Workers Vanguard No. 916

6 June 2008


SYC’s Anti-Imperialism vs. RCP’s Pro-Democratic Party Whitewash

Berkeley Protest Against John Yoo, Architect of Torture

(Young Spartacus pages)

On May 17, the Spartacist League and Spartacus Youth Club participated in a protest against “torture professor” John Yoo outside the commencement ceremony at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall law school. As deputy assistant attorney general, John Yoo, now a law professor at UC Berkeley, authored the notorious Justice Department memos that provided legal justification for the U.S. imperialists’ use of torture as part of the ruling class’ bipartisan “war on terror.” Yoo maintains that the bourgeoisie’s use of waterboarding is justified and that there are no legal restrictions against the president’s ordering the torture of detainees. Supported by both Democrats and Republicans, the “war on terror” has meant bloody imperialist slaughter abroad and racist repression in the U.S., and John Yoo was a key architect of it.

The protest against Yoo was called by Act Against Torture and the World Can’t Wait campaign (WCW) of the reformist Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). We intervened into this demonstration to protest John Yoo from our revolutionary Marxist perspective, with the understanding that the only way to rid the world of torture, imperialist war and barbarism is through the overturn of the capitalist system through socialist revolution. The WCW and its creator, the RCP, attempted to censor our revolutionary internationalist opposition to American imperialism so that they could push their program of refurbishing the democratic credentials of U.S. imperialism.

The WCW’s call for the demonstration, “Fire & Dis-bar [sic] John Yoo! No Professors Condoning Torture at UC Berkeley,” was an appeal to the administration to clean up the campus, and they urged students to petition the dean to fire John Yoo. We are for students, teachers and campus workers driving this war criminal off campus. But to paint the administration as an ally against this war criminal is a whitewash of the administration, which is the representative of the capitalist rulers on campus. It is not the bourgeoisie’s war criminals, but leftist professors like Ward Churchill and Norman Finkelstein, student activists and campus workers whom the administration targets. Universities under capitalism are bourgeois institutions that train the next generation of technocrats, businessmen and bureaucrats to maintain the rule of the capitalist class. We remind our readers that “progressive” Berkeley was home to the Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons development lab for decades.

As law students lined the walk to the Boalt Hall commencement reception, our comrades chanted, “John Yoo and the CIA: Torture made in the U.S.A.!” and “John Yoo, imperialist tool! Overthrow U.S. capitalist rule!” When we chanted, “Pressure politics—no solution! We need workers revolution!” and “Democrats, Republicans—parties of war! For a workers party to wage class war!”, RCPers started to panic and tried to drown us out by chanting, “Shame on who? John Yoo!” Law graduates filing by gave thumbs up for our next chant, “U.S. imperialists out of Iraq now! U.S. imperialists out of Afghanistan now! U.S. imperialists out of the Near East now!” This sent the reformists into a frenzy, arguing that the demonstration could only take up John Yoo and torture!

This pathetic attempt at political censorship showed the RCP’s appetite for unity with the liberals and the Democrats against the revolutionary communists. One RCPer asked us how we would like it if they had come to the rally we built for Mumia and chanted, “Long live Mao.” We would have welcomed the chance to debate Maoism or any other political question. In fact, that’s why the RCP declined the Partisan Defense Committee’s invitation to endorse, build for and speak at the April united-front rallies to free Mumia. They fear exposure of the contradiction between their cynical “revolutionary” rhetoric and their thoroughly reformist politics. (See “RCP Maoists ‘Serve the People’ …Up to the Democrats,” WV No. 901, 26 October 2007.)

Several RCPers at the demo argued that their WCW campaign, which pushes as its main slogan, “Drive out the Bush regime” (read: “vote Democrat”), was a way to create an opening for revolutionary politics. Really the opposite is true. Far from creating an opening for a revolutionary program, the RCP and its WCW project divert outrage against the depredations of U.S. imperialism back into the same old “lesser evil” Democratic Party pressure politics.