[OPE-L:5949] Fw: Against the Double Tragedy: Statement from News and Letters

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Wed Sep 19 2001 - 12:21:20 EDT

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Drewk" <Andrew_Kliman@msn.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2001 10:19 AM
Subject: FW: Against the Double Tragedy: Statement from News and Letters

> -----Original Message-----
> Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2001 8:20
> Subject: Against the Double Tragedy: Statement from News and
> Letters
> A Statement from the National Editorial Board of News and Letters
> Committees
> Against the Double Tragedy:
> Say no to terrorism and Bush's drive to war!
> A double tragedy descended upon the world with the barbaric, cruel
> and
> inhuman terrorist attack on New York and Washington, D.C. on Sept.
> 11. The
> first tragedy was the terrorist attack itself, which created a
> level of
> destruction and mayhem never before seen in a U.S. city. The
> second tragedy,
> now unfolding, is the response to the attacks by the Bush
> administration,
> which has used them to declare a "state of war" and is pushing for
> total
> militarization, at home and abroad.
> As Marxist-Humanists, we oppose both sides of this double tragedy.
> Our ground
> is the absolute opposite of mindless terrorism and statist
> militarism-the
> idea of freedom.
> The Sept. 11 attacks have nothing to do with any struggle against
> capitalism,
> injustice, or U.S. imperialism. They were a brutal act of violence
> against
> U.S. workers that has no rational cause, legitimacy, or
> justification.
> No group took responsibility for the attacks, and not a single
> political
> demand or proclamation was issued by anyone. It is hard to discern
> any
> political content to these acts, presumably carried out by Islamic
> fundamentalists under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. They were
> simply
> geared to kill as many people as possible, without any regard for
> class,
> race, or background. Such cruelty could only have been carried out
> by the
> most reactionary, backward elements imaginable.
> And yet even in the midst of this anti-human destruction the light
> of
> humanism did shine, in the hundreds of workers and citizens who
> flocked to
> "ground zero" in New York to help clear rubble, save victims, and
> provide
> medical aid to the injured. The unexpected-construction workers
> rushing to
> save office workers, Black youth helping elderly Jewish people to
> get out of
> the area-became commonplace. New forms of solidarity emerged-as
> seen in the
> prisoners at Folsom Prison, most of them Black, who collected
> $1,000 to aid
> victims of the disaster.
> These humanist expressions of solidarity, however, are being
> quickly buried
> by Bush's effort to use the attacks as an excuse to militarize
> America,
> restrict civil liberties, and prepare for what the rulers have
> long aspired
> for-permanent military intervention overseas. Bush is being given
> a free hand
> to rebuild the military, gut domestic social programs, and bury
> the memory of
> his stolen election. On a single day the terrorists succeeded in
> totally
> shifting the ideological ground and handed the far Right one of
> its greatest
> victories.
> Bush is preparing to bomb anywhere he deems fit to "eradicate
> terrorism"-even
> though this may mean killing thousands of innocent people in
> Afghanistan and
> elsewhere who have suffered for years from the repressive,
> anti-woman
> policies of such reactionary regimes.
> Bush claims that revulsion over the Sept. 11 attacks has unified
> the nation,
> for now. Yet let's not forget that a similar kind of "unity" after
> Pearl
> Harbor was attacked in 1941 was used by U.S. rulers to commit such
> atrocities
> as the bombing of Dresden and Hiroshima. We are being thrust into
> a new,
> voracious, and deadly militarism.
> This does not mean Bush has all the cards in his hands. Forces
> have been
> unleashed by the events of Sept. 11 that may be beyond anyone's
> ability to
> control.
> First, the economic impact of the attack on the World Trade
> Center-tens of
> billions of dollars of damage were done and many airlines now
> teeter on the
> brink of bankruptcy as a result of the disruption of air
> travel-will almost
> certainly send the U.S. into a full recession.
> Second, world politics-especially Middle Eastern politics-is far
> too volatile
> for the U.S. to simply ride roughshod over each and every country.
