Archive article from The Socialist Issue 409
24 September anti-Iraq war demos
Anger at occupation of Iraq
TENS OF thousands took to the streets of London on Saturday 24 September to protest against the occupation of Iraq.
The Socialist Party and International Socialist Resistance contingent (see next section) marched under the banner of 'unity against war, terror and racism'.
Feeder marches came from East London and South London where the local community organised after the police shot Jean Charles de Menezes.
Had the national demonstration been held in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and terrorist attacks, as the socialist argued at the time, the turnout could have been many times greater.
Socialist answers grab attention
EVERY DEMO has its high points and the sight of bystanders singing along as we marched past, singing the Internationale, on Saturday's anti-war demo certainly stood out for me.
Our red and energetic International Socialist Resistance (ISR) and Socialist Students contingent on the demo grabbed the attention of loads of young people who then marched and chanted with us.
The 400-500 young people who joined with us wanted to see an alternative put forward - an alternative to the war and occupation, an alternative to Blair and Brown and their policies both domestic and foreign and an alternative to capitalism.
They had very important questions such as "is it possible to avoid civil war?" and "how could socialism be achieved?"
So the ISR contingent met after the demo to discuss the way forward and to address some of these questions. This discussion attracted many who were not getting these questions answered by speakers on the platform.
We linked the need to end the occupation with the urgent need for the Iraqi working and oppressed masses to unite and organise for their own security and against privatisation and unemployment.
We explained the socialist alternative to war and terrorism, to low pay and exploitation and outlined how the working class needs to organise itself to make capitalism history.
Unfortunately some of the Stop the War Coalition officers wanted to stop the discussion. We have consistently argued for youth speakers at the main rally particularly to raise the socialist alternative and the success of this meeting shows there is a growing audience for it.
Photo credit Concernedphotography.net via indymdedia
THE ANTI-war demonstration in the US capital Washington on 24 September attracted over 100,000 people to protest at Bush's war. In fact the city's police chief Charles Ramsey estimated that up to 150,000 protesters turned out.
The T-shirts and banners on the demo were imaginative - "Make levees not war" linked the war with the catastrophic failures uncovered by hurricane Katrina.
"Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam" was self-explanatory. Around 147,000 US troops are in Iraq. Since the war began two and a half years ago, 1,911 members of the US military had been killed and 14,641 have been wounded.
The contingent from Socialist Alternative, the Socialist Party's sister party in the US, was lively. Banners and placards with "Dump the elephant, dump the ass, build a party of the working class" were once again very popular (the elephant is the Republican Party's symbol, the ass that of the Democratic Party).
As war and economic troubles bite deeper in the USA, this mood of opposition to the government - and the capitalist system that all the mainstream parties defend - will increase.
Anti-war mood hardens
IN THE same week that hundreds of thousands marched internationally against the occupation of Iraq, opinion polls show that the mood in Britain is hardening against the war.
There is no doubt that attacks on British troops in Basra have had a big effect.
Blair claims that British troops are helping to improve the security situation. But a clear majority of people, 64%, believe that the situation Iraq is getting worse, despite the presence of British forces. Only 12% now share Blair's view.
Only 41% agree with Blair that troops have a duty to remain in the country until things improve.
Most people, 51%, now want the government to set out plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, regardless of the situation in the country.
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