Making a Peaceful and Non-Violent World: The Challenge of Our Times

November 2, 2001

Report to the National Committee, CPUSA

I want to welcome you to our National Center and belatedly congratulate you
on your election to the National Committee. This is probably the most
meeting of our National Committee in decades.

On September 11 at 8:48 a.m. our country and world changed as commercial
were transformed into projectiles of senseless death and destruction by
and criminal terrorists.

Not only were the lives of thousands of people lost and not only was there
destruction beyond belief, but shock waves of profound sorrow, fear, anger,
and concern about our future were felt across our country and the world.
also, in that horrific instant and the weeks that have followed,
domestic and
world politics took an altogether new, frightening, dangerous, and

How do we explain this turn in world politics? What direction is it going?
Who benefits from it? Where will it end? What can we do? These are
that this meeting must address.

At the outset, however, I want to say that the way that the Bush
has chosen to combat international terrorism is counterproductive. There
and still are alternative ways to tackle this new danger to humankind.

Rather than bringing us closer to a solution to the problem, the
response to the terrorist attack is sharpening every struggle to the
endangering every democratic gain won over the past seven decades and, most
ominously, plunging the nation into wider and possibly unending war. As
a result,
we can expect further loss of life on a broad scale, the likelihood of
terrorist attacks, and the possibility of an era of social retrogression at
home and abroad.

The struggle for a peaceful, just, and terror-free world is the overarching
issue of our time and is inextricably bound up with the struggle to curb
power of the Bush administration and the most reactionary sections of

Unless the militarist direction of right-wing political forces in our
is checked by the actions of the world’s people, the prospects of a
world free
of deadly conflict, inequality and economic want are not promising. As
as the present moment seems, gloom should not be the prevailing mood
among communists.
We should evince a quiet confidence and determination to meet this new
and to meet it, not alone, but with people across our country and planet
are reasonable, and democratic- and peace-minded.

While there is no guarantee of victory in politics, the people of our
and world have come up against huge challenges in the past and somehow
the will and unity to prevail. They will do it in the present

I say this not because I am an unreconstructed optimist but because the
and social forces are slowly assembling, at home and worldwide, that
have the
strength and unity to restrain the perilous course of the Bush
and move the country and world in the direction of peace, equality, and

New Stage of Struggle

With the unrelenting bombing of Afghanistan, the Bush administration has
its "war against terrorism" to a new stage. The bombing is the
visible and destructive feature of this aggressive assault, but it has
components as well, including the use of Special Forces and commando

Whether ground troops will be used is unknown at this moment, but it is
at some point in this assault. Since Vietnam, successive administrations
been hesitant to introduce ground troops into theaters of military
action, but
this does not seem to be a major concern of Bush’s advisors, perhaps
with the
exception of Powell. In an operational sense, this military action is
The international coalition is on the periphery of the air assault. For all
practical purposes, this is the work of U.S. imperialism and it is doing
job with a vengeance.

The ostensible targets are the Taliban government and the network of
groups headquartered in Afghanistan. After several weeks of steady bombing,
it is still unclear what damage has been inflicted on either of these
Both have probably been weakened, but only time will tell.

The unrestrained bombing of the country’s major cities has killed innocent
Afghani people, and more will be killed. The use of air power may have
a new level of technical accuracy, but, as most experts admit, bombs and
stray from selected targets. Not a day goes by that doesn’t offer fresh
of this fact. Moreover, it would be a mistake to accept the claim that
are off the military’s radar screen. Time, not official pronouncements,
render a verdict on that matter.

In addition, by making overland shipments of food and other supplies
impossible, the massive air strikes are in all probability a death sentence
for 7.5 million starving Afghani people. The dropping of food packets is
a cynical
and calculated attempt to put a humanitarian face on the U.S. military
All this should be brought to the attention of the American people.

Another direct result of the bombing is the flight of a half million people
to already crowded and unsanitary refugee camps on the Pakistan border,
resources are badly strained.

In short, a vast crisis is enveloping this war-torn country that will
claim the lives of vast numbers of innocent people, especially the most
– children and the elderly. Any suggestion that the "collateral
from the use of military power is minor is either misinformation or a

In the meantime, not a single terrorist, including bin Laden, has been
and the Bush administration is now in the business of assembling a
puppet government.

Even in the event a new government is stitched together, the Taliban
will likely remain in the country and engage in guerrilla actions, much
it did before coming to power. In these circumstances, it is almost certain
that an occupation army, largely composed of U.S. troops, will be needed to
protect the new government, whose legitimacy among the Afghani people
will be

The stay of this occupation army will be indefinite and the scale of
will grow over time, much like it did in Vietnam.

Bush Doctrine

In his speech announcing the beginning of the bombing of Afghanistan,
Bush said, "Today we focus on Afghanistan. But the battle is
broader. Every
nation has a choice to make. In this conflict there is no neutral
ground. If
any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, they have
outlaws and killers themselves. And they will take that lonely path at
own peril."

There is nothing statesmanlike or sober-minded about this speech. It is
and provocative. It inflames passions. It brings us no closer to a solution
to the indisputable new danger of terrorism. It sets
the stage for an even wider and ever more destructive war in the Middle
and southern Asia.

