MIA: History: ETOL: Document: Education for Socialist Bulletin: The Antiwar Strategy of the SWP and the YSA 4.

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line

—Socialist Workers Party [US] Education for Socialist Bulletins—

6. The Fight Against the Vietnam War

[The following resolution, reprinted from SWP Discussion Bulletin, Volume 27, No. 2, published in June 1969, was adopted by the September 1969 convention of the Socialist Workers Party.]

I The Current Stage of the Struggle against the Imperialist War in Vietnam

A. The Present Stage of the War

The war in Vietnam is the central issue in world and national politics today, as it has been since 1965 when American imperialism massively escalated its intervention. This war is a key part of American imperialism’s offensive against the world revolution, whose axis during the past two decades has been in the colonial areas. The goals of U.S. imperialism in Vietnam are to crush the national liberation struggle and, if possible, overturn the North Vietnamese workers state, thus dealing fatal blows to the socialist revolution in all Southeast Asia. Additional aims include establishing a strong beachhead in this area, the better to take over the former holdings of the French, the British and the Dutch imperialists and to mount heavy military pressure against China. Washington will continue to seek these strategic aims no matter what tactical shifts may be necessitated by the worsening situation.

To pursue its objectives Washington has poured more than a half million troops, the most modern instruments of destruction, and billions of dollars into the adventure in Vietnam. But because of the heroic resistance of the workers and peasants, the U.S. has not been able to crush the Vietnamese revolution. U.S. intervention in Vietnam began as a relatively limited “police” action. When the Vietnamese rebels came close to defeating the Saigon regime, Johnson “escalated” U.S. intervention in 1965, widening the scope of military action until it developed into one of the major wars in U.S. history—one that already has surpassed the Korean war in American dead and wounded.

Because of its international repercussions, the war became the central confrontation on a world scale between the forces of revolution and the counterrevolutionary power of American imperialism. American imperialism hoped to make Vietnam an object lesson which would serve to intimidate the revolutionary forces throughout the world. But Washington’s intent now threatens to rebound against itself. The determined struggle of the Vietnamese has touched off a sympathetic response throughout the world, not only in the colonial world but also in the advanced capitalist countries and, to a lesser degree, in the workers states. A definitive victory for the Vietnamese revolution would impart to the world socialist revolution a fresh inspiration whose effects would be felt for years to come.

The Moscow bureaucrats have defaulted in their international obligation to defend the Vietnamese revolution. U.S. imperialism’s initial military strategy in Vietnam was to undertake a step-by-step escalation, probing at each stage to see what the Soviet response would be before going ahead further. The Soviet bureaucrats retreated in the face of Washington’s aggressive advances. To save face they have given minimal military and diplomatic aid to the Vietnamese while evincing a readiness to sacrifice the revolutionary movement for the Stalinist utopian strategy of peaceful coexistence with imperialism.

This capitulatory policy is reflected in the attitude and conduct of the pro-Moscow parties which have generally abstained from initiating or organizing mass opposition to the war in Vietnam—a compounded crime in those countries where the Communist parties have a mass following.

While primary responsibility for detering Washington’s aggression lies with Moscow, Peking has also defaulted in its obligation to defend Vietnam. Despite the immediate danger posed by the Vietnam war to the Chinese revolution and the security of their country, the Peking bureaucrats have persisted in their sectarian refusal to press for a united front with other workers states in defense of the Vietnamese revolution. Many pro-Peking parties have reflected this attitude by sectarian abstention from participating in united actions against the war and by belittling the importance of such efforts.

Only Cuba and, to a lesser extent, North Korea among the workers states have maintained a principled internationalist line in defense of the Vietnamese revolution.

The Social Democratic organizations, with a few exceptions such as in Japan, have either abstained from the struggle against the Vietnam war or have actually taken part in their own capitalist governments’ complicity with U.S. imperialism’s war effort. Wilson’s Labour Party is the most shameful example.

As a result, the international antiwar movement has developed independently of the Stalinist and Social-Democratic parties and to the left of them. The antiwar movement has been marked by its youth, militancy, spirit of internationalism, and engendering of anticapitalist consciousness.

From the outset the scope of American opposition to involvement in the civil war in Vietnam was broad. This opposition has grown and intensified since 1965 until it now extends to a majority of the population and has come to involve hundreds of thousands in antiwar actions. The international antiwar opposition and the sharpening of social tensions at home owing to the war are important factors in limiting the ability of the American ruling class to continue the war as they would like.

For all its wealth and power, the American capitalist class has found it increasingly difficult to carry on a major war in Vietnam, simultaneously finance an expanded nuclear arms race, prop up and defend the rest of the capitalist world, and allocate sufficient resources to attempt to allay domestic unrest. The consequences of the war in Vietnam have shown that the basic relationship of class forces on a world scale is less and less favorable to imperialism.

It is the effect on its strategic interests that makes U.S. imperialism balk at withdrawing from Vietnam in humiliating defeat at the hands of the people of a small colonial nation. Yet the longer withdrawal is postponed, the worse the problem Washington faces in Vietnam becomes. If it is not possible at this time to roll back the revolutions in North Vietnam and China, Nixon, like Johnson before him, must at least try for an outcome like the one in Korea. If it is not possible to win by military means, other means must be sought.

The Tet offensive in 1968 provided dramatic proof of the difficulty U.S. imperialism faces in its efforts to “pacify” Vietnam, giving the lie to the boasts of the generals about military “progress” and about winning political support for the puppet Saigon regime. Within the United States, the actions of the antiwar movement reached extraordinary heights. Hundreds of thousands demonstrated against the war on April 15, 1967, October 21, 1967, and April 27, 1968. Almost a million students participated in the largest student strike in U.S. history on April 26, 1968. These mass actions reflected the underlying antiwar sentiment of tens of millions.

Washington’s difficulties in Vietnam have sharpened the divisions within the ruling class itself. These differences are over the tactical implementation of American imperialism’s basic counterrevolutionary strategy under current conditions. The differences concern the size of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia; the danger of the war leading to a conflict with China, a “pre-emptive” nuclear strike and World War III; the relative importance and “price” of a temporary arms limitation agreement with the Soviet Union; how much money to pour into the war in Vietnam; the price of the war in terms of domestic social unrest. The American ruling class has also found it increasingly difficult to win support for its war from the capitalist governments of other countries. These differences have left considerable room for the growth of the antiwar opposition of the masses.

