Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Black Movement, the Anti-War Movement and Obama


The Black movement, the anti-war movement and Obama

Published Jun 5, 2008 10:53 PM

This week, we are using our editorial column to reprint excerpts from a talk given by WW Managing Editor Monica Moorehead at the Black Left Unity Conference held in Chapel Hill, N.C., May 30 to June 1. The panel discussion was entitled “The War at Home & Abroad: The War on Iraq & the Gulf Coast/Katrina Disaster.” Moorehead represented the Troops Out Now Coalition.

If any community has a stake in being in the forefront of fighting against the war, it is the Black community, considering that a disproportionately large number of troops that have died in wars from Vietnam to Iraq have been Black as well as Latin@ and Native and were forced into the economic draft.

Regarding some of the national anti-war coalitions, at best they can get out large numbers that are overwhelmingly white. We are not against anyone who comes out against the war—it is totally progressive. But it cannot stop there. We should unite with these coalitions when we feel it helps to push the struggle forward. But in general, their program, their main orientation is not about pushing the anti-war movement in the direction of the Black masses and the working class.

No matter how big and wonderful the anti-war marches are, these demos do not pose a threat to the government; the war makers are not afraid of them because in appearance these demonstrations are marginal at best, they are not centered in the working class or the masses.

When Black workers are a large component and in the leadership of the anti-war struggle, the dynamics change dramatically.

What is happening with the capitalist economic crisis—everything from the incredible rate of foreclosures along with evictions, to the gentrification from New Orleans to Harlem, to rising unemployment, rising food prices, people not being able to afford the gas to drive to work—more than anytime since the Iraq War and maybe since the 1930s, there is the real possibility of tying the struggle to end the war with the struggle against racist economic and political attacks.

The longshore workers shutting down the docks this past May Day against the war is unprecedented. It was Black workers in the leadership of ILWU Local 10 who showed other workers and rank-and-file militants that there is a basis for pushing their labor organizations on a local or national level to follow suit. This shutdown showed that going from protest to resistance is possible. This action was a turning point and is an important lesson for those in the anti-war movement who are genuinely serious, not just about getting the workers involved in the anti-war movement, but having the anti-war movement centered in the working class.

If Barack Obama gets to the White House, there’s going to have to be a strong reconstitution of the Black revolutionary left that has experience in the working class and that is bold, dynamic and forward-moving, to serve as a counter-development. [Ed.: This was written before it was announced that Obama had won the required number of delegates to become the Democratic Party nominee—the first time in history an African American has won the nomination of either imperialist party for high office. See the June 5, 2008, Workers World for Larry Holmes’ analysis of the Obama candidacy.]

So much of the response will ride on the way the economic crisis is deepening, the way anger over the war is deepening and the wars and occupations in Iraq and in Afghanistan are not ending. The bill for the war is going to be anywhere from $5 trillion to $10 trillion before it’s all done. Workers are realizing that this is not only money robbing their health care and their pensions; it’s literally robbing the gas out of their car. Those of us who want to push the anti-war movement in this direction have a lot of thinking and strategizing to do before and after the elections.
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