This weekend, millions of people in cities throughout the world took part in the largest mass demonstrations yet against Israel’s genocide in Gaza, carried out with the complicity of the imperialist powers.
These global demonstrations are historic. Despite the total support of the governments of the US-NATO axis for Israel’s actions, despite the relentless slander and propaganda in the media, despite the threats and intimidation against those who have spoken out, millions of people took a stand against genocide.
During the Holocaust, the Nazis were able to transport millions of Jews to gas chambers without the world being aware of it. But now, masses of people all over the world are witnessing a genocide in real time, through modern communications technology, and they are being galvanized into action.
In the United States, 300,000 people marched in Washington, D.C., the cockpit of imperialist war planning. Tens of thousands took part in protests in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities, including San Francisco, where more than 10,000 demonstrated. In Canada, 40,000 people marched from the US consulate in Toronto to the provincial legislature.
Following the demonstration of 500,000 in London last week, with no national demonstation called, close to 50,000 Londoners protested in Trafalgar Square this weekend. Tens of thousands more demonstrated in towns and cities across the UK—including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
Despite efforts by the German government to criminalize opposition to Israel’s genocide, there were tens of thousands on the streets throughout the country. The biggest demonstrations took place in Berlin (over 20,000) and in Düsseldorf (30,000). Thousands also protested in other cities such as Stuttgart, Munich and Frankfurt.
Workers and young people throughout the Asia-Pacific region joined demonstrations. In Indonesia, millions rallied in Jakarta, with some estimates on social media placing the turnout at two million. Tens of thousands participated in protests in Malaysia, including at a packed soccer stadium in Terengganu. Thousands marched in Tokyo, Japan and hundreds rallied in Seoul, South Korea. In Australia and New Zealand, tens of thousands joined marches in all the major cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland.
The US media responded to the demonstration involving millions of people by simply ignoring them, or, if they felt this was impossible, lying about their extent. The New York Times published a brief article, quickly buried on its website, claiming that “tens of thousands” participated in demonstrations in the US, even as it showed a photo of the demonstration in D.C. that involved more than a quarter of a million. The corporate media, reflecting the concerns of the ruling class, is both opposed to and fearful of the sentiment of the vast majority of the world’s population.
The demonstrations have, first of all, an objective significance. They are part of a growing movement against the policies of the capitalist ruling elite. Significantly, it is developing as a global movement, encompassing workers and youth of all nationalities, ethnicities, ages and genders. Growing numbers of Jewish protesters are denouncing the lie, promoted by Israel and its imperialist backers, that the Netanyahu government is acting in their name.
What everyone is thinking is: What next? How must the fight against Israel’s genocide be developed?
First, the genocide in Gaza and the support that it has from all the imperialist powers in the US-NATO axis must be seen in connection to the escalating global war, including the US-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine and the preparations for war against Iran and China. The imperialist powers are engaged in a war against the population of the entire world. The slaughter of Palestinians is aimed at sending a message that they will stop at nothing to achieve their objectives.
Second, there is no section of the political establishment that is opposed to the imperialist redivision of the world. The chants of protesters in D.C. of “Genocide Joe” and “Biden Biden, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” expressed a recognition that the Netanyahu government could not be doing what it is doing without the active support of Washington and Israel’s coordination with the Biden administration.
It is not just Biden as an individual, but the Democratic Party as an instrument of the ruling class that stands exposed. Many young people involved in the demonstrations would have at one point supported the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont who postured as left, even “socialist.”
In a deliberate show of contempt for the mass demonstrations, however, Sanders appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” interview program Sunday to proclaim his opposition to a ceasefire. “I don’t know how you can have a ceasefire with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos,” Sanders said, adding, “Hamas has got to go.” In backing Israel’s actions, Sanders leads a political tendency that should be known as “Democratic Socialists for Genocide.”
In different forms, the genocide in Gaza is exposing the pseudo-left supporters of capitalism and imperialism in every country, which represent privileged sections of the upper-middle class.
Third, the social base for opposing Israel’s war crimes, and the broader imperialist war of which it is a part, is the working class, the vast majority of the world’s population. It is not through appeals to the capitalist states and the parties of the ruling class that the genocide will be stopped, but through the mobilization of that social force which produces all of society’s wealth.
The call of the Palestinian trade unions for industrial action to stop the shipment of military weapons to Israel has begun to be taken up by workers, including workers in Belgium and dockworkers on the US West Coast. This must be expanded throughout the world. It must be connected to the mobilization of workers in a political general strike to shut down production and demand an immediate halt to the siege on Gaza, the withdrawal of Israeli forces, and urgent humanitarian aid to the masses of people being starved and slaughtered.
Fourth, the development of a mass movement of the working class must develop as an international movement against capitalism and for socialism. The systematic starvation, bombing and expulsion of a population of more than 2.3 million people in Gaza is a product not only of the monstrous criminality of the Netanyahu regime and its backers in the US-NATO axis, but, more fundamentally, the capitalist system as a whole.
Fifth, and most importantly, is the question of revolutionary leadership. In its statement published at the beginning of 2020, “The decade of socialist revolution begins,” the World Socialist Web Site called attention to the intensification of the capitalist crisis and the enormous growth of social opposition in the preceding decade. We noted, “The masses, accumulating experience in the course of struggle, are undergoing a profound change in their social and political orientation. It is in the context of this revolutionary process that the fight for socialist consciousness will develop.”
Since that statement, the world has experienced a global pandemic that has killed more than 20 million people due to the subordination of human life to profit; the attempted fascistic coup in the United States; the eruption of the US-NATO war against Russia that threatens to develop into a nuclear world war; and now the genocide in Gaza. All express the deepening crisis of the capitalist system.
The mass protests throughout the world express the developing collision between the capitalist ruling elites and the international working class. The transformation of this objective process into a conscious movement for socialism requires the building of a political leadership that has as its aim the conquest of power by the working class, the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism, and the establishment of socialism on a world scale.
This is the perspective advanced by the International Committee of the Fourth International and its affiliated Socialist Equality Parties throughout the world. To join the SEP or build one in your country, fill out the form below.