Under pressure of these mounting problems, Washington has altered its tactics, placing greater emphasis on the diplomatic front. This started with the Paris talks and Johnson’s withdrawal from the presidential race in 1968. The bombing “halt” in the north was featured as part of the shift, although the “pause” was utilized to transfer troops elsewhere and orders were issued to maintain “maximum military pressure on the enemy.” Nixon has continued this policy. Washington seeks to win at the negotiating table what it has been unable to exact on the battlefield—the derailment of the Vietnamese revolution. The objective is to try and impose a Korea-type settlement which will preserve a capitalist South Vietnam as an Asian base for U.S. imperialism.

Nixon, like Johnson, hopes to obtain the aid of the Soviet bureaucrats in bringing the Vietnamese revolutionaries to terms. Although this possibility cannot be excluded, the Soviet bureaucrats are far less able now than in parallel situations in earlier years to force the Vietnamese revolutionaries to submit to a capitulating compromise. The struggle in Vietnam has developed independently of Moscow and Peking; its leaders have learned bitter lessons from the experiences that followed l954; and its militants are more determined than ever to reverse the colonial puppet status of South Vietnam.

The pause in the bombing of North Vietnam and Nixon’s ballyhooed peace propaganda and token withdrawal of troops have not been accompanied by any reduction in the scale of U.S. military operations in Vietnam. The level of bombing, the number of casualties, and the flood of money pouring into the war remain as before. Moreover, forays into Laos and Cambodia have been stepped up, a fact that Washington has finally been compelled to admit.

The central problem facing U.S. imperialism in attempting to win the kind of settlement it wants is control of the state power in Vietnam, which depends in the last analysis on force of arms. Without the massive military might of U.S. imperialism, the Saigon regime would rapidly collapse. This fact shows the fraudulent nature of all the well-publicized Washington schemes for a settlement: the scheme of turning the war over to Saigon; the scheme of a coalition government; the scheme of elections under the Saigon administration. So long as the Vietnamese revolutionaries refuse to give up their arms and continue to carry on the fight a U.S. withdrawal will lead to rapid victory over the Saigon regime. Under these conditions, a “compromise” formula that does not settle the question of state power will remain illusory. The war can end only when one side is defeated; and until that happens, either on the battlefield or at the negotiating table, the war will go on.

While attempting to gain a negotiated political victory, Washington above all needs time. But here it faces the problem of domestic opposition to the war and the growth of social unrest on numerous fronts. So long as the war continues, so long as there are mass antiwar actions, the climate of protest will continue to intensify. Washington’s capacity to achieve its war aims is limited by the need to deal with unrest at home or risk an intolerable growth of class conflict. “Pacifying” the antiwar opposition in the United States has become a prime necessity for the ruling class to gain the time they must have to try to “pacify” the Vietnamese.

Thus a second and extremely important side to Washington’s maneuvers is its propaganda offensive aimed at allaying public aversion to the war. If the ruling class cannot now secure majority support for its war of aggression, it hopes at least to win acquiescence in its diplomatic offensive as a credible means to peace. This was the primary aim in Johnson’s withdrawal from the 1968 presidential race, the initiation of the Paris talks, the bombing pause in North Vietnam, the election of Nixon as an apparent alternative to Johnson, and his war policies, and Nixon’s token withdrawal of troops.

From the outset, the Nixon administration has attempted to convey the impression that its policies are not the same as Johnson’s. However, the hints about secret talks and secret progress, the talk of “turning over” the bulk of the fighting to the Saigon regime, of expanded social legislation when the war is over, merely continue Johnson’s line. Under increasing pressure to offer tangible evidence of de-escalation, Nixon finally began token withdrawals of troops. But this was already contemplated by the Johnson administration upon the Pentagon’s assurance that it would not lower the current level of the war.

The time that Nixon seeks can only be purchased at a high price. In attempting to allay public opposition to the war, Nixon’s peace propaganda raises the American people’s anticipation and desire for a speedy end to hostilities.

Antiwar sentiment has grown considerably since the initiation of the Paris talks, and will continue to do so. This includes American GIs who find it increasingly difficult to see why they should risk their lives to save the Saigon regime.

Under these circumstances, the ruling class cannot hope to diminish mass sentiment for peace but only to deflect and disarm it. The propaganda maneuvers are meant to serve as a tranquilizer. But the effect can only be temporary. As the war goes on, the killing will continue. To scale down the fighting in the absence of a military victory or stalemate does not conform with the strategic objectives of U.S. imperialism. As the costs of the dirty war continue to affect the lives of the American people, the waves of indignation and protest will mount. Already the April 5-6 antiwar demonstration revealed the beginning of massive disillusionment with Nixon’s play for time. The new president thus faces the perspective of ending up as hated as Johnson, if not more so.

U.S. imperialism’s increasingly grave difficulties in Vietnam and at home offer big opportunities and responsibilities for the antiwar movement. The task is to prevent the ruling class from gaining the time for maneuver that it so desperately needs. A new wave of massive antiwar demonstrations is called for to expose the deceit of the ruling class and to bring mass consciousness of the meaning of the war to a still higher level.

The demand for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam has gained added urgency and importance. By giving fresh impetus to the demand to bring all the GIs home now, the antiwar movement can undercut the lie of the ruling class that its Paris talks are the avenue to peace.

B. The Present Stage of the Antiwar Movement

Washington’s propaganda offensive temporarily dampened the explosive potential of antiwar sentiment in the United States. Although the desire for peace continued to grow among the mass of the American people, the sharpness of this sentiment was blunted by illusions regarding the Paris talks. In addition, part of the antiwar coalition was diverted into bourgeois electoral politics in the illusory hope of advancing the cause of peace by this means. The Nixon administration, upon assuming office, was granted the customary period of little or no criticism. Thus the lull in massive national antiwar demonstrations lasted almost a year, although there were large demonstrations in a few local areas and a marked increase in actions by antiwar GIs.

The organized antiwar movement suffered numerous defections in the months prior to the elections and afterwards in the immediate post-election period. The McCarthy campaign and a series of bourgeois “peace” candidates drew the class collaborationist wing of the antiwar movement away from mass action, a trend buttressed by illusions in the Paris talks. In many local areas, the antiwar coalitions eroded or collapsed entirely.

Owing to these defections, the National Mobilization Committee, which was formed for the purpose of .organizing major national antiwar demonstrations, tended to lose its broad coalition character. This trend was reinforced by sectarian and exclusionary measures directed against the vanguard which favored mass actions around the slogan of immediate withdrawal. As a result, ultraleftism came to predominate in the apparatus of the NMC. The NMC adopted the line of confrontation tactics by a few as a substitute for organizing militant antiwar action by hundreds of thousands. The NMC placed more importance on adventurist tactics than on an independent antiwar political line. The disorienting character of this NMC line was shown at the Democratic Party national convention in Chicago where the demonstration organized by the NMC objectively favored McCarthy’s bid for the Democratic nomination. Adventurist tactics subjected hundreds of antiwar youth to needless brutalization in a demonstration that, despite the great publicity it secured, was relatively small for a national action.

