FIGHTING AGAINST WAR AND FOR A NEW SOCIETY WITH THE IDEA
The October 2002 N&L Lead on "Bush's war against
Iraq threatens global disaster" is the most informative analysis I have
read or heard about Bush's permanent war. It hits the nail on the head when it
points out that focusing a critique solely on U.S. oppression/war leaves one
unprepared to deal with the betrayal of the mass of people seeking freedom
within the countries oppressed by dictators. History is littered with the
betrayal of those fighting for freedom in the "third world."
Longtime subscriber, Kansas
The October Lead mentioned the "quick defeat of the
Taliban." Bush considers this a success. But aside from the military
defeat, what exactly was successful about the mission in Afghanistan? I wonder
how the people there feel about his "success."
Anti-war youth, Memphis
We are deeply alarmed that the most powerful nations in the
world continue to rely on military force to achieve their global political and
economic goals--while eroding the standard of living, the environment and the
security of people throughout the world.
Military action against Iraq would first and foremost
affect the long-suffering civilian population. Since the l991 Gulf War, an
estimated 1.5 million Iraqis have died as a result of shortages of food and
medicine under sanctions.
The world cannot be made safe from weapons of mass
destruction by countries that possess vast arsenals of such weaponry, bombing
other nations for allegedly pursuing the same weaponry. Bombing sites that could
contain nuclear, chemical or biological weapons hold the potential for a global
human and environmental catastrophe.
In your October Lead you state that the UN is providing no
opposition to Bush's drive to war with Iraq. I believe they have provided some
opposition, but it is both weak and, in the end, non-viable. This is because the
other big powers, Russia and China in particular, want to take advantage of the
U.S. doctrine of a pre-emptive strike and "war against terrorism" to
use against their own opposition at home. In the end they will no doubt
capitulate to the U.S. after they "negotiate," but so far they
haven't. And what about pre-emptive strikes from India or Pakistan? Or Israel?
Or who knows what others will arise? Bush is playing with fire--nuclear,
biological and chemical--in his drive to U.S. world-imperialist domination.
In thinking of the costs of invading Iraq, I decided to
calculate the cost to each person in the U.S. If the total costs of war and
reconstruction comes to $150 billion and we use the 2000 census figure of
281,421,906 as the population of the U.S., the average cost to each of us is
$533.01. If Americans are not already convinced morally against an unnecessary
war with Iraq, maybe they could be convinced on a personal level.
I was a little concerned about the Editorial in the October
issue calling 9/11 the "largest terrorist attack in history." Is that
really true? If you call terrorism attacks on non-combatants, there's a lot of
that in recent history, especially Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yes, it was in a war,
but it was directed against non-combatants.
David Mizuno'Oto, Oakland, Calif.
The shamelessness of the administration's doublespeak is
amazing. They plan to invade a country, conquer it and impose military rule--and
justify it as maintaining "peace"!
I read the report from British intelligence upon which Tony
Blair based his support for the U.S. It gives good information on Iraq but does
not support what Blair says. It shows that for a while Saddam has extended his
missile range but has a damaged infrastructure for building nuclear weapons. In
other words, nothing is imminent. So why is Bush raising such a sense of urgency
and why there? Saddam attack the U.S.? He can't! It was September 11 that
enabled Bush to push for this war. But it won't reduce the threat of terrorism.
Radical lawyer, Flint, Mich.
I feel the most important thing for us to do as citizens of
this country is to oppose U.S. imperialism. It means fighting your own
government. I know the U.S. betrayed the Iraqi people when the Kurds rose up
against Saddam after the Gulf War and many Iraqis had to flee. It's hard to
disassociate U.S. imperialism from reactionary regimes everywhere. It's why I
think the best thing to help the people of Iraq is to stop U.S. imperialism.
