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9.11 investigation

On 9/11, and maintaining a class political focus

Organizing a working-class resistance to the bipartisan class offensive of the bourgeoisie is as much an issue today as it was during the months of imperialist flag-waving in late 2001.
Who all was behind the Sept. 11 terrorist atrocities, how was the criminal act carried out, etc., is a question that has been vigorously debated these past 3 years. And, according to one poll, about half of New Yorkers now believe that the Bush Administration "knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act". This represents a healthy skepticism toward the government, and the military and intelligence establishments---proven liars, all of them. Yet the question of what really happened re: the 9/11 attack itself can be a diversion away from dealing with the broader political questions: The American bourgeoisie used 9/11 as pretext for militarily settling accounts with bourgeois rivals and would-be rivals such as Saddam Hussein, and bin Laden and the pan-Islamic capitalists he represents, AND for stepping up it's imperialist crusade against the workers and other oppressed people both abroad and at home.

This is a bipartisan CLASS offensive. Hence the democrats' lined up behind Bush in 2001, and three years later they remain lined up behind his program. Kerry, for example, says that he'll have U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of his term if he's elected, he's said that he would have attacked Iraq even if he had known there were no weapons of mass slaughter in Hussein's hands, he's criticized Bush for not sending enough troops, and at times said he would send more, etc. More, Kerry (and the most liberal wing of his party) has consistently attacked Bush from the right on the "war against terror", i.e., his party will be wiser leaders of this program of American imperialist resurgence. At home they will be wiser leaders of the growing police state, perhaps cropping out a handful of the most notorious provisions of the Patriot Act (hence, according to Kerry, it's fine for the Feds to snoop in library records, as long as its covered with a court order!) while keeping 95% of it, and even adding new features.

Organizing a working-class resistance to this bipartisan class offensive of the bourgeoisie is as much an issue today as it was during the months of imperialist flag-waving in late 2001. (And, alongside theoretical work, I think it is the main issue.) The exposure of Bush and Co. as mortal enemies of the workers and all progressive humanity has gone a long ways during this period, and it should be continued. But the exposure of the role of the liberals in undermining every step toward a class political independence and in serving the class offensive of the rich headed by Bush is also a task. (To put it vulgarly, you can't effectively hit Bush and his program without also hitting the liberals.) Put together, these are essential components of genuinely left work among the masses of people. But in an article currently featured on PDX Indymedia the left is scourged, it allegedly "has proven (once again) its moral and intellectual bankruptcy", not because of its activities in organizing resistance to the imperialist offensive we're living (and dying) under, but because it has not answered the writer's desire to know the details of what happened on 9/11.

Of course the writer considers "The Nation" as left. But "The Nation" only represents the extreme left wing of the imperialist bourgeoisie. As such it's on the "anybody but Bush" bandwagon, mildly complaining about Kerry is conducting his campaign, etc. But there is another left than this, a revolutionary left be striving to unite the workers around a politics independent of and against the politics of the bourgeois establishment (as it must do if it is truly revolutionary). The article featured on Portland Indymedia ignores this left. For sure it's small, fragile, cannot pursue every issue, and shouldn't be expected to have the answer to every question (regarding 9/11, or other). But during the last 3 years it has taken further steps along the path I've mentioned, and this is the decisive work if there is going to be any real and lasting change.

This said, and on this anniversary, I would like to repost the 9/15/01 statement of the editor of Communist Voice ( http://www.communistvoice.org). I think it reads well today.--W.





On the Bush administration's response
to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11