The continuation of the ultraleftist, sectarian course set the stamp of a single antiwar tendency upon the NNC, assuring its demise as an antiwar action coalition. The unpostponable next step f or the antiwar forces is to build a. new national antiwar coalition and to strengthen or rebuild the local antiwar coalitions for the purpose of organizing larger mass demonstrations.

The differences over perspective in the antiwar movement were also reflected in the Student Mobilization Committee, the principal organization of antiwar youth as well as the militant spearhead of the broader antiwar movement centered around the slogan of withdrawing the troops now. Immediately after the SMC’s tremendously successful student strike in April 1968, a coalition of Communist Party and pacifist elements initiated a split in the SMC, breaking with the perspective of mass antiwar demonstrations. In the course of that fight, they attempted to jettison the non-exclusionary basis of the organization. Unable to capture the SMC, they withdrew from it.


Throughout the past year we supported all attempts to organize mass antiwar demonstrations, and through them re-cement the badly divided antiwar organizations. The Student Mobilization Committee played an essential role in taking the initiative in calling demonstrations and prodding other sectors into action. It. called for antiwar demonstrations in August. 1968, prior to the elections in October, and initiated the conference which called for the April 5-6, 1969 demonstrations. Though the first two of these actions were not as large as previous demonstrations, they maintained the perspective of massive action. The growth of antiwar activity by GIs was a major new development and an important factor in inspiring, the antiwar demonstrations that did occur.

The scope and size of the April 5-6 1969 demonstrations signified that much of the disorientation within the antiwar movement had dissipated. The mounting casualties in Vietnam made it clear to many that Nixon was continuing Johnson’s fundamental policies in Vietnam and

served to stir hundreds of thousands back into the streets to protest the war. In view of the turnout of April 5-6, the fresh organizational impetus derived from it, and the shifts in the objective situation, the time is ripe for another series of major antiwar demonstrations.

As support for the April 5-6 demonstrations gathered momentum, these became the focal point around which many of the local antiwar coalitions were rebuilt. This advance has laid the groundwork for rebuilding the antiwar coalition nationally. The Student Mobilization Committee, still weakened organizationally prior to April 5-6, has since emerged as the authoritative national organization of antiwar youth and the major organizer of demonstrations on a national scale.

The importance of the Student Mobilization Committee within the broader antiwar movement was, confirmed by the April 5-6 demonstrations. From the inception of the antiwar movement the youth have been the main initiators and most active participants in the mass mobilizations. Time and again it has been the left-wing youth who have kept the antiwar movement in the streets, refusing to be drawn into class-collaborationist gimmicks. They have provided the bulk of the activists and have continually pressured the more conservative elements into support for the militant mass actions. They have been the main force in fighting to win the antiwar movement to the demand for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam. Repelled by any signs of a return to the norms of the Joe McCarthy era, the youth have been the key element in helping to maintain the nonexclusive character of the antiwar movement.

The April 5-6 demonstrations involved a higher percentage of youth than ever before, showing a marked increase in the numbers of high-school youth. The spring months of 1969 saw an unprecedented upsurge on the high-school and college campuses with the war in Vietnam and the black liberation struggle being the central issues.

On the college campuses, the issue of campus complicity in the war sparked a wave of protests against ROTC, against recruitment for the armed forces and the war industries, and against university war-related research. In some cases the student strikes involved the vast majority of students. These actions show how favorable the situation is for organizing against the war on the campuses. Such campus actions help to create a favorable atmosphere for street demonstrations, and vice versa, and are certain to remain a major feature of the SMC’s antiwar activities.

The depth of antiwar sentiment on the campuses makes militancy and audacity, appropriate in a situation where the antiwar students represent an overwhelming majority. In some cases, however, campus protests have suffered setbacks due to adventurism and organizational sectarianism, especially where SDS has initiated such actions.

The SMC has an important task to perform in educating large numbers of students on how to build the most effective struggles. The SMC’s experience in organizing militant mass actions and its nonexclusionary organizational procedures are a necessary antidote to the organizational sectarianism and adventurism imposed by SDS elements on the campuses.

The possibilities for organizing high-school antiwar actions are extremely favorable. The present generation of high-school youth has grown to political consciousness in an atmosphere dominated by a war which they have rejected out of hand The SMC has registered its greatest recent gains, in this area. The potential for organizing the SMC in the high schools is enhanced by the absence of serious competition from other tendencies. One important feature of high-school antiwar activity is the fight for civil liberties against the arbitrary prohibitions against political activity by the school authorities.

In the past year there has been a decided increase in antiwar activity by GIs. Washington’s peace propaganda and the opening of the Paris talks heightened the antiwar sentiments of the GIs; fresh force was given to their objections to fighting and dying in’ an unjust war which the government admitted it was not winning militarily. The growth of GI antiwar protests adds formidable new social weight to the antiwar movement and will be a permanent feature of antiwar protests from now. on.

Important milestones in the past year were: (1) the nationwide antiwar demonstrations in October 1968; local antiwar demonstrations such as that in Seattle February 16, 1969; and, most important, the nationwide antiwar demonstrations April 5-6, 1969. More GIs participated in these demonstrations than ever before. (2) The proliferation of GI antiwar newspapers, published locally by GIs and distributed at the local bases. (3) The fights for GI rights waged at Ft. Jackson and Ft. Bragg.

These developments all reflected the widespread antiwar mood within the army. From the beginning, our political tendency was the only one to consistently point to the potential for GI antiwar activity. We have been the most insistent that the antiwar movement adopt a political approach to win the GIs as an ally. Our opponents, along with many antiwar activists in the past have taken a moralistic attitude, encouraging individual noncompliance with the draft and blaming individual GIs for being somehow in complicity with the imperialist aggression in Vietnam. Their belittling of the potential for winning GIs to antiwar activity made them blindly reject a political approach to the GIs. However, with the growth of GI antiwar protests, Our position has been confirmed in practice and is now accepted by large numbers of antiwar activists. But deep differences exist within the antiwar movement in evaluating the importance of the GI antiwar developments and how to approach them.

Our position is based on the mass character of the army. The ranks of the armed forces are composed of draftees or men who enlisted under pressure of the draft. As such, the army tends to reflect a cross-section of the youth in society, and the development of political consciousness in the army parallels that in the civilian population. The present army tends to incorporate much of the political ferment that exists among the youth and to bring antiwar sentiment to an acute pitch. In addition, the discriminatory nature of the draft system means that there is a disproportionate percentage of black and brown youth in the army, a percentage that is even more pronounced at the front lines.

