[Marxism] SWP abstention from the antiwar movement

Bill Hutton wsh291 at bellsouth.net
Thu Nov 25 13:59:48 MST 2004

Steve Gabosch wrote:

> I think the key to unlocking this puzzle is to ask what is different 
> in 2004 from say 1969.  Perhaps this is one of the tricks time plays 
> on those of us in our 50's or older.  I'm 53; decades just don't seem 
> so long anymore.  But a lot really is different 35 years later, 
> perhaps more different than we realize.  For one, the opportunity to 
> do successful political work around major issues such as the U.S. war 
> in Iraq directly in and among the industrial working classes 
> throughout the imperialist (and semi-colonial world) is new and 
> different since the '50's, '60's and 70's.  This is not at all a small 
> difference, not by a long shot.  For another, there is no North Iraq 
> workers state in a civil war with its southern part or at war with the 
> U.S. - nor is there now, nor has there been, an NLF-type nationalist 
> leadership in Iraq of any kind whatsoever for over two generations.  
> The mass action-oriented out now movement in the late 1960's and early 
> '70's of course made a big difference, but it was the Vietnamese 
> people's ability to decisively defeat the U.S. military presence that 
> changed world history.  The Iraqi toilers today face a very different 
> set of circumstances on most levels.  And to mention a third major 
> difference, the post-WWII boom, which played a role both in fueling 
> the simultaneous worldwide anti-colonialist struggles - and the 
> ability of imperialism to adapt to them - has long ended.  This in 
> turn is creating a very different kind of world situation today.  In 
> my opinion, mass antiwar demonstrations are not the only tactic a 
> revolutionary working class movement should consider in regard to the 
> U.S. war in Iraq, especially given that many very important things are 
> new and different today than what may seem like not so long ago.
> In solidarity,
> - Steve
Steve, you are making excuses for the SWP not participating in the 
antiwar movement.  A lot is different 35 years later but a lot is still 
the same.  The worker's organizations, the unions (there is still no 
mass worker's political party), are either for the war or not interested 
in mobilizing against the war.  So the only option we have available is 
mass antiwar demonstrations built by broad multi-class coalitions.  
These demonstrations help mobilize public opinion, including working 
class public opinion, against the war.

I could get some of my co-workers to participate in an antiwar 
demonstration.  I may even be able to get my local to endorse a 
demonstration.  But my union which has been focusing its efforts 
politically on the Kerry campaign and building ties with the local 
democratic party machine is not going to be taking the lead in building 
an antiwar movement.  That is going to have to be done outside of the 
worker's organization, not out of choice but out of necessity.  To 
counter pose educating industrial workers about imperialism to building 
mass antiwar demonstrations is to counterpose doing nothing to doing 

Also, I don't see what the quality of the leadership in Iraq has to do 
with the duty we have to oppose the war in whatever way we can.  The 
decades long heroic revolutionary struggle of the Vietnamese Communist 
Party was an inspiration to millions around the world.  It greatly 
facilitated our efforts to end the war.  But it did not determine our 
duty to build an antiwar movement.

The SWP's sectarian abstention from the antiwar movement is a 
disappointment for someone who spent so long in the organization.

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