The nineteenth of February witnessed a massive antiwar demonstration in Washington, right in the belly of the imperialist beast. Thousands gathered to “rage against the war machine”, sweeping aside labels of ‘left’ and ‘right’ to express their raw anger at a system which simultaneously conducts wars of oppression against the poor abroad and austerity at home.
Unlike other self-identifying (and self-neutering) antiwar movements (essentially middle-class ‘left’ rackets in hock to the Democratic party in the USA or the Labour party in Britain), the Rage movement might actually pose a real threat to the establishment.
So long as our protests conform to the tried and tested (and repeatedly failed) activist playbook, policed by the orthodox left and pitting ‘left’ versus ‘right’, there is nothing to really disturb the capitalists’ sleep. But when the seething masses, tortured by want and driven to fight in wars they do not understand and in which they have no stake, are pushed beyond toleration and can no longer be soothed by labels of ‘left’ or ‘right’, then the establishment becomes nervous – and instinctively turns for assistance to the ‘left’ guardians of political correctness, hoping thereby to put a little lead in the pencil of the liberal bourgeoisie.
The first response to the Rage protests has been a near-total silence in the imperialist media. Just like the media blackout which has faced Seymour Hersh’s devastating exposure of the Biden administration’s direct responsibility for the criminal sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, the massing of an antiwar revolt in the heart of Washington was simply airbrushed out of the headlines.
This was commented on in a recent email circular from the Greanville Post, whose author remarked on the “near total wipe-out of all information – before, during and after – on the 19 February ‘Rage against the war machine’ rally in Washington DC, long programmed by a left-right coalition ranging from libertarians to real left (ie, People’s Party, independent Marxists, etc) at the Lincoln Memorial.”
The piece continued: “Instead, what we saw (those who tried to watch the rally on YouTube or TV) was a big nothing. Coverage could not be found, or was suspiciously defective (no sound). It’s undeniable that the rally was clearly and meticulously sabotaged, rendered invisible, before, during, and after, by all types of dirty stratagems, obviously staged by the establishment’s legacy media and the social media platforms themselves.” (Email: Anti-imperialist tool Vol 18 from the Greanville Post, 21 February 2023)
But as it dawns on the bourgeoise that such manifestations of popular revolt cannot simply be shrugged off as the crisis worsens, it turns for ideological aid to its woke friends, the self-appointed gatekeepers of the ‘left’.
Left policemen to the rescue
After all those years spent arguing about the need to build a ‘broad church’ that could mobilise the widest support for the antiwar message: years in which it was maintained that the exclusion of communist voices alone would avoid scaring off the Quakers and pacifists; years which to the contrary witnessed the serial erosion of its support base thanks to the political bankruptcy of the social-democratic leadership, there is now a new approach to building a ‘broad’ antiwar movement.
Instead of pretending to welcome all comers (bar communists) with open arms, the new woke management effectively requires any would-be peace activist to undergo a rigorous entrance exam up front, designed to winkle out and cancel any luckless soul who fails to pass the test.
Take as an example ‘journalist/activist’ Jacqueline Luqman. She urges the antiwar movement to grill anyone who might be suspected of contamination with reactionary thoughts, forcing them to have “conversations about their racism and white supremacist tendencies, their patriarchy, their homophobia and transphobia, their ableism, their superior attitude as if they know All Things Organising, and their resistance to being led by non-white non-men”. (Protest movements in Israel and the United States: On the importance of context when choosing sides by Benay Blend, Palestine Chronicle, 15 February 2023)
Step forward grand inquisitor Melinda Butterfield. The Rage programme, she notes, “features racist, anti-trans, and anti-worker speakers like ‘Tea Party’ founder Ron Paul, a former member of Congress from Texas; anti-trans bigot Tulsi Gabbard, another former representative; former judge Andrew Napolitano, a past Fox News host who was considered by Trump for a supreme court seat; and representatives of the Libertarian Party and Lyndon Larouche’s Schiller Institute.” (Ibid)
None of this should astonish and is to be expected, given that the event was openly billed as uniting left and right voices against the war with Russia. More worthy of note is the fact that, despite the failure of the orthodox left to mobilise significant opposition to the war itself, it still believes it has a God-given monopoly on posing as the anointed organiser of all antiwar protests.
This dog-in-the-manger logic is more concerned with detecting and outing backward heresies amongst the great unwashed than with leading a genuine mass fight to stop the war in Ukraine. But then, like every other self-identifying ‘left’ faction, its failure to recognise Nato as the aggressor and Russia as the target of aggression renders it incapable of understanding the first thing that is going on, let alone educating anyone else.
Butterfield has warned that the “ultra-right is preying on the weakness and confusion that has plagued the antiwar movement since the outbreak of open conflict between Russia and Nato’s proxy regime in Ukraine last year.” Yet who is responsible for that weakness and confusion if not those who blame Russia for the war and reserve their fiercest attacks for the politically incorrect?
She warned: “The far right is attempting to lead antiwar forces into a trap that would override the life-and-death concerns of oppressed communities for the false hope of a ‘broad alliance’ against the warnings of World War 3.” But the official antiwar movement is already in a trap, a social-democratic trap into which we are invited to enter.
Embellishing that trap with woke slogans will not advance the fight to stop the war by even one inch.