Sentiment against the war is widespread among GIs, as it is among civilian youth. But because of the restrictive nature of the military, antiwar actions by GIs are still in their initial stages. Objective developments indicate that the pace of GI antiwar protests can be expected to increase rapidly, especially as they become more and more linked up with the mass civilian protests. The development of truly massive, protests and a massive radicalization in the army could only occur interlinked with a similar mood in the civilian population and its readiness to support and defend the antiwar GIs. Our perspective is that of a parallel and interrelated deve1opment of GI and civilian antiwar protests.

In this light, we view the GIs as an important component of the antiwar movement, but not as a substitute for it. The axis of the antiwar movement remains mass mobilizations against the war, including GIs and civilians.

The fight for democratic rights is of special importance to GIs opposed to the war. It links up with civilian antiwar sentiment and the need for collective action as the most effective way to struggle against the war. There are three aspects to this approach:

For open, collective action against the war rather than isolated individual actions or “underground” organizing.

Desertion, refusal to obey orders, or other individual actions are not acceptable to the majority of GIs. Those who take this course will be open to easy victimization from the brass without any corresponding gains. Such isolated acts may salve the consciences of individuals but are not an effective means of political opposition to the war. The political climate favors open, collective antiwar activity rather than “underground” organizing, which is many times more difficult and foolish when unnecessary.

(2) For the concept of the GI as a citizen-soldier.

A GI is a citizen temporarily in uniform and therefore retains all his constitutional rights as a citizen, including the rights of free speech and free assembly. The full utilization of democratic rights is a powerful tool in the hands of the majority—and that is whom the antiwar GIs speak for. The brass, who want to use the army against the wishes of the soldiers, fear simple democracy; but to the GIs it is a powerful and necessary part of the struggle. Despite attempts by the brass to restrict the exercise of constitutional and democratic rights, these rights can be fought for and won in the army.

(3) For concentrating on the Vietnam war as the issue of main concern to the GIs.

The army being what it is, GIs have legitimate grievances on many different issues. But the greatest unity can be built around opposition to the war in Vietnam. It is the issue on which GIs can gain the maximum amount of civilian support and protection against the brass’ attempts at victimization and restriction of constitutional rights.

Unlike coalitions formed for specific mass demonstrations, ongoing antiwar activity by GIs cannot be effectively organized if it includes other approaches on a coalition basis. The continual possibility of victimization by the brass necessitates strict adherence to these three points. Experience has shown that on this threefold approach GIs can effectively oppose the war, minimize chances of victimization, and counter any victimizations inflicted on them.

Because of the depth of antiwar sentiment inside and outside the ranks of the armed forces, the brass has had to proceed cautiously and even retreat in many instances rather than deal too summarily with dissenters. The retreats by the brass encourage other GIs into activity.

The right of GIs to participate in demonstrations while off base and out of uniform has been established. Although the brass has, attempted to inhibit the exercise of this right—by restricting GIs to base on the days of demonstrations, for example—the right has been conceded by the Pentagon. Where punitive measures have been taken, they have usually been for some other officially-stated cause, for demonstrating while in uniform or for allegedly being AWOL. The establishment of the right to demonstrate opens the door to an effective campaign to build GI participation in antiwar demonstrations.

The developments at Ft. Jackson and Ft. Bragg, initiated by GIs United, are among the most important antiwar and civil-liberties struggles that have taken place. For the first time the central question was raised of the right to protest the war while on base and in uniform. This is a higher level of the fight for GI rights. The brass’ retreat from their intended victimization of the Ft. Jackson GIs was a major victory for the antiwar movement. It showed the importance of effective tactics in mobilizing extensive civilian support. It is to be expected that there will be continuing fights for the on-base, in uniform rights of GIs. The most effective will have to be carried out with all the indigenous support and careful legal and political groundwork that attended the Ft. Jackson case.

Publicity about the lessons of the Ft. Jackson case will be an important aid in explaining the nature of GI antiwar activity. GIs United illustrates that the ongoing antiwar activities of GIs can best be organized, not from outside the military by civilians, but by the GIs themselves on their base along the lines of the threefold approach outlined above. Organized antiwar GIs can become a component part of the general antiwar action coalitions, working with other forces to build the mass demonstrations, yet retaining a distinctly GI form based on a specific political approach for GI antiwar activity, in much the same manner in which the student antiwar committees function in relation to the general antiwar coalitions.

Our central activity in relation to the antiwar activities of GIs will pivot around three points: (1) building GI participation in antiwar demonstrations; (2) publicity about GIs United; (3) the distribution of GI newspapers. The primary manifestation of labor’s resistance to the war has been its refusal to sacrifice for the war and the growth of union struggles in the midst of war. There has been a sharp increase in the number of strikes as workers have attempted to maintain their standard of living and job conditions in the face of mounting inflation and ruling-class pressure for sacrifice. The antiwar movement has been a factor in helping to spur these struggles. The divisions in the organized labor movement, which have produced an open breach within the trade-union bureaucracy, partially reflect the growing militancy observable among the ranks.

As antiwar sentiment and general social struggles continue to mount, it becomes more difficult for the official union leaderships to stand apart from the antiwar protests. Some local unions have gone on record in opposition to the war and lent their support to the antiwar demonstrations. This can now become more extensive. The antiwar movement has the opportunity and obligation to encourage this process and to involve the trade-union movement in the antiwar protests wherever possible. Lower levels of the trade-union officialdom can be won to the antiwar movement as it presently exists, opening up expanded opportunities to reach the ranks of the working class more easily.

In adapting to the antiwar pressures, some sections of the trade-union bureaucracy, especially on the higher levels, will undoubtedly bring great pressure to bear for exclusionary measures against the militants, for a negotiations line rather than withdrawal, and for support to capitalist politicians. All of these moves must be fought. But the negative pressures that may arise from the bureaucrats can be offset by the added social weight of the trade unions and the opportunity to involve the mass of the working class more easily.

The growth of the antiwar movement has been paralleled by the upsurge of the Black masses and is related to it. Identification with the struggle of the non-white Vietnamese and the colonial revolution in general has been an important help in generating the new mood of militancy. The costs of the war have made it difficult for the ruling class to grant concessions to the black masses and for the Uncle Toms to put a damper on the growing struggle.

There has been a significant increase in antiwar sentiment among Afro-Americans, especially among the youth. This sentiment has been reflected to some extent in greater Black participation in the antiwar demonstrations.

