Oppose Domestic Repression, Imperialist "Retaliation"
The World Trade Center Attack
Statement of the Political Bureau of the Spartacist League/U.S.
Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 764, 14 September 2001.
SEPTEMBER 12--Yesterday's attack on the World Trade Center, carried out through the hijacking of civilian airliners that killed hundreds of passengers and crew, was an indefensible act of criminal terror. While it may be viewed as a symbol of the wealth and global reach of U.S. imperialism, the World Trade Center had workers of all races, ethnicities and religions who were employed there. And at 9 a.m. on a workday morning, thousands of other workers--transit, construction, office and countless others--were traveling through or in the vicinity of the Twin Towers.
It is not simply that the target wasn't even an institution representing the brutal and murderous U.S. imperialist rulers. Those who perpetrated this horrific attack (and there is no evidence at all as to who that was) embrace the same mentality as the racist rulers of America-- identifying the working masses with their capitalist exploiters and oppressors!
The ruling parties--Democrats and Republicans--are all too eager to be able to wield the bodies of those who were killed and wounded in order to reinforce capitalist class rule. It's an opportunity for the exploiters to peddle "one nation indivisible" patriotism to try to direct the burgeoning anger at the bottom of this society away from themselves and toward an indefinable foreign "enemy," as well as immigrants in the U.S., and to reinforce their arsenal of domestic state repression against all the working people. This is particularly convenient as hundreds of thousands more jobs are being axed--adding to the mountain of human poverty, misery and all-sided degradation that has been created by the American ruling class over the past decade with the destruction of social programs benefiting the working class, minorities and the poor.
The theme is "rally 'round the flag" as Republican president Bush, with complete bipartisan support from Congress, readies the Pentagon war machine for terror attacks and worse against the people of those countries they claim "harbored" the terrorists. The last such "retaliation," following the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, rained 80 cruise missiles down on Afghanistan and on a pharmaceuticals plant in Sudan. Previous to that, there was the all-out war against Iraq in 1991, a war which continues with regular U.S. bombing raids, while over one and a half million Iraqis have been killed by the UN starvation blockade. The capitalist media recalls "Pearl Harbor" in blaring headlines. But it was U.S. imperialism that was the first and only country in the world to use atomic weapons in the 1945 nuclear incineration of a quarter-million people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
As communists in the belly of the imperialist beast, we fight to mobilize the working people here in opposition to the war aims and military adventures of the American rulers abroad. We stood for the military defense of Iraq against U.S. imperialism during the Gulf War and in the face of the subsequent terror bombing, and opposed the starvation blockade--an act of war--from the outset. Likewise, in the face of the U.S.-led NATO onslaught against Serbia two years ago, which destroyed the entire infrastructure of that country, we raised the banner: Defeat U.S. imperialism through workers revolution! Defend Serbia! In the case of both Iraq and Serbia, we said that it was the task of the workers of those countries to overthrow the bloody nationalist regimes that oppress them.
In the wake of the World Trade Center attack, various concocted "incidents" have been flying fast and furious in the bourgeois media. Stories that the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania was on its way to Camp David (how would they know?), that a bomb had been planted at the Washington Monument, that the military had shot down a plane over Washington, D.C.--all vanished almost as soon as they were reported. This is standard imperialist war propaganda, just like the manufactured Gulf of Tonkin incident which the U.S. used to escalate its war against Vietnam, killing three million Vietnamese before the heroic workers and peasants of that country defeated the American behemoth.
The attack on the World Trade Center has been attributed to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic groups like Hamas, the Afghan Taliban government and Osama bin Laden. All have vehemently denied any responsibility. But even if it were bin Laden, now the all- purpose enemy of U.S. imperialism, he is the creature of the American imperialist rulers who bought and paid for his services in the Islamic "holy war" against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. We hailed the Red Army intervention in Afghanistan, noting that this was one of the few genuinely progressive acts by the Soviet Stalinist bureaucracy, offering the possibility of extending social gains of the 1917 Russian Revolution particularly to the hideously oppressed women of Afghanistan. The purpose of bin Laden and his CIA-backed Islamic fundamentalists was to perpetuate barbarity and enslavement in Afghanistan.
But it is not simply the apparently ubiquitous and unidentifiable "enemy without" that they are gearing up to brutally repress. The capitalist rulers will also seize on the attack on the World Trade Center to dramatically increase the powers of their state--the cops, courts, prisons and armed forces--against the "enemy within." In the aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Clinton's Democratic Party administration enacted the "Omnibus Counterterrorism Act" under which immigrants and all "aliens" can be subjected to star chamber proceedings in secret trials without any charges even being presented. The Democrats, with the full support of the Republicans, also enacted the Effective Death Penalty Act greatly extending the number of crimes punishable by death.
