Archive article from The Socialist Issue 324
The Socialist - What We Think
How Can We Stop the Warmongers?
TONY BLAIR said that this is "exactly the right time" for Bush to come to Britain.
What planet is he living on?
Part of the 200,000 strong demo 20 November 2003. Photo Indymedia
The aftermath of their brutal war for oil and profits is unravelling in the chaos of occupation. Iraqi civilians and soldiers from the occupying forces are dying every day.
Promises of security and peace must seem like a sick joke to ordinary Iraqis, many of whom daren't leave their homes for fear of being robbed, raped, kidnapped, murdered and now, once again, killed by US bombs.
Only a minority of people think that Blair was right to support Bush in attacking Iraq.
By inviting Bush to Britain, Blair is once again sticking two fingers up to public opinion. That's why tens of thousands will be taking to the streets in protest.
Where do we go from here?
Most of those protesting against Bush's visit will also have taken part in the historic two million march on 15 February - part of a movement of millions around the world. This was an unprecedented movement in scope and size, radicalising a new generation of young people and shaking our political leaders to the core.
Yet, Bush and Blair ignored this 'second superpower', as the New York Times described the anti-war movement, continuing on their bloody road to war and occupation.
Now many people are drawing the conclusion that, as well as mass protests, we need a political alternative to stop the warmongers. And not just that. War and occupation have been the catalyst for the movement on the streets. But all the other grievances that working-class and young people feel about low pay, privatisation, tuition fees etc have coalesced with anger against the war and occupation, and they are looking for political answers to all of these problems.
Do the Liberal Democrats represent a political alternative?
The Liberal Democrats have opportunistically presented themselves as the 'radical' 'anti-war' party. Yet, once the bombing of Iraq began they did an about turn supporting the war and now refuse to oppose the occupation. Where they have been tested politically, in local councils up and down the country, like New Labour and the Tories they have privatised and cut services. Like both those parties they are there to represent the interests of big business, not those of ordinary working people.
Would a Labour Party led by Gordon Brown be the answer?
Some trade union leaders seem to think so. But they are grasping at straws. Brown gave Blair his full backing for waging war on Iraq. And every opportunity he has, he sings the praises of the deregulated US economic 'model' that has resulted in one of the most unequal societies in the world.
These same trade union leaders believe that they can 'reclaim' the Labour Party from Tony Blair and his big business backers. But to do so successfully they would need to mobilise thousands of working-class people to join and become active in the party.
Where will these forces come from? Not from the firefighters or postal workers who went on strike for better pay and to defend their working conditions.
They saw the mailed fist of the New Labour government behind both disputes. Their response is to turn their backs on the Labour Party and move towards breaking the financial link between the unions and the party.
So what is the political alternative?
We need to create a new mass party that draws together anti-war protesters, trade unionists fighting for their rights in the workplaces, young people, community activists and all those looking for an alternative to the pro-war, big-business policies of the establishment parties.
It's important to provide an electoral alternative to people disillusioned with the mainstream, capitalist parties. There have been some initiatives in this direction, most recently the 'popular unity' coalition which anti-war MP George Galloway is proposing.
Unfortunately, previous initiatives, such as the Socialist Alliance for example, have floundered because of lack of democracy and an inability to reach out and involve the new radicalised forces in society.
We don't just want a party that stands candidates in elections. We need a new, mass party that people can actively join and participate in - a campaigning, fighting, anti-capitalist party, democratically organised and inclusive, respecting the political views of all those involved.
Why are the organised workers so important?
In particular, a new party needs to be rooted in the trade unions and the workplaces. The importance of this was outlined in the movement against the war. After 15 February, Blair was considering throwing in the towel - he and his pro-war agenda were hanging by a thread.
At that stage, strike action by workers, following the magnificent example of the school students, could have brought the country to a halt, dealing the knockout blow to Blair and his support for Bush's war.
This is the collective power that organised workers potentially have. And that's why the Socialist Party calls for a new mass workers' party. This would also involve anti-war campaigners, young people etc but trade unionists would be at its core and would expect the party to be democratically organised so that they could have a say in its policies and programme.
What's socialism got to do with it?
War and poverty are rooted in the capitalist system which is based on exploitation, competition and the pursuit of profit. Economic power is concentrated in the hands of a small minority whose priority is to defend their own profits and interests.
The combined sales of the world's richest 200 companies, for example, are greater than the combined GDP of all but ten nations on earth.
Through their political, economic and military domination of the globe, the most powerful imperialist countries practise policies of super-exploitation against the workers and poor of their own countries and those of the neocolonial world.
In the last century 200 million people died in wars that were basically about profits, domination of world markets and the prestige of the big powers.
Ending war and poverty, therefore, means a revolutionary change in the way that society is organised, replacing capitalism with socialism - a system based on democratic planning by the majority in society and on production for need not profit (see What is socialism? page 5).
This is what the Socialist Party is fighting for and we will campaign for a new mass party to adopt a socialist programme to fight capitalism and war.
What can you do?
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