jtravis on Wed, 21 Apr 1999 17:06:02 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 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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