Chicago Indymedia :
Chicago Indymedia

LOCAL Announcement :: Peace

Chicago ISO Statement on the October 27th Demonstration

...The reason we are withdrawing our endorsement is because of the invitations extended to certain politicians to speak, especially senators Richard Durbin and Barack Obama....
Statement of the Chicago International Socialist Organization on the Chicago October 27th regional antiwar demonstration

Mass protests are desperately needed to galvanize a growing antiwar majority to end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. More than four years into the occupation of Iraq, upwards of 27,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded and more than 3,700 have been killed. One million Iraqis have died.

It is the hope of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) that the October 27th United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) regional demonstration in Chicago will bring out large numbers against this barbaric war. The ISO certainly intends to mobilize and build for the protest.

Two incompatible political agendas

However, it is quite clear that there will be two incompatible political agendas present on October 27. On the one hand, people from the various endorsing organizations and beyond will be present to voice their opposition to the war. Many have worked tirelessly to oppose the war.

On the other hand, Democratic Party politicians who have repeatedly proven their fidelity to the Iraq War have been invited to speak. This has become an even greater problem, as the dominant forces in the leadership of the Democratic Party prepare, not to end the war, but to “take it over” from the Bush Administration after the 2008 election.

These invitations only serve to direct the energies and anger of the antiwar movement—once again—into support for politicians who have no intention of ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Withdrawing our endorsement

It has long been the ISO’s policy to support any genuine antiwar protest. Nor do we oppose inviting politicians to speak if they have shown themselves to oppose the war, whatever other, often very significant, disagreements we may have with them.

From the beginning, however, we have had serious concerns about the way in which the local October 27th antiwar demonstration had been organized. We were told we could participate in organizing only if we did not raise any meaningful disagreements. We, of course, decided that we could not accept those limitations and have not participated in the organizing meetings. Nevertheless, we eventually decided to endorse the event and mobilize for it.

While we intend to build and mobilize for the protest, we must withdraw our endorsement of the Chicago demonstration.

This protest has been organized in such a way as to freeze out left-wing organizations and individuals, under the false assumption that the left or slogans around issues such as Palestine or Afghanistan have “frightened” away ordinary people in past Chicago protests. This is an elitist approach and a false assessment of many past protests organized successfully, in part, by the left.

The problem with Durbin, Obama and Daley

We are not in disagreement with the main demands of the protest, though we would have wanted them to reflect more opposition to broader issues of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. The reason we are withdrawing our endorsement is because of the invitations extended to certain politicians to speak, especially senators Richard Durbin and Barack Obama.

Over the summer a number of antiwar protests were held at Senator Richard Durbin’s Chicago offices, organized by groups such as the American Friends Service Committee, Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the Campus Antiwar Network, among others. These protests included sit-ins, and some included non-violent civil disobedience and arrests.

Unmoved by these actions or the seventy percent of the state that opposes the war, Dick Durbin voted once again to fund the occupation on September 27—and again on October 1—along with the vast majority of the Senate.

Barack Obama could not be bothered to show up for that vote. However, there should be little doubt at this point as to where the junior senator’s sympathies lie. At the Democratic primary debate on September 25, Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards all refused to entertain the idea of a full withdrawal of U.S. troops by 2013.

Obama made his position regarding a promised pullout by January 2013 clear; “I think it would be irresponsible.” This is not to mention Obama’s saber rattling against Iran and Pakistan, or his “senatorial” support for Israel’s crimes against Palestine.

Earlier in the year, even mainstream Democratic Party politicians took a more oppositional stand around the war. However, with the 2008 elections approaching, more and more politicians are not appealing so much to antiwar voters, but to the establishment, trying to prove they will be “responsible” administrators of the war itself.

It is unconscionable to invite as antiwar speakers those who continue to fund the war, and those who publicly plan to continue the war for years.

Also worthy of criticism is the speaking invitation for our “illustrious” mayor. Putting aside his pursuit of rampant gentrification, complicity in countless cases of police brutality or his large role in covering-up the Jon Burge torture ring, Richard Daley has proven he is no friend of the antiwar movement.

As bombs fell on Iraq in 2003, it was Daley’s police department that arrested hundreds of peaceful antiwar activists. Under Daley, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) became the most militarized in the nation. It was Daley’s cronies in the CPS that installed a naval academy at Senn High School over the protests and opposition of students, faculty and community members.

No matter how many antiwar resolutions Daley’s city council might pass—and such resolutions are welcome—these students are to be used as the occupiers and cannon fodder of Bush’s wars.

An uncritical approach to these pro-war politicians politically disarms the antiwar movement. The Illinois senators have made it quite clear that they are not against the war. They may mouth criticisms and may at times vaguely speak of withdrawing “combat troops” at some future date. But this will not bring the war to an end—and Obama and Durbin have proven it with their actions over the past two weeks.

Their empty promises mirror the countless and never-materialized withdrawal schemes hatched during the Vietnam War. That war did not end until a confluence of resistance in Vietnam met mass antiwar protests in the United States, which in turn gave confidence and support to a wave of antiwar activity in the armed forces itself.

That can be built today, but Durbin and Obama are not allies in that project. Instead, they have proven themselves to be obstacles.

Don’t boycott

At the same time, we believe it would be mistaken, as some have argued, to boycott this protest. The vast majority of organizations and individuals who will attend this demonstration are antiwar. They are open to discussing a different strategy to ending the war, and a discussion of why a strategy of courting warmongers—in whatever partisan clothing—is a strategy doomed to failure.

Instead, antiwar individuals and organizations need to mobilize all the more, to begin to organize opposition to this war in a different way—one that is open to the left, and one that does not rely on Democratic Party politicians who continue to enable the war.

Instead of inviting them to speak for us, the antiwar movement must hold Durbin, Obama and Daley accountable for their complicity in the murder of one million Iraqis and nearly four thousand U.S. soldiers.

chicago_socialists (at)



Account Login

Media Centers


This site made manifest by dadaIMC software