Summation: S-24 Anti-Imperialist Contingent and ANSWER Rally
The S-24 Anti-Imperialist Committee (S24AIC) summarized the experience of the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Contingent and the reformist ANSWER rally and march which took place on 24 September. S24AIC is calling for a public meeting to be held on 9 October at 2:00PM in the Capitol Hill (Seattle) Library's upstairs conference room. The meeting's topic will be What's Next for the Anti-Imperialist Movement?
We are pleased to report that Saturday's Anti-Imperialist Contingent was a fairly decent success. Despite the event being completely boycotted by almost every "left" group in town, approximately 70 people took part in a relatively lively march from Seattle Central Community College to Westlake, where the ANSWER coalition held their reformist rally.
It is certain that this march would have been significantly more powerful had the major opportunist "socialist" groups in town elected to participate (and help get the word out). This should be kept in mind when assessing whether or not there's a basis for real anti-imperialist politics here in Seattle.
The S-24 Anti-Imperialist Committee (S24AIC) called for an anti-imperialist contingent/feeder march around the following slogans:
-U.S. imperialism out of Iraq!
-No to war for oil, military bases, and world domination!
-Oppose Democratic Party hijacking of the anti-war movement!
-For mass action independent of the bourgeoisie and its allies!
-The Iraqi people have the right to resist!
-Support the revolutionary-democratic struggles of the Iraqi workers and poor!
These were the politics that attracted people to the march and set the tone for it, overall.
People trickled into the pre-march rally around 10:30 and continued to do so until 11:00. They were met with a significant police presence, which was pre-positioned and obviously intended to intimidate. Clearly, our anti-imperialist political work had attracted the attention of the capitalist state.
A few quick speeches were given on a variety of subjects including:
-Imperialism means war
-How imperialism stems from monopoly capitalism
-The need for action independent of the imperialist bourgeoisie and its opportunist allies in the anti-war movement
-Exposure of imperialist aggression such as the Iraq war, which has been "justified" by one lie after another
-The differences between ANSWER and genuine anti-imperialist politics--why a feeder march?
-The Filipino people's just struggle against a neocolonial comprador regime fully backed and funded by US imperialism
-The phony "exit strategy" (currently being promoted by some liberal Democrats) which involves permanent US military bases and, ultimately, the continuation of US imperialism's occupation of Iraq
-A public summation meeting around the theme "What's Next for the Anti-Imperialist Movement?" was also announced. It'll take place on 9 October at 2:00PM in the Capitol Hill (Seattle) Library's upstairs conference room.
After the speeches, we marched up Broadway, turning around at Republican Street, back down Broadway and then west on Pine, to join ANSWER's reformist rally.
The march participants came from a variety of political backgrounds--communists, socialists, anarchists and other independent leftists. A local vegan collective brought doughnuts (heartily appreciated by this author) and radical cheerleaders did quite a bit of loud...well, radical cheerleading.
Objectively, the politics of their cheers varied between radical resistance and social-pacifism. We're obligated to specifically criticize one cheer (something to the effect of "Bush--OUT!") which we felt was weak on opposing the influence of social-democracy and its persistent attempts to turn anti-war activists into election fodder. We must also note, however, their strong unity with our Committee's chant exposing the liberal wing of the bourgeoisie.
"It's not just Bush, it's the ruling class... The Democrats can kiss our ass!"
Criticism and Self-Criticism
We arrived at the ANSWER rally just a little bit late. This means that we missed ANSWER's keynote speaker, Congressperson Jim McDermott of the imperialist Democratic Party.
Fortunately, we weren't too late and did manage to catch the tail end of a speech by Larry Gossett (a well-known former poverty pimp, now a hack for the Democratic Party) who mouthed off magnificent words that left some activists with the impression that we can end imperialist wars if we are willing to "work the system".
When a supporter of ANSWER was asked why ANSWER would allow someone from the imperialist
Democratic Party to speak from the stage without being followed by the tiniest bit of analysis of the nature of the Democratic Party, they replied, "We can't build a protest if we piss everyone off." This is completely typical of the corrupt reformist thinking that, unfortunately, dominates (and greatly weakens) much of the antiwar movement. According to these corrupt reformist attitudes, the Democratic Party and its flunkies (i.e., various "movers and shakers" who are extremely tiny in numbers in comparison to the general population) are equal to "everyone".
