Into the Streets
Delivering the NO
to Bush and All That He Stands For
Revolutionary Worker #1233, March 21, 2004,
posted at rwor.org
The aggression, ruthlessness and deceit of the last years have been
Those forces who now run the U.S. government are carrying out a massive
global offensive that literally and openly intends to dominate our world.
They openly say they intend to use military power to transform whole
regions of the world--starting with the highly strategic Persian Gulf. They
have invaded and conquered two countries--first Afghanistan and then Iraq.
They threaten half a dozen more countries, and send their commandos to
attack in many more. They insist they have the right to launch pre-emptive
war and topple hostile governments at will.
Within the "homeland," they have unleashed new armies of police spies and
wiretappers, They have fired up their fundamentalist "cultural
wars"--demanding permanent bans on gay marriage and sending feds to study
abortion records. They have promoted ugly religious dogmas as "traditional
values" to be imposed on everyone. They have rounded up immigrants,
militarized borders, threatened dissidents, and denied lawyers to government
They have celebrated raw wealth, capitalism and deepening
exploitation--all while mocking, ignoring and blaming the poor.
And isn't it obvious? That all this is just the beginning for
They intend to press ahead, on many levels and battlefields, claiming the
world's people and future for themselves. They intend to permanently
entrench their policies and cadre in decisive power centers within the U.S.
They literally intend to transform the culture, rewrite the most basic legal
norms and rights, create a permanent political alignment that defines
American politics for generations.
They are serious, in power, and backed by large chunks of the American
power structure and ruling class.
They have claimed the 9/11 attacks as their source of legitimacy--all of
this is done in the name of the War on Terrorism. But 2004 is an election
year--and they have a new goal: They want a mandate for their
agenda. This means they want to claim that all this has been embraced and
approved by the people themselves.
NO! This must not go down! This cannot be allowed!
Here in the U.S., there must be a clear, powerful, unmistakable
repudiation of everything represented by
the Bush clique and their agenda.
It is up to the people to deny--to them, their agenda, and the powerful
forces they serve--any right to claim they are acting and speaking for the
people of the United States. It is up to the people to challenge their
offensive, undermine their support, and prepare conditions to bring about a
radically different future.
Everyone who yearns for a different course, a different future, a
whole new way of relating to the people of the world and to each other needs
to be involved.
When this year, and its election circus, is over: It must be
unmistakable that millions in the
U.S. utterly reject the agenda of
war and repression. So that none of this can be conducted, justified or
concealed in the name of the people.
And when it is over, a powerful, determined, deeply rooted movement of
resistance must be firmly on the political stage --acting as a growing
obstacle to all this.
The vision of more than a million people in the streets of New York this
summer at the Republican Convention saying "NO" to Bush and all he
represents-- expressed in the call from Not In Our Name--needs to become a
We know many people and political forces share such visions. The
Republican National Convention has already emerged as a major focus. And it
is urgent to press ahead together with the urgent political work and with a
common clear-sighted grasp of what we are trying to accomplish.
The question before us is: HOW will this be done?
Where do we mobilize our forces in the months ahead?
How do we reach and stir millions?
What do we take as our goals for the coming struggle?
Last year at this time millions of people were living and breathing
resistance to the war on Iraq. People showed their anger and disgust at the
failure of Democratic politicians who signed on to the war-- offering only
petty amendments of the carnage-to-come.
There were bold, independent political actions of the people--massive
marches, school walkouts, teach-ins and direct action disruptions, a
powerful Statement of Conscience by artists and intellectuals. All this sent
a message to the world that the U.S. government aggression was bitterly
opposed by millions within the U.S.
It gave heart and hope to resistance launched by people all over the
world. And, although it did not stop the war, the warmakers could not claim
they had a mandate for that war.
Now in 2004, great new potential can be seen in the way the political
establishment worries over "the hate factor"--the fact that millions so
deeply despise Bush and all he represents. Today, millions sense
that the whole course of history is at stake and that irreparable harm may
result if the juggernaut of war and repression isn't stopped. And they're
But, even within the ranks of the antiwar movement, people are being told
that throwing their energies into "anybody but Bush" is the only way to
change the direction of the country.
