Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time
discussing the reasons for the
What I do want to emphasize,
however, is that there is a connection between the
Both efforts also share in common
the basic notion of crushing resistance. When the Administration is able to
declare any one or any organization to be a terrorist, generally without any
evidence, this provides a means in order to advance its own agenda. Thus, the
characterization of various organizations ranging from those in the global
justice movement to the Communist Party of the
My second point to offer this morning concerns the recent November 2nd elections. We must keep in mind a few things: (a) it was 51/48, therefore, it was not a landslide, (b) approximately 25% of the electorate has been identified as hard-core right-wing, thus being effectively unreachable, (c) the issue of “values” was and is a confusing matter since the manner in which it was raised in polls was confusing, and also it was very ill-defined. That said, the right-wing use of “values” gave people who otherwise feel very powerless an opportunity to influence something in their lives, (d) the right-wing out-organized liberals and progressives, and in that sense reaffirmed that the March 1989 decision by Rev. Jesse Jackson to turn the National Rainbow Coalition into his own personal organization eliminated an historic moment to organize toward a progressive political realignment.
Yet there is one aspect of the election that many people mention but do not wish to discuss: the issue of national security. The irony of our situation is that a President was re-elected who is, essentially, unpopular. Yet, millions chose to vote for him in the interest of security.
There are many things odd about
this, not the least of which is that 9/11 took place on his watch and the 9/11
Commission demonstrated that his Administration had dropped the ball. It is odd
as well because we were sold a bill of goods as to the alleged threat of
What is both important and,
unfortunately, not so odd, is that people like the so-called “security moms”
made a choice. The choice was to decide that the security that all of us thirst
after; a security from terror, can take place at the expense of the rest of the
world. In other words, if security means that the
Thus, a section of the electorate voted for empire. They knew what they were doing, and the people of the world have come to recognize this. While some foreign observers have seen this as indicating the alleged stupidity of the majority of the electorate [the Mirror’s headline: how can 59 million people be so DUMB?], others have seen this as a ratification of aggression, of empire, of duplicity, all in the name of national security.
We have been branded and it is with the letter “A”…for aggressor.
48% of the electorate, or about 55 million people took, for a variety of reasons, a different approach. Nevertheless the letter “A” has been burned into our skins.
The challenge we face is that a significant section of the electorate voted out of fear and allowed the Bush team to push all of the right buttons, thereby ignoring the reality of both the international and national situation. The Bush administration will utilize this vote in order to claim a mandate for empire-building and further aggression.
Before proceeding into a discussion of where do we go from here, I want to take a few moments to discuss where is this all headed, for lack of a better term. I have been doing some studying of fascism for a while, though it increased after 9/11. Through the insight of people like Jay Sekai, David Stock and others, I came to understand Al Qaeda not simply as a representation of so-called political Islam, but more importantly an example of clerical fascism. I came to understand the relationship between right-wing populism, which we have seen rise in many countries of the global north, including our own, and possible fascist movements.
I don’t think that what we are currently facing is fascism, but I think that it is a form of right-wing authoritarianism which is just as dangerous. Fascism is more than simply right-wing authoritarianism. It is more than repression. The Left, however, has used the term “fascism” to describe any and every form of right-wing rule to which we object.
In my humble opinion, and borrowing some from the great theorist Nicos Poulantzas, fascism is a social movement that in many respects is quite radical in that it represents a clearing of the decks within capitalism and the fundamental alteration of the capitalist state in order to advance the interests of a section of the capitalist class. Its base is primarily, though not exclusively, within the middle strata and it arises in the midst of a political crisis in which a section(s) of the capitalist class loses confidence in their political representatives. It does not emerge as a response to the strength of progressive forces; actually it is more the opposite, and in that sense is different from many other forms of counter-revolutionary, repressive regimes.