Almost every Black organization has come out against the war, many of them in solidarity with the Vietnamese revolution. Some of the black organizations have participated in antiwar coalitions for the purpose of building mass demonstrations, most consistently on the high-school and college campuses. Many of the demands raised in the Black student struggles have been specifically directed against U.S. imperialism’s use of the high schools and colleges for the war in Vietnam. Within the army, Black GIs have been central to many of the GI antiwar protests.

Both the working class and the Black population bring great social weight to bear in the struggle to end the war in Vietnam. The antiwar movement must continue to conduct its actions in such a way as to earn their support and solidarity.

C. A Revolutionary Socialist Strategy against the War in Vietnam

The mass antiwar movement is unique in American history. It has grown and intensified even as the shooting war has taken place. Developing prior to a general radicalization of labor and in the absence of a mass working-class political party, the antiwar movement has organized large street demonstrations as the chief means of independently manifesting and organizing the antiwar sentiment of the American masses. These demonstrations have been far more than symbolic shows of protest. They have been the main factor in preventing a climate of social peace from being established for the duration of the war. The continued and growing involvement of masses in antiwar protests is a key factor in limiting the ability of American imperialism to press on with the war in Vietnam and to contemplate other wars like it.

The past few years, marked by the Vietnam war and its domestic repercussions, have seen the intensification of social conflict on numerous fronts. The antiwar movement has been a critical factor in the growth of these social conflicts, for the mass character of the antiwar actions enables them to affect broad layers of the masses and spur protests among youth, GIs, labor, and the Black movement.

The political independence of the periodic mass demonstrations has helped prevent the permanent diversion of antiwar sentiment into class-collaborationist channels. That would have blunted its effect. The actions of the antiwar movement have helped legitimatize a general climate of protest, preventing the development of a wartime hysteria and helping to roll back most of the vestiges of McCarthyism that existed a few years ago. By virtue of the antiwar movement’s example, the right of the people to oppose the government’s policy has been reaffirmed in the midst of war and represents an implicit challenge to the rule of the capitalist class.

To ever-increasing numbers, the war in Vietnam and the mass opposition to it have laid bare the undemocratic and reactionary nature of American capitalism, producing a new wave of radicalization, especially among the youth. This has opened up expanded opportunities for recruitment to the Socialist Workers Party.

Antiwar coalitions have been the principal organizational vehicle for building the mass demonstrations against the war. Such coalitions are a particular form of the tactic of the united front. They correspond to the present situation which is marked by the absence of mass working-class political parties and the political bankruptcy of the official trade-union leadership. Of central importance has been the nonexclusionary character of these coalitions, enabling revolutionary socialists to participate in them while maintaining their own independent political positions. This has been a major factor in strengthening the left wing of the antiwar movement and in maintaining the independent mass-action axis of the antiwar protests.

The coalitions have proven to be unstable and shifting in composition, loosely composed of antiwar organizations, individuals, and political tendencies. The single issue that has united divergent tendencies in the antiwar coalitions has been the organization of mass demonstrations against the war. The antiwar movement is so heterogeneous politically and in composition that it cannot serve as a basis for a coalition around a general political program. But united in action, the different components of the antiwar movement have been able to organize demonstrations in the streets which are objectively anti-imperialist in character, whatever the varying and opposing views on other matters of the individual participants and organizations.

Within the broader coalitions we have sought to build the left wing on the basis of the demand for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam. In contrast to all versions of the negotiations demand, the demand for immediate withdrawal is the only principled way of supporting the right of the Vietnamese to self-determination. It links up support for that right with the interests and antiwar sentiments of the GIs and the working class.

The history of the antiwar movement has been a history of continual struggle over its line, its course and its perspective. The antiwar movement has been subjected to tremendous pressures to divert it from an independent, anti-imperialist axis of mass action. The two central threats to this perspective have been: (1) being drawn into class-collaborationist politics and (2) being diverted into individual acts and adventures that would isolate the vanguard and steer the thrust of the antiwar struggle away from the masses.

Both of these threats have been quite strong on occasion, though never strong enough to permanently change the mass-action orientation of the antiwar movement. Other differences in the antiwar movement have generally derived from these. The participation of the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialist Alliance has been an indispensable factor in maintaining the mass-action orientation of the antiwar movement.

The fundamental problem of policy facing the antiwar movement has been how to counter the threat of class collaboration. The Communist Party and bourgeois liberals have sought to use the antiwar movement as a means of pressure within the Democratic Party. This current made the greatest headway during the 1968 elections.

The McCarthy campaign, with its stated goal of getting the antiwar movement “off the streets,” succeeded in drawing many of these class collaborationists away from building mass demonstrations. Other variants of class-collaborationist electoral politics have been the various third-ticket “peace and freedom” campaigns directed at disorienting the more militant wing of the antiwar movement which could not be drawn directly into the Democratic Party.

Because there is no mass working-class political, party to counterpose to these procapitalist candidates, we have sought to keep the antiwar movement from participating as a movement in electoral politics, advocating instead that it continue on its course of building mass antiwar demonstrations during the election season. Wherever possible we have run our own socialist election campaigns to win over the most revolutionary-minded forces within the antiwar movement.

A variant of the class-collaborationist approach in the antiwar movement has been the line of “multi-issue” organizing. Reformists of all stripes have advocated that the antiwar forces unite around a general political program in contrast to the single issue of joint action against the war. Given the class composition, political line, and heterogeneity of the groups involved in the antiwar movement, such a multi-issue program could only be a liberal-reformist one. It would function as a bridge to class-collaborationist electoral politics and divert concentration upon demonstrations against the war.

As a result of the growing youth radicalization this argument has been updated with left verbiage about transforming the antiwar movement with its mass actions into a general anti-imperialist movement. But such a coalition, ostensibly organized to fight against imperialism in general, would be a fraud. That task requires a revolutionary socialist party and program to lead the struggle for the socialist revolution. The antiwar movement is anti-imperialist in its actions, not in the program of all its participants. The real function of this multi-issue line would be to build a verbally radical but nonetheless reformist organization as a substitute for organizing mass demonstrations against the war.

Our line in the antiwar movement has been to show the intimate relation between the Vietnam war and the rise in social tensions in the United States promoted by racism, antilabor legislation, inflation, taxes, cutbacks in social welfare legislation, etc. By exposing the connection of these issues to the Vietnam war, the antiwar movement can enhance its ability to reach out to the working class and the black liberation movement and draw more powerful forces into the struggle against the war. To the newly-radicalized forces moving in a revolutionary direction we present, not a coalition program with liberals and reformists, but the revolutionary socialist program of the Socialist Workers Party.

