The Worker

American Students and the New Anti-War Movement

By Max Reed, President of the American Student Union

It is clear to all active in American anti-imperialist politics that the movement for peace in the USA has become a deep and systemic crisis. For many years the anti-war “movement” has been stage-managed and run by washed-up “activists” from the New Left. This has led to extreme sectarianism, isolation, and utter failure to connect with the American people. In response to this stagnation, a new political realignment is now underway. The Rage Against the War Machine rally of February 19th has established a clear line of delineation between those seeking a popular movement against American imperialism and movementist “activists” who have proven their inability to lead anything more than book clubs. 

The Rage Against the War Machine Coalition (RATWM) included broad strata from across the political spectrum. It was led and organized by the Libertarian Party and the left-populist Peoples Party alongside other formations and groups. The demands of this rally and RATWM were for the end of American imperialism and the surveillance state. These demands are highly popular amongst the American people who seek an end to the endless wars, and a respect for their constitutional rights and civil liberties. 

For these reasons the American Student Union intervened and entered the RATWM coalition to play a direct role in building up a new anti-war movement and to represent American youth. The ASU was one of the few youth organizations represented at this event. It represented not only an anti-imperialist presence at the rally but an authentically socialist position. Many on the American “left” opposed attending this event based upon individual speakers, non-left organizations, and the audacity of this new coalition to bypass the stagnant movement managers who failed to prevent and end the Iraq War. 

This rally could’ve been even larger if not for the suppression of information by major social media companies, a media blackout, and full opposition from the established “left”. Regardless of such, this rally successfully brought out thousands of Americans who otherwise would not be active in the anti-war movement and exposed them to the anti-imperialist positions of the ASU. This rally has already seen results, ASU is taking a large part alongside other groups in organizing in-person branches of the RATWM coalition. More activists are disrupting politicians and confronting our elected officials for their support for US aggression abroad. In this way, a real anti-war movement is now developing which in the future 2024 elections will seek a peace candidate for office who supports de-escalation, rebuilding treaties against nuclear weapons, and an end to new regime change wars. 

Let us now compare the RATWM rally to the March 18th rally held by the ANSWER Coalition. The March 18th rally was supposed to be a “left” alternative to the RAGTWM rally. All stops were to be pulled to increase the number of those attending this rally. Organizations flew in members, bussed members to major cities, and bombarded social media with news of this rally. All in all, these efforts came for naught, March 18th came and went. In DC itself, fewer people were present for the March 18th rally compared to the February 19th RATWM rally. No new coalition has been built, and the rally was less energetic and innovative and more of a forum for the established movementist organizations to hand out newspapers, flyers, and pamphlets, a recruitment effort for these movementist sects, rather than an authentic anti-war rally. 

What was the ASU’s response to the March 18th Rally? The ASU along with its affiliates attended this event on a basis of principle. We sought to unite the anti-war movement rather than divide it. To bridge the division between these two respective rallies and present a more anti-imperialist anti-NATO stance to those who would attend the March 18th Rally but otherwise refused to take part in the RATWM rally. This principled action, although correct, did not achieve the membership boost or success that ASU’s actions during the RAGTWM brought. 

So what now? What is the role of the ASU in the anti-war movement? Very simply, the ASU seeks to build a broad coalition united on the basis of abolishing NATO, withdrawing all US military bases abroad, a massive cut in the military budget, and an end to American imperialism. These demands come in concert with ASU’s opposition to the militarization of High School and College campuses and our support for our fraternal students abroad in countries under attack by US imperialism. 

The end of the American Empire and its exercise of force abroad will prove very much a positive development for American youth and students. No more will our taxpayer dollars be used for the benefit of the American monopolists or oligarchs but rather the door will be opened for the betterment of our country. Imagine an America that has full employment, every youth is able to complete their education free of charge, where healthcare is no longer a luxury, and where the heights of the economy act in the interests of America’s working people. This is the America that ASU seeks to build and move towards. 

This America will not come into being via the dead movementists feeding off of the corpse of the New Left. But rather a populist, broad-spectrum anti-war coalition. American youth do not have time for petty drama or surface-level differences when the question of nuclear war is on the table. This is why ASU is taking a part in building new coalitions and why the ASU refounded itself in August of 2022. It is to build a movement of American youth and students who strive for peace, jobs, and democracy.

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