November 2: The Real Beginning And The Challenge We Face
Revolution #023, November 20, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Last July a bold call went up – to drive out the Bush regime. It put the stakes sharply: "People look at [what the government is doing] and think of Hitler–and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance."
It put forth a clear goal: "We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed."
And it set a first major step for November 2, the first anniversary of Bush’s "re-election," with a call for people to leave work and school and demonstrate, calling on others to join in, and raising the slogan "The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out The Bush Regime!"
On November 2, the first step was indeed taken. People demonstrated in over 60 cities. Literally thousands of youth, mainly from the high schools, left school in protest and hit the streets. More often than not, these youth had to defy very serious repression to get out and make their political views felt. They came out from both proletarian and middle class schools, and acted with a real sense of the stakes facing their generation. One youth from South Central Los Angeles said, "Maybe you just get one chance to be in on making history. I was thinking that maybe this was my chance and it would be fucked up to miss it." They set the tone with their enthusiastic spirit and thoughtful courage.
Of course, it was more than that. Prominent public intellectuals and artists – people like Howard Zinn, Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, Gore Vidal, Michael Eric Dyson, Studs Terkel, Eve Ensler, Boots Riley of the Coup and others – not only supported, but actively built for, this action. Parents like Cindy Sheehan – some who had lost children fighting in the war against Iraq, others who had children who were still there – spoke out. Vets came out, from all wars, bearing witness. A number of activist groups and church committees turned out. Some elected officials took real risks to expose what was going on in the system; courageous clergy put out the truth about how this regime was moving toward theocracy; and lawyers battling against a qualitatively more repressive legal order indicted the regime. In addition, many unaffiliated people came out to the rallies and marches, some with friends and some alone, with more than a few leaving work to be there. From the small towns to the biggest cities, the marches rang with spirit and determination, and people remarked on how new it all felt. Most important was the unity around the political analysis and direction and basic slogan set forth in the Call: THE WORLD CAN’T WAIT! DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME! This message got out and came through to thousands who were touched by the rallies and to millions who read or heard about them.
Many people at the rallies said that they felt exhilarated by all this, but also somewhat frustrated that more had not turned out. We agree with both of those thoughts. The marches did mark a real beginning, whose significance must not be underestimated; but there did – and there do – need to be more people. Those of us who came out represent a beginning, and we have to see ourselves this way. November 2 cannot become a mere footnote to history; it must and it can go down as the day the tide began to turn. Which one comes true depends on all of us, and what we do now.
Because the truth is this: the people that can make this into a movement of millions are out there. We have to get them. We have to let them know about this movement, we have to invite them into it, and sometimes – often – we have to challenge them and struggle with them to get with it and stay with it. We have to bring them forward if we are to actually achieve this urgent and realizable goal of driving out this regime, now. There is too much at stake to aim for anything less.
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With all this in mind, we in the RCP wholeheartedly support what World Can't Wait put out as the next step on November 2: the demand for Bush to step down and the call to politically drown out the State of the Union address with powerful demonstrations around this demand on that occasion. There is much to build on off November 2, much basis to realize a new leap in the movement in January.
The State of the Union is traditionally a time when the political agenda for the whole year is set. Bush used the 2003 State of the Union speech, if you remember, to put out the lie that Iraq had been seeking material for nuclear weapons in Africa – a lie that helped justify the war and that is at the center of the recent indictment of top Bush regime official Lewis Libby. A powerful action, or actions, contending with that speech really could politically drown it out and set a different agenda – one focused on driving out this criminal regime as soon as possible. It could open up a whole different political vista for this society and the whole world.
To do that, the movement must advance in leaps over these next two months or so. It needs to wield the great strengths that were brought forward on November 2 to overcome the weaknesses. The organizational strength of World Can’t Wait must grow by leaps and bounds; it can't just high-jump to a different level, it has to pole-vault. It must reach out to and enlist new organizations from all parts of society. The Call that launched this movement, and remains its foundation, should get out to many more millions and tens of millions. The youth who came forward and now face repression must be strongly defended, bringing forward even more people. The whole movement must understand more deeply, and learn to speak more powerfully to, the questions that still haunt people and hold them back from joining this urgently needed struggle. We must all learn better how to seize every opening and maximize every advance, great or small, that can contribute to this effort. And these, of course, are only a few key elements of what must happen.
The urgency before us has not lessened. If anything, it has increased. There is still much to be lost, and very little time. But keep in mind: people are now looking toward World Can’t Wait, wondering what will come next and turning over in their minds whether to throw in. With the real beginning made on November 2, the potential stands out even more clearly to not only stop this regime . . . to not only drive it from power – which itself would be a monumental achievement for people all over the world . . . but to reverse the whole direction of society and bring something far better into being.
The challenge – and the thrilling opportunity – to do that lie starkly before us.