Chicago Anti-War Protest Report Back and Criticism

January 4, 2020

CHICAGO: Hundreds of protesters gathered on Saturday outside of Trump Tower in downtown Chicago to condemn the US’s escalation of war with Iran. Protests were called across the country in response to airstrikes that occurred Thursday which killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Iranian Quds Force, and militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. This assault was ordered by Donald Trump in retaliation for the militant mass actions against the US Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.

The Chicago protest was called by the ANSWER coalition, a front group for the revisionist Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and co-sponsored by the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) – Midwest, the revisionist Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR), Chicago DSA, and Chicago Boricua Resistance to name a few.

As protesters assembled, scheduled speakers began their talks on microphones that only reached protesters in their immediate vicinity. Meanwhile, revolutionaries stood on the outside of the crowd talking to passersby about the escalation of war and how to build a real revolutionary movement to defeat imperialism: Organizing the masses of people and bringing the war home.

After an hour of speeches from the front, the crowd began to get ready to shut down the streets, chanting, “We want to march!” The crowd began to move shutting down Wacker street, forcing the hand of the organizers to begin a march. Protesters shut down several busy city blocks for more than an hour, including Michigan Ave. Pigs were severely outnumbered as the march grew, with people joining as it continued. Two protesters were arrested as a result of poor organizational leadership from the front, who quickly commanded nearby protesters to continue marching as opposed to mobilizing the masses to confront the pigs. The protests ended on State street with calls for more protests in the near future.

While rallies of this nature imbue in participants a sense of revolutionary spirit, comradery, and confrontation of power, they do little to build the mass anti-war movement that they posture as. The people are not showing up to these rallies, though they are not fond of war. The connections between imperialism and their own issues, like food insecurity, job insecurity, gentrification and evictions, and state violence, need to be made. The ruling class will reap record-breaking profits, while the people have to pay more in groceries, gas, and other necessities. Moreover, institutions of political power that exist outside of, and directly confront the imperial ruling class’s own institutions, must be developed. Without first doing this, anti-war demonstrations will continue to be limited only to radicals, confused by why shouting their obscure platitudes hasn’t yet stopped imperialism.