Why anti-corporate activists should campaign against the war

October 24, 2001


Solidarity with the Third World has been at the heart of the mass anti-corporate protests, from Seattle and Melbourne to Genoa. The daily lives of the majority of people on this planet consist of fear, absolute poverty and misery. The realisation that the capitalist governments of the First World — led by the imperialist US state — are central to maintaining this global system of inequality has awoken many people to the need to resist.

The anti-corporate movement that has been growing since Seattle has radicalised youth on a scale unprecedented since the 1960s anti-war movement. At that time, solidarity with the Third World, in particular the Vietnamese freedom fighters, was at the heart of the youth radicalisation.

Since Seattle, it has been the new movement's solidarity with the Third World that has made the corporate rulers tremble.

Western capitalist governments are trying to use US President George Bush's "war against terrorism" to undermine the solidarity with, and sympathy for, the people of the Third World that the anti-corporate movement has been able to generate within broad sections of the First World's peoples.

They are trying to demonise the people of the Third World by associating their just demands with the motives and goals of Osama bin Laden. Bush and British PM Tony Blair hope that if they can convince working people in the First World that working people in the Third World are less than human, then it's all right to kill them. For big business, widespread acceptance of such ideas make it much more acceptable to exploit, oppress and deny Third World workers their human rights.

Anti-corporate activists must throw themselves 100% into the movement to end the US-British war against Afghanistan if we want to build on the gains of Seattle, Melbourne, Prague and Genoa. Now more than ever our solidarity with the people of the Third World needs to be strengthened and solidified.

A war for corporate domination

The so-called "war against terrorism" is simply the continuation by military means of the economic and political policies of the corporate globalisers. The US is using the September 11 mass murders as an excuse to defend and extend US imperialism's domination of the Third World in general, and of the Middle East and Central Asia in particular.

Any government that opposes US domination will be labelled "terrorist" and targeted. The US State Department already lists seven states and 29 organisations as being "terrorists". States on the list include Iran, Iraq and Cuba. Organisations include the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and other liberation movements.

It is also a war being waged for US control of oil. Proposed pipelines across Afghanistan — which have been stalled by the continuing civil war there — will provide access to the large oil reserves in the countries of the Caspian Sea basin. The US government wants a friendly regime in Afghanistan because of its position between Pakistan's ports and oil-rich countries in Central Asia.

The "crusade" against terrorism will entail the erosion of democratic rights in First World countries, in particular for the young activists of the anti-corporate movement.

Louis J. Freeh, director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, made it clear during his May 10 appearance before the US Senate committees that deal with appropriations, armed services and intelligence that anti-corporate activists and socialists will be defined as terrorists:

"... left-wing groups generally profess a revolutionary socialist doctrine and view themselves as protectors of the people against the 'dehumanising effects' of capitalism and imperialism. They aim to bring about change in the United States through revolution rather than through the established political process ... Anarchists and extremist socialist groups — many of which, such as the Workers' World Party, Reclaim the Streets, and Carnival Against Capitalism — have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in the United States. For example, anarchists, operating individually and in groups, caused much of the damage during the 1999 World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Seattle."

While the US government is trying to present its military attack under the guise of fighting the reactionary Taliban government, it doesn't take much scratching to expose the hypocrisy. If the US was so concerned with the oppressive Taliban regime, why did it quietly welcome its creation by Pakistan's intelligence service in 1994 and its seizure of Kabul in 1996? What about US support for similar reactionary regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? Why did the US fund and arm the religious fanatics of the mujaheddin, from which the Taliban evolved, in order to crush the progressive, pro-woman, secular government of Afghanistan that came to power in 1978?


US foreign policy has always been geared towards maximising profits for US big business, not meeting the needs of the world's population. In 1999, the US spent US$276 billion on its military, just over a third of the world's total military expenditure.

One company sure to make a buck out of Bush's war drive is Lockheed Martin. By revenue, Lockheed Martin is the 52nd largest corporation in the US, with sales of US$25.3 billion in 1999. Of this, US$12.6 billion came from Pentagon contracts, making it the US military's largest supplier. As Texan governor, George Bush unsuccessfully sought to sell Texas' welfare system to Lockheed Martin-owned companies.

Arms manufacturers also receive US$8 billion in subsidies and tax breaks from the US government each year, including US$3.3 billion in grants to foreign countries to buy US armaments and US$2 billion to pay foreign countries' outstanding debts to arms companies.

An anti-corporate catchcry heard around the world is "another world is possible". At the heart of the movement is the demand for a better economic and political system. There is a lot of discussion what this new system will look like and how can it be won.

The US-led war will cause many more people to ask questions. What kind of system breeds such madness? What kind of world are we living in that drives people to such desperate acts like those on September 11?

How mad is it that we are living in a world where every five seconds a child dies of hunger? What sort of system allows 24% of the world's population to live in severe poverty? How senseless is it that the personal wealth of Bill Gates more than the combined incomes of 180 million people?

Bush's war is no solution. The solution is to get rid of this mad world of oppression and poverty that breeds misery and hatred. The responsibility for this situation lies with the tiny capitalist ruling classes of the US, Australia and the other Western countries, that own and control the world's wealth.

The key demands of the anti-corporate movement — cancellation of Third World debt and the abolition of US-controlled institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank — are part of the solution.

We need to build a powerful people's movement that can grow strong enough to take the power back. The political impact of the anti-corporate movement over the last few years puts us in a strong position to build a mass movement that can stop this war.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.