The Anti-War Movement, Capitalism and Socialism

The anti-war movement must have a basis in the working class and a Socialist leadership. Those petty bourgeois commentators are wrong who insist:

1. On subordinating the anti-war movement to one or another bourgeois political party

2. On spurious and short-lived alliances with the petty-bourgeois right and other “big tent” or socially and politically amorphous opportunist groups. 

3. On “leaderless,” “spontaneous” protests or riots. 

First, we have those, who, apparently suffering from cartoonish delusions as to the history of United States foreign policy, believe the Democrats are an “anti-war party” or could be “transformed” into one. Though this insipid myth has become even more threadbare throughout the war on terror and the encirclement of Russia, there are those who still promote the Democrats as the “only” “practical” way to end war. 

The “people” must “pressure” the Democrats to end wars. This is, of course, the party of Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, and Johnson. The party that dragged America into the first two world wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and is presently dragging us into World War III! The party of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, My Lai, Rolling Thunder, the Afghanistan Surge, the destruction of Libya, Syria and Yemen. This is the party of the Gulf of Tonkin, the “imminent genocide” in Benghazi, the arming of CIA sponsored “freedom fighters” in Syria and the countless pretend massacres there, the Maiden Coup directed from Washington and subsequent arming and provocations in Ukraine to lure Russia – the already underway provocation of China over Taiwan. There are unfortunately so many other examples. Besides these, what Republican-led war or war action did the Democrats not fall behind, lend support to, or even demand? The Democrats are, in short, a blood-drenched party of war and imperialist lies. 

Increasingly, the pseudo-left boosters for the Democratic Party have been providing a “left” cover for imperialist war, a trend, which while dating to the Korean war for many sections of the pseudo-left, has steadily become more commonplace since the (Democrat-led) bombing of Serbia. The liberal petty bourgeois led “anti-war” movement of the Bush years of the “war on terror” disintegrated upon the coming to office of the Obama administration. Every war action of the Obama administration was hailed as progressive by these charlatans. Ignored by the liberals were the long term consequences of these dreadful wars, targeted assassinations and bombings (including of American citizens) and persecution of anti-war journalists like Julian Assange. The Democratic Party, famously the graveyard of social movements in America, is the last refuge of the political scoundrels who claim the US government and military can be the key to a kinder and gentler world.

An oddity of the moment is the call among the most obtuse sections of the upper middle class for some sort of alliance across what they stupidly call the “political spectrum” against war. To be more precise, an alliance of the unmoored dilettante populists that pass for left in America and the outrightly fascist opportunists of the libertarian and ultra-conservative bent. As everyone knows, the far-right has always, from time to time, been tactically opposed to war (America first!) or deindustrialization  or political corruption on some temporary and hypocritical basis, usually in sync with the election cycle. They do this from a reactionary, hypocritical and totally unprincipled position. The rudderless petty bourgeois populists who pass for left accept these verbal maneuvers and non-committal posturing as good coin. After all, they are more willing to accept the bourgeois and petty bourgeois libertarian and fascist right as their saviors than the working class, which they put no political stock in and do not consider as a social factor to manage its own affairs. These “red-brown” alliances of the petty bourgeois have, in the long history of their promotion, amounted to nothing other than the pushing of political discourse in a reactionary direction.

A feature of all protest “movements” in the last 30 years is the petty bourgeois demand for “leaderless” “spontaneous” “organic” protests. This has an insidious purpose. On one hand the petty bourgeoisie does not trust the working class to establish or choose its own leadership, for fear it actually may organize itself in a radical direction and against the bourgeois establishment. On the other hand they want no leadership but their own and no direction except that given by the bourgeois parties, the corrupt union bureaucracies and the corporate media. There is a phobia in the pseudo left that dates to its earliest days about the working class organizing itself independently into a vanguard party. There is no doubt in the mind of the pseudo leftist that this can bring only disaster. 

The pseudo left dismisses out of hand the ability of the vanguard party to influence the direction of the class struggle, arguing the proletariat is too propagandized by the “hegemonic” hold of capitalist ideology and the false consciousness brought by bourgeois education to revolt. They never consider that if bourgeois education and media propaganda can bring a false consciousness to workers, then in the same measure an organized workers party should be able to educate and inform the working class toward real consciousness. This process doesn’t have to be one sided, with the bourgeoisie endowed with some mystical superability to persuade and lead the masses and the socialist vanguard completely unable to influence the movement of the masses. The petty bourgeois pseudo left however can only see the process from one side and totally capitulate to it. Not only do they fail to propagandize for the independent organization of the proletariat, but they hide the truth from the proletariat. They are afraid to even approach workers with truly radical ideas or even clearly stated information, choosing the most base populism and doubletalk. 

This only bolsters their organizations’ degeneration into totally opportunistic operations that fall behind capitalism and its imagined impregnable “hegemony.” New pseudo leftists are brought in on the thin broth of populist sloganeering and raised up on the tangled up excuse weaving of post-modernist pablum before they are funneled into the ranks of the bourgeois political parties and union bureaucracies. It is necessary for these pseudo-left parties and groups that all movements of the working class remain nominally leaderless so that they can safely contain it, sabotage its proletarian basis, and hold off any radical perspective from reaching the working class. 

The solution to the petty bourgeois threat to an effective anti-war movement is the independence of the working class from the bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties and personalities. We must move from “protesting” and appealing to the bourgeoisie and its governments to organizing a living and acting workers’ democracy to pose itself as a dual power directly against that of the bourgeoisie. This is only possible if the most far sighted and advanced sections of the working class take the leading role in mass action, joined together as a vanguard party, across national borders and all the artificial divisions of capitalist society. An explicitly socialist program is the only program which can win workers to the abolition of capitalism and its wars. Only the wide dissemination of a socialist perspective can repel and defeat the efforts of the misleaders of the working class, the petty bourgeoisie and the right wing populists. Not only is this a lesson of the history of the class struggle, but is a logical imperative flowing out of the situation at hand. 

There is no anti-war movement without the total enmeshment of opposition to war with anti-capitalist, working class economic and social priorities. Capitalism is the source of war, there can be no peace under capitalism, except the peace of common ruin. This is something the working class increasingly is coming to understand. It is however, something which the petty bourgeoisie are incapable of understanding, due to their narrow class interests and privilege. They will seek solace in endless arrangements and alliances of petty bourgeois and bourgeois parties, groups and personalities. Each permutation of petty bourgeois politics, recycled or rearranged, seeks to dissolve itself back into support of the capitalist system. 

Workers must be implacably opposed to any protest movement which speaks of “the people” coming together “regardless of their place on the political spectrum,” that is, regardless of their political record, political trajectory, interests and class. They must beware the condescending politics of the petty bourgeoisie which pretends to speak for everyone and merely speaks for the short sighted, utopian dreams of the comfortable and crassly ambitious. There is no reconciling the interests of the capitalist class and the interests of the working class.  The working class represents a future for humanity, where humanity can continue to live and grow under the direction and participation of the majority. The capitalist class represents the past, the rotted out legacy of top down minoritarian rule whose ending point is the extinction of the human race. There is no compromise to be had – socialism or barbarism is the order of the day.  


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