For most reading this, the resistance to the invasion of Iraq will be in fresh memory. In 2003, a new anti-war movement had spawned in response to the invasion of Iraq. Beginning 15 years ago thousands took to the streets weekly to protest the invasion. Due to the resistance this precluded against the then current administration bred a certain acceptance of radical politics. The invasion of Iraq was so viciously condemned, the Bush Administration had been under an exorbitant amount of open and harsh criticism. All around the country, it felt like dissent was around every corner and so was the encouragement to embrace heterodox politics. Ten years later, this massive movement which gathered such a regular abundance of the citizenry is gone. There is still American military presence in Iraq. Attacks on foreign lands have only increased since the Bush years. Foreign intervention remains as strong as ever but also more supported than ever, even when the call for interventions are usually based on deception and outright falsehoods. So we have to ask, where did the anti-war movement go? Should it not have grown under these conditions? Perhaps we even have to ask if there was an anti-war movement at all.
At 17, 10 years ago, I was young angry naive radical-minded youth but hopeful and optimistic. I came from poor working-class parents. My father was a construction worker while my mother sold beds at a mall. For the most part, the only Jew where I lived in Virginia. These two things combined made me quite the outcast during those youthful years as many of my peers were the upper-middle-class children of Christian military officers, FBI and CIA agents, and other higher-ups in the Washington D.C. bureaucracy. But I digress. I was just coming into radicalism and serious political reading. Before I had been very into the Beatnik movement, Abbie Hoffman, and the Yippies. It was around 17 that I had begun reading Noam Chomsky and Cornel West. I had not yet begun to understand the world scientifically, that is to say as a Marxist-Leninist, but I knew I was on the left. The war was disgusting. Poverty and homelessness often brought me to tears. Not to mention my own scars of working-class life. It was also this time that I began to take up political actions which, in those days, were aplenty.
Living so close to Washington D.C. meant demonstrations all the time against the war. The climate was invigorating. Not only had I found myself surrounded by anti-war protestors but there was a radical feeling to it all. While many of the people who attended these rallies and marches were Democrats the connection between the war and profits were abound. Many will recall slogans like, “No Blood For Oil”. The industrial-war machine itself was being brought into question. To me, this coincided with the anti-capitalist literature I had been reading. As far as I was concerned the anti-war movement also meant anti-capitalism, it meant standing against the state apparatus that had built around capitalism as this state lied to the American people to go to war. As far as I was concerned the people who I stood side by side with so many times, who I saw get arrested, who were willing give anything to fight against the war would always stand the against the Iraq war and all wars the United States may take up in the future. I was proven wrong on both assumptions by the Obama presidency.
It was a funny thing when Obama got elected. The Iraq war never ended even though Obama had assured his voters on the campaign trail that it was at the top of his agenda to do so. The withdrawal of troops did happen in 2011. However, 4,000-5,000 defense contractors remained and three consulates with a staff 1,000 remained. The war continued to be fought on the ground not by US troops, but by private hired ones. Throughout the Obama presidency, as commander-in-chief, Obama dropped 12,095 bombs on Iraq. The had been ended but greatly privatized. The war was privatized to the same military-industrial complex that hundreds of thousands had been protesting during the Bush presidency. The anti-war protests, surely, were to continue given these conditions, right?
The hundreds of thousands who came out almost weekly to protest the Iraq war decided to stay home during the Obama years. When Obama began drone bombing Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Afganistan the liberals decided that it was sad that people were getting bombed, thousands as a matter of fact, but that it was okay enough to stay in and rarely if ever mention it. “No Blood For Oil” now meant “out of sight, out of mind”. Now that this symbol, Obama, was the one doing the war-making, it was okay. The war was now a war by the Democrats. Instead of emails of upcoming rallies against the war or private war machine I received emails from Democrat fundraiser and Obama speech parties. Millions did not take to the streets when it was revealed through leaked documents that Obama and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state had lied to the American people about going into Libya. Gadaffi was planning no genocide against his own people. The reason for the utter destruction of Libya was because a Pan-African currency was being planned, using Libya’s massive gold reserves to back it up. When this information came to light during the end of the Obama presidency, which paralleled Hillary Clintons run for presidential office, most of those who stood ten years ago when the Bush administration took the same course of action to get into Iraq stayed home and continued support for Obama and Clinton.
While information on the tens of millions of dollars going into the destabilization of Venezuela came to light the liberals stayed home. When the Obama administration tried to coup Venezuela, the liberals stayed home. When Clinton oversaw the coup of Honduras, the liberals stayed home. The same liberals that stood against war and the search for profit that motivates it were now cheering it. American imperialism meant liberation, the intervention was to be a savior, and war could be very necessary. Now, as we live through the hell that is the Trump government, the liberals continue to support war and capitalism. Sure, the liberals will come out here and there to march against Trump but, they do not march against the continuing and growing rate of drone attacks. They do not come out in the streets against the billions of arms sold to Saudi Arabia, a country leading a genocide against Yemen with those very weapons. Many liberals are near cheering, if not cheering completely, for a war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Obama years created a platform of normalized warfare for liberals, progressives, and other backhanded dealers.
Throughout all the Obama years, and now during the Trump years, the group of people in the United States who are always coming out to the streets against U.S. imperialism have been communists and workers. It was the communists who organized protests outside of the U.N., in D.C. and in cities across the country protesting the wars against Libya, Syria, and all other countries being destroyed by U.S. imperialism. When Obama came to speak at a Rutgers University graduation ceremony, the thrawls of students who came out to protest Condoleezza Rice did not come out to protest Obama but cheered the invitation. It was only communists, The All Marxist-Leninist Union and the Paul Robeson/NJ Division of the American Party Labor who were to protest the imperialist speech. It has been the communists who face social ostracisation for defending the states and innocents destroyed by U.S. imperialism. It is the communists that protest the politicians who the politicians who call for war on behalf of the profits of the capitalist class, the ruling class. It has been the communists who protest and organize against the capitalist system that demands ever growing markets and profits, that demands war and imperialist conquest to fulfill this search of profits.
The liberals who once seemed so radical, left-wing, and revolutionary-minded now appear as pro-gay marriage neo-cons. Many defend the current neo-nazi movement the United States has cultivated for itself. Imperialism has become massively supported. Like the neo-cons under the Bush years, the liberals now tote of imperialism bringing freedom and liberation. This is because the liberals, who now claim to resist Trump, have always been reactionary and bourgeoise minded. The anti-war movement of the Bush years was just a tactic for a Democratic victory in 2008. For the liberals, this may as well be a sports game.
But the communists stand strong against capitalism and imperialism. The communist numbers are growing. While the 17-year-old me who marched with liberals so many times over may never understand that I have studied the science of Marxism-Leninism and adopted it, that I will defend Stalin, or refuse pacifism, that 17-year-old would understand one thing: that imperialist war must be fought and brought to an end. To end it we must fight capitalism. And to end capitalism means standing against the Democrats and Republicans equally. It means fighting capitalism and imperialism no matter what which personality is sitting in the Presidents seat. It means we need a party, as the so-called “anti-war” movement proved nothing more than a spontaneous advertisement for the Democrats.
We will not die for not profits. We will not let others die for profits. We will always stand against imperialism. We will always stand against capitalism. We will organize. We will fight. We will win.