AND THAT’S THE PROBLEM
an anarchist perspective
“We Americans claim to be a
peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed;
we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into
spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting
dynamite bombs from flying machines
upon helpless citizens. We are ready
to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone, who,
from economic necessity, will risk his own
life in the attempt upon that of some industrial
magnate. Yet our hearts swell with
pride at the thought that America is becoming
the most powerful nation on earth,
and that it will eventually plant her iron
foot on the necks of all other nations.
Such is the logic of patriotism.”
Emma Goldman, 1911
for further info or for the
pdf version of this
pamphlet check out this anarchist anti-war website:
We have to be absolutely clear about this war: the US government is
attacking Iraq, not because of any threat of “weapons of mass destruction”
nor out of concern for democracy or human rights in Iraq. The US government was
on good terms with Iraq from 1984 to 1990. Throughout this period they helped to
build up Iraq as a military power in the region, giving the Iraqi government
technical assistance and weapons. During the Iran/Iraq war (1980-1988)
approximately 60,000 Iranian soldiers and civilians were exposed to Iraqi
chemical weapons . In 1988, the Iraqi government killed
thousands of people when it used chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels, and
entire Kurdish villages. Nevertheless, the US continued to supply Saddam with
weapons and assistance, even after such brutality . Even
after the Gulf War (1990-1991) the US didn’t much care about the brutality of
the Iraqi government. In March of 1991, after Iraqi troops were driven out of
Kuwait, there was an uprising of Shi’a Muslims in southern Iraq, against
Saddam’s government. The US and its allies simply watched as Iraqi ground
troops crushed this revolt.  If any further proof were
needed that the US government has no interest in democracy and human rights in
the Middle East, we could simply look at the regimes that it supports in the
region. The great US ally, Saudi
Arabia, is a monarchy. In Saudi Arabia, independent political parties and trade
unions are banned, the local media is tightly censored and there is legal
discrimination against women . Israel, the largest
recipient of US aid in the world, is actively pursuing genocidal policies
against the Palestinian people, occupying their land, forcing them into ghettos,
repressing expressions of Palestinian culture, ruining the Palestinian economy,
jailing and torturing Palestinian political activists and terrorizing the
Palestinian population with harassment and assaults by the Israeli Defense
Forces.  The war has nothing whatsoever to do with human
rights, democracy or “weapons of mass destruction”.
Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, after Saudi
Arabia. It has the potential to produce millions of barrels of oil a day. As the
world’s oil supplies dwindle, the US government wants to make sure that it has
a firm hold on the Middle East, and its oil.  By
conquering Iraq, the US can assure that the regime that follows will be loyal to
the US, that it will increase the oil production and that US companies will
profit off the flow of that oil.
Also, war itself is good business. The big corporations that manufacture
weapons are given defense contracts by the government worth billions of dollars.
The US government thus provides the arms industry with a guaranteed
market for its products. In most cases, the effects of defense spending
subsidize whole areas of the economy. Boeing, which is the second largest
recipient of Pentagon contracts, can use that money on its civilian aircraft as
well. In fact, war is such good business, that the US has not shut down a single
major weapons production line since the end of the Cold War, and continues to
spend over $300 billion a year on “defense”. For these companies, more war
means more profits. In this way, the defense industry has a vested interest in
promoting aggression on the part of the US government, which they do, among
other things, by making generous campaign donations to both the Democrats and
the Republicans .
Another effect of war is that political dissidents who oppose the war can
be labeled as disloyal or unpatriotic. One response to this can be seen in the
placards, posters and bumper stickers all over the country, proclaiming such
things as “Peace is Patriotic” and “Regime Change Begins at home, Vote”.
They attempt to legitimize resistance to the war, within certain acceptable
channels. This response to war is fundamentally flawed.
The problem is that what we have when there is not a declared “war”
going on, can hardly be described as “peace”.
Almost half the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day, and 1.2
billion people live on less than $1 a day—70% of whom are women. The richest
1% of people receives as much income as the poorest 57% .
Worldwide, 100 million people are homeless and 1 billion have only inadequate,
temporary or insecure shelter. In the United States, 2 million people will be
homeless at some point during the year, and 700,000 are homeless on any given
night . This massive poverty is not an accident that will
be done away with in time, but a very real product of the way our economic and
political institutions are set up.
