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Commentary ::
Delivering the NO! to Bush and All That He Stands For
16 Mar 2004

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 shocking.

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 captives.

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 them!

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 reality.

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 right.

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 electoral arena.

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 system.

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 order.

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 society.

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 possibility.

We must fight to turn things around today, knowing that we are preparing new forces for the new struggles of tomorrow.
________________________________________
 

FOOTNOTES:

*See our article: "The Rise and Fall of Howard Dean" on our website rwor.org

[Return to article]

http://rwor.org - Revolutionary Worker Online

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

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