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Mass Demonstrations Against the War in the US

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    US OPPOSITION TO THE WAR GROWS 100,000 Marched in San Francisco, 200,000 in Washington and thousands more in other cities In the largest outpouring of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 19, 2003
      100,000 Marched in San Francisco, 200,000 in Washington and thousands
      more in other cities

      In the largest outpouring of opposition to Bush war drive to date, more
      than 300,000 people demonstrated in the US against the impending war
      against Iraq. Over 200,000 people braved the freezing winter in
      Washington, DC to march from the Capitol to the Navy Yard after hearing
      a long list of speakers and performers. Over 100,000 people jammed the
      streets of downtown San Francisco. Market Street was so crowded from
      Embarcadero to Civic Center that nothing could move for hours, not even
      the demonstrators.

      Who's against the war?

      Of course, the usual peaceniks, Greens and environmentalists that showed
      in force both in Washington and San Francisco. The left parties marched
      as well, but it was very difficult to see them, so swamped were they by
      the huge masses of people.

      And then, in what constituted a first for this new anti-war movement,
      labor groups marched with their own banners in small but significant
      numbers: teachers, public employees, health care workers, service
      employees, transportation and longshoremen. This is not yet the heavy
      infantry of the working class, but a beginning.

      A large segment of the crowds were Democrats, including some luminaries
      from Hollywood like Martin Sheen, who spoke in San Francisco, and Jesse
      Jackson, who spoke in Washington, DC. Some Democratic legislators also
      showed up to speak and support the demonstrations, predominantly from
      the African American caucus in the House of Representatives. This was
      good news, since it represents the first signs of Democratic Party
      dissension against the war drive. The bulk of the Democratic Party
      leadership and elected officials still back Bush's political and
      military offensive against the world.

      Moreover, proof that Bush's War Party is starting to have problems on
      the home front is the fact one could distinguish groups of "Republicans
      for Peace" and "Conservatives Against the War" in the crowds. Perhaps
      more significantly, suburban white couples, families with their kids in
      strollers and soccer moms were also visible marching, particularly in
      San Francisco where the weather dispensed a warm and sunny day.

      Why are they against the war?

      Many in the crowds were marching not against the war per se, but against
      the "unilateralism" and arrogance of the US government. Many signs and
      conversations during the events, as well as speeches reflected this
      mood: the US should not act alone, and should give the UN inspectors a
      chance to work and disarm Iraq.

      This confidence in the UN, led by the ruling class of a handful of
      imperial countries, is a double-edged sword. It demonstrates a faith in
      the ability of the ruling class of the US, Russia, France, Germany,
      Italy and the bureaucrats in China to act properly and responsibly,
      unlike the way the Bush administration is perceived to have acted so

      How many of those holding these ideas will remain committed to peace or
      anti-imperialist actions in the event that the US launches its
      pre-emptive war or the UN inspectors uncover some "smoking gun" (either
      real or fabricated)? Once the shooting starts, the American population
      has demonstrated itself to be easily manipulated by the enormous
      ideological apparatus of the corporate media. The left must make it a
      key task to win these people over to an anti-imperialist position or at
      least guarantee that the left are not squeezed out of the movement by
      more pragmatic peaceniks.

      Our forecast

      We characterized that, after September 11, a reactionary conjuncture
      took hold of the US. For months, this reactionary conjuncture was
      virtually unopposed. The ruling class and its government were allowed to
      proceed with their long planned military/economic/political offensive
      against working people and the oppressed. The demonstrations on April
      20, last October, and now in January are steps towards reversing this
      reactionary conjuncture.

      However, we are hesitant to change our characterization of the
      conjuncture just yet. This is because of the lack of anti-imperialist
      consciousness in the US and the fact that the bipartisan agreement is
      still intact in its essential features.

      The absence of mass based workers' parties on the left, the
      predominantly pro-imperialist and decaying top labor leadership, and the
      imperial policies of the Democratic "opposition" are still formidable
      obstacles to the development of a sustainable anti-imperialist movement.
      These forces will serve as the cover for many supporters of the UN today
      to return to the corral of the policies of the ruling class when the war

      It is of the utmost importance to develop an alternative leadership in
      the unions, consolidate the left and workers' movement and to help vast
      sectors of the Democratic Party base to break with it and form a left
      party based on the working class and the oppressed. That will not only
      help sustain the opposition to this war, but to the multitude of attacks
      in which the US government is presently involved.

