Peace movement rallies to Serbian war effort

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Right from the start of the bombing of Yugoslavia the left has held meetings and demonstrations around the theme of "Stop the War". From the interventions of militants and sympathisers of the ICC across the country it is clear that these events, far from being against the imperialist slaughter, have been in favour of war, usually on the side of British imperialism's traditional ally Serbia, but sometimes in defence of the KLA. A report received LA. A report received from a close sympathiser of the ICC about a meeting held in Leicester gives a very good sense of a typical celebration of warmongering by the left.

Organised by the Trotskyists of the Socialist Workers Party with assistance from the Stalinists of the Communist Party of Britain and contributions from the pacifists of CND, the meeting successfully downplayed any of the supposed differences between the different currents of the left.

The SWP "applauded the historic contribution of CND" (presumably support for every war in which nuclear weapons have not been deployed) and its "tradition of good people against war". A Stalinist read from a John Pilger article. Someone from Scargill's Socialist Labour Party told the assembly "not to feel guilty about supporting Serbia" because "supporting Milosevic doesn't mean supporting Serbian nationalism". The Indian Workers' Association also came to support the Serbian cause.

On the side of the KLA came Workers' Liberty and Workers' Aid for Kosovo. Both support the arming of the KLA and the former thought that Milosevic was a fascist. While there was some friction between the pro-Serb and pro-KLA groups their mutual appeal to "the basic first principle: national self-determination" meant that differences were kept within the bounds of the "community of the left".

During the discussion the same themes continued: "highly selective illustrations of the human cost; Belgrade's actions portrayed as purely defensive - or the regrettable, but understandable response to being in a corner."

The star turns of the meeting were two people from Serbia. One man gave an "oath to the meeting that (after finishing his PhD) he would return to his motherland and give his life - if necessary - for the 'holy soil of Serbia'". The meeting greeted this with great applause. A Serbian woman "bore witness to the Albanian atrocities against Serbian civilians". This was greeted with "near-jubilation".

Understandably, when our sympathiser intervened against the spirit of meeting to denounce the social-democratic, Stalinist and Trotskyist traditions which all have long histories of support for imperialist wars there were cries of "shame" and later "some intimidatory remarks from the SWP". However, as we have found everywhere, there were those who were "interested in the left communist tradition" and discussing the issues raised by imperialist war. This is not surprising as the function of the left (through meetings, demonstrations and parallel union campaigns) is to divert workers' opposition to war into pacifism or support for one of the forces engaged in imperialist conflict.