Why hasn’t Stop the War stopped a war yet?

Fifteen years after the 2 million-strong demo against the invasion of Iraq, why is the anti-war movement's record so dismal?

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15 years on – where are we?

A decade and a half ago two million people marched in London against the invasion of Iraq. Those who were there in 2003 were inspired to feel the slumbering power of the working masses. But what was our programme? Where was the really disciplined unity? How were we to achieve our goal?

Even as we filed past parliament, the Labour government – content that we posed no threat – was laying invasion plans, dismissing the significance of this huge demonstration. Fifteen years on, 4 million Iraqis are dead and 6 million are refugees.

What conclusion did the average worker draw? That marching was useless; that the movement was over; that we had failed. But why?

How to destroy a movement

Contrary to its claims, it was not Stop the War (StW) that mobilised the masses that day but the section of capitalists who felt that war with Iraq wouldn’t serve their ends.

On the eve of war, the capitalist-owned Daily Mirror told us: “A war won’t save Britain from terror” and ran its printing press all night to make placards for the demo!

Since that 2003 high, our movement has been on a downward spiral. StW’s resources have been controlled by a self-appointed clique of ‘left’ Labourites and hangers-on, who have consistently pushed the illusion that the only ‘protest’ methods open to us are such tame activities as lobbying MPS, petitioning governments and marching (on weekends, with plenty of notice to the state).

Desperate to do something that might actually stop the wars, delegates at StW’s national conferences repeatedly and overwhelmingly called on StW to mobilise workers for a programme of active non-cooperation.

If every union made it their policy to refuse to cooperate with the wars, then workers could refuse to make or move munitions or supplies, could refuse to write or broadcast propaganda, and could refuse to fight in the forces. The wars would collapse!

But instead of putting these plans into action, StW’s executive quietly shelved them and got on with pushing pointless busywork onto a dwindling band of activists.

In stopping the movement from doing its job, StW’s leaders have demotivated and demoralised hundreds of thousands of people who really do want to end imperialist war.

Why do they act this way? Because they are all members or supporters of Labour, the party that launched genocidal wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. They are pushers of the illusion that this true-blue, union-jack-waving, immigration-scaremongering, gun-boat-toting, cruise-missile-dropping party of imperialism will somehow protect our class interests.

This loyalty is the key to understanding why StW’s leaders are so opposed to the building of an effective mass campaign of non-cooperation that could stop the imperialist war juggernaut.

Unity: who with and what for?

As the economic crisis deepens, the billionaire parasites are out of their depth and out of control. Millions are turned out of work as production becomes unprofitable and services are cut, vandalising the lives of a generation.

There is no solution under capitalism, but our rulers are still trying to dig their way out by intensifying the exploitation of workers at home and the looting of the oppressed peoples abroad – backed by military force wherever resistance threatens profits.

Imperialists are becoming ever more parasitic, and the cut-throat competition between them is growing, even as they try to push Russia and China out of the global economy. That is why we are seeing such a relentless drive toward more and more war.

Austerity and unemployment at home and Britain’s bloody rampages abroad are both symptoms of the impending collapse of a dying system. The job of workers and oppressed people everywhere is to work together to push it over the precipice.

But StW tells us that, in the interests of ‘unity’, we must not work to accelerate the victory of anti-imperialist forces abroad. Instead of uniting with the millions who are fighting for their lives on the front line against the British exploiters’ guns, StW wants us to ‘unify’ with the tiny clique of Labour careerists in our movement who serve those exploiters!

Libya, Syria, Russia and China

This same opportunist gang cheered on Nato’s bombing of Libya. A little retrospective wailing over the 50,000 deaths and wholesale destruction of Libya’s hard-won independence and freedom will not wipe out the stain of collaboration.

At the crucial moment, StW organised demonstrations in support of Nato’s war, and against the Libyan people’s resistance. This shameful betrayal, which neutralised opposition to the war, was the beginning of the end for StW.

Libya’s enlightened society and developed infrastructure brought the highest living standards in Africa, until the head-banging CIA and MI6-backed jihadists were forcibly installed. Now the entire country lies in ruins, black Africans are openly bought and sold on UN-protected slave markets, and the country’s wealth has been hijacked by western financiers. ‘Democracy’ in action.

No sooner had Libya fallen under Nato’s heel, than the same fundamentalist Al-CIAda army transferred its murderous rampage to another vital pivot in the axis of anti-imperialist resistance: Syria.

Right on cue, in waded StW, with heartfelt denunciations of ‘brutal dictator’ Assad and strident support for this allegedly ‘popular revolution’! Once again, there’s no difference between the imperialists’ pro-war propaganda and that of our allegedly anti-war leaders.

Ignoring Nato’s criminal, barbaric assault on an independent and sovereign nation, they seem only to worry that open bombing by Nato has strengthened the unity of the anti-imperialist forces inside Syria!

Moreover, StW has consistently failed to give a platform to the few brave independent journalists like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett who are bringing real information out of Syria, exposing the imperialist lies about the country and blowing a hole through the warmongering narratives, prefering instead to give a platform to hysterical Assad bashers and Russophobes like Owen Jones, who, not content with supporting the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi and President Assad, are busily preparing the ground for war against Russia and China.

This war drive is also being supported by StW’s leaders every time they repeat media lies about Chinese and Russian ‘aggression’, ‘dumping’, ‘corruption’ or ‘dictatorship’. This is war porn, aimed at demonising countries that have committed no crime except to maintain their political and economic independence.

A century ago, Lenin pointed out that we won’t beat imperialism unless we also take on those who serve imperialist ends within our own movement.

If we really want to stop war, we must get rid of all those who pose as ‘friends of the people’ while binding our movement to the war chariot of imperialism.

A real anti-war movement must take as its central demands:

No cooperation with imperialist war; victory to the resistance!

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