Anti-war youth, Chicago
The Marxist-Humanist category of "two worlds in every
country" is important for the anti-war movement. The administration has the
illusion that everyone will fall behind them because of September 11. But our
demonstrations here are getting a lot of support, especially from women, Blacks,
and young truck drivers. We may not hear much in the media about the second
world in each country, but the fear of rebellious masses determines a lot of
policy. Iraq, Turkey and Iran are all worried about the Kurds' drive for
self-determination. Recognizing the category of "two worlds" can help
us build the movement.
COMPOUNDED BALI HORROR
In recoiling at the horror of the bombing on Bali and the
terrible pictures of burned and bloodied tourists, many are unaware that up to
40% of the victims were local Balinese. For them the horror is compounded
because, unlike the international victims taken to the best medical care
Australia has to offer, the Balinese victims were left with the chaotic
conditions of the overstretched hospitals in the capital, Denpasar.
Almost none have any medical insurance or government
support to help them recover. Nor will there be any help for the thousands whose
livelihoods were destroyed. They are desperate for help even for such simple
things as antibiotics and burn creams. A relief effort has been started by TAPOL,
the Indonesian Human Rights Organization that can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have to try to counterbalance the unspoken racism that has rendered nearly
half of the victims of this tragedy effectively invisible.
Human rights activist, New York
CLOSE DOWN THE SCHOOL OF ASSASINS
It's time to consider going with us to Ft. Benning, Ga.,
for the Nov. 15-18 weekend vigil to close down the notorious School of the
Americas (SOA) that the U.S. Army renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for
Security Cooperation (WHISC). No matter how vehemently the Army denies its
responsibility for the murders of hundreds of thousands of people by its SOA
graduates, this institution remains a shameful symbol worldwide of U.S. support
for militaries that kill their own people. Those who want information on the
protest events can check out the web site at www.soaw.org.
Beth Poteet, Chicago
AN ELECTION SURPRISE
Though it is not yet official at the moment I am writing
this, the 90% unofficial count shows ex-colonel Lucio Gutierrez leading the
presidential race here in Ecuador. In second place for the Nov. 24 runoff is
Alvaro Noboa, heir to a banana fortune and the richest person in Ecuador, with
no political experience (a la Ross Perot). Gutierrez was the colonel who
supported the indigenous uprising in January 2000. The red baiting has already
begun but, barring election fraud, I predict he will win the presidency in
November. The candidates of the traditional political parties were all clearly
MARXISTS & ANARCHISTS
I thought Brown Douglas took a cheap shot at anarchists in
the Youth column titled "New anti-war movement?" (October N&L)
when he went from a short quote by one anarchist to say, "throughout there
is a lack of a vision of the future, of what could be and the forces that could
make it happen." This sounds somewhat vanguardist. Where is the solidarity?
Marxists and anarchists must unite to fight the capitalists. There are many
types of anarchists and Marxists. I expected more from Marxist-Humanists than
Anthony Rayson, Illinois
Tom More's "The theory and politics of
regression" (October N&L) is a profound contribution to understanding
religious fundamentalism as a global phenomenon. As he argues, fundamentalism is
not simply a reaction to Western imperialism, but a modern reassertion of the
opposition to critical and dialectical thinking. Because fundamentalism is
about privileging "immediate knowledge of a putative truth immunized from
critical scrutiny and stepping back from dialectical thinking" its outcome
is terror. Any opposition movement that also steps back from dialectical
thinking and does not address the internal contradictions of our societies,
cannot fight fundamentalism.
Sheila, Los Angeles
The development of fundamentalism is not about how Islam
would have developed without western intervention. There is no corner of the
world left untouched by western intervention, not only military but specifically
the logic of commodity production. That broke through all national boundaries.
The dialectical approach really focuses on how capitalism infects the mind. I
hear More saying that fundamentalism is a thoroughly capitalist phenomenon.
Urszula Wislanka, Oakland, Calif.