It operates on the mistaken assumption that war can be contained. We
know from
history, in fact recent history, that wars have a logic and momentum of
own and can easily spread beyond the prescribed bounds of the cleverest

Keep in mind that spokespersons for Bush claim, although offering no
that terrorists operate in 61 countries. This gives the U.S. broad latitude
to invade and topple sovereign governments worldwide, including Cuba,
Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia in our own hemisphere. Let’s not forget
how successive
U.S. administrations during the Cold War punished and overthrew popular
in the name of fighting the Soviet threat and making the world safe for
To think that this Bush administration would not do the same would be

The fact that we have fundamental differences with Bush’s doctrine doesn’t
mean that we minimize in the slightest way the danger of terrorism to
To the contrary, terrorism is morally and politically reprehensible, no
what the source – whether it is state-sponsored or comes from the
extreme right,
fascistic clericalism or the extremist left.

Today terrorism is a growing and highly lethal danger. With the
of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist acts in the 21st century have the
potential to harm, even wipe out, whole populations. Nevertheless, we
under any circumstances agree with the Bush administration’s definition
of terrorism
and the means it chooses to combat it. As some of the more sober-minded
have stated, there are other ways to combat terrorism that accent political
and diplomatic means.

But the Bush administration and the most reactionary sections of
capital ruled out such options from the start, because of their imperialist
aims. In doing so, it is turning a tragic moment in our nation’s life
into a
perilous one for all of humanity.

Some even say that we’re on the doorstep of fascism. In an abstract
sense fascism,
which we should understand as the replacement of one state form of
class domination – bourgeois democracy – by another form – open
terrorist dictatorship,
is an inherent possibility in the present stage of capitalist
development. But
it does not follow that it is imminent at every moment.

Fascism does not appear overnight or full blown, but rather its
emergence is
a highly contested process that passes through stages and includes
bitter struggles
on every front – political, economic, and ideological.

"… [T]he accession to power of fascism," said Georgi
"should not be conceived of in so simplified and smooth a form as
some committee or other of finance capital decided on a certain date to set
up a fascist dictatorship. In reality, fascism usually comes to power in
course of a mutual and at times severe struggle against the old
bourgeois parties,
or a definite section of these parties, in the course of a struggle even
the fascist camp itself."

Fascism, however, is generally not the capitalist class’ preferred form of
rule. While resorting to fascism allows the ruling class to consolidate its
power under certain circumstances, it also runs the risk of narrowing
its political
base significantly, and strips away the democratic rights that have
helped the
U.S. ruling class sustain its rule at home and abroad.

Thus, the capitalist class would rather rule through bourgeois
democratic forms.
But conditions of struggle may arise that lead the most reactionary
of transnational capital to seriously consider a fascist solution to
crisis. The broad democratic movement should not dismiss this danger.

The best way to prevent the rise of fascism is to fight against reactionary
measures at every stage of the class struggle. In this regard, it is
for all democratic-minded forces in our nation to oppose the current
of our democratic rights and liberties by Bush and his Justice

While these anti-democratic measures, codified in the anti-terrorism bill,
don’t constitute an immediate threat of fascism, the overall political
of this administration should be a cause for great alarm among broad

Behind the ‘War on Terrorism’

More than patriotic zeal animates the Bush administration’s war against
More than love of homeland is behind this reckless strategy fraught with
to people at home and worldwide. Hiding in the shadows and outside
public discourse
are other political motives and long-term strategic aims.

What are they?

First, the Bush administration would like to construct an arc of
political and economic dominance stretching from West Africa across the
East and the southern regions of the former Soviet Union and as far east as

This region is rich in exploitable labor and resources – particularly oil,
which abounds across this wide swath of territory, generates enormous
for U.S. transnational corporations, and is the most critical strategic
for the smooth functioning of the world capitalist system.

According to the Statistical Review of World Energy, this region
accounts for
more than 65 percent of oil and gas production presently, but by 2050 it
account for more than 80 percent. "The combined total of proven and
reserves in the region," the Statistical Review goes on to say,
at more than 800 billion barrels of crude petroleum and its equivalent
in natural,
gas. By contrast, the combined total of oil reserves in the Americas and
is less than 160 barrels, most of which, energy experts say, will have been
exhausted in the next 25 years."

Here we see the nub of U.S. imperialism’s geopolitical interests in this

Second, the Bush administration wants to use the anti-terrorism war to
its reactionary, anti-labor, anti-women, anti-people racist domestic
on a reluctant nation, and to consolidate the political power of the
right and its corporate backers in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

The extreme right is determined to solidify its control over the federal
for years to come.

Finally, Bush’s war against terrorism seeks to reassert U.S. imperialism’s
single superpower status in every region of the world and gain advantage
its imperialist rivals.

In short, the Bush administration hopes that its new war against terrorism
is its entrance ramp to permanently and irreversibly solidifying its single
superpower status in the 21st century.

Yes, its eyes are on the vast oil fields, refineries, and pipelines in the
Middle East, Russia, and southern Asia. Yes, it wants to impose a
program of
reaction at home. Yes, this administration is determined to gain
supremacy over
its leading capitalist competitors.

