Statement of Struggle magazine on the events of September 11:
September 29, 2001
The events of September 11th took place after the enclosed issue of Struggle was produced and before it was mailed to you, the reader, so there was no way to respond to the situation in its pages. But if I were to wait until the winter issue of the magazine to communicate with you, that would be way too long, so I decided to include a statement of my views.
Much will have happened by the time you receive this (our 3d class mailing takes about three weeks), but I will begin with September 11th. The events of that day constituted a crime against humanity. Thousands of ordinary people were executed in a few minutes without any advance warning. Demands, which would never have justified such an act, were never made, nor has any organization claimed credit. The aim, therefore, was terror in the pure sense. The action of September 11th violated all standards of humanity and must be condemned by all revolutionaries and progressives. Its motives and politics stank of utter anti-people brutality and tyranny, differing only in scale and sophistication from the act of the American nazi Timothy McVeigh.
This event created a great emotional shock, and in its wake Bush and the American bourgeoisie, Democrat and Republican alike, supported by nearly the whole of the mass media, are planning a major war in response. No progressive person would complain if the terrorist network were caught, but the bourgeoisie's war plans far exceed removing the network itself. What is being organized is a bloody racist and religious crusade against Middle Eastern and Central Asian peoples. Without yet ascertaining exactly what organization carried out September 11, Bush and the American bourgeoisie are preparing a massive assault on Afghanistan and possibly Iraq and are bringing tremendous pressure on governments throughout the region to give up people and organizations that the U.S. deems "terrorist," which will certainly include many who were not perpetrators of September 11 but who are fighting U.S. and Israeli policy in the area. In other words, Bush's main aim is to force people and governments in the Middle East and Asia to kneel to the U.S. This is why the administration has raised the bullying cry of "You're with us or you're against us!" As I write, Afghanistan is already under attack. Afghanistan is a rural society with few military targets; an ongoing civil war and a long drought have produced near-famine conditions. It is ruled in the name of Islam by medieval tyrannical despots. But it will be the common people who will starve and die in such a war, while whatever terror networks that reside there will find it easy to make their getaway. Bush is portraying his present military tactics as very limited, aimed simply at the terrorist networks, but even if that were not a lie, he is opening a Pandora's box from which events will emerge that can lead to a massive slaughter of ordinary people on all sides, inflaming a nightmare scenario of war and future terrorism that may be visited upon our children and our children's children.
Bush, the politicians and the media are trying to use the present state of shock to make the working class in the U.S. forget about the history and politics which created this situation in the first place. But history did not begin all over again on September 11th. The politics that led up to this incident continue now, after it, with greater intensity. Terrorism, like war, is the continuation of politics by other means. The world is still ruled by a bourgeoisie that is drenched in the workers' blood: the American bourgeoisie, our own oppressors, slaughtered the Native Americans, enslaved millions of Africans, conquered Hawaii and most of Mexico, shot down militant workers, obliterated two Japanese cities with nuclear bombs, attempted to bomb Indochina back into the Stone Age, financed a half-century of Israeli ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, and devastated Iraq with war and sanctions. The American bourgeoisie is not against terrorism; it practices it all the time, at home and abroad; it merely wants a monopoly on terror. But on September 11th another, equally bloodthirsty bourgeoisie, a section of Islamic fundamentalists, trained in their ruthlessness by the CIA in the 1980's (Ronald Reagan gave them a "freedom" medal), invaded the American bourgeoisie's turf to show its bloody fangs. And once again the common people, the workers, paid the price. This catastrophic event brought home the insecurity of the poor of the world, of working people of color everywhere, momentarily, to better-off working folk right here in the U.S. As my co-workers pointed out on that day, this is what Palestinians face -- for example, a child in a refugee camp where a U.S.-made helicopter firing U.S.-made missiles may kill him and his family at any moment.