The Philosophic Dialogue in the October issue illuminates
our current situation. If we see it in the context of "the Christian
Right's successful reversal of the emancipatory forward ground" gained by
earlier decades' freedom movements, how can the Left fight successfully without
establishing its own ground of full freedom? To fight on the enemy's ground is
to defeat oneself. The search for shortcuts is one way this happens, whether the
shortcuts are reducing imperialism to the actions of conspiracies or the broader
"anti-theoretical posture" Tom More mentions. We truly need to begin
by negating not only U.S. imperialism but all partial and incomplete efforts to
Franklin Dmitryev, Memphis
MUMIA’S STRUGGLE CONTINUES
The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal has undergone a sea change recently. He has hired completely different lawyers to defend him but they are encountering resistance in the state and federal courts to hear new evidence. That evidence is a set of affidavits that, if true, prove his innocence "beyond the shadow of a doubt." The Chicago Committee to free Mumia Abu-Jamal is taking two important actions to intensify an international effort to free him. One is directed at Amnesty International, asking them to create an Amicus Curiae brief and submit it to the federal and state courts that have Mumia's fate in their hands. A second regards an Amicus Curiae brief filed by two locals of the International Longshoremen's Union, N.A.L.C. Golden Gate, National Union of Journalists of the U.K., and two independent local unions in Ukraine. We are asking everybody to file individual joinders to this brief and have their organizations submit them.
Each joinder is an individual filing and we are prepared to
pay for four copies and mailing each joinder returned to us. Those interested in
helping us can write to CCFMAJ, Box 112, 2421 W. Pratt, Chicago IL 60645 or
e-mail us at email@example.com.
Since every document costs about two dollars, contributions for postage and
copying will be gratefully accepted.
Mumia supporters, Chicago
The Conservative Party in the UK, the oldest political
party in Europe, is at an all-time low. At the end of its recent annual
conference, it was casting to find a role. It still retains a membership of
about 250,000 but many of its activists are in their 80s. The drift towards the
politics of the Countryside Alliance, which appears to be a rump of some of the
most reactionary people in British society, suggests its options for survival
are limited. It has been outflanked on the right by the Labour Party. A
good time for the Left to grow? Not if the Left continues with the bland old
ideas that have proved so untasty in the past.
Depending on whether the Republicans capture both houses of
Congress or not, the Bush defacto regime may or may not be able to continue,
with no end in sight, its "war without end." No doubt, after all
the "rogue states" as now defined are dealt with, new "rogue
states" must emerge. Otherwise the structural crisis of capitalism
takes over and the whole shooting match enters a fast downfall to its final
implosion. So "war is survival." (I'm enclosing a cartoon I drew
to express how I see it.)
Ana Lucia Gelabert, Texas
The Left talks about Enron's greed as what is wrong with
capitalism. When I challenged some Leftists that it's not just greed but the
internal logic of the system, they said it is true but that they can't put that
in their papers. I'm glad N&L does.
Iranian revolutionary, Hayward, Calif.
For weeks, the movie "Barbershop" was number one
at the box office. The controversy has helped keep the cash-flow going through
the roof. The controversy is about lines concerning Ms. Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., and Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., which cannot be printed
verbatim in any newspapers or magazines, and are censored with a bleep on TV or
radio news stations.
Let's compare this controversy in "Barbershop"
with the movie "Coming to America" which starred Eddie Murphy and
Arsenio Hall, and also has a barbershop scene where there is a debate revolving
around Mr. Mohammed Ali changing his name from Cassius Clay. I still remember
that scene ten years later. But if the controversy over "Barbershop"
is remembered at all years from now it will be because of how much money the
studio made. To me this movie should be renamed just "BS" and I don't
mean "Bachelor of Science."
