[Marxism] The ISO and the antiwar movement

Louis Proyect 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.

Full: http://www.counterpunch.org/zirin03092006.html

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 
of that."

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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