This is such a trap!
It is really crucial for people to understand that the mandate for this
horrendous agenda cannot be challenged if people put their energies into the
This may seem counterintuitive, but it is reality.
Our understanding of this stems from a deep revolutionary analysis of the
role of elections in maintaining this exploitative and oppressive capitalist
society--and an analysis of history and how in fact things change.
We know that millions of people who do not share this view are going to
vote for the Democrats-- including people who know that the Democrats aren't
going to do shit to change things.
But it is crucial for us to unite in doing what will make a
difference--that is millions of people uniting and manifesting their
opposition and deep hatred for the whole direction of things in a massive
outpouring of opposition to this whole agenda--one that cannot be ignored,
covered up, or denied.
Already the election process has revealed that it is not a path to
challenging the Bush agenda.
Great efforts have been made by the power structure to prevent
this election season from becoming a way of challenging the war in Iraq or
the larger global offensive of the U.S. And at the same time, this whole
2004 election is being engineered to give a mandate to the
so-called "War on Terrorism"-- without allowing any real
debate over it.
With each passing month, the official electoral arena has become more and
more tightly controlled, and the allowable range of debate has shrunk.
Official assumptions about security, anti-terrorism, the danger of
non-proliferation, the need for preemption, and so on are simply not
supposed to be questioned.
For a few months, with Howard Dean in the race, some people thought they
had a way to voice some antiwar sentiments within the election--but
now that's over, and everyone is told to back John Kerry, a man who voted
for launching the Iraq War, voted for the Patriot Act, and upholds
Bush's plans to occupy and forcefully subdue Iraq.*
And this whole process is a living example of the profound reality
described by Bob Avakian, in Democracy: Can't We Do Better Than That?--where
he sums up: "To state it in a single sentence, elections: are controlled
by the bourgeoisie; are not the means through which basic decisions are made
in any case; and are really for the primary purpose of legitimizing the
system and the policies and actions of the ruling class, giving them the
mantle of a "popular mandate," and of channeling, confining, and controlling
the political activity of the masses of people."
This understanding leads us to the conclusion that we need a whole
different social system and political process.
But whether or not you share these revolutionary conclusions, it is
crucial to see that no profound opposition to the Bush agenda can be
manifested through the electoral arena.
It is also important to recognize that this "Bush Agenda" of
international aggression and domestic repression currently has a
consensus within the ruling class in the U.S. One proof of that ruling
class consensus is that the Democratic Party establishment so quickly jelled
around a candidate who supports the occupation of Iraq and the
larger U.S. offensive. They knew (and said) that anyone who didn't
embrace the heart of the Bush agenda would simply be declared
"unelectable"--meaning unacceptable to their class.
Why is there such a consensus?
First, because the rulers of the U.S. think this is "their time" and no
one can stand in their way. And they want to grab for a permanent dominant
global position. The U.S. ruling class is a criminal bunch of expansionist,
profit-hungry empire-builders and they have put a ruthless clique of liars
and killers at the helm.
Second, three years into this "war on terrorism," the U.S. powerstructure
is now deeply invested in Bush's global offensive. They have
already risked a lot on this. Now (by their imperialist logic and class
interests) they are all required not to "back down." They see if they
"backed down" from such an aggressive grab for dominance, their ambitions
would suffer a massive cost--politically, militarily and economically.
So it is not at all realistic to think people can all just wander into
voting booths, as a groundswell of atomized "voters," pull the levers for
those rigged choices we are offered, and then **poof** this
entrenched agenda will get pushed aside.
In this light, it is worth looking at some "critical" elections of the
Vietnam era--and what really served as an obstacle to that war.
In 1964 arch-conservative Barry Goldwater bragged he'd bomb Vietnam back
to the stone age and Lyndon Johnson portrayed himself as a more moderate
candidate. Johnson was elected based on many antiwar sentiments, but he
immediately implemented Goldwater's plan--launching a full invasion of
South Vietnam only months after election day. Voting the liberal Democrat in
did not prevent the imperialist invasion.
