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News ::
12 Sep 2003
Anti-War Movement Replies: "Bring the Troops Home Now!"

By Greg Butterfield
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Sept. 18, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper

Anti-War Movement Replies: "Bring the Troops Home Now!"

By Greg Butterfield

On Sept. 7, when President George W. Bush made his nationally televised plea for an additional $87 billion to fund the brutal occupation of Iraq, he neglected to tell poor and working people about a growing and ominous threat to their safety.

Not Saddam Hussein. Not Osama bin Laden. Not "sleeper cells" of
terrorists nesting in U.S. cities.

No, the danger Bush failed to mention was revealed in a slew of both
government and independent reports the first week of September: a severe increase in poverty, unemployment and overwork in the era of "endless war."

Over 1.3 million more people were thrown into poverty last year. The so-called economic recovery has coincided with the most sustained loss of jobs since the Great Depression.

It's hardly surprising that he didn't say anything about this. After
all, while Bush was calling on people here to prepare for more
sacrifices in the bloody war of conquest in Iraq, and while more U.S.
grunts and Iraqi civilians die by the day, Bush's big-business
benefactors are bathing in an unprecedented bounty of fat military
contracts, enormous tax cuts and the prospect of milking Iraq's oil
wealth for themselves.

Not one of the leading Democratic candidates for president answered
Bush's speech with a condemnation of the occupation or a demand that the money being poured down the military sinkhole be used instead for jobs at home and reparations for the Iraqi people.

Instead, the Democrats called on Bush to do more to pressure Europe and the United Nations to aid the occupation in hopes of crushing the
growing Iraqi resistance movement. Sen. Joseph Biden, head of the
Foreign Relations Committee, immediately endorsed Bush's plan to double spending on the Iraq occupation in the coming fiscal year.

Howard Dean--the so-called anti-war candidate and former Vermont
governor--said Bush should send his top aides to Europe immediately to get troops and money to shore up the occupation. "Failure is not an option" in the conquest of Iraq, he blustered. (French Press Agency, Sept. 8)

No one should forget that most of the 1.5 million Iraqis who perished
from sanctions over the last decade did so under Democrat Bill Clinton's watch. At the same time, the evil alliance of Democratic and Republican leaders ripped up the social safety net at home for poor and working people with their 1996 welfare repeal.

It would be a big mistake for the multinational working class to throw its weight behind a Democratic Party candidate just as dependent as Bush on Big Oil and Wall Street--and just as committed to reconquering the Middle East and the rest of the world.

A militant, independent movement of the workers and poor is what's
needed--one that can bring the capitalist cronies of both parties to
heel and take back the money now flowing into the war machine so it can be used for people's needs.

The potential for such a movement is real. On Oct. 25, tens of thousands of people from all over North America will converge on Washington, D.C., to demand that Bush end the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops home now.

Those organizing include families of soldiers and reservists, immigrant workers threatened with jail and deportation, labor unions, workfare workers and others who will demand money for jobs, poverty relief, schools and health care, not war and repression.


The anti-war movement can reach out to those suffering from unemployment and poverty with factual evidence showing that war and occupation run counter to their very survival. This powerful movement is demanding that the government bring the troops home and spend taxpayers' money on jobs and poverty relief, not war.

The government, and the ruling class behind it, will only respond to an independent mass struggle. Capitalist politicians may criticize Bush for their own election-year ends, but elections have never ended wars. Only the struggle of the masses can do that.

There's plenty of evidence available to show that the huge amounts being spent on the Pentagon not only fail to "trickle down" to the people but are making conditions worse.

The American Community Survey, a Census Bureau report released Sept. 2, showed that more than 1.3 million people in the United States fell into poverty in 2002--as the Bush administration geared up for war with Iraq and states and cities across the country began to feel the brunt of cuts in federal aid for all kinds of programs.

The number of children in poverty rose by over 600,000, to 12.2 million, the Washington Post reported. "The rate of increase in children under age 5 jumped a full percentage point to 19.8 percent living below the poverty line from 18.8 percent a year earlier," the paper reported Sept. 3.

People of color were hardest hit, but a growing number of white workers were also affected.

"The spike in economic hardship hit individuals and families alike," the Post wrote. "The report indicated that the total percentage of people in poverty increased to 12.4 percent from 12.1 percent in 2001 and totaled 34.8 million. At the same time, the number of families living in poverty went up by more than 300,000 in 2002 to 7 million from 6.6 million in 2001."