The anti-war movement pays an immense price for this kind of subservience to the imperialist Democratic Party--many activists are left disarmed and unprepared for current and future maneuvers in which the Democratic Party will do its best to support and continue imperialist war.
Many from the opportunist "socialist" groups in town had previously informed us that ANSWER was "pretty anti-imperialist" and that calling for an anti-imperialist contingent was "redundant". These ideas stem from a weak understanding of the nature of reformism coupled with a weak understanding of the urgent tasks of our movement.
Furthermore, many ordinary people were understandably fooled by some of ANSWER's "left" posturing. But vague references to "empire" are absolutely hollow if you're going to turn around and promote representatives of one of the principal parties of US monopoly capitalism!
Realizing this, our Committee ruthlessly exposed ANSWER's sham "anti-imperialism" in the weeks leading up to 24 September. The silver lining in ANSWER's opportunist cloud is that they actually made it quite easy for anti-imperialists to further expose them.
1. Several local anti-imperialists recognized the need for independent action and called for an anti-imperialist feeder march...
2. Various people failed to recognize this need...
3. S24AIC comrades further exposed ANSWER's opportunism and sham "anti-imperialism"...
4. Anti-Imperialist Contingent arrives at ANSWER rally just in time to catch the end of ANSWER's SECOND liberal imperialist speaker's speech, who spoke without being criticized in any way by the opportunists...
5. Despite having one or two decent speakers (crumbs from the mater's table, essentially), liberal imperialist, social-patriotic and social-pacifist politics overwhelmingly dominated the ANSWER rally...
6. We told you so!
One thing we must criticize ourselves for is the failure to effectively re-group for participation in the ANSWER march (which, literally, went in a circle!). Frankly, we lacked any plan to realistically do this. The idea was that we'd all just sort of gather around the highly visible red flags carried by Anak BAYAN and the International League of People's Struggle. Unfortunately, this wasn't really stated all that clearly and our contingent was effectively dispersed.
A firmly united anti-imperialist contingent within the reformist ANSWER rally would have served as a powerful condemnation of both the ANSWER leadership and the opportunist "socialist" groups' sham "anti-imperialism" and their overall political bankruptcy. A large portion of these forces' chants amounted to little more than narrow Economist demands such as "money for jobs and education/not for war and occupation" and "money for Katrina".
Anti-imperialists reported fairly good responses to their verbal agitation exposing the role of the Democratic Party and the opportunists. Many, many participants in the ANSWER rally agreed on the need to take a firm line against the Democratic Party's attempts to pose as "friends" in order to hijack our movement and channel our energy into dead-end electoral schemes.
One anti-imperialist raised the rhetorical question, "Why can't the Democrats organize their own rally?" Obviously, this will not happen as the Democratic Party leadership has no fundamental opposition to imperialist war. Furthermore, they know exactly how dependable their opportunist allies are. They know that in exchange for mobilizing their liberal social base ANSWER can always be depended upon to provide ample time for the Democrats to get their message across.
What's next for the anti-imperialist movement?
Saturday's Anti-Imperialist Contingent demonstrated how it's possible to organize independently of the liberal bourgeoisie and its opportunist allies in the anti-war movement. Through every step of the way, the S-24 Anti-Imperialist Committee has stressed that we have no one to rely upon but ourselves.
Yesterday represented one concrete step towards independent organization and a very practical way of countering the influence of imperialist politics. Fundamentally, this flowed from our firm anti-imperialist political line. Without this, our rally would have been little more than a miniature ANSWER, although we'd likely attract more people.
Those obsessed with big numbers right away should consider joining the Democratic Party. Those who recognize the necessity of organizing independently of the bourgeoisie and its allies should continue to do so and win others to this position. Such is the path to a world free of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism.
Dare to struggle, dare to win!
S-24 Anti-Imperialist Committee
Seattle, 28 September 2005
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