On the Federal Judge’s Ruling Against NYC March Permit

Orange Alert for Democratic Rights

by Fred Feldman

This message was posted Feb. 11, 2003.

The ruling against our democratic right to march on February 15 (our equally solid right to rally was acceded to) highlights the reality that, despite the massive opposition they face, the capitalist rulers of this country are fundamentally unified around going to war against Iraq. We are not dealing with cowardly Democrats or a cowed media, but with basic support for the war by the Democrats and the media.

The fact that Sen. Lieberman joined Rumsfeld in twisting the German foreign minister’s arm for support is a reminder that we are not dealing solely with the right-wing circle around Bush but with a course that has bipartisan support from the Clintons, Bidens, Kerrys, and Gephardts in the Democratic Party, not just the “yellow dog” Democrats; the Powells, Bloombergs, and McCains in he Republican Party, not just the John Ashcrofts and Richard Perles; from CBS and ABC, not just Fox News; from the Washington Post and New York Times, not just the New York Post or Manchester Union Leader. And this unified support for war, not “Democrats’ fear,” is the reason for the near unanimous votes for the USA Patriot Act and the Homeland Security measures.

In my opinion, foreign policy has been more decisive than alignment with the capitalist right or left in determining the outcome of presidential elections. Bush Sr., a mainstream Republican, won big but lost his backing when he failed to gain a decisive victory in the first Iraq war. The liberal Clinton survived two terms in large part because of his success in establishing a strong U.S. military presence and influence in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, with the war in Yugoslavia as the key step. I suspect that the desire for an accelerated war drive decided the 2000 election (not the vote but the election) for Bush, with his ties to the Republican hard right; and Bush’s reelection will hinge on his success in attaining the rulers’ goals in the second Iraq war.

Given the scope of the opposition the rulers face at home and abroad, which is incompatible with fighting a war which lasts more than a week or two and in which there are significant casualties, we have to expect attempts to sharply escalate the attacks on democratic rights, including the right to demonstrate, over the next period. The Orange Alert—with its planned disruptions and the promised presence of machine-gun toting cops and soldiers on the streets—and the ruling on the New York rally are initial steps.

The many existing fights for democratic rights, from the fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal to the fight against the deportation of socialist journalist Roger Calero (of the Militant newspaper and Perspectiva Mundial magazine), are going to have greater weight for all of us in the coming months.

At this point, the massive and still growing antiwar sentiment, the difficulties with France and Germany, and the defiance of Korea and Venezuela have not yet caused a fundamental break in the ruling class front for the war. The rulers still, at this point, find the hope of seizing the oil of Iraq, establishing a permanent military power base in the Middle East, setting off a new stock market boom with a successful expansionist war, and terrifying the world with a show of military technology and the will to carry out new Hiroshimas—all that is still too tempting to resist.

I think José G. Pérez seems to have been vindicated in his assertion last week that the refusal by New York City authorities to grant a march permit represented a challenge to the antiwar fighters from the ruling class. The fight against all this, of course, continues and is so far gathering more support.

[Note: Those who would like to see the text of the federal judge’s decision denying our constitutional right to march this Saturday (we already have permission for a rally), can go to: www.nysd.uscourts.gov. Then go to “Rulings of Interest” on the homepage, and you’ll see the opinion PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Acrobat Reader to access it.]