Yet as powerful as these inducements are, they are neither more nor less
crucial aspects of a single, integrated, and wider policy of gaining
U.S. hegemony over the globe and outer space.

The aggressive actions of the Bush administration bring home the point that
globalization is not a purely economic process. More than the invisible
of Adam Smith and the efficiency of rival production units accounts for the
unequal distribution of economic and political power across the globe.

The rise and fall of competing imperialisms is closely connected to
their ability
to project political and military power to far-flung regions of the
world, which
in turn allows them to gain advantage over rivals as well as adversary
and movements around the world.

No imperialism is better able to do this than U.S. imperialism, as is
today. Of course, the drive for global domination brings with it
ruptures, contradictions,
crises, and, above all, resistance.

New Legitimizing Discourse

The shocking and terrifying nature of the September 11 assault has done
than temporarily traumatize the nation. It has also given the Bush
and the far right a new legitimizing discourse, or, to put it in a less
way, a new ideological rationale to pursue its political objectives at home
and around the world.

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. ruling class has been without a
convincing political rationale to give legitimacy to its narrow class
Following the defeat of Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II, and for the
next 45 years, the specter of an aggressive Soviet Union hellbent on
world domination
was the ideological canopy under which the American people were
mobilized behind
the reactionary political project of the U.S. ruling class.

But with the collapse of Soviet socialism and the end of the Cold War a
ago, the ruling class was without such an overarching ideological
The "Soviet menace" and the "evil empire" were no
serviceable ideological constructs to give legitimacy to imperialism’s
domestically and internationally.

In this sense, the disintegration of the Soviet Union was not an unalloyed
blessing for the U.S. ruling class. On the one hand, socialism’s
collapse objectively
removed the biggest obstacle to imperialism’s hegemonic plans, but it
also removed
the ideological justification for its aggressive policies.

Thus, while U.S. imperialism emerged triumphant at the close of the 20th
it entered the 21st century without a set of credible arguments that
would lend
legitimacy to and mobilize the people behind its polices. For a while it
the concept of humanitarian interventionism and later it bandied about
the notion
of rogue states, but neither resonated enough in the thinking of the

So the ruling class, and especially its most anti-working class,
and racist sections, has been groping to find a new rationale – a
discourse – that will win public opinion to its objective of
aggressively pursuing
and consolidating its single superpower status worldwide.

In the absence of such an ideological and political construct, a broad
movement at home and globally was able over the past decade to frustrate
of the far right’s most reactionary plans. The brazen theft of the
in the 2000 elections did not succeed in dampening this movement.

September 11 and Its Aftermath

It is in this context that we should see the terrorist attack on September
11. It was so horrific, so immediate, so unexpected, and so cruel that
were profoundly shaken. Millions felt a deep fear that was, up to that
foreign to our national psychology.

Life became fragile and contingent. We were no longer safe, no longer
from violence perpetrated by faceless and remorseless terrorists.

Seizing on this understandable sea change in mass psychology, the Bush
is transforming the real danger and fear of international terrorism into
a new
ideological rationale that galvanizes public opinion behind its
political program,
much like earlier administrations during the Cold War utilized the
menace" to aggressively pursue their reactionary agenda.

Had the terrorist attack not occurred, the Bush administration probably
have been forced to retreat politically this fall. Bush’s standing in
the polls
was dropping precipitously, the federal budget surplus was disappearing,
regressive and harmful nature of his tax giveaway to the rich was
becoming more
apparent, his promise not to touch Social Security was putting him in a
and his misnamed "anti-missile defense" system was coming
under close
and critical public scrutiny.

At the same time, the labor and people’s movement was becoming more
at home. Around the world, grave concerns were being voiced in governmental
and other circles regarding the administration’s Star Wars project and
its unilateral
approach to global problems. The worldwide movement against capitalist
was gaining in strength and unity.

Indeed, recent protest actions brought home the point that the "Battle
in Seattle," while electrifying the world, was part of a larger
of struggle against the transnational corporations and their
supranational institutions
such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

This political calculus, however, changed on the day that commercial
were turned into lethal, incendiary weapons of war. Almost immediately, the
ideological and political framework changed fundamentally.

No longer was it the Bush administration and its ultra-right supporters
a broad people’s movement, but rather a Bush-led coalition fighting

At the same time, labor and the people’s movements were pushed onto the
The rug was pulled out from under the anti-globalization movement. The
of peace, national sovereignty, and independence found themselves
fighting under
less favorable circumstances.

Indeed, in this new ideological environment, the pressure from the
ruling class
on progressive and moderate forces is not simply to rally behind Bush
and his
war drive, but also to mute their differences on every other democratic and
class issue in the interest of fighting the war on terrorism, which
Bush and his aides say will go on for years.

Under the false guise of patriotism and fighting terrorism, administration
spokespersons are demanding political concessions and economic sacrifice
down the line. Bush, Trent Lott, Tom Delay and gang say: postpone the fight
for prescription drugs, infrastructure construction, and economic
relief; forget
about amnesty for undocumented immigrants; put on hold legislation
against racial
profiling and for affirmative action; loosen up environmental
regulations on
oil drilling. So goes the refrain for these modern-day self-proclaimed
who barely conceal their unseemly subservience to corporate interests
and the

As these pimps of Wall Street tell the American people to sacrifice,
of dollars are being handed over to the military, intelligence agencies and
corporate interests. Sweeping legislation that curtails civil rights and
dissent is being enacted. Plans for a lengthy war are being devised.