Under a capitalist economy, the right of private property is protected,
and things are produced in order to make a profit. This means that the land, the
factories and the infrastructure of society are centralized in the hands of a
small number of rich businessmen (and women). Under capitalism, the economic
decisions—the decisions about what to make, how much and for whom—are made
by the rich who own the economy, in order to make a profit for themselves.
People are homeless quite simply, because it is not profitable to make
houses for them. People starve because it is not profitable to make food for
people who cannot buy it. Capitalism literally creates poverty by depriving the
poor of the things they need, so that they can then be exploited as a source of
cheap labor. When a landlord forces their tenants into the street, in order to
raise the rent, that is an attack. When people are injured or die in unsafe
working conditions because it is cheaper for their boss, that is an attack. When
people are made poor and then forced to spend their entire lives working for
rich people, just to get by, that is an attack. Capitalism itself is warfare—a
war of the rich and powerful against the poor and exploited.
In this war, the government is on the side of the rich. It gives massive
subsidies to the rich (through Pentagon contracts, for example). It manipulates
the flow of people, goods and money across its borders to ensure profitability.
And, most importantly, it uses violence to defend the interests of the rich. In
Iraq—as in Afghanistan before it—the government uses war to defend the
interests of the rich investors in oil and arms corporations who profit from
weapons contracts and increased access to oil resources. In Colombia (and the
rest of Northern South America) the US government is funding a massive military
build-up, in order to eliminate the organized resistance to further capitalist
development in the region (the Marxist guerillas and radical associations of the
indigenous people and the poor coca-growers). Indeed capitalism became the
dominant economic system of the globe because of the cheap cotton produced by
the forced enslavement of Africans, and the cheap land stolen as European states
perpetrated a series of genocides against the indigenous people of the Americas.
Of course it is patriotic to defend the “peace” that existed before
the war on Iraq. But it is a somewhat ridiculous position, because it is
impossible to separate the government, to which one is being loyal and
patriotic, from the economic and political system that causes war. The state and
ultimately state violence is the glue, which holds capitalism together. And at
those times when there is not massive state violence going on, such as a war,
capitalism continues to displace, oppress and exploit the poor. For these
reasons, we must oppose both capitalist war, and capitalist “peace”.
To want an end to war is of course a worthwhile goal, but in order to
really achieve such a goal, we must have a clear idea of where war comes from.
The cry to oppose the war by being patriotic, standing up for “what America
really stands for” and voting for a different set of politicians, is merely
the voice of a different section of the ruling class speaking—the voice of the
liberal exploiters, who dress up exploitation in progressive rhetoric. When
people are being made poor, when they are having their housing taken away or
being brutalized by the police, when the government is murdering people to make
money for investors, people will resist. That resistance may be angry and
uncontrolled. It may be rioting. It may not fit nicely into the political
channels designed by the rich and powerful. Nevertheless, it is with this real
struggle that we must stand in solidarity. Those who would call for electoral or
patriotic responses to war are only serving to marginalize those who are already
We anarchists want an end to war, too. Wars kill poor people and increase
exploitation and misery, while the rich profit. But we don’t have any
illusions that we are fighting for “the freedom that America really stands
for”, and we stand in open solidarity with the front lines of resistance
across the world. The war on Iraq fits in with a long history of colonization,
brutality and aggression on the part of the US government. Frankly, we are
enemies of government, and the US government especially.
We want a world without borders and bureaucrats, without police and
To struggle for such a world, is to oppose the long intertwined history
of state violence and capitalist oppression—it is to oppose the war against
the poor. And unlike wars
between nations, there can be no peace between classes. So long as the rich
exist as a class, profiting off the forced exploitation and misery of the poor,
it is meaningless to talk of peace. Only through an organized, determined
struggle on the part of the poor and exploited against their exploiters can we
hope to bring about an end to exploitation. This struggle is not a game, and
does not fit nicely into the rules of the proper, patriotic, political channels.
In fact, it is ultimately a struggle against them as well.
