Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Anti-War Movement Must Ally or Die

First Published: Challenge, Vol. III, No. 11, February 1967
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The movement of students and intellectuals against the Vietnam war requires a strategy. Without one there is no answer to the question, “What’s the use of doing anything?” This is a natural question.

More and more people have demonstrated their opposition to the war, increasingly taking the anti-imperialist stand, U.S. Get Out Of Vietnam Now, The government’s response has been another 100,000 men and the bombing of Hanoi.


There is only one strategy that can build the anti-war movement into a powerful enough force so that, in alliance with the Vietnamese people and the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America, it can stop imperialist wars. That strategy is to build a base for the anti-war movement in the working class.

A movement restricted to students and intellectuals periodically falls into moods of frustration. It can demonstrate, but where is its real power to threaten the ruling class? Workers can stop production and close down all the schools as well. The ruling class is clear about the power of the working class, particularly its organized center, the industrial and transportation workers. That is why it has gone to so much trouble, including anti-labor legislation and witch-hunts, to drive radicals out of the unions and guarantee that the AFL-CIO leadership backs imperialism.

This tactic is beginning to break down because imperialism cannot meet the objective needs of the workers. Real wages are down, food becomes a luxury, the most unpopular war in American history doesn’t provide job security, but pushes prices higher and sends workers to their deaths. No wonder that Life Magazine (8/26/66) reports, “Today’s labor leaders are mostly aging, mostly out of touch with a newly militant rank and file,..The strike fever of the unions...is such that 1967 could see the worst labor-management tussles since the big postwar strikes of 1946.”


The ruling class likes to hear radicals dismiss workers as “corrupt,” They were pleased a few years ago when many radicals wrote off students. Their general approach to the people is divide and rule. Every issue of the Daily News portrays the anti-war movement to 3 million workers as composed of “dirty beatnik traitors.” If students and intellectuals are serious about building a movement to stop the war, it is their duty to fight against these splits, and not thoughtlessly foster them.

Revolutionaries who are rank-and-file workers will play the main role in organizing the working class to fight against imperialist wars. But students and intellectuals, who are today politically in the lead, have an obligation to cooperate with workers and to share their consciousness with workers. The recent trips to Schenectady by Columbia and City College students to support striking GE workers were a step in this direction. Students should be out supporting most of the major strikes coming up in 1967. Longer-range projects, such as leaf-letting at plant gates with the aim of making contact with anti-war workers, are required. But such projects must be organized for a long pull, so that workers can see that we are serious and have staying power.


The job of building an anti-imperialist base in the working class will take years. The big job now is to develop a working class perspective in the anti-war movement. Many students and intellectuals are giving in to despair and frustration. Some take drugs. Some decide to “spend this semester studying.” Some pin their hopes on Bobby Kennedy. In the long run, only when people see the revolutionary potential of the working class, and therefore the possibility of victory, will they stick with hard political struggle. It is above all the job of communists to bring this working-class perspective to the anti-war movement.

The refusal of university administrations to heed student wishes and abolish ranking provides the opportunity to bring hundreds more students into struggle against their objective enemy, the U.S. war on Vietnam. In New York the Board of Higher Education’s sweeping ruling in favor of ranking opens up the possibility of a city-wide student struggle. The opportunity for alliances is clear. Our enemy, the city government, is everybody’s enemy. These alliances depend on our advocating that Nobody be drafted for Vietnam. Opportunists, such as the Communist Party, are putting forward the slogan, “Keep 2S.” This would weaken the student movement by isolating it from Black and white workers, non-college youth, and others whose interests are opposed by such a campaign. In fighting to advance the student movement, we have to oppose all such divisive tactics, which sacrifice the long-term interests of all the people for alleged momentary gains for one group.