      Even if the US ruling class is stopped in Iraq, they have plenty more in
      store for us: their attempts to overthrow the Venezuela government of
      populist Hugo Chavez, their present conflict with North Korea, the
      growing tendency of the White House to boycott the recently elected
      left-leaning governments of Brazil and Ecuador, its growing military
      intervention in Colombia, its support for the Israeli ruling class in
      its fight to smash the Palestinian resistance as well as its continuous
      military and economic campaigns in Central Asia and elsewhere .

      This military-economic offensive of the US ruling class is out to
      guarantee their appropriation of the scarcer resources of oil, water and
      raw materials, as well as to preserve the prestige of the US as the
      hegemonic imperial power of the world to maintain its senile system.
      Iraq is just one of the planned battlefields.

      Our proposals

      What is needed is a consistent, sustainable and deeply rooted mass
      movement against the neo-imperial aspirations of the layer of the ruling
      class represented by George W. This can only be built by a determined,
      broad, democratically-based new left party of the working class and the
      oppressed that will clearly raise the alternative to the capitalist
      system of war, oppression and exploitation. It is just not enough to set
      a date and build stages for more demonstrations. While demonstrations
      must continue and should be even bigger, the organizing in communities,
      workplaces, schools, and even in some parts of the military must be
      stepped up.

      Both the demonstrations in Washington, DC and San Francisco dissolved in
      a very disorganized way; speakers were either liberals or confused and
      made no proposals for the next steps for the movement and offered no
      alternative to the parties of big capital and war, Democrats and
      Republicans, some ultra leftist rhetoric notwithstanding.

      The war has not started yet, however, and the powerful display of
      opposition on January 18 - mostly minimized by the media - can no longer
      be ignored. This was reflected in the polls before the demonstration
      that showed the popularity of George W. and the confidence in his
      government dropping to 56% from the whopping 88% in the months following
      September 11.

      When it comes to the war against Iraq, only 42% believed Bush was
      handling the situation properly while 42% strongly disagreed. The
      tendency for Bush's popularity to continue to drop will essentially
      depend on the level of organizing, mobilization and conscientious
      education of those who, for whatever reason, are today opposed to the

      The Chicago City Council approved an anti-war resolution this week by a
      vote of 46-1, adding its powerful weight to a growing number of cities
      around the country, which did the same. Their argument was clear: Bush
      intends to pay for this war with either further cuts in social services
      or augmenting the Federal and states' deficits which in turn will force
      cities to cut further in their already tightened budgets pummeled by the
      economic slump.

      Chicago is not a bastion of the liberal left like San Francisco, Seattle
      or Minneapolis, but a mainstream, mid-west mega-urban center. This vote
      constitutes, with all the compromises and economic reductionism in its
      written text, a powerful symbolic event in how deep, even if initial,
      the turn to opposition is in the country.

      The trend certainly is going in the opposite direction since the attacks
      against Afghanistan, when only 8% of the population opposed the war. To
      maintain that progressive trend, the left must clearly articulate their
      anti-imperialist message. That does not preclude the unity in action
      with the peace, environmental, Green movements and the growing
      discontent layers of the trade unions and the Democratic Party. On the
      contrary, the movement, if anything should be the broadest possible, but
      without submerging or watering down the organization and education of
      the left.

      Other demonstrations on January 18, 2003:

      --Portland, Oregon: 5,000 marched in Downtown.

      --Des Moines, Iowa: 150 demonstrated

      --Indianapolis, Indiana: A crowd that reached 600 huddled at the base of
      the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in temperatures in the teens for a
      two-hour rally.

      --Florida: A St. Augustine protest drew 200 people. About 400 people
      assembled in Venice. About 500 in Tampa rallied outside the gates of
      MacDill Air Force Base, home to U.S. Central Command, which would
      coordinate an Iraq war.

      --Albuquerque, New Mexico: About 800 protested near the University of
      New Mexico campus; 500 marched downtown to rally outside an Army
      recruiting office.

      --Lansing, Michigan: Several hundred marched 20 blocks to the Capitol.

      --Montpelier, Vermont: About 3,000 marched.

      --Houston, Texas: About 300 came out.

      --Orange County, California: About 300 marched to the Nixon Presidential

      --Richmond, Kentucky: Demonstrators laid out life-sized dolls
      representing dead Iraqi children.

      --Las Vegas, Nevada: Tourists gawked and motorists honked as 200
      protesters rallied on the Strip. One sign: ``Elvis hates war.''

      --Blacksbourgh: 100 demonstrated in this little town

      -- Salt Lake, Utah - 1,000 marched and rallied.

      -- Tucson, Arizona: 3,000
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