Another variant of the reformist approach in the antiwar movement has been to seek to limit actions to a local or “community” level and organize them around immediate issues. This line has usually been counterposed to the line of building mass antiwar demonstrations. Its proponents seek to substitute the struggle around immediate social welfare issues for a frontal attack on the major issue of the war in Vietnam. Our position has been to link up the local and immediate struggles of the working-class and Black masses with the mass demonstrations against the war, not to counterpose one to the other. In practice, the mass actions of the antiwar movement have helped to stimulate struggles on these other issues.

While less serious a problem in the long run, the threat to divert the antiwar struggle in an adventuristic direction and thus isolate it from the mass antiwar sentiment has been considerable in the past year. The standard pacifist line of civil disobedience through acts of “individual conscience” and the adventurist line of small-scale pseudo-confrontation tactics are equally unconcerned with wining over the broad masses and the working class. The most pernicious feature of the line of small confrontations is its substitution of super-militant tactics and their effects on a few participants for a political line aimed at bringing masses into action.

The source of this ultraleft line is, frustration with the continuation of the war despite the mass opposition to it. Seeing a growing radicalization but not yet a mass working-class radicalization, the ultralefts aim at shortcuts which avoid the more difficult, prolonged, but indispensable task of bringing the working class into action. In that sense ultraleftism is merely the obverse of opportunism, which seeks its shortcut in supporting capitalist politicians. These two sides of the ultraleftist approach were clearly evidenced in the character of the demonstration at the Democratic Party convention, which combined aggressive tactics with an opportunist political line of backing McCarthy. Without a working-class political perspective, today’s ultraleftists can easily turn into tomorrow’s opportunists.

We differentiate between the organized ultraleftist groups which must be fought every step of the way and the newly radicalized youth who want to fight against capitalism but through impatience and inexperience may temporarily get sucked into adventurist gimmicks. We must patiently explain that militant antiwar actions which are massive in size and which aim at winning over the mass of the working class, GIs, and Afro-Americans are the politically effective actions to project. Confrontation with the ruling class is basically a political confrontation, not simply a series of tactical encounters.

As the political disorientation resulting from the Paris talks continues to dissipate and mass antiwar demonstrations become increasingly feasible, it is absolutely essential that the antiwar movement draw a clear line demarcating itself from the various ultraleftist and adventurist approaches. Otherwise it risks isolation from the prevailing mass antiwar sentiment.

The same twofold challenge to the axis of mass action is reflected in different approaches to the draft. We are opposed to capitalist conscription, to the discriminatory nature of the draft, and to the use of the schools by the ruling class to enforce it. We are for mass actions against the draft, tied in with the Vietnam war issue and politically directed towards winning the support of the draftees and enlistees. We do not advocate individual noncompliance with the draft but support the constitutional rights of GIs to oppose the war.

Two other lines have been counterposed to this Marxist policy: (1) The liberal anti-draft line oriented toward lobbying Congress to modify or abolish the draft. This line has not had any serious impact in the antiwar movement. (2) The line of individual acts of noncompliance with the draft.

The draft-resistance approach has been declining in influence as GI antiwar actions have developed. At present the overwhelming majority of youth are not engaging in draft refusal. Individual draft refusal is ineffective because it easily victimizes those who engage in it and isolates them from the mass of young workers and other youth. Moreover, the draft refusal line cannot win the support of the GIs who view it as an inadmissible means of individual escape from the Army.

The history of the antiwar movement has been marked by a continual struggle for adherence to the demand for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, as counterposed to various formulations for a negotiated peace or for demands falling short of immediate withdrawal. We have fought for the immediate withdrawal demand within the antiwar movement as the way of supporting the right of the Vietnamese to self-determination. The left wing of the antiwar movement has been organized around the immediate withdrawal demand and has been able to make it the major theme of the mass antiwar demonstrations.

In the context of the Paris talks and various ruling class maneuvers to disarm the antiwar movement, there are likely to be renewed pressures from the class collaborationists to take these maneuvers for good coin and demand less than the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Vietnam. Another pressure towards the negotiations demand has been the proposal by sections of the American antiwar movement to support the ten-point program of the National Liberation Front or the 12- point program of the Provisional Revolutionary Government. This proposal is a retreat from support to Vietnamese self-determination and a back-door concession to the right of the U.S. to negotiate Vietnam’s future. It would also be a political trap for the antiwar movement to counterpose a propaganda stand of support to the NLF or PRG to Washington’s peace propaganda and token troop withdrawal. It would play into the Nixon administration’s hands as they attempt to put themselves forward as the ones who want to withdraw the troops! We will continue to fight for the antiwar movement to raise as its central slogan, “Bring All the GIs Home Now!”

The continuing fight over whether or not to engage in mass antiwar demonstrations has been closely linked with the fight to maintain the nonexclusive character of the coalitions. The class-collaborationist forces have continually attempted to impose a reformist political program on them. The ultraleftists have tried to limit them only to those who would accept their tactics and verbal radicalism. On occasion both of these trends have attempted to scuttle the non-exclusionary foundations of the antiwar organizations. It has been a continual fight to maintain nonexclusion and unity around the single issue of antiwar action in the streets. The Socialist Workers Party has played a central role in welding together diverse tendencies for this sole purpose. We have supported and built the militant left-wing formations as part of the broader coalitions. The antiwar movement has offered major challenge to all the working-class tendencies in the United States. It has tested their ability to recognize and respond to the central issue in world and national politics; their ability and willingness to defend the revolutionary struggle of the Vietnamese; their ability to intervene with their political line and apply it to the immediate political issues; their ability to train their cadres to function in the living mass movement; and their ability to win recruits from among the thousands of youth who have been radicalized by the war in Vietnam. The Socialist Workers Party’s participation in the antiwar movement stands in sharp contrast to that of our political opponents.

The organized and semi-organized Social Democrats have been largely bypassed by the antiwar movement ever since the 1965 SDS march on Washington, when they could no longer impose exclusionary measures. Mired in cold-war anti-Communist ideology, the Socialist Party has denounced the nonexclusive, mass-action antiwar movement and the slogan of immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Its efforts have been limited to electioneering for liberal capitalist politicians or pressuring them through such efforts as petition campaigns in favor of negotiations. The Socialist Party, which had considerable influence in the peace movement of the early l960s, has stagnated in face of the growth of the mass movement against the war in Vietnam. The loosely-organized “third camp” Social Democrats have intervened in the antiwar movement to only a limited extent and made only minimal gains.