 “Iran: The Legacy of chemical weapons” by Doug
 “When US turned a blind eye to poison gas” by Dilip Hiro. Daily Observer, September 1, 2002. http://www.observer.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4492363,00.html
 “Why Another War? A backgrounder on the Iraq Crisis” by Sarah Graham-Brown and Chris Toensing. From Middle East Research & Information Project. October, 2002.
 “Saudi Arabia: A Secret State of Suffering” by Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/saudi/index.html
 “The New Intifada: Resisting Israeli Apartheid”. Ed. Roane Carey.
New York: Verso, 2001.
 “Military-Industrial Complex Revisited: How
Weapons Makers are shaping US foreign and military policy” by William D.
Hartung. From Foreign Policy in Focus. http://www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org/papers/micr/index.html
“Restraining the Growth of the U.S. Defense Budget” by Michael E. O’Hanlon.
From Foreign Policy Studies, February 2002.
 “About Global Poverty and Microcredit” from PBS
“Human Development Report 2002: Deepening Democracy in a fragmented
United Nations Development Programme. New York: Oxford University Press,
“A roof is not enough: a look at homelessness
worldwide” by Monte Leach. From Share
Anarchists... What we stand for
Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes
from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a
political philosophy, anarchism is based on
the idea that organization does not require
rulers—that people can get together and
deal with all the problems facing them, without
an authority directing them. Only for
those who think that the only way to organize
is to have a boss giving orders, does
“anarchy” mean “chaos”.
1. We are opposed to
economic system based on private property and production for a profit literally
creates poverty by depriving the poor of the means of subsistence. The poor are
then exploited by the rich as a source of cheap labor. As long as there is
capitalism, there will be poverty, misery and exploitation.
2. We are opposed to
was founded on the profits reaped from African slaves and the stolen land of the
indigenous people of the Americas. This brutal dispossession, subordination and
exploitation or elimination of entire peoples continues today. The colonized
people are everywhere among the poorest and most exploited.
3. We are opposed to white
supremacy. While rarely explicitly advocated anymore, the systematic privileging of
white people over people of color
is a structural aspect of the society in which we live. This structural racism
exists globally and locally and means that the rich and powerful tend to be
white people, while the poorest and most exploited are people of color.
4. We are opposed to
patriarchy. Across the globe
there exists a structural sexism that gives men more access to wealth and power
while creating conditions in which women are impoverished, exploited and
brutalized. Everywhere, women are among the poorest workers, and much of the
work that women do is unpaid.
5. We are opposed to police.
vast majority of crimes is caused by poverty and could be eliminated by doing
away with poverty. Putting people in prison is a way to control rebellious poor
people as well as a way to exploit their labor. The police and the army are the
physical violence of the state. They exist to keep the poor and oppressed in
their place. They serve and protect only the rich and their interests. We
want work to be geared toward fulfilling the needs of the community and
controlled by those doing the work. We want the means of subsistence guaranteed
to those who cannot work.
6. We are opposed to war.
are fought to expand empires and to protect the interests of the rich in one
country. Those who suffer and die are the poor in all countries involved.
Nevertheless, we are not pacifists, and uphold the right of people to resist
oppression violently if necessary.
7. We are opposed to borders.
are artificial barriers that divide us and facilitate our exploitation. They
allow the rich and their investments to pass easily, while impeding the free
movement of people. They allow empires to extend rights and privileges only to
the border, while extending exploitation across the globe. Borders are the
inhuman laws that allow humans to be labeled “illegal” and exploited as
8. We want economic equality.
want libertarian communism. We want the land and the means of production and
distribution held in common.
9. We want political
freedom. We want a stateless society—a society without rulers and ruled.
We want political institutions created out of free association and not coercion.
We want autonomy and self-government for all peoples and for all people.
10. We want human dignity.
We want the means of development provided to all. We want a classless society,
where cultures and people are free to define themselves and interact as equals.
We want inter-personal, local, regional and global solidarity and mutual aid.
11. We need a revolution.
realize that those who profit off of misery will do everything in their power to
maintain the world as it is, and the road ahead will be filled with battles. But
only by fighting these battles, only through struggle on the part of the poor
and exploited, against their exploiters can we ever hope to bring about an end