We seem to be facing something
that, while having elements of fascism, does not quite fit into that
description. There is no actual name for this system, at least to my knowledge,
though I think of it as a neo-gilded capitalism or an authoritarian/theocratic
capitalism. What we do not see, at least at this moment, is a mass
movement that is attempting to end the party-system and end bourgeois
democratic capitalism. What we do see, is a highly repressive
This should not make us feel
warm and fuzzy. There are a variety of forms of the capitalist state ranging
from social democracy in
I believe that this developing
repressive state corresponds to the needs of
What is particularly dangerous is
that this authoritarian/theocratic state is seizing upon the broad insecurities
of the population, but particularly the white section of the population. We
must keep this in mind since the November elections were not only a victory for
political reaction in general, but also for racial politics. The insecurity
that much of white
I emphasize here the racial aspect
largely because people of color have traditionally lived in terror within the
White America has lived through a different experience, one largely divided based on class and gender, but it has not lived through the endless nightmare of racial terror except in one odd respect: the fear of the maroon…the runaway slave…the Mau Mau. That is the fear that those at the bottom of the global ladder would somehow and someday challenge their subordination and emerge out of the darkness.
With 9/11, every fear that white
Thus, in thinking of the challenges
that await us, and the tasks ahead, we must understand that we build an
anti-war movement at a moment of uncertainty. We build it at the same time that
right-wing populism has become an important current—again—in
The anti-war movement must be both an independent movement, but must
also insert itself into every progressive social movement: The strength
of the anti-Iraq war movement was its rapid rise and massive scale in 2002 – 2003.
This same strength was its weakness. While certain movements, such as organized
labor, witnessed the growth of an anti-war current [
I do not raise this as a criticism. I suggest that we have to be patient, but also strategic. We must recognize that anti-war sentiment needs to work itself into every nook and cranny of society and not simply be something which seems to stand outside of and apart from other movements.
The anti-war movement must have at its core an anti-empire
framework: By this I mean that while the broad anti-war movement is
united around opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq—and this is a
correct point of unity which should not be violated—the core must understand
that Iraq was in many ways not extraordinary, but represented a certain
consistency in U.S. foreign policy. The core of the anti-war movement, through
education and debate must help to move the anti-war movement as a whole in the
direction of this analysis. This does NOT mean, however, the sort of sectarian,
arrogant antics that we have seen where groups raise the level of unity of the
movement unilaterally in order to satisfy some competitive desire. Our overall
approach should always be to unite the many to defeat the few, which means that
at different times coalitions and alliances will shift.
We must keep foreign policy alive as an electoral/political issue:
The anti-war movement needs to take up this question of “security” which
consumed many voters, and link security to foreign policy. As I have said many
times, the anti-war movement needs to advance a comprehensive view of the need
for a democratic foreign policy. A democratic foreign policy is NOT an
anti-imperialist foreign policy, but one that recognizes that we have a weak
Left in the
Taking up this question of a democratic foreign policy is also a means for anti-war activists to directly address many of the fears felt and held by the people, but doing it in such a way that we propose answers rather than talking past the concerns of the people.
We must build local anti-war coalitions that have a long-term plan:
One of the difficulties that we face is that so much seems to happen at the
national level. We have these national anti-war coalitions that call national
We must encourage more local activity. Local coalitions or ad hoc groupings can play an important role in building the movement. Target certain districts for educational canvassing; host educational events in central locations and work those neighborhoods; train speakers who can attend meetings; visit shop stewards meetings in local unions; host cultural programs that have anti-war themes; do anti-military counseling, discussing with young people non-military career options; fund raise!
I believe that all of this is eminently doable, but it must flow from both an analysis as well as a plan of work. I believe that United for Peace & Justice, as well as many other anti-war forces are attempting to embrace such a framework.
Let me end by shifting gears,
somewhat dramatically. We must understand that genuine peace will never come to
When the Darfur crisis arose in the
Yet what disturbed me was that the
Western press was and is highly selective as to which disasters they cover. We
were successful in raising attention on Darfur, however, few people know that
3.5 – 4 million people have died since 1997 in the
AND few people treat the Palestinians as if they have an ounce of humanity. Each day the Palestinians are subjected to humiliating abuse; assassinations; home destructions; and countless other injustices, while we treat this as if it is normal, or in some cases, treat it as if it is justified.
The Palestinian movement does not
have a very well organized constituency in the
Part of what the anti-war movement
must do over time is to push the envelope on
Thus, the anti-war movement has a
critical challenge. Particularly since the invasion of
No justice for Palestinians and we will instead find ourselves in the state of perpetual war…indeed apocalyptic war…that sections of the U.S. political Right actually dream of as being the goal of their activities.
November 20, 2004