The September 11 attack on the World Trade Center was a crime against humanity that is politically and morally indefensible from any standpoint. Thousands of people from many lands were killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Politicians, corporate leaders and many others call for retaliation. They want to bomb someone, somewhere, to show that they're in control of the situation. This is the same blind lashing out that motivated those who carried out the September 11 attacks. Instead of acting out of anger, we must address the roots of terrorism, or else we will face an unending cycle of tragic destruction and retaliation.

Why the U.S. is a target

For the last half century, the U.S. government has directly or through proxies carried out campaigns of terror and repression on every continent. It was the U.S. government, through its intelligence agencies, that armed and trained Osama bin-Laden, the Taliban, and many others, and set them on the path of terrorism. This is part of a pattern of violence that has included invasions, aerial bombardment, assassination of popular leaders, repression of unions and peasant organizations by death squads, sponsorship of bloody counterrevolutions and military coups, and slow starvation through economic attacks. Here are a few of them:
  • the assasination of Patrice Lumumba and installation of the Mobutu dictatorship in the Congo;
  • the support of military coups and massacres in Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, El Salvador, Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, Iraq,, Syria and Iran;
  • the "Contra" war against Nicaragua, which took thousands of lives and destabilized the country;
  • organizing, arming and supporting the vicious UNITA gangsters in Angola;
  • deliberate destruction of the civilian water supply in Iraq and preventing its rebuilding by an embargo, which has caused the death of over 500,000 people, most of them children;
  • bombing Sudan's only pharmaceutical plant, leading to the death of thousands from preventable disease;
  • aerial bombardment of civilian targets, including apartment buildings, a media center and the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia.
There are dozens more examples. Millions of people around the world have good reason to hate the U.S. government and the corporations it serves. Some of them don't distinguish between that government and "the United States," including civilian bystanders. Terrorists thrive in this atmosphere where millions feel powerless and angry.

Why the U.S. does what a beat does

The U.S. policies of terrorism and repression aren't accidental. They're a natural part of maintaining what we call "imperialism."

Imperialism is the domination of the world by a tiny ruling class, operating through transnational corporations, governments whose policies they shape in every way, and international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. That domination is enforced by the everyday coercion of the "free" market, backed by police and military force when necessary. The corporate media and "think tanks" work with the politicians of the Democratic and Republican Parties as propagandists for this "New World Order." Imperialism developed from the capitalist "free enterprise" system, which is rooted in the fact that hundreds of millions of people must work for capitalists in order to survive, only to have the product of their labors stolen from them by employers and landlords. As capitalist firms continually search for new markets, resources and labor, the system expands worldwide. The gap between the ruling rich and those who work for a living has been steadily widening. Economic uncertainty, poverty and starvation plague the lives of ordinary people around the world. This fuels hatred and violence, as well as apathy and feelings of powerlessness.

It's in this context that our leaders continually call for "Cops, Cops, and More Cops!" as the solution to every problem. We have longer jail sentences, widening of the death penalty, and widespread police brutality. The systematic dehumanization of their victims by the Oakland "Riders" and the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police are typical of the domestic counterparts of military coups, assassinations and terrorism abroad.

What's wrong with terrorism

The everyday injustice and brutality of the world calls out for response. For many people that means organizing to improve their own lives and those of others through unions, political parties, farm organizations, consumer groups or solidarity movements. This type of self-organization is what the world's rulers fear most, because it has the potential to create mass movements which can actually reduce or take away their power. Most government and paramilitary terrorism is aimed at repressing these movements.

In contrast, individual terrorists strike out against symbols of injustice, whether those symbols are individuals or buildings. Only organized movements of masses of people, not individual terrorists, can change this system at its roots. At the best, terrorist acts are a mere sideshow for the massive struggles which can change the world. At worst, they are counterproductive in two ways. They provide a propaganda cover for state repression and erosion of democratic and civil rights, and they demobilize people by turning politics into a spectator sport of terrorists vs. cops, which everyone else passively watches, rooting for one team or the other.

We need to change the world

The attacks of September 11 have horrified and frightened many people, and temporarily increased support for repression and state terror. The Peace & Freedom Party thinks that such support is very thin, and that now is the time to redouble our efforts for peace and social justice, to step up the fight against militarism, and to expose the liars and criminals in power.

More than that, it's time to look past our short and medium term goals, and start organizing to change the economic and social system we live under. We need a movement for the total democratization of society and for true equality and unity between that the peoples of the world. We need a social revolution to sweep away all the bankers, bosses and bureaucrats and all the kings and sultans. That means a socialist reorganization of society.

The most important struggle of our time is between workers and employers for control of the products of our common labor. If the employers continue to win, we will have poverty, militarism and repression. If the workers of the world cast off their mental chains and unite to take control of and democratically run the whole economic system, we will have the resources necessary to begin solving our most pressing social problems. More importantly, we will have a social system run by people who want to solve those problems, rather than by people who profit from them.

Register Peace & Freedom Party

34 years ago the Peace and Freedom Party was born out of the movements against the Vietnam War and for civil rights at home. Since then we have opposed without hesitation every U.S. war and military adventure. We need to raise our voter registration to 86,212 in order to requalify for the California ballot. If you want a consistent voice for peace and injustice, now is the time to register Peace and Freedom Party.
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