Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 9. 9 May 1972
Keep On Marching
Keep On Marching
"Is the Dream Over" is a typical article by a demoralised radical whose peripheral involvement in the movement has given him little understanding of what it is all about. Anyone who had been deeply involved in the antiwar movement would not say that "The anti-war coalitions, instead of exerting day to day pressure on the administration, seem content to gather large masses of people once or twice a year in Washington then go home and plan for the next march." An antiwar mobilisation is a whole educating and activating process. It is the high school student justifying his antiwar button to his or her schoolmates, literature tables, picket lines, films, university teach-ins, speakers in schools, and discussion at union stop works. The mass march is but the culminating focus where the whole movement (reflecting widespread antiwar sentiment in the total population) comes together to exercise its collective strength against the government.
"In six years of (antiwar) marches not one fucking thing has been acomplished." Why then did Nixon, Holyoake and McMahon withdraw the bulk of the troops from Vietnam? Not out of good-will, but because of the growing antiwar sentiment which was expressing itself through mass protests. The Pentagon Papers, various newspapers, and occassionally even government officials, admit to this. And why are all kinds of bishops, All Blacks and city councillors coming out against the Springbok tour? Not through some spontaneous leap in race consciousness, but because the 1970 tour demos and the ones now developing (combined with the actions of black people in the US and around the world) have forced them to think about the issue and take a stand.
Those who lose the perspective of going out to the people and getting them involved in mass actions tend to drift off in one of two directions (and sometimes combinations of both).
One, which can be labelled 'ultraleft", is to escalate the rhetoric. It makes you feel good and pure, even if you don't have much of an audience. You also have a lot of fun trying to put down other radicals who, because they are relating to the consciousness of the people involved in various mass campaigns, do not sound as 'left' as you do.
On the other hand, you can do what the author of the Salient article suggests, and work through 'accepted' channels - writing to your M.P., electing 'better' M.P.s, etc.
However, if we are to get rid of this capitalist system and all its derivative social evils, we cannot rely either on our own 'radical' declarations or putting 'good' politicians into office. Building the forces to make a revolution is a long process requiring patient work; it means building independent mass movements (e.g. antiwar, anti-tour, women's liberation), involvement in the trade union and student movements, and socialist educational work.
Socialist theory is put to use to understand the dynamics of the unfolding struggle against capitalism. It enables us to see that the struggle of the Indochinese people is the focal point of the conflict between capitalism and socialism on a world scale, and the necessity to build a mass anti-war movement to get all the US troops and aircraft out so that the Indochinese revolution can be victorious.
We can also see the importance of the anti-apartheid movement, the revolutionary dynamic of women's liberation, why students are radicalising ahead of workers at the present time and the importance of the fight against wage restraints.
Understanding that the workers must be the central component of any revolution in New Zealand, it is necessary to relate to and support their present organisations, the unions and the Labour Party, and carry the political campaigns into these areas, but without having the slightest illusions about the FOL leaders or any Labour M.P.s - including people like David Shand.
Read the other contributions in this issue and think to yourself - what are they asking me to do? For us this is an easy question to answer. March for the repeal of all anti-abortion laws on May 6; help build the July 14 nationaly antiwar mobilisation; help build mass protests against the Springbok tour; join the forthcoming Socialists for Labour election campaign; read Socialist Action and other socialist publications available on the campus literature tables; and come to the Young Socialist meetings and the Militant Forum.
Keith LockeSocialist Action League