By Joseph Green

Sept. 15, 2001

The terrorist atrocity of Sept. 11 caused thousands of deaths. Since then, the Bush administration has vowed to retaliate by committing its own atrocities against a substantial part of the world. In the name of fighting terrorism, the Bush administration intends to step up military imperialism around the world. It is taking aim at a wide variety of forces, from the struggling masses in Palestine, Colombia and elsewhere, to reactionaries and former U.S. allies, such as bin Laden, who have since bit the hand which once fed them but have NOT thereby become friends of the working masses and who may be butchers in their own right. This step-up of militarism and war will only increase the atrocities, racist attacks, and repression against the working masses around the world and in the U.S. It will not relax world tensions or bring freedom to the world's people. It has nothing to do with ending terrorism, with terrorists such as bin Laden having gotten their start with encouragement from the CIA. What the Bush administration is aiming at is not ending terrorism, but monopolizing it; not ending bloodshed, but channeling it in accordance with current White House objectives; not ending assassinations, but authorizing them; not ending retaliations against civilian populations, something for which U.S. imperialism has long been known, from its sponsoring of dirty wars to its constant recourse to economic blockades, but stepping them up. This is a united objective of the establishment parties and trends, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. They are putting aside their usual squabbles and eagerly displaying their true colors as great-power bullies, eager to trample on the rights of the American workers and minorities and the very lives of working people around the world. The only answer to this is for all progressive people to dedicate themselves to the long-term work of rebuilding an independent proletarian movement which can stand against imperialism and the bourgeoisie, both the arrogant, swaggering bourgeoisie of the big-powers and the local reactionary factions, and which can support struggles for freedom and economic survival by oppressed peoples everywhere.
Onthe 13.Sep.2004 09:04

Mark

Wilhelmina says "Who all was behind the Sept. 11 terrorist atrocities, how was the criminal act carried out, etc., is a question that has been vigorously debated these past 3 years."

This question has not been vigorously debated. In fact, the individuals who have tried to debate it, have been ridiculed, ignored, attacked and shut-up. Not just by liberals, but by the radical left as well. Many on the radical left have refused discussion and have called people who ask questions kooks and conspiracy nuts, or have made arguments that it is not politically expedient, (meaning they are afraid to be called kooks and conspiracy nuts) or that it does not matter if we know who did it because we have to focus on stopping the resulting U.S. actions. I would maintain getting to the truth of the matter, which crosses partisan lines, is one helluva way to make some progress!

Beyond that, if the US givernment did it, it is our responsibility to not let them push the blame onto other peoples. I guess that those peoples would really appreciate it if the left did not line right up and assume that it must be Arabs who did it because of our racism and unwillingness to face a hard truth. That would be solidarity with the people of the world. It matters who did it, and it matters that the truth is revealed.



And adds "But in an article currently featured on PDX Indymedia the left is scourged, it allegedly "has proven (once again) its moral and intellectual bankruptcy", not because of its activities in organizing resistance to the imperialist offensive we're living (and dying) under, but because it has not answered the writer's desire to know the details of what happened on 9/11."

This shows more of the same ridicule of someone asking questions because they want to know if their own government did it. It is not a "detail" to ask if the official story is a lie and whether the Bushmob did it! It is not a detail that the left, including the anti-imperialist left has refused to face such questions, either because of cowardice, or because of being locked into a narrow intellectual mindset.



then "The article featured on Portland Indymedia ignores this left. For sure it's small, fragile, cannot pursue every issue, and shouldn't be expected to have the answer to every question (regarding 9/11, or other)."

Nobody has suggested that everyone pursue this issue. Nor has anyone suggested all the answers should be had. What has been asked over and over by many individuals in many situations is that people stop talking as if the government story is true! Over and over people on the left, and including the radical, anti-imperialist left use language that assumes the government story is true. Such language helps instill the big lie that this government is using to justify its growing reign of terror. You can at least not help them. That is not so much to ask.

And yet even the radical left has for the most part refused to adjust its language and uses 911 for its own purposes. From a picture of the burning towers on a book about political violence, to public talks about why someone would want to attack us, to forums calling for a peaceful response to the attacks, these all assume the governments story to be true and so inadvertantly helps the government define the truth.

If your brother or sister or friend were accused of a terrible crime, you would demand to know the truth because you would want to protect them. You would not let their character be attacked and their standing in the eyes of the comunity be reduced because you care about them. If it were radical leftists who were accused the radical left would defend them, but because it is Arabs and the Arab community, they do not get defended. The conditioned racism of people lets them think, oh, it is likely it was Arabs because everyone knows they are terrorists. The story just goes by with hardly a questioning glance.

I believe it is our moral and ethical responsibility to ask these questions, and at the very least, use a language that does not make the assumption that the government story is true.