Bush demands that the American working class jump in his war chariot. Allegedly he and his masters care about us, as the terrorists obviously do not. But only yesterday Bush cared so little about our voices that he stole an election, began preparing a "missile defense" system that will amount to mega-terror from space, got ready to raid Social Security, and boycotted the international conference on racism, refusing to criticize Israel as racist or to apologize for slavery. Now he is trying to fast-track legislation that will lead to privatizing nearly everything, giving the insatiable corporations the go-ahead to squeeze us to the last drop of our blood. In truth, the working class has no country. No bourgeoisie, no government in the world, gives a damn about us. We built the modern world, including the technologically advanced United States; whatever shreds of democracy that exist here came about as a result of our struggles and our sacrifices against our flag-waving rulers; yet we do not live unless our masters hire us. Yesterday they kicked us in the teeth. Today they wave the flag and scream "Unity!" and want us to kill other workers. Tomorrow they will kick us in the teeth again. The only unity that will help us is the unity of our class world-wide, the unity that we must build -- of the international working class, the laboring poor folk, the despised people of color, the grunts who are expected to do the dying for Wall Street. We should fight every attempt to make us kill our fellow workers.
Bush must be secretly pleased because the September 11th attack has given him carte blanche for his whole neanderthal agenda. The Democrats and Republicans are rushing to give him not only a major war in Asia, but all sorts of tyrannical measures that will be used, not just to catch the perpetrators of September 11, but to attack militant workers, immigrants, people of color and revolutionaries in this country as well as elsewhere. And for the past two weeks the media has been inciting racist attacks on Arab Americans (for example, repeatedly showing Palestinians celebrating while downplaying the Palestinian march in Jerusalem where children carried condolence candles to the U.S. embassy). At least three Arabs or Asians have been murdered already. If Osama bin Laden didn't exist, Bush would have had to invent him. But no matter how loudly they howl against terrorism, Bush and the bourgeoisie are incapable of eliminating it. Instead, they are the main source of violence in the world today. Their nature as an exploiting class, the insatiable drive of capitalism for greater profits, compels them constantly to generate terror and war. World domination, the control of oil for example, affords the greatest profits. Terror and war can only be eliminated by eliminating the social conditions which give rise to them, by eliminating the capitalist system.
This great crisis is provoking great political debates. The quick development of opposition to the present war plans show that the 60's anti-war fighters (I was one) did not place our bodies on the line in vain. The "Vietnam Syndrome" - opposition to the crimes of "our" government against other peoples - still lives. Progressive people today should take action against Bush's proposed war, his proposed reactionary measures and against racist attacks. We should continue, but with greater intensity, building up the movements and struggles against capitalist rule that we were doing a month ago. Activists should use all opportunities to expose the war aims of the bourgeoisie, and especially to show that they are rooted in the class nature of the bourgeoisie itself. A particular war can be hindered or averted, but aggressive war in general can only be swept away by a proletarian, working-class revolutionary movement. Such a movement needs a guiding theory of society and of struggle. Neither anarchism nor the revisionism of the false "communists" of the former Soviet Union, of China and Cuba today can supply it. Marx, Engels and Lenin are more relevant than ever. And this crisis, with its united media barrage for war and repression, shows the need for an organization that can lead, coordinate and give voice to this struggle, a revolutionary proletarian party.
For the writers and artists who appear in Struggle, the same points apply. We must continue to produce works that embody, in artistic form, active defiance of the barbarous life of capitalism. Struggle will continue to publish a variety of forms and viewpoints within a spectrum that ranges from challenging oppression of all types to attacking capitalism itself. The enclosed issue, while completed before September 11th, thus remains entirely relevant. But I must point out that the survival of Struggle from this issue onward depends on you, our readers and writers. In this crisis people may feel paralyzed and be emotionally unable to create and enjoy works of art which fight for a new and better world. We cannot let this happen. Think of the students who went into action on 150 campuses against Bush's war plans late in the week of September 17th. With them as an example, you must create and submit literary and artistic works as you have done throughout the 17 years of Struggle's existence; today the need is still greater. And today your financial help is especially needed; Struggle is again in financial crisis. Our readership in the gulags of America, the prisons, is growing by leaps and bounds. We send the magazine free to hundreds of prisoners. But the relatively small number of actual subscriptions does not cover our budget and we must resort to frequent appeals to you, the readers, for additional funds. This is one of those times. To keep Struggle appearing in these perilous times, submit literary and artistic materials. And send subscription orders and contributions in the form of checks or money orders made out to Tim Hall, not to Struggle. A subscription to four issues is $10; contributions of all sizes are welcome.
Let us remain determined to fight our principal enemy, world capitalism.
Tim Hall, Editor