No War but Class War!

Originally published by the Communist Workers Organisation, British section of the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party (IBRP).

The attack on the World Trade Centre was also an attack on the workers who made up the majority of those who died. Scores of them will not even be recorded in death since they were the very illegal immigrants who are stigmatised daily by the capitalist state and in the capitalist press. Many of them apparently came from Mexico. The agreement between Presidents Bush and Fox (of Mexico) to legalise those immigrants was one of the first casualties of the events of September 11th. But September 11th was not just an attack on these workers. It was an attack on the working class everywhere. The terrorists who carried out this attack were not just using methods which are totally alien to the communist vision of a class movement. They were precisely representatives of the bourgeoisie of the Middle East for whom any attack on the US is part of a struggle for the globe. These privileged scions of the petty, and not so petty, bourgeoisie of the region were driven to their inhuman act because it is part of a desperate struggle against an all-powerful enemy. But the disparity of forces between these people and their US enemies cannot blind us to the fact that they are not anti-imperialist, as some on the Left of capital would call them. They simply stand for a different order of imperialism. And, whether the allegations against Osama Bin Laden are true or not, the truth is that both he and the Taleban rulers of Afghanistan owe their power to the fact that they were once US agents in the Cold War struggle against the USSR.

Now the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre have given the USA a free hand to take its imperialist domination a stage further. Forget the hypocrisy about defending democracy. This is a fight with a series of intertwined imperialist motives, for oil routes, for strategic advances and for disciplining those states, both big and small, which have tried to play their own game against the USA. In the nineteenth century the "Great Game" was played out in Central Asia between Russia and Britain. Today the struggle and the stakes are not much different.

On the "Western" side governmental hypocrisy knows no shame. Hiding behind the horror of many of their citizens they are now stepping up their arsenal of totalitarian control. Anyone who is not for them is now deemed to be for the terrorists. A neat way to silence all opposition. But they could not have got away with this arrogance if the working class had not been on the retreat for the last decade and half. In the face of capitalist crisis, restructuring, unemployment and job insecurity the bourgeoisie have tried to persuade us that a few more sacrifices and the boom for the few will turn into plenty for the many. Communists have been pointing out that the relationship is rather different. The increasing gross disparity of wealth has been precisely because those who labour have been exploited harder in that time. Indeed it is the absence of a significant class movement against capitalist attacks on wages and working conditions which has paved the way for the arrogant assumption that Blair and Bush can get away with whatever they like to restore "civilised values" to the world order.

And this brings us to the real question. How do we fight the war plans of the ruling class? CWO and IBRP members have been to meetings and demonstrations to engage in discussion with many who see the need to stop these war plans. But here we find that the solutions put forward are so pathetic as to be of material assistance to our class enemy. One Socialist Alliance (1) meeting we went to was typical. The only time anyone spoke about socialism was when one of our comrades was speaking. Instead we were subjected to a united front of the saccharine sweet sirens of pacifism. Not only was this enough to make you vomit but it was also grist to the ruling class mill. The solutions for the various speakers at these meetings range from prayer, candlelit vigils, emailing George Bush or Tony Blair or writing to the local MP. We also met the usual quasi-anarchist "activists" who are ready to get down to some real action by... spray painting walls. One person who must have been asleep for fifty years woke up to tell us that we should all join the United Nations Association! They seem not to have noticed that the UN only acts when the US allows it to.

The fact that even amongst so-called "socialists" socialism was not mentioned is significant in underlining how far the working class have been pushed into retreat. It is the task of revolutionaries to re-assert the class perspective. War is central to capitalist accumulation of profits. But we make the bombs and the bullets which are then turned on our class brothers throughout the world. We make the satellites that spy on humanity. And it will be the working class everywhere who will pay the price. Already the attack on the World Trade Centre has become the grand alibi for laying off millions of workers world wide (In the USA, 200,000 have already been laid off since September 11th). The fact that these layoffs were already planned as the capitalist crisis took another lurch downwards has been discreetly obscured. The working class will pay the price. The working class will have to fight back.

The pacifist argument seems to be that the world was not such a bad place before September 11th. If we can only persuade the lunatics who run it to return to the asylum we can get back to "normal". But "normal" is a capitalist world in which 19 million children died last year because they did not have clean drinking water. Normal is a situation of permanent warfare in at least 20 local situations world wide. Normal is the situation where death squads murder thousands who try to fight for "social justice" or a decent standard of living throughout the so-called "Third World". Barbarism is already knocking at the door. If "civilisation" is to be saved it has to be saved from the capitalist class and the only way this can be done is by mass working class action. Workers have to unite their struggles to defend themselves from the worst effects of the crisis. "Solidarity" is now much in vogue amongst capitalist leaders but the working class has never had more need of it. The world will not be the same. We have taken a decisive leap forward since September. It is barbarism or ... socialism. Those who claim to be socialist have to join with us in taking a lead against the future capitalism has planned for us. And this means the long struggle to develop within the working class the real nature of our class opposition to capitalism. Only once the capitalist system is destroyed will we actually rid the planet of the polluters for profit, the merchants of death and the scourges of famine amidst plenty and all forms of slavery.

This also means finding an independent road to working class action. It means taking on those union apparatuses who act for the capitalist state by trying to isolate every strike to one sector or one small group of workers. It means setting up our own assemblies and strike committees. It means spreading action against the capitalist economic apparatus everywhere. Once we paralyse the economic apparatus the capitalists will not be able to act against workers anywhere. This is our anti-war message:

Against military strikes, we strike!

No war but class war!


(1) A "Left" electoral coalition, mainly led by different Trotskyist organisations.