A comment that deserves an answer 14.Sep.2004 04:40

Wilhelmina

First, a minor point. I said that what happened on 9/11 has been vigorously debated for the past 3 years because I have spent many hours of this period studying the hundreds of pages of materials on the internet related to it, the criticisms of these materials, and so on. (Often the people researching and publishing these materials are not leftists, but that does not matter to me or to any other truth seeker.) And PDX Indymedia itself has been a forum for this debate. Further, neither me nor the political trend I support have ever told people doing this research to shut up, or ridiculed them, or attacked them. Nor do I think really revolutionary leftist of other trends would do these things either. (Attacking obviously absurd "evidence", etc., or exposing the political thinking leading various people to publish such evidence is another matter.) Personally, I've always wanted Mike Ruppert and several others to go further with their investigation, prove concretely what was speculative in their work, and so on. (As an aside, I don't know whom you're talking about when you say "many on the radical left have refused discussion and have called people who ask questions kooks and conspiracy nuts", etc. But I do know , and I'm sure you know, that leftists have been called much worse than this, plus being assaulted, while carrying out work to build the anti-war movement, the movement to defend Arab, South Asian and Muslim immigrants that has arisen since 9/11, and other work. The best of them haven't backed down because they feared being called some names, and my experience has been that the left has shown some growth in the recent period.)


But my article focused on the issue that the question of what really happened re: the 9/11 attack itself CAN be a diversion away from dealing with the broader political questions, a few of which I listed (there are many more). If these questions are not dealt with then "getting to the truth of the matter", even if this truth is that the Bush administration used al-Queda as patsies, WILL NOT necessarily result in a "helluva lot of progress". Obviously there would be a political crisis, but without a much wider anti-imperialist consciousness and a much wider understanding of how the Democrats (especially the liberal Democrats) work (and what they defend), and without more organization (all of which anti-revisionist Marxists and other revolutionary leftists have been working to attain) the ruling class would weather the storm---minus Bush and cronies, of course. Many regimes have fallen because of crises, but the establishment remained intact. For example, Marcos fell during the liberal Cory Aquino's peaceful "revolution", but she saved the day for the Filipino establishment, and saved much of the old reactionary state machine itself. (So today we have the reactionary regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.) Nixon fell because of the Watergate revelations (a much more minor crisis than this hypothetical one would be, of course), but the American bourgeoisie was unshaken, and the left, which had not come up around the shenanigans between the two big capitalist parties to begin with, soon began to go into a decades long decline despite this crisis.


I agree absolutely that "if the US givernment did it, it is our responsibility to not let them push the blame onto other peoples". But I would also hope it is obvious to you that I hold that if the U.S. government had NOTHING to do with it, it is our responsibility to not let it push the blame onto other peoples. And, in fact, since 9/11 the revolutionary left in this country, including trends that think al-Queda did it, have rigorously made a distinction between this right-wing fundamentalist sect (fathered by U.S. imperialism and Saudi reactionaries) and Arab people and the Muslim religion. In fact the statement I reposted (written 3 days after 9/11) did this, and it can't be an afterthought because the statement is very short.

You write of my mentioning of 911 Investigator that "this shows more of the same ridicule of someone asking questions because they want to know if their own government did it." But 911 Investigator was indeed scourging the left (as s/he conceives the left), saying it "has proven (once again) its moral and intellectual bankruptcy" and more. S/he just threw out all of the morally upstanding and intellectually enlightening work it has done in the past three years---work that I only touched on in my post, and work that also took courage, especially in the beginning---, work that is historically necessary and decisive (and therefore glorious), in order to denounce! And I simply pointed out that the revolutionary left that I know doesn't have the personnel, experience, and money required to mount the kind of investigation that could debunk the main Administration story (if it's a lie). "The Nation", Chomsky and "Z", etc., have money and resources, but they represent other trends.

Now, a more subtle point.

The period preceding the 9/11 attack was one of increasing contradiction between bin-Laden and Co. and the U.S. government. Al-Queda had already carried out quite a few terrorist attacks, and promised more. Meanwhile, the biggest terrorists in the world had bombed Sudan and Afghanistan under Clinton, as well as taking many other actions aimed against al-Queda. Behind this was the contradiction between the American bourgeoisie and the rising pan-Islamic bourgeoisie that is centered in oil-rich regions of the world. The logic of what was developing was that al-Queda would indeed try to mount even more gruesome terrorist attacks. So it was NOT at all assuming the government story to be true to conclude that al-Queda carried out the attack ---at least for revolutionary leftists who had been studying the alliances, and then the developing contradictions, between this gang of Islamic fundamentalists and U.S. imperialism for years. More, even the most thorough investigative work that I've seen so far says that al-Queda did it, i.e., that we were right. But it also says that the Administration mounted a conspiracy to let it happen. We've never said the latter, and couldn't say it based on what we know. XXX says the left is morally bankrupt ("once again", mind you!), but I think it would be bankrupt and dead if it began to present things that it didn't to the best of its ability know to be true, to be true. More, it was not accepting the government story to point out that 9/11 was blow-back, that U.S. imperialism had once massively supported the very terrorists that had now conducted a big slaughter in New York. More, in the midst of the big anti-terrorist hysteria the government was creating, it was not accepting the government story to write and pass out leaflets and articles telling the truth that U.S. imperialism is the biggest terrorist in today's world. Not just Communist Voice, but many others did these things.