> Bush's
> effort to enlist Arab countries like Syria as well as Arafat's PLO
> in the
> "battle against terrorism" has evoked complaints from Israel's
> Sharon, who is
> making use of the crisis to extend a total military crackdown
> against the
> Palestinians. The U.S. is also insisting that Pakistan break ranks
> with
> Afghanistan and allow U.S. forces to use it as a launching pad for
> attacks on
> its ruling Taliban. Though it has so far said that it will
> cooperate with the
> U.S., Pakistan's regime is very unstable and is itself closely
> linked with
> Islamic fundamentalists.
> The impact of Bush's effort to promote military adventurism on an
> unprecedented scale is already seen in the jingoistic attacks
> against
> Muslims, Arab-Americans, Palestinians, South Asians and other
> peoples of
> color that have occurred from Chicago to Texas. Talk shows are
> filled with
> calls to send Arabs and Muslims to internment camps, just as the
> U.S. did
> with Japanese-Americans during World War II. This atmosphere also
> extends to
> restrictions on various forms of protest and political expression.
> On Sept.
> 14 two activists in Philadelphia who were holding a sign over a
> bridge in
> defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal were approached by federal ATF agents
> and ordered
> to disperse. That government terrorist specialists are already
> being used
> against legitimate, non-violent activists is an ominous signal of
> what is
> ahead.
> It is imperative that we completely and totally oppose Bush's
> effort to
> respond to senseless terrorism with an equally senseless policy of
> indiscriminate military intervention, just as we must oppose all
> efforts to
> restrict civil liberties at home or scapegoat immigrants and
> people of color.
> But an effective opposition to this new militarism will not emerge
> unless we
> project a total view rooted not just in what we oppose, but what
> we are for.
> It is therefore all the more disturbing that some on the Left have
> only
> mildly condemned the Sept. 11 attacks and have spent most of their
> time
> arguing that the real culprit is-U.S. imperialism. U.S. military
> intervention
> against Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and its support of Israel, some
> say, has
> created a climate which drives opponents of the U.S. to pursue
> such
> "desperate measures" as suicide attacks. As John Keller put it in
> "The
> Chickens Come Home to Roost," "When a big country uses its
> military or money
> to push around a smaller country, the small country can only fight
> back via
> terrorism."
> This amounts to a bizarre spectacle. While the perpetrators of the
> terrorist
> attacks remain silent as to their motives and intentions,
> "leftist"
> commentators, from Alexander Cockburn to Naomi Klein, are trying
> to provide
> the rationale for them! All we need to know, presumably, are the
> crimes of
> U.S. imperialism, and then the reasons for the Sept. 11 attack
> supposedly
> become "understandable."
> These "explanations" misconstrue the nature of the forces which
> conducted the
> attacks. Reactionary Islamic fundamentalism is not simply driven
> by hatred of
> U.S. imperialist acts against Iraq, Palestine, or any other
> country. Islamic
> fundamentalism is just as much driven by hatred of feminism,
> homosexuality,
> workers' rights, etc. Such groups as Afghanistan's Taliban,
> Algeria's FIA,
> and the terrorist cells in Egypt which have murdered Marxist
> professors as
> well as indigenous writers and singers represent a violent
> rejection of
> everything "Western"-especially those aspects of western society
> created
> through decades of struggles by workers, women, gays and lesbians
> and
> minorities for a more open and free society.
> To try to rationalize the Sept. 11 attacks as an "understandable"
> reaction to
> U.S. foreign policy skips over the fact that some forces opposed
> to the U.S.
> are just as regressive, if not even more so, than U.S. imperialism
> itself.
> Yes, U.S. imperialism is a terrible force which wreaks enormous
> destruction
> throughout the world. And yes, the U.S. is implicated in the
> crimes against
> humanity of the Taliban's and bin Laden's-the CIA supported bin
> Laden when he
> fought the Russians and as recently as a few months ago the U.S.
> gave
> Afghanistan's ruling Taliban $100 million in aid.
> But by the same token, these forces are implicated in the crimes
> of the U.S.
> government. Islamic fundamentalism has again and again
> strengthened U.S.
> imperialism by taking actions which have undermined revolutionary
> forces and
> solidified counter-revolutionary policies.
