Saturday, March 17, 2007

*THE ABC'S ON THE WAR BUDGET

COMMENTARY

NOT ONE PENNY, NOT ONE PERSON FOR THE WAR!

ATTACHING UNENFORCEABLE RIDERS ONTO THE WAR APPROPRIATIONS BILL IS NOT A NO VOTE ON THE WAR BUDGET. HONOR THE MEMORY OF THE GERMAN SOCIAL DEMOCRAT KARL LIEBKNECHT-HE KNEW HOW TO VOTE NO ON THE WAR BUDGET.

FORGET DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS AND GREENS- BUILD A WORKERS PARTY THAT FIGHTS FOR A WORKERS GOVERNMENT!


WRITTEN ON MARCH 17TH 2007 THE DAY OF THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ORIGINAL MARCH ON THE PENTAGON


Okay, one more time on the war budget. As I have repeatedly mentioned over the last year or so the only meaningful parliamentary maneuver on the Iraq War is a no vote on the war budget, under the principle of not one penny, not one person for the war. I have nevertheless been castigated lately for a seeming softness on the Democrats when I mentioned that the beginning of wisdom was a straight up and down no vote on the budget. (See ONCE AGAIN ON THE DEMOCRATS AND THEIR IRAQ WAR in the archives for March 2007). Some very politically savvy acquaintances of mine have assumed that this meant political support for the Democratic efforts in Congress, particularly in the House, for the various pieces of legislation now before those bodies. Apparently they have missed my very clear statement that we cannot support such legislation.

Why no such support? All the riders on the legislation, and I mean all, are attached in order to pass the war budget. The only control is over the timetable for withdrawal. That, dear readers, is very, very far from not one penny, not one person anti-war politics. Where, in God's name is that a capitulation to Democrats? No one, I repeat, not one of the Democrats from 'fellow traveler' Vermont Senator Bernie Saunders to Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich has advocated a straight up and down no vote on the war budget. That said; let us take a look at history to see what a real parliamentary anti-war war budget vote looks like.

I have mentioned elsewhere the name of the revolutionary German Social Democrat Karl Liebknecht in association with my model for what a parliamentary anti-war leader should look like, and even he had to do some somersaults to come out to the right decision. (See March 2006 blog archives.) As is well known, or should be well known, the Western European social democracy as institutionalized in the Second International before World War I was formally committed to the fight against war and especially imperialist war. That included a pro forma commitment to opposition to the capitalist war budgets. As we know, to our regret, those sentiments were fine in peace time but by the time that the war drums for World War I started most European socialist parties were committed to vote in favor of their own nation's war budget. Most notorious in this regard was the stance of the German Social Democratic Party, the largest and most organized party in the International, that voted unanimously (including Liebknecht) to support the Kaiser's war budget on August 4, 1914.

An explanation is in order about Liebknecht's initial vote. The German Social Democratic Party's parliamentary delegation in 1914 (composed at the time of 110 members) was bound by bloc voting. Since the majority in caucus voted for the budget Liebknecht felt obliged to go along at the time, but not for long. By December of 1914 he had broken that fictitious solidarity and cast the lone against the war appropriations. For those familiar with the Liebknecht story, and those who are not, he went on to cast more no votes and got a few more Social Democrats to vote with him (not always for the same principled reason or with his intensity). Ultimately his agitation led to the lifting of his parliamentary immunity and eventual imprisonment for what amounted to treason against the German state. Liebknecht was later release as a result of the events of the November 1918 German Revolution and shortly thereafter assassinated, along with Rosa Luxemburg, after attempting to establish a Socialist Republic during the failed Spartacist uprising of January 1919.

To even tell the Liebknecht story in the content of what today passes for anti-war bourgeois politicians seems slightly ridiculous. With the Iraqi War seemingly never ending and subject to increased 'phantom' escalation with the latest news that the American military command in Iraq want several thousand MORE troops to support the already committed five ‘surge’ brigades anything short of a no vote seems less courageous than usual, if that is possible for capitalist politicans.