Afghanistan: Anti-war movement grows

Around 2,000 people at a London rally on 21 September heard speakers condemn Bush and Blair’s plans for war.

Anti-war movement grows.

London rally

With the main hall crammed full, 300 squashed into an overspill room, 200 more listened to speakers outside.Speakers included journalist George Monbiot, Tariq Ali, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, Socialist Alliance member Liz Davies and Helen John from CND.

While condemning the terrorist attacks on America, all gave compelling arguments why no support should be given to Bush’s war aims. But when it came to advancing a solution to the crisis, all were found wanting. George Monbiot and Liz Davies called for a judicial solution through the International Court of Justice.

Even John Rees from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), while attempting to offer some analysis – although he was the only speaker not to condemn the atrocities in the US – merely concluded that if we stop the war now we’d have a better life for all decent ordinary people everywhere. While correctly referring to US imperialism’s role in the Middle East, not one speaker said that war and terrorism are rooted in the capitalist system of exploitation and profit, so to end wars we need to replace capitalism with socialism.

Socialist Party members and Socialist Alliance Chair Dave Nellist would have argued the socialist case if he’d not been prevented from speaking. This meeting showed the potential to build a massive anti-war movement. However, if this movement is to realise its potential it will need to be open and democratic. Unity in action will be vital, involving the widest possible layers. But just as important will be debates and discussions on how to build the movement and what demands to raise.

Dave Nellist gagged

SOCIALIST PARTY councillor Dave Nellist might have been acceptable to Radio Five as an anti-war spokesperson (see last week’s Socialist report on his debate with Colonel Bob Stewart) but it seems he’s no longer acceptable to the Socialist Alliance (SA). At last week’s meeting of the SA’s national executive to discuss the war crisis, it was announced that the SWP, a major component organisation of the SA, had convened the 21 September meeting (see above) with invited speakers chosen without consulting with the officers or other component organisations of the SA. Former Labour NEC member Liz Davies, who recently joined the Socialist Alliance, had also been invited and it was suggested that she should speak as SA representative.

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September 2001