However, the path ahead for the Bush administration is not uncluttered – in
fact, the plans for a limitless war against terrorism could be an
instance of
political overreach. Although it appears right now that the
administration has
cobbled together a broad coalition of support, the support could well be
and momentary.

Moreover, the objective basis of opposition to the administration’s
is worldwide in scope and cuts across classes and nations. Even its
rivals have points of opposition with its policies. Thus, a broad worldwide
front is both possible and necessary against the most reactionary
sections of
transnational capital.

While I will speak mainly about the process of developing a movement in our
own country, I can’t emphasize enough that, at every point, left,
and center forces should have an eye to extending the front of struggle
borders, across continents, across hemispheres, across the globe.

Not surprisingly, Bush’s use of the overwhelming power of the U.S. military
to fight terrorism is meeting opposition around the world. Soon after
the NATO
declaration expressing unconditional support for the Bush
administration’s plans,
leaders of the Western European governments, save for Tony Blair, began
to qualify
that support.

Among the European people, support is much more scanty. Many thousands have
demonstrated in cities across Europe and a recent public opinion poll
every European country opposing the bombing by a large majority.

In the Middle East and southern Asia, the opposition to military action is
fierce and broad. Not only will terrorist counterattacks probably
result, but
also some fragile and unpopular right-wing governments could implode
under the
weight of mass protests. Clearly, Pakistan falls into this category.
in other parts of the developing world are substantial as well.

The Struggle Continues

At home, the momentary paralysis of labor and other forces in the aftermath
f the terror is beginning to dissipate. With each passing day the
gets a little less charged, thereby allowing broad class and social
forces the
opportunity to revisit issues like jobs, Fast Track, Social Security,
profiling, the environment, and reproductive and immigrant rights, as
well as
to consider more soberly a sensible response o the new terrorist danger.

Even some sections of the Democratic Party are beginning to have second
about their political posture as the struggle moves from rhetoric to
bills and appropriations, and as the costs of this new war become more
Divisions within the congressional Democratic Party caucus are

It would be a monumental mistake, as well as a reflection of political
and sectarianism, to concede Congress as an arena of struggle to the
To the contrary, mass pressure should be brought to bear on Congress as
as on mass leaders who remain reluctant to join the struggle.

Understandably, in the tragedy’s immediate aftermath elected officials and
mass leaders proceeded cautiously, but that moment is passing. A healthy
of partisanship from center, progressive, and left forces is coming back
the political picture, and none too soon.

Labor is fighting against Fast Track authority. Women are fighting to
reproductive rights. Hate crimes legislation is resurfacing. A people’s
stimulus package is finding its way into the congressional debate. There is
growing concern about acts of racist intolerance and the denial of civil
Voices of opposition are raised against the Bush war policy.

Where labor, the racially and nationally oppressed, women, seniors,
peace activists, gays and lesbians, and young people are reentering the
of struggle, it is usually not by way of direct opposition to the
military action
of the Bush administration, even though many may quietly have
reservations about
the use of force to eradicate terrorism. Instead, the points of entry
into struggle
are different for different class and social forces.

Broad democratic forces will engage the Bush administration over democratic
and constitutional liberties. Even sections of the ruling class are
about the sweeping nature of the infringements upon elementary rights being
promoted and implemented by this administration. Of course, the battle will
be uphill now with the passage of Ashcroft’s anti-terrorism bill.

Others will join the struggle around the fight against racial profiling and
other forms of racism that almost inevitably worsen in a war climate.
concern has been expressed for the rights of people of Arab descent and
peoples of color who are the victims of vigilante harassment and
unlawful search,
seizure and arrest. Still more needs to be done to guarantee their
safety and
democratic rights.

And others will join the struggle on other issues such as immigrant rights
and full amnesty.

Labor and the communities of the racially and nationally oppressed will
come into a collision with the Bush administration on the economic
crisis in
the early going.

And well they should. The terrorist attack inflicted an unforeseen blow to
an already unsteady and downward turning economy. Not only did massive
follow, but, no less important, deep uncertainty fell over the prospects of
the economy.

"It is surely wishful thinking," opines The Economist,
"to hope
that the bursting of one of the biggest financial bubbles in history,
with the aftershocks from the most serious attack ever on America’s
soil, will
be followed by the mildest recession in history. That is not to suggest
America will follow Japan with a decade of stagnation. America is in a
state than Japan was at the start of the 1990s. Yet there are good
reasons to
expect America’s recession to be deeper and longer-lasting than most people
now expect."

The Economist goes on to mention some of the most obvious reasons for
its view
that the outlook of the U.S. and world economy could well be dire: the
of investment and borrowing in the 1990s, enormous over-capacity in most
of production worldwide, and declining confidence among all the actors
in the
global economy.