> This was true in 1979, when the taking of hostages at the U.S.
> embassy in
> Iran by Islamic fundamentalists helped Reagan achieve political
> ascendancy.
> That is true today, when an anti-feminist, homophobic
> fundamentalism of an
> even more reactionary bent is enabling the inheritors of Reaganism
> to impose
> their regressive agenda upon this country.
> Those fighting for human liberation need to make it very clear
> that the
> attack of Sept. 11 was not a viable protest or response to the
> U.S. or any of
> the atrocities it perpetrates around the world. To even hint
> otherwise is an
> attack on the freedom movements within the U.S. and
> internationally and can
> result only in further isolating leftists from the masses.
> For its part, the Taliban no more speaks for the Afghan masses
> than does its
> ideological twin-Jerry Falwell-speak for the American masses.
> There are two
> worlds in every country, including in Afghanistan.
> As the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan
> recently said,
> "There is a vast difference between the poor and devastated people
> of
> Afghanistan and the terrorist Taliban criminals. While we once
> again announce
> our solidarity and deep sorrow with the people of the U.S., we
> also believe
> that attacking Afghanistan and killing its most ruined and
> destitute people
> will not in any way decrease the grief of the American people. We
> sincerely
> hope that the great American people could differentiate between
> the people of
> Afghanistan and a handful of fundamentalist terrorists."
> It is no less imperative to single out the two worlds within this
> country. We
> need to decisively reject the argument, recently made by an
> anarchist, that
> "The American populace to a large extent shares responsibility for
> the deaths
> of their compatriots, as they share responsibility for all the
> deaths carried
> out by or in the interests of the U.S. military."
> Such narrow opposition to U.S. imperialism has for far too long
> disoriented
> would-be revolutionaries. It has led them into opportunism and
> realpolitik,
> distancing them from the aspirations of the masses of human beings
> for
> genuine liberation. In recent years, such attitudes have caused a
> section of
> the Left to betray the Bosnian and Kosovar people, and tacitly to
> give
> support to Milosevic's genocide.
> The lesser-evilism which underlay much of the Left's silence on
> Bosnia, and
> its refusal to support the movement for national
> self-determination in
> Kosova, has only succeeded in strengthening the power of U.S.
> imperialism.
> The reason so many despair of the struggle for freedom and turn to
> patriotism, xenophobia and statism is that they see no liberatory
> alternative
> to capitalism. Instead of responding to each political crisis by
> repeating
> the same old slogans against "U.S. imperialism," revolutionaries
> have a
> responsibility to oppose all societies and tendencies based on
> alienated
> human relations while projecting a positive vision of a new
> society, what
> Karl Marx called "positive humanism, beginning from itself." Only
> in that way
> can humanity see that there is an alternative to
> capitalism-imperialism.
> In a word, those opposing Bush's drive for war need to take this
> moment to
> stop and think.
> Nowhere is that more important than for the movement against
> global capital,
> which reached a turning point in the protests in Genoa this
> summer. The
> atmosphere now descending upon this country may well hurt the
> movement by
> discouraging activity. Many are even asking whether the opening
> reached in
> the anti-globalization movement will be shut down. But the answer
> to this is
> not to just beat the drum for more activity, as if repeating
> familiar
> criticisms of U.S. policy will by itself suffice.
> We live at a moment when political opposition must have a total
> view in order
> to be truly effective. We must take a firm stand against all forms
> of
> injustice, whether as propagated by terrorists, U.S. imperialism,
> or by
> anyone else, while developing a comprehensive perspective of the
> kind of new
> human relations we are for. Never has dialogue and debate on the
> need for a
> philosophy of revolution been more important-not alone for the
> forward
> movement of the struggles against global capital, but for their
> very
> existence.
> We urge you to join in the theoretical and practical work of
> developing these
> perspectives with News and Letters Committees, America's only
> Marxist-Humanist organization.
> News and Letters Committees
> 36 S. Wabash, Room 1440
> Chicago IL 60603
> phone: 312-236-0799
> fax: 312-236-0725
> website: newsandletters.org
> email: nandl@igc.org

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