The following statement was issued by the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP-U.S.) on September 13, 2001, and has been endorsed by the Communist Organization for the Fourth International (COFI). It is now available in Spanish and Russian.
The working class of New York, the principal victim of Tuesday’s terror attacks on the World Trade Center, and its relatives and friends across the globe, shed bitter tears over the devastating loss of life it has suffered. Indeed as we write, many of us mourn the loss of loved ones, and volunteer in relief efforts in New York City. Yet much of the working class and poor masses of the world inevitably see this assault, along with the attack on the Pentagon, as a blow against American imperialism – revenge for the horrors it has wrought upon them. That contradiction is what workers and oppressed people everywhere urgently need to understand and solve.
American workers are justifiably and intensely angry over the murder of their innocent brothers and sisters. Clearly those immediately responsible for the attacks are the terrorists themselves. But George W. Bush and the rest of the scum who rule America are angry for a different reason. Somebody has humiliated them; their place as the world’s most powerful and seemingly invincible terrorist has been challenged! New York has received a taste of what the people of Baghdad, Belgrade and elsewhere have suffered on a far greater scale at the hands of the U.S. military. Soon, Bush & Co. intimate, the masses abroad will receive a bloody response which will dwarf past atrocities and reestablish who has the only “God-given right” to engage in mass murder on this planet. Terror does rule the world, and Bush wants to make it clear who is going to exercise it.
American workers are right to hate their enemies and to seek revenge for the massacre. Pacifism is an indulgence that only privileged do-gooder fools can embrace. But workers must recognize who their most deadly enemies are!
U.S. imperialism compels the world’s masses to live in conditions of grinding poverty, exploitation and oppression, and enforces those conditions at gun point. The terrorists responsible for the attacks did not represent the interests of the oppressed masses of the world, although they took advantage of their rightful hatred of U.S. imperialism to gain support. While they aimed a blow against imperialism, their contempt for the loss of innocent life reflects their disregard for the lives of all people. Indeed it is already confirmed that many Arab immigrants working in the World Trade Center are among the dead. But none of this can be allowed to blind us from the fact that U.S. imperialism created the conditions which gave rise to this attack. In short, America’s capitalist rulers are responsible for the terror for which American workers are now paying such a horrific price.
In the U.S., the only winner in the recent events is the ruling class. The capitalists will now be able to plow yet more billions into the military through anti-missile and conventional “defense” schemes. Of course, this is chiefly aimed at tightening Washington’s grip on the rest of the world. However U.S. workers and oppressed people must recognize that such “defense” will also come at the expense of funding social, medical and educational programs. Politicians will also look to pass new laws further eroding our democratic rights.
More than simply being responsible for this tragedy by creating the general conditions which gave rise to it, U.S. imperialism seems to be far more directly responsible. We recall that Timothy McVeigh, who led the car-bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people in 1995, did not just receive his military training in the U.S. army. They also gave him his psychotic disregard for innocent human life. McVeigh did not hide the fact that during the Gulf War he participated in the massacre of surrendered Iraqi troops, and had joined others in using bulldozers to bury alive hundreds more. His indifference to the massive loss of life in bombing the building he targeted was taught to him by the military, who assigned the cold label “collateral damage” to such slaughters.
The case of Osama Bin Laden, identified as the chief suspect behind these most recent attacks, is even more striking. Bin Laden did not develop his expertise in terrorism, his massive resources and network, out of thin air. He used his slice of his family’s fortune to play a leading role in Afghanistan’s mujahedin, the Islamic fundamentalist military force then waging war against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan. Throughout this effort he, along with other mujahedin forces, received massive organizational, military and financial backing from the U.S. government, through its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
So did the armed forces of the Taliban. They were hailed as “freedom-fighters” by the White House during their war with Afghanistan’s Soviet-backed government. Now they rule over the country in brutal fashion and are targeted by the U.S. as the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism.
The story is basically the same in the cases of Panama’s Manuel Noriega, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, three other U.S.-backed dictators who later proved undependable enforcers of U.S. imperialist interests.
U.S. imperialism enforces the interest of American corporations across the world by means of its own military might or that of “friendly” dictatorships. It is the bloodiest empire in history. Washington is rightfully hated throughout the world for its brutal reign of terror. It is particularly despised for its defense of Israeli colonial-settler terrorism against the Palestinian people. Now, Israel’s chief war criminal, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, will be awarded an even greater opportunity to devastate the Palestinian masses. Israel’s policies of mass terror, the assassination of Palestinian leaders and the destruction of whole communities were proving unpalatable even to the world’s big imperialist powers. But with new cover for advancing its brutal policies, the Israeli ruling class stands to gain the most from the recent terror attacks.
These terrible attacks can only feed into the most reactionary anti-working class and racist drives of imperialism. As we write, there have been no definitive reports pointing to what organization or which country is responsible for the airplane hijackings and suicide crashes that created the disaster. Washington is currently pointing to “Islamic terrorists” around Bin Laden and threatening any “rogue state” which protects them. The most likely target for counterattack is Afghanistan. The imperialists will use the fact that the brutal Taliban rulers of that country are so despised around the world as a justification for raining down terror on the Afghan masses. In doing so, they will again be sending their message to workers and peasants everywhere: accept your conditions of oppression and exploitation or we will unleash upon you the full force of our military killing machine.