Thus, the struggle for income protection and other forms of economic
infrastructural investment and public works jobs, and counter-cyclical
policies, is a pressing political task for the entire working-class
and its allies. And, of course, we have to wholeheartedly join this

The present struggles in every arena will develop on different levels,
different issues, and through different centers of organization. No
single issue,
no single form, no single demand will draw tens of millions into
struggle at
this moment. But it is probable that issues related to the economic
crisis will
be the main way that our nation’s working people will engage the Bush

Labor’s Role

In this emerging struggle, the role of the labor movement is critical.
To entertain
any notion that the working class and people here or abroad can mount
any kind
of serious challenge to the Bush administration’s policies without labor
at the center of this diverse movement is misguided.

Labor’s leading role is at the core of any winning strategy.

Much the same could be said with regard to the role of movements of the
Mexican-American, and other nationally and racially oppressed peoples.

In the broader movements, and especially the peace movement, new
and coalitions may be required. Sometimes the existing forms of struggle
unable to adapt to changing conditions and requirements of struggle.
they tend to be too narrow in their approach and thus unable to attract and
involve the new and broader forces entering the arena of struggle.

Of crucial importance is to connect the struggles around which people
are gravitating
to Bush’s war policy and ending terrorism. This will not happen
The connections have to be raised in mass organizations and coalitions.

Admittedly, there may be tactical issues that have to be considered, but we
should not allow such difficulties to become a reason to be silent. Rather,
we should find a way to interconnect the immediate issues with the war
and solutions to the problem of terrorism.

This will take some creative and flexible approaches. In this regard,
groups and sectarian tactics at this moment are particularly harmful.
They turn
off the broadest sections of the American people, who, in the last
have to enter the arena of struggle if a different policy is going to be
on the political centers of our country.

At this moment, most Americans don’t take everything Bush and his aides say
at face value, but they are giving him the benefit of the doubt. The
people want "something" done, some action taken, even if they
reservations about it. The most disabling thing in the public mind is to do
nothing, to sit passively in the face of something that is entirely new and

That is not entirely surprising because of the traumatic nature of the
itself and the atmosphere that has been manufactured since September 11
by the
Bush administration with the able assistance of the media, particularly

We have to be mindful of this mass mood as we elaborate tactics and
to winning millions to an alternative policy that both preserves the
peace and
eradicates terrorism. But in addition to taking into account the breadth of
Bush’s support, we have to measure, to the degree that we can, the depth of
public support for the Bush doctrine of interventionism. It could well
be much
thinner than we appreciate.

People’s Mindset

Actually, mass thinking is more complex, nuanced, and contradictory than it
appears. Often, competing ideas contest for dominance in people’s minds.

Which idea eventually emerges as the dominant one rests on both internal
and external pressures.

In the present situation, anger and a desire for revenge compete with a
soberness, a desire for restraint and a humanitarian rejection of the
of innocent people. In New York, for instance – and this may seem
given the massive death and destruction suffered by the great people of one
of the world’s great cities – the mood for restraint, for tolerance, for
is palpable. Similar sentiments are in evidence elsewhere in our

I’m somewhat surprised by the depth and extent of these expressions of
and concern about the loss of innocent lives. It is encouraging.

At the same time, we should not get dizzy with success or minimize the work
that needs to be done to win broad sections of the people to a
different way of eradicating terrorism and preserving peace from that
by the Bush administration.

The heart of the political struggle in the coming weeks is a contest
over what
idea – the idea of restraint and peace, or the idea of aggression – is
in the nation’s collective mind.

To the extent that the peace and justice movements offer a convincing
to the administration’s present political course of action and to the
that we can reach millions with our message, to that extent will
millions be
won to a saner response to the new danger of terrorism. Indeed, the
calibrated reaction of the American people should cause us to take
bolder initiatives
to influence public perceptions in the direction of restraint and
peaceful resolution
of this crisis.

To be sure, we should not act provocatively, but at the same time, we have
to find ways for the whole Communist Party and Young Communist League (YCL)
to engage in and influence this national debate. Is our nation going to
into a wider war or take a step back from the precipice?

Will we work with the world community of nations and in international
to eliminate the scourge of terrorism or will we pursue a unilateral and
response in order to consolidate U.S. imperialism’s hegemony worldwide?

Will the federal government provide economic relief for the victims of the
economic crisis – a crisis that is deepening and extending across the
full length
of the economy – or will we turn a deaf ear?

Will we be a nation of equality, civil liberties, and the right to dissent
or will we be a garrison state in which rights, liberties, and equality are
sacrificed to a phony war against terrorism?

These are some of the questions that we have to respond to in word and deed
at every level of the Party. In the coming days and weeks, we need
better utilize
the People’s Weekly World, Political Affairs and the Internet.

Of course, bringing our ideas to a wider audience has to be combined with a
readiness to join with others in fighting to impose a different policy
on the
Bush administration. Thus at every level of the Party we have to go into
mode. Our plans don’t have to be off the chart, but rather bolder and
more concrete
than usual. We should break with routine and find fresh ways to take

In the course of these struggles, we can build the Party and YCL. And we
do it at an accelerated pace, provided we act with a sense of urgency,
clarity to the struggles, find ways to unite diverse forces, and bring
the struggle
for peace and against Bush’s war on terrorism to every struggle and

Even though we are small, we can make a special contribution to this
But it will take collectivity and lots of initiative, not apart from the
people, but beside them and with them. This is no time to head for safe
Instead, we have to negotiate the stormy seas of life that our nation
now finds
itself immersed in. This is no time to look for security in the confines of
our buildings and meeting halls, but rather in the turbulent waters in
millions are finding their way.