Then In both 1968 and 1972, Richard Nixon was the more hardline rightwing
candidate--but he also became the President forced to withdraw U.S.
troops and personnel out of South Vietnam. That wasn't because he had a
change of heart --he had to back down. The powerful Vietnamese
resistance was defeating the massive U.S. invasion. And the massive antiwar
movement within the U.S. and within the U.S. armed forces, helped
prevent even more massive escalations. The antiwar movement helped weaken
the war-makers by creating a climate of resistance -- and denying the
government popular support for new escalations.
The U.S. political establishment (including both Johnson Democrats and
Nixon Republicans) were always determined to win that war in
Vietnam. They had great prestige and strategic power at stake. But
ultimately, over difficult years of struggle, they were finally forced out
of Vietnam. The warmakers were never "defeated at the ballot box"--they were
defeated in the rice paddies of Vietnam, in a wave of international
resistance, and in the streets, campuses and ghettos of the U.S.
The brave and determined street actions of the 1968 Chicago Democratic
Convention did infinitely more to end the war in Vietnam,
than all the attempts to promote "peace candidates" within the
rigged electoral system.
In other words, the U.S. power structure won't change course unless they
have to. Their global position and their class nature dictate that they will
not back down from all they have launched-- without massive opposition.
We need to set our sights on organizing such struggle--in ways that
forcefully expose, reject and oppose the now-dominant government
agenda. And such struggle can only be mounted outside their rigged
and corrupt electoral system.
From the beginning of the Democratic primary season, one piece of advice
has been thrown at people, over and over: Don't rock the boat too much.
Inside and outside the Democratic Party, people are told: Don't be "too
angry." Don't be too disrespectful of the current manias for security,
defense, and patriotism. Don't undermine the "war presidency," don't be too
harsh in criticizing what "our troops" are doing. Assume that most people
are gripped by fear--and don't want to hear the truth.
At the bottom it all boils down to this: People are being told that "to
defeat Bush you must embrace large parts of the Bush agenda."
This is really a demand that our political actions this year must not
break out of the war consensus defined by the official political
The argument is made that if people want to "influence the millions who
are not politically awake" they need to support an "electable" candidate.
But this logic is a complete set-up, because unless there is a massive
outpouring of opposition to the whole agenda--that can change the terms of
things in the society--these millions of people, who do not know the truth
or the issues, will be manipulated by the media, told what to think, and
together with the loyal hard-core Bush social base, they will deliver a
mandate to Bush.
So the argument against breaking out of the electoral framework
is pure poison in this moment. We must precisely "break out"!
The precious resources and organized energy of our resistance must not
get channeled and drained into a electoral black hole that is fully
dominated by the imperialist ruling class.
Again, the whole agenda of these last years must be called out, exposed,
denounced and resisted. And this will NOT happen by focusing on the
elections--where such challenges have already been ruled out of
Something else, something independent, something determined must be
forged. It must be manifested in ways that cannot be hidden,
denied, or misrepresented--in the streets, and in other ways throughout
New York City in August and September must become a manifesto of
rejection and resistance. An outpouring of people, more than a million
in the streets, must defy and denounce them and all they stand for.
We revolutionary communists believe that it is important for all of us to
think through, seriously and systematically, what it will take to finally
stop the empire-builders, corporations and imperialist militaries from
dominating the world and exploiting the people.
The RCP believes, as is well known, that it will ultimately take
revolutionary action of millions-- here in the U.S. and all over the
world--in a whole epoch of sweeping radical change to overthrow the ruling
classes and their supporters, uproot capitalism itself, transform society
and truly liberate humanity. And the RCP is dedicated to building a
hard-core revolutionary movement that can spearhead such change.
We know there are many others who also believe "another world is
possible" but, in any case, we can all agree and unite on this: The mass
resistance we organize in the period ahead can have a huge impact on
everything that follows. This is a moment of great danger and great
We must fight to turn things around today, knowing that we are preparing
new forces for the new struggles of tomorrow.
http://rwor.org/resistance -RW resource page on resisting the juggernaut of war and repression
http://2changetheworld.info - Discuss revolutionary strategy and the RCP's Draft Programme