Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Where Are the Mass Protests?

The Antiwar Struggle, UFPJ and the Democrats


"By every conceivable measure, the antiwar movement in the United States should be a vibrant, mass movement.

When one adds this list to the mounting social cost of paying for the war with increasing cuts in social welfare programs, one has to ask: why is our antiwar movement so passive?

The reasons for this are many. The Democrats--the so-called "opposition" party in the U.S.--have provided crucial support for the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. There's also the hold of liberalism--which from the time of FDR through Clinton has always supported an aggressive U.S. foreign policy--on the U.S. left. The low level of class struggle, despite the huge inequalities of U.S. society and workers' growing alienation from the political establishment, is another factor.

Another crucial reason for the weakness of the antiwar movement is the political course chosen by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the largest and most visible antiwar coalition in the U.S.

UFPJ's response to the major crisis points for U.S. policy since the invasion--the leveling of Falluja, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the threats to attack Iran, the recent Israeli-U.S. assault against Lebanon--has been feeble in terms of protest, while its emphasis on building support for the so-called antiwar Democrats in Congress has grown more distinct.

ONE FACTOR in this strategic orientation is the influence of the Communist Party (CP) USA, which plays an important part in shaping the direction of UFPJ.

For the past 70 years, with few exceptions, the CP has argued that it is essential for progressive movements hoping to win social change in the U.S. to support the Democratic Party against the Republicans.

But Webb and the Communist Party's support for Kerry in 2004 went beyond the traditional "lesser evil" reasoning of the U.S. left. Webb demanded that the left present Kerry as a "positive choice"--as he put it.

The Democrats--who, before and since the 2004 election, ducked every opportunity to challenge the Bush administration's policies--got the unswerving support of a large section of the left, including the Communist party, to the detriment of the struggle against the Bush agenda.

NOW, TWO years later, with Bush's policies sinking still lower in public support--when the anti-war movement should be pressing both parties for immediate withdrawal from Iraq--Webb is arguing against it."

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