[Marxism] The ISO and the antiwar movement
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 9 11:13:06 MST 2006
There's a very good article titled "Leftwing Generals" by ISO'er Annie
Zirin on today's Counterpunch that concludes as follows:
We can hardly be surprised that a section of liberals continues to take
their marching orders from the Democratic Party. There has always been a
wing of American liberalism that has fully supported the project of U.S.
imperialism, and their class interests find expression in the Democratic
Party. These were the Cold War liberals that backed and helped prosecute
the McCarthyite witch-hunts on communists and who were the architects of
the Vietnam War. These were the liberals who supported Bill Clinton's
"humanitarian" wars in the 1990s, and who saw economic sanctions on Iraq as
an alternative to war. "The task of liberal realists," notes John Pilger,
"is to ensure that western imperialism is interpreted as crisis management,
rather than the cause of crisis and its escalation. By never recognizing
western state terrorism, their complicity is assured."11
The Left in the U.S. needs to put forward an antiwar opposition on an
entirely different basis. We must reject the idea that the U.S. has the
moral authority to fight terrorism, when it is the leading cause of terror
in the world. We must stand for the self-determination the people of Iraq,
Iran, Palestine, and people around the world. We must reject Islamophobia
and defend the Arab and Muslim communities in the U.S. who have been the
victims of political persecution since September 11. We have to
consistently and clearly expose the real imperialist interests behind the
war on terror, as well as the history of U.S. imperialism, in order to
build a stronger and wider foundation for our movement, and show how
working-class people in the United States pay the price of the war on
terror. The antiwar movement needs to remain independent, both in its
political views and its organizing, from the Democratic Party that wants to
strengthen U.S. imperialism, not to end it. The antiwar movement cannot
oppose the occupation in Iraq while giving the U.S. a pass to wreak havoc
elsewhere in the name of fighting the war on terror.
Unfortunately, these final two paragraphs are in line with previous "left
opposition" statements by the comrades. While making well-deserved
criticisms of the UfPJ either explicitly or implicitly as is the case here,
there is never any concrete proposals in the ISO press about what the
movement should do apart from abstract calls to "put forward an antiwar
opposition on an entirely different basis."
There are 3 antiwar coalitions out there right now. 2 are led by rival
Marxist-Leninist sects that derive their inspiration from the late Sam
Marcy. The 3rd is led by the CP and the Committees of Correspondence, a
Eurocommunist type formation that split from the CP. Meanwhile, the ISO
leads its own formation called Campus Antiwar Network.
There seems to be a radical disjunction between what the ISO thinks the
antiwar movement should be doing and any practical steps they envision to
rectify the situation. Do they expect Leslie Cagan or the Becker brothers
to read their articles, slap their heads, and cry out, "Why didn't I think
The ISO comrades are very much interested in what Barry Sheppard had to say
about antiwar organizing in his memoir that they had the good sense to
publish. Barry's perspective is in tune with what SWP leader had to say in
"Out Now", which is a handbook for antiwar organizing. The antiwar movement
of the 1960s took shape because of conscious *intervention* by people like
Fred Halstead. Appeals to the existing antiwar movement to do something
different than they have been doing will fall on deaf ears, I'm afraid.
Things will change when there is a *vanguard* effort to change them. Deeds
count more than words.
I wish the ISO comrades every success in their efforts to lead the US left.
Lord knows we need leadership. But if they can't step up to the bat and
provide some leadership in the antiwar movement, other than sermons from
their press, someone else will have to do the job.
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