George Wilfrid Smith Jr., Chicago
FIGHTING FOR WOMEN'S LIBERATION
I liked the way Maya Jhansi began her article on
"After 9/11: What kind of future for women?" (October N&L) with a
quote from Rosa Luxemburg and ended it with one from Virginia Woolf. That
connects us to women's militant anti-war history and reminds us of Luxemburg's
powerful voice. In pointing to the way Bush's coalition in the UN with Libya,
Algeria, Sudan, and even Iran and Iraq, was to strike down advances for women on
reproductive rights, health care, or anything else concerning women's freedoms,
the article made its point strongly that the women's movement needs to
"move beyond the UN."
Women's Liberationist, Tennessee
The Street Harassment Project has joined NOW-NY in calling
for a federal independent investigation of the way the D.A.'s office handled the
case that has come to be known as the 1989 Central Part jogger rape case. We
have a stake in making sure that real truth-seeking investigations and
prosecutions of crimes against women take place, not ones that are hasty,
incomplete, media-driven and play on racist stereotypes.
The D.A.'s office should not be investigating itself in its
handling of this case. Among the questions that need to be tackled is whether a
continuing investigation could have led to an earlier arrest of Matias Reyes,
who has confessed to the crime, and thus prevented any of the five other rapes
and one rape-murder to which he has also confessed. And how would it have
affected the trial of the five youths who were convicted and saved them from
having to spend crucial years of their lives in jail?
The media must also take its share of responsibility for
racist stereotyping in this case. Terms denoting animal behavior such as
"wolf pack" and "wilding" appeared daily creating an
atmosphere of racial hysteria. As women, we want more convictions of rapists,
but not those that are career or media driven.
Feminists For Justice, New York
VOICES OF REASON FROM WITHIN PRISON WALLS
This year I will turn 65 in prison. But I am not going to
retire and receive the social security that was taken out of my pay for over 30
years. The politicians are now going to send some of the big company CEOs to
prison. But doesn't the U.S. social security system do the same thing they did
when it takes money from me under false pretenses? The government has more
crooks in it than the prison does. The truth is the politicians have been our
role models. A lot of us are in prison for doing just what the CEOs and
the politicians did.
65 but Not Retired, Maine
In January 2000, Illinois' Republican Governor George Ryan,
citing what he called "a shameful record" of convicting innocent
people and putting them on death row, imposed a moratorium on his state's
executions, the first of its kind anywhere. By now there is a growing trend away
from this barbarism.
In their book, LEGAL LYNCHING, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.,
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and Bruce Shapiro present an impassioned argument for
doing away with the barbaric practice that offers no social or moral benefits to
this country or its citizens. Citing the works of respected academics,
historians, theologians and criminologists, they expose the defects of capital
punishment. Each chapter advances convincing arguments against the death penalty
with well-researched discussions of ineffective attorneys, factual innocence,
vengeance, voyeuristic executions and statistical analyses. The book is
important reading for anyone concerned with ending capital punishment.
Roger Hummel, Texas
Inmates here used to be used as slave labor to produce
commodities at a sub-standard price. Then Corrections shifted gears. Money
was still to be made, but not at the expense of inmate labor. Lengthy sentences
began to be handed out like candy and the whole inmate body became the commodity
as private prisons were developed. They were placed on the stock exchange and
now human suffering is a fast-advancing business as private medical, educational
and food service has begun inside of prisons. Did prison conditions improve? Not
one iota. Meanwhile, taxes doubled and tripled. Now the uneducated, poor and
down-trodden are handed extremely long prison terms in the name of
"justice," when in actuality their bodies are nothing more than a
commodity like a cow, sheep or pig.
Prisoner, New Mexico
I've been studying your pamphlet EXPLORATIONS IN
DIALECTICAL AND CRITICAL THEORY. It is something every young person who is
against racism, sexism, and globalization should read because, as Raya
Dunayevskaya is quoted in the Preface, "Without a philosophy of revolution,
activism spends itself on mere anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, without
ever revealing what it is for."
The expanded section of Readers' Views from prisoners in
the October issue stood out as a powerful subjectivity, very conscious of how
much society's unfreedom is magnified in its prisons.
Published by News and Letters Committees