jtravis on Wed, 21 Apr 1999 06:36:36 GMT

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Syndicate: anti-war activities in manchester

Update on anti-war campaign from Manchester, Britain

People in Britain are being sytematically starved of any real information about the
war and instead getting lots of hysterical images of refugees, stories about rapes
and comparisons of Milosevic to Hitler.  Many people however oppose the war.  Several
hundred met last week at an anti-war meeting and some went down to a demo in London,
attended by around 10000, although this was scarcely mentioned or shown in our media
(a few seconds on BBC, pictures of the demo broadcast by Serb TV shown by ITN).

One of the most effective arguments against the war we have used on petitionings
and leafletings is that NATO bombings not only kill innocent working class people
(Serbs or Kosovans- it makes no difference) but that it plays straight into the hands
of Milosevic and whips up nationalism in Serbia, marginalising and diverting energy
from the anti-Milosevic position.  This is partly because NATO countries' media has
focused so much on Kosovo's refugees and ethnic cleansing that many ordinary working
class people think 'we must do something' although many, when pressed, are very sceptical
about bombing.  I argue that the best thing we can do is stop the bombing and divert
the enormous amount of money wasted into aid and help for a political solution involving
grassroots organisations of ordinary working class people from Kosovo Albanian and
Serbian communities.  Nationalism is a poison that could end up killing us all.

However, the anti-war movement is divided here with many on the left seeming uneasy
about condemning Milosevic as the lesser evil compared to imperialist bombings. 
I think that the working class does not need to choose between two evils.  Clinton
and Blair may be bigger threats to peace and security (if you look at their role
in Iraq and Africa, as well as ex-Yugoslavia) but Milosevic is just a pawn in their
game, even if he's a bit of a rogue pawn at the moment.  Clinton and Blair don't
give a shit about people anywhere: neither does Milosevic- they're all imperialist
warlords and all should be opposed.

Many in the anti-war movement are socialists or communists.  However, while it is
right to make arguments about the inevitable destructiveness of a system based on
profit (capitalism) and make links between the anti-war movement and strikes against
health and spending cuts/ privatisations we need to be careful that we don't equate
being against the war with socialism. Many workers in Britain are potentially ant-war
without necessarily being ready to call themselves socialists or communists.  Arguments
about politics shouldn't get in the way of building as big as possible anti-war movement.
I think such a movement will by its own logic tend towards being pro-democracy and
anti-nationalist but this will develop.  

I argue that the ant-war movement in Britain should be quite clearly anti-Milosevic
as this is the best tactics to appeal to most in Britain.  It also shows maximum
solidarity with the struggling working class of Serbia/ Kosovo.  The anti-war movement
here is still small but the tide is slowly beginning to turn.

We are ashamed to be British.  In fact, I refuse that name.  We were not consulted
about this war.  Many are against it.  These are truly crimes against humanity. 
With comradely love and solidarity-

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