The Roots of Terrorism

One of the most frequently discussed questions is: how do we explain the
feeling abroad and the rise of this new loose network of terrorist

I am not sure that anybody, including ourselves, has a complete answer
to these
questions although it is much easier to explain the reasons behind the rise
of anti-American feeling than to explain the emergence of terrorist groups.
It is important not to confuse the two phenomena. They are distinct,
with points of common ground, although we have to be careful not to
this relationship.

Anti-American feeling arises from many sources. Without trying to be
it arises from the U.S. government-sponsored sanctions against Iraq that
kill children and other innocent people, it arises from the brutal
of the rights of the Palestinian people, it arises from the U.S. support
right-wing regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere, it arises from the
projection of U.S. military power around the world and the
indiscriminate carpet-bombing
of other countries. It issues from the blockades and sanctions against
countries, from the arming and training by U.S. intelligence agencies of
like the mujahideen in Afghanistan, the contras in Nicaragua, and the
death squads in Colombia. It issues from the crippling poverty, rampant
widespread unemployment, environmental degradation, and social breakdown
by hundreds of millions across huge regions and even whole continents.
in recent years, and especially since the fall of the Soviet Union,
these conditions
have worsened considerably as U.S. imperialism and the transnational
seeing no foes even remotely as powerful as the Soviet Union, have
ratcheted up the exploitation of hundreds of millions around the world.

These conditions are the subsoil from which anti-American feeling grows in
so many parts of the world, but this soil itself does not germinate
Exploitation and oppression account for anger and desperation, but do
not directly,
spontaneously, and automatically lead to the emergence of organized and
terrorism. The kind of terror that struck our shores rests on and is the
of an organizing element. It doesn’t just happen. It’s not genetically
on from one generation to another. It is not intrinsic to a people, and
oppressed and exploited people. It doesn’t spring, like a genie from a
from oppressive conditions.

Yes, oppression provokes resistance. But the resistance on the part of the
exploited and oppressed is almost always collective and mass in
character. Sometimes
it is peaceful, sometimes it employs non-peaceful mass methods of
struggle because
the peaceful alternatives have been exhausted. Wasn’t that the case in
our own
revolution and civil war?

Material conditions set the stage for struggle and impart a spontaneous
to the struggle, but by themselves do not lead to systematic terror. For
to occur, an organizing element is essential.

Take the rise of fascism in Germany. To attribute it strictly or mainly to
the crushing economic circumstances in Germany at that time would be a
mistake. To be sure, material conditions were a factor. But material
alone were not enough. Primary was an organizing element – the Nazi
Party, with
its associated Nazi ideology – that was promoted and aided by the most
sections of German capitalism. Over time, the Nazis were able to exploit
real and invented grievances of the German people, combined with terror
to mobilize a mass following behind its fascist political project and
seize the German state and commit the most heinous crimes of the 20th
In similar fashion, the emergence of extreme right-wing and fascist-like
fundamentalism in the Middle East and South Asia did not occur
It took more than exploitation and oppression. An organizing element was

Granted, the wrenching changes in the global capitalist economy, the
projection of the political and military power of U.S. imperialism, and the
crushing of democratic movements and democratic alternatives by U.S.
and its right-wing allies in this region of the world aided this
process, but
the backward Islamic clericalist groups had to work the crowd. Like
other right-wing
groups, right-wing fundamentalist clerics demagogically played on real
and legitimate anger to win support for backward clericalist ideology
and movements,
and in some cases for terrorist practices.

Not surprisingly, these clericalist Islamic movements received generous
from our own intelligence agencies, which counted on them to do some
dirty work
against communist, socialist, and progressive nationalist forces in
their own
and other countries.

Instead of pointing their finger at the role of the transnational
US imperialism and their own capitalist and landlord class, the
right-wing clerics
frame the struggle as a war between the faithful and the sinner, between
and evil, between Islamic and western civilizations, and they offer the
of a right-wing, in some cases fascistic, theocratic state as a
political program.

Their message resonates because on the surface it appears that the clash
the West and the Moslem world is a clash of civilizations and warring
And without a democratic and left alternative to contest such views and
different political alternatives, such a message is more likely to take
among some sections of the people.

Just a few decades ago, circumstances were significantly different.
and progressive nationalist movements had a broad mass constituency and
an independent
developmental path was feasible in large measure because of the Soviet
but not now.

With the collapse of socialism, the nearly unrivaled dominance of global
and the weakning of the progressive and socialist forces in the Moslem
the space for such development barely exists.

This has provided the soil on which clericalist reactionary appeals have
a hearing among masses. The fascistic clericalist groups like bin
Laden’s are
the most extreme form of this political trend in the same way that
Timothy McVeigh
was on the same political continuum as some extreme right politicians in
own country.

Actually, the growth of religious fundamentalism with a distinct extreme
political cast is a worldwide phenomenon. We see evidence of it in our
own country
as well as other countries. Of course, it has different features and a
history in each country and region of the world.

