Thursday marked the 11th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. It was marked by reports of all kinds of American successes in the Muslim world, such as ISIS gaining a foothold in Libya and a terrorist attack at a museum in Tunisia. I can’t help but be reminded of the triumphant look on President Bush’s face as he stood in front of that “Mission Accomplished” banner. We sure did it! The Arab world finally has “freedom.”
People across the country took to the streets to make their voices heard yesterday. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Washington DC as part of the Spring Rising events. Spring Rising describes itself as an “anti-war intervention” against America’s state of endless war. Cindy Sheehan, David Swanson, Ray McGovern, and others were present to speak at yesterday’s rally. There was even a speaker from Richmond. They covered everything from systematic racism to the havoc wreaked on foreign lands by the Pentagon and their terrorist buddies…. excuse me, I mean their “appropriately vetted” opposition group buddies.
It was definitely a good march, the speakers were great, and they were very mature and respectful towards each other. I was surprised by this considering a lot of them were from various Leninist groups that often compete and disagree. The Party for Socialism and Liberation, to which I used to belong, had multiple members speak. Carl Dix, one of the heads of the Revolutionary Communist Party, also spoke. With all due respect to Mr. Dix, and I sincerely mean respect, he didn’t say anything that the RCP hasn’t been saying for the past 8 years. It was all the same cut-and-paste rhetoric. To his eternal credit, I don’t remember him mentioning RCP Chairman Bob Avakian once though. Maybe the RCP is making progress in that department. The PSL/ANSWER speakers also used the same tired talking points, but in fairness the ruling class is doing the same damn thing it was doing since before I was born. So why write new material? The International Action Center, a Workers World Party front group, was also represented. Their speaker also represented FIST (Fight Imperialism Stand Together). WWP is also a part of FIST along with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back).
So there were four Leninist factions represented either directly or through their front groups. To the armchair Bolshevik, this is reason to celebrate. To someone who actually knows what it’s like on the inside of one of these groups, it is reason to be confused. While it’s highly believable that two of these groups could get their heads together, to believe four of them, including the Avakian cult, could be civil is just impossible.
I would like to know who knocked their heads together and forced them to play nice! This was an ANSWER-dominated event, and I have never seen anyone representing a party besides the PSL speak at such events. I’m sure it has happened before, but it isn’t often. It was mentioned that CODEPINK played a big role in making the protest happen, including getting the sound system. It is also worth mentioning that Spring Rising appears to be a Cindy Sheehan project considering that SpringRising.org redirects to Cindy Sheehan’s website. CODEPINK and/or Sheehan definitely deserve applause for forcing the factions play nice together. I can only imagine how the conversations at those organizing meetings went.
Again, to be fair, it was a great rally and the speakers were very good.
Something does bother me though. Why is it that PSL/ANSWER people (and others) keep doing various Palestinian liberation chants in Spanish? Palestinians don’t speak Spanish. It’s like they have an awkward fetish for Latin America. If they are trying to highlight Hispanic-Palestinian solidarity, then it gets even more awkward considering their hero Fidel Castro said Israel “has a right to exist as a Jewish state.” And then there is the Israeli investment in the Cuban citrus industry. This isn’t to say the two states have been entirely chummy throughout history. There has been more hostility than partnership.
While it is definitely important to have an anti-war presence in the streets, the anti-war left should put more effort into opposing the war in the workplaces and campuses. Wildcat strikes by workers and students would shake the system more than any weekend street demonstration. If thousands of students and thousands (or at least hundreds) of workers walked out to protest another barbaric war, then the rulers of this country would be hit right in the wallet and would realize that regular people aren’t going to stand for it. I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. I’ve tried it; I would know just how hard it is. Such actions have happened before in American history, and they can certainly happen again. Just don’t expect your modern Leninist outfit to try. These days they are either reformists in disguise or revolutionary newspaper companies. Do I have any right to talk? No, but someone needs to say it.
Real organizing knows no boundaries. Real organizing transcends ideological dogmas and stiff little groups. The people themselves must revive real grassroots organizing. By the people, I mean all of us. The people at yesterday’s protest, the person reading this, myself, my neighbor, our co-workers, everyone. Only then will our opposition to the endless wars be taken seriously.