Lend a Hand

In January, in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, approximately 500,000 people demonstrated against President Bush’s proposed war on Iraq, as reported by the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio and others. Displayed at the demonstration were a significant number of labor and union activists, minorities, a myriad of political organizations and a cross-section of all ages. Despite attempts by conservative and pseudo-liberal commentators to red-bait and otherwise undermine the anti-war movement, the demonstrations marked a huge step forward for the forces of reason in this country. And the numbers present at these protests represent only the tip of the iceberg. Poll after poll reveals widespread anti-war sentiment, as well as general anger against the twisted, right-wing priorities of Bush. From his attack on affirmative action, to abortion rights, to the environment to the American working class, Bush’s missteps do not go unnoticed. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, nearly 75% of Americans are against a war on Iraq that does not receive UN sanction. Moreover, only 46% of Americans would support a war with Iraq even if UN inspectors find the government hiding “the ability to easily make weapons.” Finally, the New York Times reports that majorities also feel that Bush is taking the country in the wrong direction. Unfortunately for Bush, most people are beginning to see that the National Security Strategy of the United States (also known as the ‘Bush Doctrine’) that was released last year applies not only abroad, but to Bush’s domestic policy. The doctrine states, in part, that America reserves the right to take “anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack.” Further, it adds that America’s forces must “be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military [or political?] build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” Of course, ‘America’ and ‘ourselves’ actually read as the ‘American ruling class’ and ‘wealthy elite.’ We begin to see a description of what the Bush administration is orchestrating against his political and economic opponents at home. His latest tax cut proposal epitomizes this offensive. According to the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Center, about 64% of the benefits of the tax cut will go to the wealthiest 5% of taxpayers. Yet those making $21,000 a year will receive a mere $47! The tasks at hand are not to be ignored. As a revolutionary socialist, this means getting active. We activate ourselves by helping to build broad anti-war coalitions. Activism is marked by building the fight against racism. It includes defending a woman’s right to choose. It is definitively comprised of aiding in the unionization of workplaces. Activism is providing a bridge that can bring all of these struggles together. Our ability is in our numbers–as separate fingers we are weak; as a fist we are strong. We must begin to organize ourselves into the fist with which we can beat back the Bush attack. Join the International Socialist Organization (ISO). Join Students Against War (SAW). Join Students Organizing Against Racism (SOAR). Join the Faculty Union or work with the UVM Women’s Center. Get on a bus headed to New York City on Feb. 15 for the massive international demonstration against the war. And begin to exchange thoughts on the world with your friends, your classmates, your janitors, your professors.