Organizing Against War and Imperialism!
Below we print a summary of a report given at the Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism (March 21, 2004) by a member of the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP).
The YSDFP was founded in May of 2003. The members of the organization had been active in the struggle against the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as well as other anti-war struggles. Our experience had taught us the need to build a proactive anti-war movement.
The program of YSDFP is to fight against every aggressive measure of the U.S. government and, at the same time, fight for fundamental solutions -- for a genuinely democratic foreign policy which ends U.S. aggression against other countries, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad and recognizes the sovereignty of every country.
The YSDFP recognizes that only the people can stop the war program and aggressive foreign policy of the U.S. government. Therefore our work is based on the independent organization and mobilization of the people in opposition to, and struggle against, the parties of war and imperialism.
Over the last 10 months, we have worked to bring the burning questions of the anti-war movement to the center of public opinion and mobilize more people into the struggle.
Firstly we have worked to keep the struggle against the war in Iraq sharp.
At the time of our founding in May, there was a tremendous amount of propaganda that the Iraq war was over. We assisted more people to see that, far from being over, the war was just beginning. We showed how the U.S. monopoly capitalists were looting and taking over ownership of the Iraqi economy. We showed how far from turning sovereignty over to the Iraqi people, the U.S. was installing a puppet government and that the real authority remained with the 140,000 U.S. and other foreign troops. We showed that the so-called terrorism in Iraq was not terrorism at all, but an insurgency fighting a just struggle for independence.
While keeping the struggle against the war in Iraq sharp, we also worked to broaden the anti-war movement by mobilizing people against the other fronts of U.S. imperialism's war program - e.g. in Palestine, Haiti, the continuing counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan, etc. People have expressed a lot of appreciation for this as these issues are intense yet it is very difficult to sort through the information we are given by the monopoly controlled media. Many said that our literature/analysis was the only resource that provided clarity on these issues or even alerted them that they were issues at all.
In the course of these mobilizations, certain issues repeatedly came to the forefront. For one thing, in opposition to the chauvinism of imperialism, we have defended the fundamental democratic principle of the sovereignty of countries, showing that whether the excuse is "weapons of mass destruction," or "the brutality of Saddam Hussein," U.S. imperialism has no right to invade other countries.
The U.S. government continually propagates the idea that the Iraqi, the Haitian, and other peoples in the dependent countries need the U.S. to "liberate" them, bring stability, and mentor them in the ways of democracy. We have isolated and exposed this propaganda as the ideology of racism and chauvinism. We have done so by standing up for the principle of sovereignty and showing that to violate that principle is to assert that some people are by nature or by culture backward and uncivilized.
Regardless of the words used by our government to describe what it is doing, we continued and will continue to fight against this war by exposing and denouncing its colonial aims and brutal character. We refuse to give the war-makers any respite.
In the course of these struggles, we work to politicize people about the root causes of the war program in the economic and strategic interests of the monopoly capitalist class and the very nature of the imperialist system.
Our work aims at building up the independent anti-war movement and organization of the people and for this reason we have had to struggle against both the parties of war - the Republicans and Democrats.
We showed that in reality the Democratic party is not the lesser evil at all, but has the very same program as Bush. For example, we showed how the Democrats voted for the war and that their program of using more U.N. and multinational forces in Iraq is only an attempt to put a better face on U.S. colonization of Iraq.
We helped people to see that just because we're told that voting for the so-called lesser-evil is the only realistic thing to do, there is an alternative - the people's own struggles and organizations. We warned people early on that the role of the left-wing of the Democratic party is to wage an organized political struggle against the independent anti-war movement and lead it down a slippery slope that begins with campaigning for Kucinich or Sharpton and ends by putting its support behind a candidate such as Kerry, whose political program is literally indistinguishable from Bush's.
The alpha and omega of our practical program is to politicize and mobilize our peers on the widest possible basis.
- We set up weekly literature tables to distribute The Worker, the Anti-Imperialist News Service and other anti-war literature. In addition, we reach out to even more people by regularly walking around campuses to distribute the literature.
- We organize regular political discussion meetings to take up such topics such as Iraq, Colombia, North Korea, the anti-war movement and the elections, and other burning issues facing the anti-war movement.
- We initiated a campus speaking tour in which we speak against the war to classes. This has been extremely successful. By doing this, we are bringing anti-imperialist politics right into the center of student life.
- We have taken on the initiative of going to more and more schools in order to carry our program to even broader sections of people. Each time we've gone to a new school and set up a literature distribution table we have received a very enthusiastic response.
- We join in mass anti-war actions such as the March 20 demonstrations, the Books Not Bombs rally, a recent local demonstration against Tommy Franks, etc.
My experience with the YSDFP has taught me that amongst the people there is tremendous opposition to the government's war program. And my experience has taught me that the way to release people's initiative and advance the struggle is through anti-imperialist politics. The work we have done over the last 10 months has helped us create a vibrant anti-imperialist student organization and we are prepared to tremendously increase our work.