Liverpool says no

Anti-war protestors gathered in Liverpool on Saturday January 18. Despite problems with publicity, numbers were quite high - around 500 or so. Headed by the banner of Liverpool Trades Union Council - co-sponsor, along with the Stop the War Coalition and Liverpool Friends of Palestine - the march was promptly marshalled and mobilised. Effectively stewarded and with a number of other trade union banners present, the event gave an impression of being a disciplined working class action. Though spirits were buoyant as protestors headed toward the city centre, the demonstration was oddly quiet - perhaps all were content to let the Irish republican flute band prove its musical abilities. That the organisers had apparently forgotten to bring loud-hailers must have been a factor too. With St George's Plateau - the usual destination for demonstrations in Liverpool - out of bounds due to repair work, marchers rallied at the Victoria monument. Alongside representatives of each of the sponsoring organisations there were several other speakers, including an Aslef representative and an Iraqi exile - all did well despite a poor PA sound-system and were well received. The loudest applause, however, was reserved for a message read out from officers of the San Francisco Longshoremen's Union, who reported that US dockers were participating in the anti-war demonstration held on the same day in that city. The war was contrary to the interests of the workers of all nations, we were told, and it could be prevented only by means of the working class - dockers, transport workers and others - taking action to frustrate the war efforts of capital. The refusal of the Motherwell Aslef drivers to move a munitions train was cited as a superb example of the action that is required. The working class press and communications networks must give the maximum publicity to instances of this type, which the capitalist class will strive to hide. This of course is the correct analysis of the situation - war is a class question and its liquidation is a matter decided by class struggle alone. Much was made by other speakers of the importance of mobilising for a massive turnout at the national demonstration in London on February 15. Certainly numbers on the streets are very important, but they are not an end in themselves. What banner should we strive to place at the head of the march? One calling for 'peace'? For 'no wars'? Or, rather, one calling for something more, one that points the way forward? It comes down to this: is the anti-war movement to be led down a pacifist blind-alley with peace as the only demand, or forward towards a socialist perspective? Ray Ely