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RE: [casi] Susccess and failure of September 28

Dear John

Thank you for your helpful insights.  I too respect the hard work of the
SWP.  But they have a politically opportunist leadership, and have never
carried forth a serious movement beyond protest to victory.

That's Trotskyism for you.  They are full of nice but useless leadership
material, because they don't know what leadership is. They don't believe
in it.  They can't believe in leadership because they are utopian
socialists with their heads in an ideal world.

We can't afford the politics of the SWP in these times, it's a luxury
the real life struggle of today can do without.

They like so much of the left, if not all the left, have to be born
again socialists who have ditched their opportunism.

That requires honesty, humility and soul searching...something that the
old left have never done.


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of John Smith
Sent: 15 October 2002 13:36
To: Sheffield-Anti-War-Coalition; Aftermath; 'casi discuss '; 'Anai
Rhoads '; Chris.Williams
Subject: [casi] Susccess and failure of September 28

Successa dn failure of September 28

A small media splash and not one single politician's head turned.

So why was September 28 so important and so powerful?

Discussion on this list and in the Sheffield stop the war coalition show
there is a lot of confusion about this, fuelling calls that we "go
more" than merely stage huge peaceful demonstrations.

September 28 was important primarily because it started to turn us into
sort of people that we need to become in order to be able to stop the
This effect is less pronounced for people who are already ideologically
formed and set in their ways than it is for young people and others for
this was their first act of resistance and protest.
September 28 gave us a sense of our potential power, of our unity and
amazing diversity; a
glimpse of real politics, which is when millions of people decide they
no longer remain passive and silent.
September 28 powerfully helped to break down barriers between
and races and cultures and creeds. That 200,000 or 400,000 was not
enough to
strain the Bush - Blair alliance is obviously no surprise. Only those
have illusions in politicians could be disappointed that they have done
their best to ignore it.

But there is an important sense in which September 28 was a failure, or
least a missed opportunity. No-one knows what is going to happen, but
anti-war movement and the Stop the War Coalition should be working on
basis that we have maybe seven weeks before the firestorm begins.

In which case, why was the next national focus for action projected for
October 31,
almost five weeks after September 28? And the form of action chosen for
date - a day of "direct action" - will inevitably involve far fewer
than mass peaceful protests.

September 28 was a stepping stone, but the next step has been placed too
away, and is too narrow for everyone to get on. And uprooted trees and
boulders are being swept towards us.

I have mixed feelings about "direct action". The term encompasses a
diversity. Many creative and imaginative things are done in its name,
this will again be true on October 31. But it can also be a vehicle for
kinds of ultra-left impulses, for actions which increase the distance
between the movement and the masses, such as calls to occupy the Town
proposed by SWP members and anarchists at a Sheffield coalition meeting
days after September 28...

Opportunism, and frustration at the inexorable approach of horrific war,
two of the reasons why people want to take short cuts to building a mass
anti-imperialist anti-war movement.

Last weekend in Italy, regional demonstrations against war on Iraq
an estimated 1.5 million people. The coordinators of the Sept 28 demo
have said to everyone who came that we do the same in three weeks.
the momentum has been fumbled.

The next date for mass peaceful demonstrations has not been set and will
probably be fitted in so as not to clash with the European Social Forum
Venice. "Key activists" won't be around, you see.  Which means late
November. The 23rd, not the 16th, is most likely, because people will
be recovering from jet lag. By this time, jet aircraft may well be
inflicting a different sort of discomfort upon the people of Iraq.

The idea that we have six weeks to build the biggest mass protests
the next step towards world war seems to be lost amid competing
party-building opportunities.

The SWP, who are a guiding force in the StWC, bear a lot of the
responsibility for the failure of the StWC to
help us all to take the next step. But we all share this
responsibility, and what I say about the SWP is not intended as an
on anybody. I have the highest respect for the hard work and integrity
SWP members I work with in the coalition.
But we only have a few weeks in this precious stage of pre-war, and we
not afford to make strategic mistakes.

This is the next in the series of wars which the US will wage to shore
its declining empire. The world anti-war movement will be around until
empire is finally defeated and dismembered. If we draw the lessons of
September 28, we won't make the same mistake again.

John Smith, Sheffield

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