8 March 2003


By all accounts, the US movement against war to topple Saddam Hussein has got big problems - and although the biggest is the hostility of public opinion, not far behind is the role that a particularly bizarre Leninist sect, the Workers’ World Party, has played in organising the anti-war demonstrations of the past few months.

The WWP is something that could only exist in the US. Its origins are in a faction of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers' Party - the main Trot organisation in the US and very different from the Brit SWP - that broke with it to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 (for an explanation of sorts, click here). It subsequently dropped Trotskyism, embraced Maoism and became the most hyper-activist of a plethora of small organisations of a Third Worldist Stalinist bent that played a significant role in the US left until way into the 1980s. (The American SWP followed the WWP into Third Worldist Stalinism over Cuba, but that's a different story.) The WWP is now hysterically pro-North Korean (if you doubt this, visit its home page).

Its current prominence stems from its role in setting up and running a front organisation, ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which has organised the major anti-war demos in Washington and elsewhere. The neo-con right has had a field day (see, for example the former leftist David Horovitz's poisonous but endlessly entertaining website Frontpage) - and the WWP's role has been taken up by the mainstream press (click here for Michael Kelly in the Washington Post and here for David Corn in LA Weekly). But it has also given the serious left pause for thought (click here for the social democratic journal Dissent's symposium on Iraq). Needless to say, the role of the WWP has also been played down by people who ought to know better, including Alexander Cockburn, once of the New Statesman and once a WWP critic (click here for amusing documentation).

Remember, kids - even the best cause can be destroyed by the attentions of Leninists (and I'm not sure this is the best cause . . .).

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