Yet again we are asked to applaud the "bravery" of politicians who send others to fight the wars they start. We are urged to "support" leaders whom not only failed to support our wishes, they treated us as children who simply could not understand the issues involved. The possibility that we had listened to their assertions, understood them and rejected them is not considered a possibility.
Fuck them and fuck their war.
But Blair got one thing right. This conflict will "determine the pattern of international politics for the next generation." The "development of the UN" is clear. It will either become a fig leaf for US imperialism or it will be ignored. The same for "the relationship between Europe and the US." The message is clear. What the US says goes. This is a war about the absolute authority of US power and the ability of one superpower to use it military might as and when required. Saddam Hussein is a convenient excuse and an even more convenient example of what to expect if you question US power. The Bush Junta contemptuously rejects any international order that restricts its power and freedom to act.
The conflict in Iraq will strengthen US imperialism, ensuring that force will be its first call of port against any regime or population that acts in ways it dislikes. Who will be next? Iran? North Korea? Venezuela? Protesters at home? Rebels workers everywhere?
One thing is sure, the only people who will not be "liberated" are those already under US supported regimes. People like the Palestinians and the Turkish Kurds - or the Iraqis when Saddam was supported and armed by the US and UK in the 1980s. Such states will violate human rights willy-nilly and be praised and supported by the Bush Junta and its poodle.
Weapons of Mass Distraction
But this crisis has its successes. It has, for example, managed to successfully distract the population from the war at home, the war of capital against labour, of state against subjects. The war between the classes, a war which has sadly been very one-sided of late.
Its outcomes can easily be seen. Job insecurity, worsening working conditions, social atomisation, anti-social crime, erosion of community, unemployment and under employment, over work, environmental degradation, restrictions of civil liberties and human rights, yet more centralisation of power, increasing inequality, decreasing quality public services. The list is long.
This is an old story. It was in 1976 when economic growth stopped narrowing the gap between rich and poor. One in five families with children had no earner by the mid-1990s, four times the level in 1968. The 9 per cent of people who lived in poverty when Thatcher came to power rose to 25 per cent.
Two-thirds of the workforce are now earning less than the average wage as a result of soaraway pay deals for executives and directors. Executive pay rose by 17% in 2002 alone. And the pay gap has widened since New Labour got into office. Inequality today is worse than under the Tories. Three quarters of UK workers work overtime but only a third are paid extra. This is the worst in Europe. Now one in six UK employees work more than 60 hours a week. The number of women working a 60 hours week has doubled in the last two years.
Child poverty rate of 21% for the UK in 2000-01 (deducting housing costs from disposable income this rises to 31%). Taking account of housing costs, 41% of children in Greater London are in poverty, compared with 31% nationally and 37% in the north-east of England. This is largely due to unparalleled levels of poverty in inner London: 53% of children in inner London are living in income poverty. This means that more than half the 600,000 children living in inner London are being brought up below the government's official poverty line. In outer London 33% of children are being brought up in poverty.
Poverty rates for pensioners and working-age adults are also high, with 36% of pensioners in inner London are in poverty and 28% in the north-east. In inner London 30% of the 1.8 million working age adults are in poverty. It is 23% in the north-east. These are the highest proportions in Britain.
No war but the class war!
Decades of letting the bosses and politicians get away with it have proven to be a disaster, as would be expected. It is time we acted, time we fought back to improve the quality of our lives. This is what anarchists mean when we talk about "No war but the class war." Imperialism abroad can best be fought by fighting against the bosses and politicians here. Solidarity is strength. If we support each other in our struggles for justice here we can create a movement capable of expressing effective strength to stop oppression at home and abroad and ultimately end all forms of oppression once and for all.
We need to clearly relate Blair's and Bush's overseas agenda to their elitist class war against working class people at home. We must see and act upon the connections between imperial projects and domestic power structures. We must show how fighting imperialism and capitalism cannot be divorced, that rebellion challenging the legitimacy US/UK foreign policy must also question domestic inequality (both wealth and power), authoritarianism, racism, sexism, state bureaucracy, corporate power, civil liberties, environmental damage, ideology, how the media works and how we educate ourselves (and this is just for starters). That imperial adventures are related to domestic problems and have nothing to do with the high-minded ideals used to justify them.
