The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Students Can Protest Murderous Wars—The Working Class Can End Them

May 6, 2024

Tens of thousands of students at dozens of universities and colleges across the country have been protesting the barbaric slaughter of 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli military. And despite the big crackdown at several universities, these protests have been spreading.

From the very beginning of these protests, U.S. officials and many in the news media have belittled and put down the student protesters.

The students have been called privileged, because most of the protests started at elite private and state universities. But all that means is that these students have some time to pay attention to what is going on and try to oppose it.

The news media tries to make it seem like these are just young people acting out, being irresponsible. Yeah, they’re young. But that just means that they have not yet been conditioned to accept the most naked, inhuman barbarism as an inevitable part of life.

Of course, some of the student demands are foolish. One of their central demands is “divestment.” That means they want their university to stop doing business with companies that have a connection to the Israeli war against the Palestinians.

And the students often ignore the role played by Hamas. Hamas, which oppresses the Palestinian people, carried out the mass murder of Israelis on October 7, thus provoking the war. By putting all the blame for the war on Israel, the students weaken their position, as well.

But this just shows that the students have some illusions about who is really behind these terrible massacres.

In fact, the main responsibility for this war lies not in Israel, but right here in the United States. It is the U.S. superpower that dominates the Middle East, a region rich in oil and centrally located, straddling three continents.

The only reason the U.S. government gives tiny Israel more military aid than any other country is because Israel is a reliable cop in the region. Israel is a U.S. tool. It does the U.S.’s dirty work. The U.S. superpower depends upon Israel to defend U.S. corporate investments and trade.

Sometimes Israeli leaders defy Biden and the U.S., as when Netanyahu openly calls for ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the West Bank. He openly threatens a wider regional war that the U.S. doesn’t want. But U.S. officials may scold Netanyahu, while continuing to send billions more in military aid.

Last week, President Joe Biden denounced the student protests for sometimes being supposedly “violent” because they might have taken over a building on campus in a few instances.

Violence? Are they kidding? It is the U.S. superpower that has flooded the entire Middle East with weapons of mass destruction. It has turned people against each other, fomented wars. The U.S. has invaded, waged war. The U.S. military has killed millions of people—and starved millions more through trade embargoes, that is, economic war.

Every opinion poll shows that a majority of people in this country are also horrified by the massacres in Gaza by the Israeli Army. These protests could find a bigger echo not just among other students, but among other parts of the population. After all, workers are the ones who are paying for these wars with our tax dollars. And workers know that if the war spreads, the U.S. could send troops, and it will be young workers who do the fighting and the dying.

That’s why many universities have cracked down hard on protesters, arresting over 2,000 so far, breaking up encampments, letting extreme right wing Israeli nationalists attack protesters and crack heads, expelling some students, and threatening to expel many more. The university administrations, not to speak of the entire U.S. ruling class, don’t want more protests, especially since the U.S. is also fomenting the war in Ukraine, and is making all kinds of threats of war against China. All that shows is that there are more and bigger wars in our future, wars where U.S. troops will be sent to fight and die.

Certainly, it is not the students who have the power to stop these wars. But the working class does. For it is the working class that is at the center of the economy, producing everything, making society run. It is the working class that produces the profits, the very lifeblood of the ruling class. And it is the working class that makes up the bulk of the military. That gives the working class a huge amount of power, when workers organize in their own interests.

The working class may not be able to stop the wars that have already started. But workers can surely end them, by ending the cause of those wars, by turning on our real enemy: the big capitalists right here, the same capitalists who are robbing us right here every single day.