Toward the end of your comment you write that "because it is Arabs and the Arab community, they do not get defended. The conditioned racism of people lets them think, oh, it is likely it was Arabs because everyone knows they are terrorists". It's great to oppose the racist conditioning put on people by the ruling class and all of the institutions it controls. But you leave out that the left immediately came to the defense of Arabic people in the U.S., and Muslim believers. And part of this defense was pointing out over and over that al-Queda terrorism was neither representative of Arabs nor the Muslim religion. In fact al-Queda represented big exploiters and oppressors of Arabs and Muslims. Hence, to really defend them you had to oppose it.

All of this and the other work I've been mentioning has to be continued and deepened. If it's not, then any single dramatic exposure of the crimes of this or subsequent administrations is not going to amount in much lasting change, or defend the oppressed Arab masses in a lasting way. Our aim, after all, is to lay U.S. imperialism in its deathbed. But, as I've already said, we're presently very small and fragile. To become otherwise we MUST continue the work we've started. Successes on this path will prepare the conditions for some really big changes when dramatic exposures come out about this or coming governments. Successes will also allow the revolutionary left itself to dig into many questions that it presently can not.

A comment that deserves an answer 14.Sep.2004 04:41

Wilhelmina

First, a minor point. I said that what happened on 9/11 has been vigorously debated for the past 3 years because I have spent many hours of this period studying the hundreds of pages of materials on the internet related to it, the criticisms of these materials, and so on. (Often the people researching and publishing these materials are not leftists, but that does not matter to me or to any other truth seeker.) And PDX Indymedia itself has been a forum for this debate. Further, neither me nor the political trend I support have ever told people doing this research to shut up, or ridiculed them, or attacked them. Nor do I think really revolutionary leftist of other trends would do these things either. (Attacking obviously absurd "evidence", etc., or exposing the political thinking leading various people to publish such evidence is another matter.) Personally, I've always wanted Mike Ruppert and several others to go further with their investigation, prove concretely what was speculative in their work, and so on. (As an aside, I don't know whom you're talking about when you say "many on the radical left have refused discussion and have called people who ask questions kooks and conspiracy nuts", etc. But I do know , and I'm sure you know, that leftists have been called much worse than this, plus being assaulted, while carrying out work to build the anti-war movement, the movement to defend Arab, South Asian and Muslim immigrants that has arisen since 9/11, and other work. The best of them haven't backed down because they feared being called some names, and my experience has been that the left has shown some growth in the recent period.)


But my article focused on the issue that the question of what really happened re: the 9/11 attack itself CAN be a diversion away from dealing with the broader political questions, a few of which I listed (there are many more). If these questions are not dealt with then "getting to the truth of the matter", even if this truth is that the Bush administration used al-Queda as patsies, WILL NOT necessarily result in a "helluva lot of progress". Obviously there would be a political crisis, but without a much wider anti-imperialist consciousness and a much wider understanding of how the Democrats (especially the liberal Democrats) work (and what they defend), and without more organization (all of which anti-revisionist Marxists and other revolutionary leftists have been working to attain) the ruling class would weather the storm---minus Bush and cronies, of course. Many regimes have fallen because of crises, but the establishment remained intact. For example, Marcos fell during the liberal Cory Aquino's peaceful "revolution", but she saved the day for the Filipino establishment, and saved much of the old reactionary state machine itself. (So today we have the reactionary regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.) Nixon fell because of the Watergate revelations (a much more minor crisis than this hypothetical one would be, of course), but the American bourgeoisie was unshaken, and the left, which had not come up around the shenanigans between the two big capitalist parties to begin with, soon began to go into a decades long decline despite this crisis.