Without protest now, Blair and Bush will be emboldened to continue to implement their neo-liberal policies at home. So to fight against imperialism will help the struggle for liberty and justice at home. And only be intensifying that struggle at home can we give a real blow to imperialism. And by weakening imperialism, we can ensure that the US/UK will be in no position to back authoritarian regimes (like Saddam's before 1991) across the world.
Regime change starts at home
Anarchism is based on self-liberation. No one else can free you, you must free yourself. Stirner put it well: "the man who is set free is nothing but a freed man. .
. a dog dragging a piece of chain with him."
This means that bombing the Iraqi people will not set them free. It will merely change their masters. It may result in nicer masters (although doubtful, given the USA's track record), but the Iraqi people will still not be free.
So, as regards Iraq, anarchists would argue that there is only one way that Saddam can be got rid of and that is by a popular uprising. The only role that other countries can play is to encourage that process with material and moral support. Needless to say, such a popular revolt is the last thing the US wants. This can be seen from 1991, when they stood back and watched Saddam slaughter the rebels (needless to say, Saddam's actions then are now used by the US now to justify their bombing of the Iraqi people). It can be seen from their support for Saddam during the worse of his atrocities and their continued support for murderous regimes globally now. It will also be seen by US support for the "strong leadership" they hoist into power in Iraq, if and when their troops leave.
This is why we must resist war now. Popular pressure on the US and UK governments could result in the Iraqi people can get help to overthrow Saddam in ways that do not threaten their lives by "Allied" weapons. Providing training, weapons and intelligence to the resistance, for example, and using the UN to disarm Saddam. If British troops can help Pol Pot' forces, why not fighters in Iraq? But, as noted, a popular revolt is the last thing the US and UK elites want. It would result in popular power. And so Iraqis will not be helped to help themselves. Instead they will be bombed and given a US approved regime that, like Saddam's in the past, will use an iron fist to maintain "stability" in Iraq and in the region.
To help others we have to start by helping ourselves. You cannot give to others that which you do not have. This applies to liberty and democracy. This crisis has proved how little of both capitalism allows. And it points the way to defeating both local tyrannies like Saddam's and imperialist powers like the USA. For only direct action, the natural expression of liberty, can stop the state's war machine and help the Iraqi people free themselves. Only by expressing our power at home can we make the wider world a better place. Only by fighting here can we be in a position to show effective solidarity with our fellow working class people across the globe.
You have the power to stop the war!
If individuals acted as the state does, we would have no qualms about seeing them in jail. Yet the state expects its crimes to be supported by its subjects.
The priorities of capitalism are clear. $900 billion plus a year is the world military budget. These resources could be used to make the world a better place. Just one example: The 2002 Johannesburg summit set a target to halve, by 2015, the millions living without fresh water. The cost is estimated at £20bn. The Bush Junta budget shows its priorities, with over $50 billion for war and a mere $0.7 billion for humanitarian aid. And while the UN has asked for $1bn to save Iraq from a humanitarian disaster, a subsidiary of Halliburton (the US vice-president's old company) has been awarded a contract by the US army is said to be in the region of $1bn. At home, Gordon Brown can find any amount of money to fund the destruction of war, but not to maintain decent public services or pay public service workers (unless, of course, they happen to be bosses or politicians). Any system that spends more on death than on living is a system whose days are numbered.
There is one question every sane person must ask. How can we stop this war and the system that produces it? By the one thing all states hate, by its subjects practising their liberty, by their revolt. He has lied and manipulated in order to foist the Bush Junta's war onto us. This is a wake-up call for all those who mistakenly think that the state exists to represent the governed and that we can elect "better" leaders to ensure change.
This crisis will only be resolved by applying the liberty that every state denies in practice. Only our direct action and solidarity, our proclamation of disobedience and our fitness to govern ourselves will stop this war. We have to do it ourselves.