The Maoist Progressive Labor Party has pursued a sectarian and abstentionist policy towards the antiwar movement. At the inception of the antiwar movement, PL operated through the May 2nd Committee, which proclaimed itself as the exclusive organization for all antiwar actions but which was never able to organize mass demonstrations or willing to involve other tendencies. PL’s refusal to participate in the united-action coalitions led it to abstain almost totally from the growing antiwar movement. PL dissolved the May 2nd Committee when it entered SDS at a time when SDS had retreated from the struggle against the war. Although PL has made gains from its entry tactic in SDS, it has cut itself off from the bulk of the radicalizing youth around the antiwar movement. Its political gains within the general youth radicalization have been meager.

The Communist Party has intervened in the antiwar movement intermittently, not on a consistent basis. The CP’s basic line has been to seek to utilize the antiwar actions and organizations as a means of pressuring the Democratic Party. It has advanced its class-collaborationist line in all important disputes within the antiwar movement. It has remained hostile to the left-wing, immediate-withdrawal-based antiwar committees, viewing them as competitors to its youth organization and to the various liberal peace committees in which it operates.

Nevertheless, because of the mass character of the antiwar demonstrations, the CP has been forced to enter united-action coalitions, where it meets our direct competition. The result has been a relative weakening of the CP in comparison to the SWP, especially in regard to youth cadre. This changed relationship of forces is one of the most important byproducts of the antiwar movement for the revolutionary vanguard.

The organized ultraleft groupings have remained relatively ineffectual. Some, such as the Spartacist League and the Workers League, have abstained almost entirely from the antiwar movement. Those which have intervened, such as Workers World-Youth Against War and Fascism, have not built the mass demonstrations, but attempted to initiate adventuristic actions subsidiary to them or entirely isolated from them. Despite the militancy an inexperience of unaffiliated radicalizing youth, the organized ultraleft grouplets have not made significant gains, either in numbers or direct organizational influence.

Students for a Democratic Society is not a tendency in the working-class movement but a loosely organized amalgamation of competing tendencies and unorganized radicals. As a national organization, SDS retreated from the struggle against the war after its march on Washington in 1965. While SDS has experienced considerable numerical growth, its national weight within the organized antiwar movement has been minimal due to its abstentionist policy. Local SDS chapters have participated in the antiwar movement, not through national SDS, but through the antiwar organizations as they exist, primarily the Student Mobilization Committee.

The maturing political differentiations within SDS have further paralyzed its ability to act as a national organization. This opens the door for: (1) the Student Mobilization Committee to gain greater authority as an organizer of antiwar youth, including among most SDS members; (2) the Young Socialist Alliance and Socialist Workers Party to recruit more of the healthiest revolutionary-minded SDS members.

The Socialist Workers Party is the only working-class tendency that has from the first recognized the central political importance of the struggle against the Vietnam war and has met its obligation to defend the Vietnamese revolution. We have made the antiwar struggle the major arena of our work and have intervened in it on number of levels. We have been the most consistent fighters for the central line of mass antiwar demonstrations and for the political demand for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam. The support we have won for our political line and the consistent work we have done to implement it in building the antiwar actions have enabled us to exert a decisive influence in the leadership of the mass movement itself, as it presently exists.

The Vietnam war has been a major factor in generating a new wave of radicalization in the United States, opening up expanded opportunities for building the revolutionary party. As the revolutionary socialist wing of the antiwar movement, we have been able to reach the bulk of the radicalizing youth, gain a hearing for our political program, and add significantly to our forces. The majority, of new recruits to the Socialist Workers Party in the past few years have come directly out of the antiwar movement. The combination of our political weight in the antiwar movement and our expanded recruitment have changed the relationship of forces within the working class vanguard significantly in favor of the Socialist Workers Party as compared to our opponents.

The antiwar movement has been an important training ground for the new cadres of the Socialist Workers Party, giving them valuable experience in applying the transitional program in the mass movement, and enabling them to learn in practice how to be tactically flexible’ while politically firm. Tested against opponent tendencies, the Socialist Workers Party has been able to deal them heavy blows and minimize their gains. This development is most important in relation to the Communist Party which remains the major long-term competitor of the revolutionary Marxists for leadership of the working-class vanguard. The political struggles that have taken place in the antiwar movement are part of the preparation for the struggles for the leadership of the general working-class radicalization which is to come and which will determine the future of the American socialist revolution.

Our central: tasks in the antiwar movement are to continue to build the mass antiwar demonstrations that are dealing hammer blows to American imperialism and to recruit from the growing numbers that have begun to move in a radical direction as a result.

Part II
The SWP Approach to Military Policy and its Evolution since 1940

Military policy is an essential part of any transitional program of the revolutionary party in the imperialist epoch with its monstrous growth of capitalist militarism. The naive outlook of the early socialist movement which disregarded the military aspects of the class struggle has long since become outmoded. The actual relations between nations, peoples and classes compel every political tendency to take a position and work out a policy toward both imperialist and class warfare.

The position of the SWP in this field as in others has been derived from Marxist principles and the methods and traditions of Bolshevism as interpreted and applied by the Fourth International. This general line has been consistently followed from the beginning of our movement in this country. But since 1940 the tactical application of this course has twice been modified because of changes in objective circumstances.

In 1940, on the eve of the impending World War II, the SWP set forth its revolutionary socialist antiwar program in the form of the proletarian military policy. This represented a specific application of the methods of the transitional program adopted in 1938 to the working-class psychology and political conditions of the time.

The program was based on the following concepts. (1) It continued our irreconcilable opposition to imperialist war and the capitalist system which breeds it. (2) It projected the perspective of a struggle to win leadership of the working class in order to carry through a fight for state power and establish a socialist society. (3) It laid stress on the need to build a Leninist-type party to fulfill these objectives.

Our approach was categorically counterposed to the misleading ideas and political confusion sowed by the professional pacifists and the Stalinists and Social Democrats on the issues of militarism.

The pacifists proceed on the utopian premise that the laws of the class struggle and capitalist competition can be nullified by the cooperation of people of goodwill who can prevail upon the imperialists to refrain from warmaking. Pacifists oppose the development of the class struggle in favor of class peace at almost any price.

From their moral and religious opposition to violence as such, and not simply to reactionary violence, flows a rejection of the right of armed self-defense. They substitute the individual “witness” for organized collective action. Their conscientious objection to military conscription and training leads to draft evasion or victimization by imprisonment which further isolates antiwar elements from the masses.

Pacifist ideology is as pernicious and prostrating under wartime conditions as in times of. sharp class conflict. It demoralizes and disorients antiwar activists and movements, deters mass mobilizations, and plays into the hands of the imperialists.