At the same time, it is almost always allied at one stage or another
with the
most reactionary sections of the ruling elite. It almost invariably acts as
a mass constituency for political reaction.

It seems to especially arise in societies where established ways of life
values are being challenged or disrupted. This includes our own country.
the idiom of the religious text and demagogically exploiting perceived
like western secularism, big government, and contemporary cultural
mores, these
movements attempt to reach people who feel powerless, rootless and

Moreover, the leadership of these movements is typically not from
strata, but rather from middle and upper classes. And, finally, while
such clericalist
movements move in a political extremist direction, not all resort to
against innocent civilians.

In sum, where people are surrounded by upheaval and crisis, are offered no
mass democratic solutions, and are divorced from working-class and people’s
movements, they are susceptible to the ideology of the extreme right and
appeal of reckless, desperate, and anti-human actions that in the end
only serve
the ruling classes. It is therefore of greater urgency to build a mass
and working-class movement for peace, democracy, social justice and against
terrorism in our own country and globally. In fact, it is the only way
to eliminate

For the sake of balance, we should note that not all religious
are political extremists, nor by the same token are all political
religious fundamentalists. At the same time, there does appear to be a
overlapping of the two in recent years. This occurs in a broader context of
a closer co-mingling of religion and the state in our country and elsewhere
around the world.

Breaking the Cycle of Violence

The foremost question to be answered today is: how do we break the cycle of
violence and eradicate terrorism?

First, we have to unequivocally condemn terrorism and express our full
for efforts to capture the terrorists and bring them to justice. They
be held accountable for their horrific act of terror against innocent
Nothing justifies such an act. It is criminal. But what must guide our
and the world is the rule of international law and not military
reprisals; reason
and restraint, not hysteria; justice, not revenge.

Second, the organizing force to combat and eradicate terrorism is the
Nations, and especially its General Assembly. An international campaign
terror should be the property of the world community of nations.
Terrorism is
a global problem. No single nation – especially not our own – should
claim proprietary
rights over it. The United Nations should be vested with developmental,
and policing powers to conduct this battle against terrorism.

Of course, our government should recommit itself to paying our back dues
conducting itself like a responsible world citizen.

Third, we must reject, in no uncertain terms, the notion that frames
this struggle
against terrorism as an irreconcilable clash between the civilized and
world, between the Judeo-Christian and Moslem worlds, between modernity and
traditional ways of life or between good and evil. Such concepts hopelessly
obscure a complex issue and are steeped in national and racial
chauvinism. Rather,
we should see the struggle against terrorism as a struggle of the world
of nations and people against all forms of terrorism and warfare.

Fourth, there must be a settlement, in accordance with United Nations
of the outstanding conflicts in the world today, particularly in the Middle
East. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the main cause of
today, a just resolution of that 30-year conflict that guarantees the
full national rights, including an independent state, and security for
would turn the temperature down in the world.

Fifth, a worldwide movement must call on states and governments to renounce
the use of forces as a means to settle conflicts between states and
This is an imperative of the 21st century. Violence begets violence and, in
this century, can result in the extermination of whole populations, even
of humanity.

In this era, Communists have to see life and the planet on which we
live, work,
love, cry, express joy, feel sorrow, bear children, and care for the
and sick, as precious, fragile and contingent. We are not pacifists, to
be sure,
but we are aware of the new dangers to humankind in the 21st century as
as the violent and bloody history of the previous century. Thus, we
should be
the most vigorous advocates of peaceful solutions to humankind’s
problems. On
our banner should be inscribed a dove and the slogan of peace.

This is not a tactical admonition. It should be a fundamental and strategic
concept and value of the Communist movement. Our moral and political
hangs on it to a large degree.

Which brings me to phrases like "the chickens come home to roost"
or "what goes around comes around." We should leave such
to Jerry Falwell and his kind.

They are not worthy of the left and progressive movements. They suggest an
indifference to life. But don’t we believe that every life, whether it
is Palestinian,
Iraqi, Afghani, Russian, Chinese, South African, Colombian, Cuban, or
is equally precious?

In no way do the crimes of U.S. imperialism overseas mitigate the sorrow
tragedy of what occurred on our own soil on September 11. The lives of
of innocent people were taken away in a split second and vast numbers of
lost a parent.

The attack was not a blow against imperialism. It was a blow for
It strengthened the hand of the Bush administration and the ultra right.

I read that a communist in another country said, in reference to the
11 attack, something like "we should not laugh and we should not
I think this is morally indefensible, politically bankrupt and harmful.

Such a statement is a caricature of anti-imperialism. It is antithetical to
Marxism. It has an anti-American smell to it. The anti-American feeling
of peoples
around the globe is understandable, but such feelings should be off grounds
to communists.

Vietnamese communists, even at the height of the war, always made the
between U.S. imperialism and the U.S. people. So do the Cuban

Lenin once said, "There are two nations in every modern nation …
There are two national cultures in every culture." On another
he said, "Is a sense of national pride alien to us, Great Russian
conscious proletarians? Certainly not! We love our language and our
and we are doing our utmost to raise her toiling masses to the level of
and socialist consciousness."

