Flyer for an anti-war demo

Here's the text of the document I distributed at today's rally. On the way to school, I made some revisions, but I didn't have time to implement them. This is the unedited version.

Against capitalist war, against capitalist peace

A souvenir from today's demonstration! Please read!

1: The U.S.-led war in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere is not the product of "intelligence failures"; Bush's stupidity, avarice, malice, or a combination thereof; neither can it be explained by the glib phrase-mongering that presents the U.S. as innately "more" imperialist than other states.

The U.S.-led war in the Middle East is the most recent in a long series of interventions by powerful states in the oil-rich, strategically important region. As early as 1945, the U.S. State Department wrote that Middle Eastern oil is "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in the World" (Official U.S. State Department history 1945, Volume 8, p. 45). This current intervention, which has taken the form of an all-out war and occupation, comes after the U.S. defeated its main imperialist rival, the USSR. With a momentary free hand in world affairs, the U.S. is positioning itself for future economic (and military?) war with an ascendant European bloc (France, Germany) and a brutal Chinese capitalism that is rapidly transforming that country into a major world power.

By occupying a portion of the Middle East, the U.S. and its allies can ensure that the literal flow of much of the world's oil, both through pipelines and seafaring tankers, is safely under their control and that oil continues to be traded in U.S. dollars. Likewise, strategically valuable military bases are now operating throughout the reason, in effect encircling the oil-rich regions of Central Asia.

The war, then, is not "Bush's war." It is a war any capitalist state (that means every state today!) would wage in order to secure the future viability of its "economy" -- that is, the profits of its ruling class!

2: War is an intrinsic part of the capitalist process. War is always terrible, and this war is no exception: estimates of civilian deaths range from tens of thousands to almost 700,000. Yet war is not the most terrible misery capitalism has inflicted upon humanity. Consider this: according to the United Nations, 25,000 humans starve to death each day, primarily because there is no profit to be made feeding them. The math is simple. In less than a month, regular "market functions" kill more people than four years of war in Iraq. More staggering is this: in just a little over six years, starvation kills 55,000,000 people -- as many people who died in as many years in humanity's bloodiest war. In effect, deaths attributable to starvation alone amount to a disaster on the scale of a perpetual World War II.

A few more statistics to put things in perspective: when all is shot and done, the cost of the war may well have come to 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) dollars. The U.N. estimates that 800,000,000 (800 million) people are severely malnourished. If that trillion dollars were divided up 800 million ways, it would come to 1,250 dollars; more than enough to feed an individual for four years. But the satisfaction of human needs, when unprofitable, is not a priority of capitalism. On the contrary, the destruction of the population in excess of the 'reserve army' of unemployed is desirable as it removes a potential threat to social stability.

Capitalist peace, therefore, is every bit as murderous as capitalist war. To oppose war but not oppose what passes as "peace" is not morality -- it is immorality, disgusting depravity, nothing more than an aesthetic rejection of the disorder and untidiness of war, and an embarrassing naivety.

3: Just as every state is capitalist, every state is imperialist -- the only difference between the U.S. and other states is that the U.S. is the more successful, powerful imperialist. Putin criticized the aggressiveness of U.S. imperialism, while Russia occupies and plunders Chechnya; France was embraced by the left for staying out of the Iraq war, but France has a long history of imperialism that continues today in Africa and Haiti; even benignly "socialist" Cuba (we contend that it is obviously state capitalist) sent soldiers to act as the Soviet Union's "gurkhas" in Africa, providing fodder for Ethiopia's "anti-imperialist" war against Somalia and other conflicts.

As the martyred communist Rosa Luxemburg said, "imperialism is not the creation of one or any group of states, but is the product of a particular stage of ripeness in the world development of capital -- and from which no nation can hold aloof at will."


The demonstration drew a crowd of 150 or so. I saw no signs of any communist consciousness, but leftists abounded. It seems every tiny, antediluvian political sect was represented: Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Socialist Alternative, and the Socialist Workers' Party. In addition, another half-dozen acronymic campus groups/anti-war leagues/Trotskyist fronts were there, really confusing me.

For my part, I walked around, listened on the few arguments between the Socialist Alternative and SWP table staff and disagreeing passersby. The first dispute I observed involved a short, balding, nerdy-looking conservative with a leather coat and big glasses and one of the guys at the Socialist Alternative table. I'm not sure what they were discussing, only that after listening for a bit I butted in and gave the disagreeable conservative a copy of my document, which I said would "educate" him a bit. He took it on the condition that I read something of his, and then he took out a multi-page, highlighted printout called "The Socialist Myth -- Communism in Practice: Disaster after Disaster." I promised him I'd read it if he read mine. What's most remarkable about him is that he looked almost exactly like the English professor whose class I dropped on the first day, after he went on and on about capitalism's virtues, communism's evils, and how he's from Brooklyn, so he's better than anyone. That these two who looked so similar also had similar ideas bolsters my theory that there are various physical "types," and that each of these types is roughly similar in temperament and so on.

I kept handing out my little document. I demurely offered it to anyone who looked like they had open hands and open minds, always asking them if they wanted one as I put it into their hands, and always thanking them for taking it, as I was "having a hard time getting rid of them," as I would explain. One I gave to a nice Asian woman, saying, "you look like you have a lot of stuff already, I guess one more can't hurt." She took it, but in turn gave me one of her extras, as if to lighten her load! What a scamp! Another one I gave to a girl with a I.W.W. patch on her messenger bag: "if you're a wobbly, you might appreciate this." At least appreciate it more than the Trotskyist/Maoist trash pamphlets that were the norm, I hoped.

I only gave away 17 out of the 25 flyers, though, because I wasn't very comfortable; I am shy and not outgoing, so I didn't have the easiest time of it.

After about a half hour of speeches about the necessity of having more hip hop and less war and so on, the organizers declared that we would march through campus. Although at this point I was pretty bored and disappointed, I decided I'd go with so long as the procession was headed in the direction of my next class. This was probably the most depressing part of the whole thing. As we marched, the Socialist Alternative villains (one of whom I recognize from somewhere -- I am now determined to find out who she is) made use of their bullhorns to lead chants such as "Who is a terrorist? Bush is a terrorist!", "This is what democracy looks like!", "Jobs, not war!," and other inane chants. At least I think that's what they were -- I was paying less attention as I worked harder and harder to suppress my desire to yell "Fuck jobs, fuck capitalism!"

That brings up my final point: if I had a bullhorn of my own, what's to stop me from shouting over the stupid Trotskyists? Maybe they've applied for a license to march -- I don't know how this works -- but I doubt they have a license to march all over campus, which is where I would be perfectly free to drown out their stupid fucking chants with ones of mine own. Of course, aggravating a crowd of 200 liberals would mean I'd need a bodyguard of sturdy communists.