SOME IN the anti-war movement argue that once war starts it would be better for it to be over quickly, with the US and Britain winning with the minimum of fighting. That is an understandable reaction, motivated by wanting to see the least loss of life in the immediate conflict. It is, however, mistaken.
MANY YEARS ago when the benefits of parliamentary democracy were shared by very few of the world's population, the Russian revolutionary Lenin pointed to a fundamental problem. He argued that "hidden beneath the polished exterior of modern democracy are deceit, violence, corruption, mendacity, hypocrisy and oppression of the poor". Tony Blair's New Labour has managed to illustrate each one of them in six short years. One measure of the outcome is the declining number of people who vote in elections.
BUSH AND Blair threatened war on Iraq within days as Socialist Worker went to press. Tony Blair cannot miss the scale of opposition to war. He saw two million march in London, he watched 122 Labour MPs rebel, he knows that this is the greatest crisis inside the Labour Party for over 70 years. Any lingering belief that he still had the majority with him must have been dispelled on Monday night.
THE GLOBAL movement against war on Iraq continues to go from strength to strength. In Britain it is tearing New Labour apart. But there are people who are asking, "What can it achieve? Bush is going to go to war anyway, whatever anyone else thinks." The argument is mistaken on a number of counts. First, despite Bush's bluster, key sections of the US ruling class are worried about going to war without some cover from other governments.
MUSICALS, WESTERNS and good old fashioned love stories dominated Hollywood films of the 1950s. On the surface many of those films appear to be politically innocent. But beneath the surface, and using only the subtlest of references, a moral, sexual, ideological and political battle took place.
INTENSIFIED BOMBING. B-52 bombers moved to Gloucestershire ready to rain death on Iraq. George Bush and Tony Blair are in the final stages of unleashing war. It must now be plain to everyone that United Nations resolutions and arms inspections are, for Bush and Blair, just camouflage. They are hellbent on war whether or not they can bully and bribe other states to back it.
WE'VE BEEN told this week that Blair's cabinet are 100 percent behind him. It may well be true that New Labour is splitting up faster than lovers in EastEnders, but no worries for Blair - he's got solid support where it counts.
BUSH AND Blair are desperately seeking new ways to justify their slaughter in Iraq. They have now resorted to claiming they want to bomb Iraq into freedom and democracy.
WHEN AN establishment paper like the New York Times reacts to the anti-war protests on 15 February by commenting that "there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion", you know things are beginning to move.
CHORUS SINGERS at the English National Opera (ENO) struck on Tuesday. They are staging a series of one-day strikes to prevent 20 of the 60 chorus singers losing their jobs. Their strike is about much more than the jobs, important though they are. It raises the question of who controls access to art in our society.
THE DEMONSTRATIONS last Saturday have plunged Tony Blair into the biggest political crisis of his life. Every commentator knows it. Blair knows it. For days the media has been filled with attempts to understand the demonstrations, and speculation about whether Blair can ride out the storm. Now we have to cause such turmoil that Blair is forced from office. If we don't shift Blair, we allow him to ignore democracy.
LAST SATURDAY'S great demonstration was one of those "once in a lifetime" events which it would be hard to find anything to match. One of the few that begin to compare - in my experience at least - was the million-strong anti-war march that concluded the European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence on 9 November last year.
AT LEAST one person from each of 1.25 million households in Britain marched last Saturday, according to a survey in the Guardian. They showed on the streets the anti-war feeling of the clear majority of the population.
NEVER IN recent times has the gulf between a government and the people been so wide. Tony Blair marches to war while the vast majority resolutely oppose him. Saturday's demonstration shows that huge numbers of people are prepared to actively oppose the government's war plans.
THE ANNUAL conference of the NATO military alliance has for 40 years been an occasion for mutual backslapping and bland statements by leaders of the Western powers.
THE BIGGEST demonstration in British history is set to take place next Saturday. The anti-war march is already expected to be so big that it has to have two assembly points. It is no wonder the government is panicking. Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, tried to ban the march from its usual rallying point in Hyde Park.
RETURNING FROM the World Social Forum (WSF) at Porto Alegre in Brazil, I feel as if I have just emerged from a vast, multicoloured sea that swept all the participants along in a great exuberant wave.
QUESTION TIME is the kind of TV show that spends much of the year trying to drum up support for itself. Anxious trails from David Dimbleby tell us that we'll be lucky enough to hear the views of a panel made up of cold sponges, wet towels and old flannels. It's as if he's warning us not to switch over to Newsnight or we'll miss hearing from someone as thrilling as Margaret Beckett - a politician sadly afflicted by a strange illness.
What happens in Britain in the next few weeks will shape history. Everyone in the anti-war movement can be part of making that history. The clock is ticking relentlessly towards war. On Monday chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix reported that his team had found no evidence of any Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction". We cannot trust the UN to block the war.
THERE WAS a small revolution in St Albans last week, one that should give Tony Blair pause for thought as he shackles Britain to the chariot wheels of US imperialism. A meeting called by the Stop the War Coalition turned out to be the biggest protest meeting the city has seen in living memory.