Socialist Worker

Movement and the resistance can beat Bush

Issue No. 1926

The world woke up this morning to face the grim prospect of four more years of George Bush.

Millions will be feeling despair and fear for the future. Millions more will be bitterly angry that the US remains in the hands of a war criminal who has butchered Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

Today those angry millions across the world will be asking two questions. How did Bush get back in the White House? And what do we do now to stop his global reign of terror?

Opportunities squandered

Bush was and remains deeply unpopular. Rarely has a president been so loathed, both abroad and at home—70 percent of US voters did not back him.

The US presidential election was John Kerry's to lose. And that's precisely what he did, going out of his way to back Bush on Iraq, the war on terror, the Patriot Act and a host of other issues.

It's no wonder Kerry failed to mobilise the heartlands of the US working class. The turnout among black Americans and trade union members remained lower than in the population as a whole.

The Democrats cannot blame Ralph Nader, who stood against the war and the corporate corruption of US politics, for their failure to mobilise the anti-Bush majority.

Kerry's failure poses serious questions for the US left. Far too many prominent anti-war activists—Michael Moore, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky—publicly fell in behind the Kerry bandwagon.

And far too many heaped abuse and smears on Nader. The result was to demobilise the very left wing sentiment and movements that had undermined Bush in the first place.

It also allowed Kerry and the Democrats to continue their suicidal policy of tacking to the Republicans on every substantial issue.

The lessons are clear. The left and the anti-war movement cannot rely on one warmongering billionaire to defeat another warmongering billionaire in the hope that it will result in policies against warmongering billionaires.

Iraq is still the issue

There is still an enormous feeling against Bush, especially among the most downtrodden in the US, and his victory does not guarantee four trouble-free years.

In 1968, Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey to become US president, appealing to the 'silent majority' of conservative Americans. Nixon was re-elected in 1972.

But within two years, the Republican right was in crisis. By 1973, Nixon had to withdraw US troops from Vietnam. The Watergate scandal the next year forced him to resign in disgrace.

The key to his defeat was, on the one hand, the further eruption of the movement against the Vietnam War and, on the other, the resistance of the Vietnamese people.

In Britain in 1992 John Major pulled off a surprise Tory general election win.

Yet he faced splits and crises throughout his premiership, plummeting to a comprehensive defeat five years later—one the Tories have yet to recover from.

The key was the eruption of anger over the Tories' pit closure programme five months after the 1992 election and a growing resistance outside parliament to Major's government.

Bush faces an immense crisis. The occupation of Iraq has already killed 100,000 people, according to the latest estimate, and resistance to it can only rise.

We will soon see a murderous assault on Fallujah, and an angry backlash against US imperialism across the globe.

If the Iraqi resistance combines with a vibrant international solidarity movement, we can bring Bush's Empire tumbling down.

Kerry's defeat shows what happens if the movement is demobilised and the left does not provide an alternative to the big business parties.

Now is the time to put the movement back on the streets, in workplaces and communities not just in the US, but in Britain too—where Blair faces the same crisis over Iraq as Bush.

Millions of people around the world will want to rage in anger if Bush launches a full scale assault on Fallujah.

The anti-war movement needs to be the vehicle for them to do so, now and in the run up to the global day of action against the war on 19/20 March.

Whichever view activists took before the US election result there's only one conclusion now: to re-energise the movement and for the left to come together and offer an alternative.

If you have found this article interesting, the following stories from last week's Socialist Worker may also be of interest.

Front page story “Whoever wins... we all lose” here

Alex Callinicos asks “Why isn’t Kerry walking it” here.

Chris Bambery writes on Eugene Debs, the Socialist who ran for the White House in 1912 here.

This article can be downloaded as a PDF leaflet from here.


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Sat 6 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1926
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