Pacifism as a policy may look plausible so long as peaceful relations prevail but it collapses like a pricked balloon as soon as hostilities are declared. In previous periods many professional pacifists have turned into fanatical war supporters once the ruling class has plunged the nation into battle.

Marxists, on the other hand, have always recognized that under military conditions a military policy is mandatory.

In addition to their false line of class collaboration and supporting “peace” candidates who surrender to the warmongers, the Stalinists and Social Democrats take positions which are not essentially different from the simple antimilitarist attitudes of the pure pacifists and which prove to be equally impotent in the struggle against capitalism and its wars. Historically, they, too, have capitulated to the warring state power after war has broken out, or else they have refrained from advancing or acting upon a program of struggle to take state power from the capitalist rulers, the only way that capitalist militarism and imperialist wars can be abolished.

The military policy adopted in l940 was a revolutionary line designed to promote the anticapitalist struggles of the workers under the given wartime conditions.

It was anticipated that proletarian revolutions would emerge in the advanced capitalist countries directly out of the consequences of World War II and that the worker masses in the giant conscript armies would play the decisive role in them.

The transitional measures proposed in the program were to be a bridge from the revolutionary vanguard to the young worker-soldiers drafted into the U.S. armed forces, who were imbued with a mixture of anti-Hitler, antifascist, defensist, democratic and patriotic sentiments. They aimed to develop an assertion of their class independence within the capitalist military machine so that it would be possible to proceed step by step toward winning ideological and political hegemony among them in preparation for the anticipated revolutionary upsurge.

This undertaking was politically prepared and reinforced by the party’s public opposition to the imperialist war dramatized by the l941 Smith Act trial and its documentation.

As part of its program, the party continued its unconditional opposition to capitalist conscription. At the same time it took cognizance of the fact that the antifascist and patriotic sentiments of the workers led them to favor compulsory military service. It therefore counterposed the concept of conscription by the workers’ organizations to the capitalist military draft. It advocated military training under trade-union control, financed by the capitalist government.

These proposals aimed to build class-conscious workers’ military formations capable of defending labor’s interests under conditions of capitalist militarism, imperialist war and the threat of fascist counterrevolution.

Party members called up for military service submitted, as individuals, to capitalist conscription. In the armed forces they lent themselves to learning military skills and sought to win the political confidence of their fellow soldiers. Their participation as socialists in the military machine was viewed as a prerequisite for revolutionary action if a favorable turn of events made it possible to gain a majority to the idea of transforming the imperialist war into a struggle for workers power and socialism.

This set of measures, presented in propaganda form at the outset of the war, did not become the basis for any substantial action during the conflict because the actual pattern of events took a different turn which did not coincide with our expectations.

The most radical development which took place in the army was the “I want to go home” movement of the GIs at the end of the war in the Pacific which upset the plans of the Pentagon strategists by weakening their armed forces.

Although revolutionary situations erupted in Western Europe, no victorious revolutions occurred in the advanced capitalist countries. The axis of the world revolution shifted to the colonial world.

These postwar conditions created a world situation which was qualitatively different from that of the l94l-45 period. However important inter-imperialist rivalries remain, they have been subordinated to imperialism’s cold war against the workers states and its military interventions against the colonial revolutions. The U.S. armed forces have become the principal instrument of world imperialist aggression.

These global developments have generated marked changes in the views of the American people toward the issues posed by Washington’s armed interventions. U.S. involvement in World War II was almost unanimously accepted under the illusion that it was a progressive war waged against fascism. While a noticeable and a significant decline in patriotic fervor was registered during the Korean war of the early 1950s, active and overt opposition was pretty much confined to circles on the left which were then on the decline.

Vietnam has brought about a decisive shift in popular attitudes toward imperialist war. An unprecedented antiwar movement has emerged which continues to win more and more supporters in the midst of a shooting war. It is led by insurgent youth who belong to the post-witchhunt generation and who have been radicalized by the colonial revolution and the Black liberation struggle.

Instead of urging on the government to victory at all costs, defeatist moods have been gaining ground among large sections of the population since 1965. This resistance to the imperialists expresses itself directly in sympathy for the Vietnamese revolution and indirectly through condemnation of the war as illegal, immoral and unjust and in the reluctance of the organized workers and Blacks to make any material sacrifices for the war effort.

This country’s ruling class is having to pay the toll of its function as the chief guardian of world capitalism. In becoming the top dog of the imperialist pack, it has fallen prey to all the basic contradictions of international capitalism in its death agony. Washington is obliged to finance and provide the main military means required for increasingly massive measures to stem the tide of the anti-imperialist and anticapitalist mass struggles throughout the world.

The heavy costs of this course are being levied upon the people in the form of conscription and sizable military casualties; mounting taxes and inflationary pressures on real wages; and gross neglect of urgent social needs. These consequences of imperialist militarism have caused more and more Americans to question the Vietnam conflict and the official rationale for its prosecution. The official demagogy and barefaced deceit employed by the government to justify U.S. intervention have generated widespread suspicion. The growing criticism of imperialist policy and resentment against the war keeps adding to the number of Americans who want to bring it to a speedy halt.

The pacifist sentiments of the masses have a different significance than the ideology and policies of the professional pacifists. They grow out of distrust of the foreign policy imposed by the monopolists and militarists and revulsion against their aggression which have a revolutionary potential. If these healthy instincts can be deepened, politically developed and properly directed, they can become the basis and point of departure for the creation of a mass anticapitalist consciousness which can pass beyond the narrow political limits set by the professional pacifists and their fellow class collaborationists who have dominated previous “peace” movements.

The task of our party is to direct this antiwar protest into class-struggle channels. To make its military policy fit the new international and domestic conditions, the party has introduced the following changes in its tactics.

The slogan of military training under trade-union control has been laid aside along with the advocacy of conscription into workers’ military organizations.

More emphasis is placed upon opposing capitalist conscription which is becoming increasingly unpopular.

As in the past, party members called up for military service submit to the draft.

In doing so, they refuse to sign the unconstitutional loyalty oath now made part of the conscription procedure.

Although the main weight of the antiwar movement continues to center in the civilian population, the opposition to the war which has developed within the present conscript army has added a new and extremely important political dimension to the forces involved in the fight against the imperialist warmakers. Revolutionary socialists within the armed forces focus their political activity on the assertion and defense of their constitutional right to express their views as citizens upon the war and other issues of government policy, using sound tactical judgment in exercising that right and avoiding disciplinary hangups and penalties over routine military matters and orders.

The basic aim of our current transitional approach is the same as its predecessor. It seeks to promote a struggle for power and socialism by the workers and their allies and to build a strong, democratically disciplined combat party capable of leading that struggle to the end.