The following bulletin, posted on this site on April 19, 2004, now appears in Proletarian Revolution No. 71 (Summer 2004).

Walter Daum vs. John Kerry

LRP Revolutionary in Face-to-Face Confrontation
with Democratic Presidential Candidate over Iraq

For over a year now, the U.S. has prosecuted a bi-partisan and bloody colonialist campaign in Iraq. Democratic Party Presidential candidate John Kerry supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and has long argued for sending more troops to crush the anti-imperialist resistance. Criminally, the U.S. left has for the most part rallied to the “Anybody But Bush” banner and remained silent about Kerry’s viciously imperialist commitments.

This deafening silence was finally broken during one of Kerry’s campaign meetings at City College in New York City on April 14. There, in a face-to-face argument, League for the Revolutionary Party supporter Walter Daum attacked Kerry’s bloody imperialist policy in a confrontation that received widespread national and international media coverage. For example, CNN’s headline was “Kerry debates anti-war activist in New York.”

As the New York Times wrote the next day, “Mr. Kerry ... found himself defending the president’s stay-the-course approach in Iraq, insofar as both officials have made stability in Iraq a precondition for withdrawing American troops. In a town-hall-style meeting attended by more than 400 people, with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Representative Charles B. Rangel beside him, Mr. Kerry came under attack from the left when a retired professor of mathematics, Walter Daum, questioned him on Iraq.”

After being called on to ask a question of Kerry, comrade Daum began by making clear that the popular armed resistance by Iraqis to the U.S. forces occupying their country is justified. He went on to tell Kerry:

You have said, “Stay the course.” George Bush calls the people there “thugs”; you call them “extremists.” But they hated Saddam Hussein, and they now hate us. They wanted Saddam Hussein out. Now they want the United States out. And you say, “Stay the course.” What the United States is doing is bombing hospitals, bombing mosques, sniping at civilians, killing hundreds of civilians, wounding thousands of civilians. And you say, “Stay the course.” Is that the criminal course that you want to stay?

This is an imperialist country that’s fighting an imperialist war. You say “stay the course” of this imperialist war, and you say you have a stark difference from George Bush. People hate George Bush. By the end of your presidency people will hate you for the same thing. You may fool some of the Americans that you are different from George Bush on this war, but you’re not fooling most of the world, and you’re not going to fool Iraqis.

In response, Kerry began by covering his support for continuing the Bush White House’s policy of occupying Iraq by saying, unbelievably, that he shared a desire to see American forces get out of Iraq. Not letting him get away with this lie, comrade Daum interrupted Kerry, insisting “No you don’t! You say ‘stay the course’!” Then Kerry argued that the U.S. couldn’t pull out of Iraq because of the danger of civil war; the country had to be “stabilized.” Daum broke in again to point out what the world press has reported, that Iraq’s Sunnis and Shi’ites are united against the occupation. Arrogantly, Kerry ended the “debate” by charging that Daum wasn’t listening. But in fact the damage was done – the liberal/left conspiracy of silence over Kerry’s imperialist program was broken.

Electoralism versus Mass Struggle

The capitalist media, of course, could only understand comrade Daum’s confrontation with Kerry in electoralist terms. MSNBC went so far as to question the significance for Kerry’s campaign of what they called “the Daum vote” (“White House Derby: Whip Hand from Outside,” April 15) – potential Democratic voters who won’t support Kerry because of his basic agreement with Bush’s occupation of Iraq.

On the contrary, revolutionaries understand, in spite of the efforts of liberals to make it appear otherwise, that the Democratic Party is a capitalist, imperialist party not fundamentally different from the Republicans. We never support it; working-class independence from the capitalists is for us a matter of principle. Rather, revolutionaries look to the mass struggles of the working class and oppressed, from the anti-U.S. uprising in Iraq to future mass struggles at home, which have the potential to not just set back the imperialists’ attacks but ultimately to overthrow the entire capitalist system through socialist revolutions.

The bourgeois media isn’t solely to blame for creating the idea that people who call themselves socialists might support Kerry. As we have noted, most of what passes itself for the left in this country has embraced the perspective that anyone, even Kerry, would be better than Bush, and have covered up his pro-war, pro-colonial occupation positions. Even some supposedly revolutionary socialists have made their contributions to creating this situation.

Building the Revolutionary Party

The LRP will continue to seek to unite with all others in building united actions against U.S. imperialism’s crimes and all the capitalists’ attacks. However our small but important success in challenging Kerry shows that the real revolutionary alternative to the imperialists will be built by sharp and principled struggle, not opportunist maneuvers. On our website and in our magazine Proletarian Revolution, the LRP has consistently argued that the Iraq war was not just the choice of President Bush and a cabal of “neo-conservative” advisers. It was rooted in the drives of world imperialism to keep the oppressed masses of the world subject to super-exploitation. Hence it was supported by both big capitalist parties in the U.S., the Democrats as well as the Republicans. Based on our Marxist understanding of the Iraqi events, we have fought for the demand that U.S. imperialism must be forced out of Iraq now and for military defense of the resistance in Iraq against the occupation.

Similarly, the LRP has also consistently supported the Palestinian resistance against Israel. We have come to conferences and demonstrations with the slogans “Self-Determination for Palestine: All Israel Is “Occupied Territory!” and “Smash Zionism through Workers Revolution! For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!”

If you too want to enlist in the revolutionary class war for a Marxist alternative to the bloody, racist imperialists, then come and work with a fighting organization that is not afraid of taking on the supposedly “progressive” defenders of capitalism. Check out the LRP.

Readers who may be interested in having Walter Daum as a speaker at a forthcoming event should contact the LRP at 212-330-9017 or