Wrong from opposite directions:
The sectarian Sparts and the
reformist CPUSA on the
anti-WTO protest

by Pete Brown
(from Communist Voice #23, February 4, 2000)


. The following letter from Pete Brown to Frank,
one of the CVO comrades in Seattle, discusses the
stand towards the anti-WTO demonstrations
of the Spartacists and the CPUSA.

January 14, 2000
Dear Frank:

. Congratulations again on your activity in and around the WTO protests. And it looks like your reports and leaflets will be a major part of the next CV.

. I noticed you mentioned one of your contacts coming out of the WTO protests was attracted to the Spartacist League. Did you have any discussion with him about the stand of the Sparts on the WTO protests? This should be quite an exposure for him of what kind of organization they are. They repudiated the protests -- denounced them and refused to have anything to do with them. Their article on the WTO protests is in Workers Vanguard No. 725 dated 10 December 1999, and it's titled "AFL-CIO tops push anti-communism, protectionist poison." Their attitude is summed up in the section under the first subhead, "Orgy of anti-communism and racist protectionism." There they say:

. "After three days, the WTO meeting . . . collapsed amid the conflicting demands of the competing imperialist powers and the underdeveloped countries they exploit. Most of the protesters exulted in their 'victory'. But with or without the WTO, masses of working people around the world will continue to work in slave-labor conditions for the superprofits of a handful of greedy capitalists, . . . ."

. So because the protesters did not overthrow the imperialist system, it was completely worthless activity of them to protest against the system! This is the ultra-sectarian logic of the Spartacist League. They go on to say:

. "At bottom, the protests were nothing more than a grotesque nationalist festival which held up 'democratic' American imperialism, the most rapacious exploiter of labor on the planet, as the model for the world. Foreseeing the reactionary nature of the protests, the Spartacist League/U.S. Political Bureau passed a motion on November 4 not to 'participate in, or sell at, the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle on November 30 which are a circus -- including ecology types, those battling "genetically modified" food, the Reform Party and others -- all dominated by national chauvinism, racist protectionism and counterrevolutionary attacks on the Chinese deformed workers state.' "

. So they not only denounced certain leaderships or trends in the protests, but every single person and group in the protests as irredeemably reactionary. Far be it from them to go and try to educate activists -- oh no, they wouldn't want to dirty their hands with actual political work in an active, rebellious atmosphere. One would think that the determined display of militancy by protesters would have made them rethink their position. But no; they go on:

. "What transpired validated our political opposition. From the AFL-CIO tops in the forefront of organizing the demonstrations to their reformist left tails and motley liberals, the Seattle protests were overwhelmingly a mobilization of the Democratic Party. . . ."

. I would think any ordinary activist would be quite offended by such remarks. In a report from Seattle printed in a local Detroit newspaper, one such activist concludes his report by saying:

. "Seattle was only a beginning. We have before us the task of building a global movement to overthrow corporate control and create a new economy based on fairness and justice, on a sound ecology and a healthy environment, one that protects human rights and serves freedom. . . ."

. Some of the formulas here may sound trite, vague or like "code words" to a Marxist. But none of it sounds like national chauvinism, racist protectionism, or Democratic Party imperialism.

. The Sparts are particularly angry about any criticism of China. They take "human rights" as a code word to mean "anti- communism" because it sometimes gets directed at China. So not only do they defend all of the present Chinese leadership's policies on human rights (or rather, lack of human rights), they also identify these policies with communism. With "communists" like these, we don't need enemies!

. The Sparts point out that the AFL-CIO bureaucrats formulate criticism of China in such a way that's probably just a cover for chauvinism and protectionism. But they don't distinguish that position from other people who have criticisms of Chinese policies; they simply assert that "of course" these latter activists are nothing but pawns in the hands of the AFL-CIO. They also don't even try to explain why protectionism would be such a bad policy. Protectionism is supposedly bad and racist; then is free trade good and anti-racist?

. The other left paper I've looked at is the CP's People's Weekly World. They're just the opposite of the Sparts. Their attitude is that everything about the protests was great, absolutely great. I was particularly interested in their report on the AFL-CIO's march, after reading your report on it. You pointed out that many trade unionists broke through the marshals' lines to join the protests being carried on by other activists. The CP, in their report on the same incident, first of all praises the marshals to the skies. They say it was great for the AFL-CIO to have these marshals, which was a wonderful contrast to the anarchists' actions of breaking windows, etc. But they also think it was nice for the trade unionists to link up with the other activists. So they also praise that. They just "overlook" the fact that the marchers had to fight against the marshals.

. So much for now. --


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