military duty 
simply because you hope it advances your career.  This is a hard message for 
some socialists to be giving in the name of socialist internationalism, and 
they just don't want to do it.  And they come up with all sorts of 'marxist' 
reasons not to.  It will be offensive to the workers they think to 
themselves.  Better not to...  We need to do more productive things, and 
what not.

But one thing is sure.  No worker likes a mealy-mouthed 'socialism'  or 
mealy mouthed anything.  It reminds them too much of their bosses.  And if 
you want to build a movement in the US for more than sewer socialism, then 
you got to campaign strong against the military.  And you got to do it non 
stop, and not just when an invasion sours somewhere or other.  You have to 
make it your socialist group's priority Number One to do so.

For your info, Lou.  I think the WWP gets closer to focussing well on 
anti-imperialsim as priority than other US groups do. But doing this is not 
a panacea for mass recruitment if other issues and attitudes are hindering 

Tony Abdo
<<Tony: I agree that it is necessary to have an internationalist outlook and
to keep the welfare of the global anti-imperialist and socialist struggle in
first place.  But when you infer from this that we should all be "organizing
around" the anti-imperialist struggle -instead- of around the issues that
directly affect the workers and oppressed here, I honestly don't understand
how you make this conceptual leap.  US Imperialism is going to plague the
peoples of the world -until we overthrow it- (unless, of course, the US is
destroyed in war).  We are not going to overthrow it -until the working
class is organized and class-conscious-.  Do you really believe that we are
going to overthrow the capitalist class on the basis of an -altruistic
solidarity movement-?

The tension between anti-imperialist organizing and organizing on issues
that directly affect the workers and oppressed is not a tension between
addressing vs. neglecting the needs of the oppressed of the world.  It is a
tension between addressing their needs in the short run and in the long run.
In the short run, we have to organize directly against imperialist war.  In
the long run, we have to organize against capital so as to bring an end to
imperialist war.  By the way, I have NEVER heard of any communist in the
oppressed countries who has argued that strikes, struggles to defend
immigrants, prisoner solidarity work, struggles against racism, sexism, and
other forms or oppression, etc., were a waste of our time and that
communists in the imperialist countries ought not to do it and ought to do
only anti-militarist work.  (Other than people like Yeshitele who consider
the white workers in the US to be inherently bourgeoisified, that is.)

Furthermore, in my experience, one of the most effective ways to broaden the
anti-imperialist struggle is to build the struggle of the workers and
oppressed and then make the necessary connections.  During the 1980's, for
example, we were doing a campaign against natural gas shutoffs here in
Chicago and we were able to come into those meetings and talk about El
Salvador and Palestine to the oppressed community directly.

Lou Paulsen
Member, WWP

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