The most immediate targets of the forces of repression will be any and all people of Near Eastern descent, as this chauvinist hysteria goes into overdrive. This is true not only in the U.S. but in West Europe where, for example, the French government has flooded the subways with paramilitary police forces to terrorize those of North African and Near Eastern origin. More fundamentally, the purpose is to intimidate and constrain the multiracial working class from any social struggle. To be sure, the bourgeoisie's labor lieutenants in the AFL-CIO bureaucracy--who tie the workers to the parties of their exploiters, particularly the Democrats--do their utmost in this regard. But as the gap between the handful of filthy rich who profit from the increasingly brutal exploitation of labor and the rest of the society grows exponentially, the rulers fear that even the spark of protest could provoke a social conflagration. Continuing to build up their forces of domestic repression, which they have long deployed against the hideously oppressed ghetto and barrio masses, is crucial to maintaining their class rule.
With the counterrevolutionary destruction of the former Soviet Union, a workers state which however bureaucratically degenerated did represent an alternative to capitalist exploitation and oppression, the U.S. boasted of being the "world's only superpower" and the American imperialist rulers thought they would face no challenge as they run roughshod over the rest of the world. It is a measure of the intense hatred for U.S. imperialism that the destruction of the World Trade Center, at the cost of likely thousands of innocent lives, could be greeted enthusiastically by many around the world. It is also a measure of the lack of any perceived possibility of defeating U.S. imperialism from within. The men who run Wall Street and Washington can and must be swept away from within by the working class in the U.S., which includes large numbers of black, Latino and, increasingly, immigrant workers from the Near East, the Indian subcontinent and East Asia.
The pusillanimous reformist "left" in this country, particularly typified by the International Socialist Organization (ISO), now points a finger at the American rulers' support to bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban as "freedom fighters" during the Cold War. Left unsaid is the ISO's own support for these reactionaries against the Soviet Red Army. In Europe, the groups that were once called the "far left" long ago sold their political souls to their "own" bourgeoisies. For them, railing against American imperialism as the "main enemy" is simply an alibi for their fealty to the social-democratic governments that were installed to carry out massive austerity against the working class.
In the neocolonial countries, where the masses of people are confronted with the complete bankruptcy of petty-bourgeois nationalism, there has been a growth of religious obscurantism, particularly Islam. In the face of the armed might of the U.S. imperialists, and the genocidal Zionist rulers they bankroll and arm, some see little alternative than to strap their bodies with explosives and hurl themselves against their perceived oppressors.
Whoever the perpetrators of the suicide attack on the World Trade Center, it demonstrated the mindset of those who, typically religious fanatics, believe they have a god-given mission to exterminate all "non- believers." Such Islamic zealots see trade unionists, leftists and unveiled women as infidels deserving of god's wrath. In its essence, their outlook is no different than that of Christian fundamentalist bigots who bomb abortion clinics in the U.S., where the domestic secret police, the FBI, was until recently headed by Louis Freeh, a member of the truly sinister Catholic Opus Dei. Nor is this outlook any different than that of fascistic Zionists who seek to "cleanse" the Palestinian nation from what is deemed to be the Jewish "holy land."
Terrorist bombings tend to be carried out by nationalist or religious forces because they are at best indifferent or at worst hostile to the entire population they consider to be the enemy. The World Trade Center attack was and could only have been aimed at the indiscriminate slaughter of as many--ordinary, multiethnic, working--people as possible.
As Marxists, we oppose terrorism as a strategy, even that which derives from real, if misguided, anti-imperialist impulses and takes as its target genuine institutions of state repression, which was manifestly not the case in the attack on the World Trade Center. Substituting individual acts, however heroic in particular circumstances, is counterposed to proletarian class struggle and the consciousness the working class needs if it is to stand at the head of all the oppressed in the revolutionary overthrow of the entire system of imperialist exploitation and repression. Rather, such terrorism serves mainly to provide a pretext for the bourgeois state to intensify repression.
In the aftermath of capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union, the American imperialist rulers have sought to find a surrogate for the war against "godless Communism" in the spectre of "Islamic terrorism." This is the new external enemy against which they have sought to rally the population, and they aim to use the attack on the World Trade Center for furthering public support for their imperialist terror abroad, fostering the lie that the working people of the U.S. have a common interest with their capitalist exploiters. We say: U.S. imperialism hands off the world! The main enemy is at home! Our purpose is to build the proletarian, internationalist, revolutionary party that will infuse the working class with the understanding of its social power and historic interests as the gravedigger of U.S. imperialism.