The recent terror attack has whipped up patriotic fever to such a degree that more American workers will be willing to support U.S. military actions. The “Vietnam Syndrome” of popular opposition to risky military engagements that has discouraged the Pentagon from more bloody adventures abroad, has now been further chipped away.
It is the internationalist duty of every revolutionary communist and every class-conscious worker to stand up against this patriotic tide. We must denounce and fight U.S. imperialism’s moves to launch its own wave of terror against the masses of the Middle East and Central Asia. And we must come to the defense of Arab people in this country who are facing racist attack.
Before these terror attacks, the U.S. economy was teetering on the brink of joining the rest of the world in economic slump. The crisis of capitalist profitability that brought down the statified-capitalist Stalinist regimes of the East at the end of the 1980s has since worked its way through the rest of the world. It has been staved off in the U.S. only by super-exploitation of the masses of the “Third World” through extortionate debt repayments, intensified super-exploitation and international market dominance, and by austerity, speed-up and the ballooning of illusory profits on the stock market domestically. But such policies could only delay the outbreak of the crisis – they could not prevent it.
Now the recent terror attacks, with their resulting shutting down of large portions of the country’s economy for days, including the stock exchange and air transportation, could well prove to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” – the final push that sends the economy into recession. Workers should not be fooled by attempts to blame the country’s economic woes on the terror attacks. They only revealed the economic decay that lurked beneath the surface of the U.S. economy.
The U.S. ruling class did not want these terror attacks, but they could not have come at a better time for it. Just when the lie of “the triumph of capitalism” was set to be exposed, they have an event to blame for the economic downturn. Just when they have to prepare to call on workers to sacrifice in order to raise corporate profits in “the national interest,” they have been presented with a tragedy around which to rally nationalist sentiment. Just when they had to expand and intensify their domination and exploitation of the world economy, they have been given a pretext for expanding their military might. And just when they must enforce greater austerity on the masses with policies which inevitably target Blacks and Latinos for the worst attack and run the greatest risk of sparking a fightback, they have been given a means by which to rally support among those with the least attachment to U.S. imperialism.
U.S. capitalist stability rests on a divide and conquer strategy which inevitably employs racism and national chauvinism. In recent years, anti-Black racism has been growing, spearheaded by the naked brutality employed by the mercenary police employed by the ruling class state. Anti-immigrant hostility is developing as the economy sinks. Now, anti-Arab bigotry, already a widespread poison, is being raised to a higher pitch. Attacks on Arab people in the U.S. are spreading. In New York, many of those office workers who were killed were Black, Latino, Asian, and Arab. On the streets, not only among white workers, but among those who suffer most greatly in this racist land, anti-Arab sentiment has become commonplace. The war of all against all has been furthered by the massacre. All workers will suffer as a consequence – workers of color most of all. And the capitalists will cry all the way to the bank.
We live in a world caught between those who wage war under rival banners of religion. Islamic fundamentalists seek to trick the desperate anti-imperialist masses of the world to enlist under their banner which claims that they are fighting Satan. The White House, defending exploitation, declares itself the vanguard of “good” in the struggle against “evil.” Each side claims the blessing of a superhuman deity to justify massive anti-human acts of grotesque proportions. Only the renewal of conscious working-class struggle and revolutionary mass action can defeat vampire imperialism, the cause of our misery, and prevent the even greater catastrophes it is preparing.
To workers in the neo-colonial “Third World,” the most oppressed and super-exploited victims of U.S. imperialism, we say: you are right to hate those who bomb, torture and humiliate you, take your land and water and the very food from your table. You are right to fight back. But your enemy is not the workers of America but the imperialists and their local enforcers who exploit us all.
To other working-class people in North America, we in the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP-U.S.) say: open your eyes and see why “our” country is so reviled that millions abroad can identify with such acts as these. Do not let the common enemy of all workers, the U.S. ruling class, use these terrible events to blind you with patriotic prejudices for a country which the capitalists have taken from us and use to oppress us, the people who create the wealth they pocket.
We, like revolutionary workers everywhere, disdain to hide our beliefs. We fight under the revolutionary-communist banner which proclaims that “The Main Enemy Is Our Own Ruling Class!” This is nowhere more true than here in the U.S., in the belly of the imperialist beast. The way out of the nightmare of imperialism’s growing crisis is workers’ revolutions that overthrow the capitalists and build a classless society of abundance and freedom. The struggle demands the leadership of an internationalist, revolutionary political party of the most class conscious workers of the world, a re-created Fourth International. In the course of the weeks and months ahead, we will fight the patriotic tide and do all we can to defend the Middle Eastern and Central Asian masses from imperialist onslaught. And throughout this struggle, we will constantly raise the call to build the revolutionary party our class so urgently needs.