Method to the madness

By Tom Mackaman

Congratulations to Eric Naing for being one of the few commentators to note the striking paradox of an increasingly “irrelevant” peace movement floundering at the very moment the American population is increasingly and overwhelmingly opposed to war. But Naing doesn’t follow this observation through to its logical conclusion.

There are two simple questions that those who want peace should ask. First, what is the cause of the war? Second, how can it be stopped? In the end there are only two ways to answer.

The first is the prevailing viewpoint of the liberal and radical protest groups such as UFPJ, ANSWER, and MoveOn. They essentially view the war as a colossal mistake authored by the Bush administration with the assent of a hoodwinked Democratic Party and American populace. It follows then, in answering the second question, that the war can be stopped through a process of pressuring politicians and protesting the perceived apathy or ignorance of the masses.

We in International Students for Social Equality answer those questions in a diametrically opposed way. The eruption of American militarism is no mistake. There is a method to the madness: the US ruling elite is attempting to offset the long-term decline of US capitalism vs. its rivals in Europe and Asia by seizing markets and strategic advantage. It follows from this analysis that the only way to stop the war is to build an international movement of students and the working class against the very source of war–capitalism and the nation-state system.

What Naing sees as the silliness of the protest milieu is in fact an expression of the hopelessness of pressuring the Democratic Party, which, minor tactical differences aside, is every bit as committed as the Republican Party to dominating the Middle East and Central Asia.

Tom Mackaman

President, International Students for Social Equality