Thursday, March 29, 2007


The title of Cindy Sheehan’s statement on the vote is: “Betrayed! How the Democratic Congress betrayed American voters, the troops in Iraq and extended the occupation for at least another 18 months.” Cindy is a true American hero, by the way.

But did the Democrats really betray anyone? Did this powerful US political party behave in a way that runs counter to its historical role? Did they break any promises or fail to live up to the limited expectations that the American people have for their political parties?

I think not. As Eugene V Debs explained while running for US president as head of the Socialist Party in 1912 (yes m'am, this was written nearly 100 years ago!):
There are but two parties and but one issue. There is no longer even the pretense of difference between the so-called Republican and Democratic parties. They are substantially one in what they stand for.

They are opposed to each other on no question of principle but purely in a contest for the spoils of office.

To the workers of the country these two parties in name are one [party] in fact. They, or rather it, stands for capitalism, for the private ownership of the means of subsistence, for the exploitation of the workers, and for wage-slavery.1
The peace-loving Left cannot be blamed for hoping that the liberal Democratic party would make the war end. Any change from the blind leadership of George W Bush and his Republican party is welcome. But despite the rhetoric of specific and very well intentioned Democratic congresswomen and men, the party itself made no promises about ending the war.

In fact, the Democratic party has never been and never will be an anti-war party. The class interest of the US demands that the foreign policy of the government be imperialist. It goes without saying that imperialism is impossible without war. Since the Democratic party is part and parcel of the ruling mechanism of US capitalism, it is impossible for the party to act against its own perceived interests, that is, the interests of the ruling classes.

Certainly the war will end at some point. This will only happen when the ruling classes decide it is in there interest to do so. There are a variety of ways this can happen. A continued mass movement against the war by the working class, students and others has had a very positive effect and will continue to. Otherwise there would be no concessions from even the Democrats.

Supporting our troops means bringing them home. Stability will not be brought to Iraq by United States or any other imperialist adventurers. The opposite is the case. Our military has yet again been turned into a mercenary army in the service of a small cadre of extremely powerful capitalists. It saddens me to think that, even after the end of the war, troops will stay in Iraq in some form on a permanent basis to consolidate and protect the oil interests now under the control of these capitalists.

See also: Why the anti-war democrats folded, Socialist Worker, 30-Mar-2007

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