On still another occasion, Lenin wrote, "If a Ukrainian Marxist allows
himself to be swayed by this quite legitimate and natural hatred of the
Russian oppressors to such a degree that he transfers even a particle of
hatred, even if it be only by estrangement, to the proletarian culture
and proletarian
cause of the Great Russian workers, then such a Marxist will get bogged
in bourgeois nationalism."

National Pride, Anti-Imperialism

National pride and feeling are not, or at least should not be, foreign
to U.S.
communists and to the rest of the left. We should not have the image of
who think there is barely anything right about our country, that it is
flawed in every way. There is nothing revolutionary about such an

Our country has a democratic and working-class culture in which we can and
should have great pride. We make a mistake if we do not embrace this
and culture, if we do not see others and ourselves as continuing this
We should not cede love of country, pride in country, and inspiration by
to the extreme right.

We don’t advocate unthinkingly wrapping ourselves in the flag and every
of our country, but we should not concede our national heritage and symbols
so easily. The left and progressive forces are the best patriots and we
hesitate to say so.

We call for the removal of the confederate flag from states in the South
of its history and what it represents, but I don’t think that we should
our national flag to be the property of the right. To be sure, the flag
in Saigon on the side of U.S. imperialism, it led the charge up San Juan
and it rode into Mexico on a mission of annexation in the mid-19th century.
But the flag also flew in Normandy in 1944 as our country opened up the
front, it was at Gettysburg in 1864, it was carried into battle by the
Brigade during the Spanish Civil War, and it adorned the speakers’ platform
at the historic civil rights march in 1963.

Anti-Americanism has too long been an ideological strain on the left and in
our Party. It is not a revolutionary concept nor has it anything to do with
fighting imperialism. Sometimes it may sound good, and it may even make
people feel self-satisfied. But we’re not immersed in the class struggle to
make ourselves feel good.

Our aim is to change the world. But to do that we have to reach beyond the
left because the left doesn’t make history. It is only when the left
joins with
tens of millions that there is a real possibility of isolating the
extreme right
and its transnational backers and moving the country in a different.

Anti-American feelings and slogans may momentarily mobilize some people to
take to the streets, but their potential to move beyond narrowly
limits and to capture the imagination of millions is problematic, to put it
mildly. It is a major and unnecessary concession to the Bush
It weakens the fight against imperialism and international terrorism and
a sane policy of peace and justice. It turns people off. Perhaps in the
when many of us were young radicals, it was understandable, but in the
circumstances anti-American feeling and slogans are harmful.

At the same time, we have to struggle against any influence of national
in our ranks and beyond us. That constitutes a major challenge at this
But we will convince few people of the harmfulness of national arrogance if
we betray in our words and deeds an anti-American attitude.

Similarly, communists in other countries do their own struggle no
service if
they opportunistically give ground on anti-American feeling among their own
people. Consistent anti-imperialism requires a distinction between the U.S.
people on the one hand and U.S. imperialism and the Bush administration
on the
other. But it is precisely this distinction that expressions of
feeling fail to make.

A Small and Shrinking Planet

We live on a small and shrinking planet. Scientific achievements have
time and distance. People are becoming more interdependent and
We are more aware that we share a common humanity with peoples around
the world.

At the same time, the contemporary world is also more vulnerable and
Political power and economic opportunities are increasingly unequal. The
landscape is scarred by seemingly unending wars. The environment is
under enormous
stress. Social progress, even the survival of our planet, seems more
and problematic now. Our view of the future is less linear than it was a

The terrible tragedy of September 11 and its aftermath bring home this
with extraordinary force.

We as a nation have to decide how we are going to respond to this terrible,
heartbreaking tragedy and, in a larger sense, to the new world in which
we live.
President Bush would like us to take the sword from our sheath and wield it
to construct a new world order with U.S. imperialism sitting on top. Such a
course of action, however, will only make our world more fragile and
It will further scar our earth and its billions of citizens. It will
our very survival.

As a nation, we have to say that such a future is unacceptable. We have to
envision a different country and world – one in which our children and
across this globe can grow up secure in every way.

One of the consequences of the terrorist attack is that people across
our land
are asking themselves in a new way: what is our role in the world? This
is a
fundamental question for our nation and the September 11 tragedy is forcing
each of us to engage in this national dialogue.

The choices are stark. Will we as a nation walk lightly on this earth or
with heavy boots? Will we engage in dialogue or resort to diktat?

Will we be good neighbors and world citizens or unilaterally impose our
of the future on a reluctant world? Will we cooperate and share our
or continue to plunder the earth and its inhabitants? Will we rule with the
sword or cooperate with the plowshare? Will we wall ourselves off or
join with
the rest of humanity and address the global issues that are literally
for resolution?

Most of the world’s people favor peace, neighborliness, cooperation,
solidarity, and accenting our common humanity as the only way to make
the world
safe and whole again. Such a vision requires that we transform the world in
which we live. To start, the tribunes of peace have to take the world
away from
the makers of war in all of its forms.

Our Party is among the peacemakers. It is where we belong and it is
among this
multitude of the world’s peoples that our vision of socialism will find its

We shall overcome – Sí se puede!


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  • QHow does the CPUSA feel about the current American foreign...
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