I agree absolutely that "if the US givernment did it, it is our responsibility to not let them push the blame onto other peoples". But I would also hope it is obvious to you that I hold that if the U.S. government had NOTHING to do with it, it is our responsibility to not let it push the blame onto other peoples. And, in fact, since 9/11 the revolutionary left in this country, including trends that think al-Queda did it, have rigorously made a distinction between this right-wing fundamentalist sect (fathered by U.S. imperialism and Saudi reactionaries) and Arab people and the Muslim religion. In fact the statement I reposted (written 3 days after 9/11) did this, and it can't be an afterthought because the statement is very short.

You write of my mentioning of 911 Investigator that "this shows more of the same ridicule of someone asking questions because they want to know if their own government did it." But 911 Investigator was indeed scourging the left (as s/he conceives the left), saying it "has proven (once again) its moral and intellectual bankruptcy" and more. S/he just threw out all of the morally upstanding and intellectually enlightening work it has done in the past three years---work that I only touched on in my post, and work that also took courage, especially in the beginning---, work that is historically necessary and decisive (and therefore glorious), in order to denounce! And I simply pointed out that the revolutionary left that I know doesn't have the personnel, experience, and money required to mount the kind of investigation that could debunk the main Administration story (if it's a lie). "The Nation", Chomsky and "Z", etc., have money and resources, but they represent other trends.

Now, a more subtle point.

The period preceding the 9/11 attack was one of increasing contradiction between bin-Laden and Co. and the U.S. government. Al-Queda had already carried out quite a few terrorist attacks, and promised more. Meanwhile, the biggest terrorists in the world had bombed Sudan and Afghanistan under Clinton, as well as taking many other actions aimed against al-Queda. Behind this was the contradiction between the American bourgeoisie and the rising pan-Islamic bourgeoisie that is centered in oil-rich regions of the world. The logic of what was developing was that al-Queda would indeed try to mount even more gruesome terrorist attacks. So it was NOT at all assuming the government story to be true to conclude that al-Queda carried out the attack ---at least for revolutionary leftists who had been studying the alliances, and then the developing contradictions, between this gang of Islamic fundamentalists and U.S. imperialism for years. More, even the most thorough investigative work that I've seen so far says that al-Queda did it, i.e., that we were right. But it also says that the Administration mounted a conspiracy to let it happen. We've never said the latter, and couldn't say it based on what we know. XXX says the left is morally bankrupt ("once again", mind you!), but I think it would be bankrupt and dead if it began to present things that it didn't to the best of its ability know to be true, to be true. More, it was not accepting the government story to point out that 9/11 was blow-back, that U.S. imperialism had once massively supported the very terrorists that had now conducted a big slaughter in New York. More, in the midst of the big anti-terrorist hysteria the government was creating, it was not accepting the government story to write and pass out leaflets and articles telling the truth that U.S. imperialism is the biggest terrorist in today's world. Not just Communist Voice, but many others did these things.

Toward the end of your comment you write that "because it is Arabs and the Arab community, they do not get defended. The conditioned racism of people lets them think, oh, it is likely it was Arabs because everyone knows they are terrorists". It's great to oppose the racist conditioning put on people by the ruling class and all of the institutions it controls. But you leave out that the left immediately came to the defense of Arabic people in the U.S., and Muslim believers. And part of this defense was pointing out over and over that al-Queda terrorism was neither representative of Arabs nor the Muslim religion. In fact al-Queda represented big exploiters and oppressors of Arabs and Muslims. Hence, to really defend them you had to oppose it.

All of this and the other work I've been mentioning has to be continued and deepened. If it's not, then any single dramatic exposure of the crimes of this or subsequent administrations is not going to amount in much lasting change, or defend the oppressed Arab masses in a lasting way. Our aim, after all, is to lay U.S. imperialism in its deathbed. But, as I've already said, we're presently very small and fragile. To become otherwise we MUST continue the work we've started. Successes on this path will prepare the conditions for some really big changes when dramatic exposures come out about this or coming governments. Successes will also allow the revolutionary left itself to dig into many questions that it presently can not.

Right on Wilhelmina 14.Sep.2004 11:01

Yumi-chan cat

Wilhelmina - Thank you for your article. I don't even call myself a Marxist, but I agree with most of what you're trying to say. It's true, I think, that many 9/11 "Truth" folks have been rediculed, but it's also true that people like yourself who are trying to be open-minded and skeptical, and focused on the real structural issues, are also jumped on - from BOTH sides in this debate. Thanks again for your strength.