And that's just by Washington's artificially low definition of what
constitutes poverty: less than $17,960 a year for a family of two adults and two children, and $9,200 a year for a single adult.

It's no wonder poverty is epidemic. Over 2.7 million jobs have
disappeared since 2001, according to government sources. The Economic
Policy Institute, which does research for the labor movement, says the real number is more like 3.3 million.

That is the biggest sustained job loss since the 1930s.

As more and more economic analysts are forced to admit, those jobs
aren't coming back.

Just four days after the poverty report's release, the U.S. Labor
Department announced that 93,000 more jobs were lost in August. The
official unemployment rate for the month dropped by a blip from 6.2 to 6.1 percent--not because more people were working, but because more than ever have given up hope of finding any job at all. (Associated Press, Sept. 5)


Bosses--the capitalists--thrive on the theft of workers' labor power.
Workers produce far more value than they are paid for in wages. The
surplus is scooped up by the corporate thieves in the form of profits.

Another new Labor Department study shows that the degree of this theft has reached unprecedented levels within the United States. Productivity--the amount workers produce for each hour of work--surged by 6.8 percent in the April through June quarter.

The growing productivity isn't the result of growing employment. It's
bosses forcing those workers who haven't lost their jobs to work harder, for longer hours, and for less pay.

As the United Nations' International Labor Organization reported Sept. 2, "Workers in the United States put in an average of 1,815 hours in 2002 compared to major European economies, where hours ranged from around 1,300 to 1,800."

"To put it more bluntly," Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors
candidly told the French Press Agency Sept. 7, "why hire when you can
get your employees to work harder?"

Even as the Bush administration, Congress and Corporate America are
pumping up jingoism heading into the 2004 elections, U.S. companies are moving more high-tech jobs to other countries--the better to super-exploit workers there who must take whatever work they can get, thanks to the imperialist theft of their countries' wealth and resources.

Forrester Research Inc., a trend-analysis firm, predicts that another
3.3 million jobs will be permanently moved overseas by 2015. Many will be so-called white collar, high-tech and service industry jobs, not just factory work.

A new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that "The vast majority of the 2.7 million job losses since the 2001 recession began were the result of permanent changes in the U.S. economy and are not coming back, which means the labor market will not regain strength until new positions are created in novel and dynamic economic sectors," the Washington Post reported Sept. 5.

"The job market is vastly worse right now than it was a couple of years ago," said Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution, a major
Washington think tank.


The current "jobless recovery" isn't the new phenomenon that capitalist apologists would have people think. The destruction of jobs, especially higher-paying jobs dependent on technological advances, is as endemic to the profit system as the boom-and-bust cycle.

Corporate America's current restructuring is an intensification of a
process that has dominated the U.S. economy since the early 1980s, when the high-tech boom first began to destroy millions of seemingly stable, good-paying jobs.

The process continued during the first Bush administration--when the
term "jobless recovery" was first coined--and under the Clinton
administration. The relatively short Internet-fueled boom of the late
1990s was the exception, not the rule.

Frederick Engels, who along with Karl Marx founded the modern communist movement over 150 years ago, explained the process in his 1880 book "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific."

Engels wrote: "If the introduction and increase of machinery means the displacement of millions of manual by a few machine workers, improvement in machinery means the displacement of more and more of the machine workers themselves.

"It means, in the last instance, the production of a number of available wage workers in excess of the average needs of capital, the formation of a complete industrial reserve army, as I called it in 1845, available at the times when industry is working at high pressure, to be cast out upon the street when the inevitable crash comes, a constant dead weight upon the limbs of the working class in its struggle for existence with capital, a regulator for keeping of wages down to the low level that suits the interests of capital.

"Thus it comes about, to quote Marx, that machinery becomes the most
powerful weapon in the war of capital against the working class; that
the instruments of labor constantly tear the means of subsistence out of the hands of the laborer; that the very product of the worker is turned into an instrument for his subjugation. ...

"Thus it comes about that the overwork of some becomes the preliminary condition for the idleness of others, and that modern industry, which hunts after new consumers over the whole world, forces the consumption of the masses at home down to a starvation minimum, and in doing thus destroys its own home market."

In 2003, as in Engels' day, the fight is not just to win jobs, better
pay and shorter hours, but also to do away with the capitalist system
that breeds unemployment, poverty, racism and war, and to replace it
with a socialist system based on fulfilling human needs.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
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