A Socialist Labor Party Statement—

Socialists Condemn Terrorist Attacks

The Socialist Labor Party unqualifiedly condemns the terrorist attacks of September 11.

The SLP and its members deplore the wanton massacre of innocent men, women and children. We denounce the individuals, group or groups who perpetrated those despicable deeds and whatever perverted motive prompted them to commit them. There is and can be no justification for such barbarous crimes.

The members of the SLP extend their heartfelt sympathies and condolences to all those whose families were shattered and whose lives were forever changed.

We grieve for the thousands of working men and women who were robbed of their lives.

We are horrified and aghast as we contemplate the anguish of the hundreds aboard the hijacked airliners who knew they were about to die.

We are revolted by the unspeakable cruelty that went beyond cold-blooded murder and forced thousands trapped in the twin towers of the World Trade Center to suffer the torture of impending death through agonizing moments of fear and despair.

We are shaken as we try to imagine what thoughts must have run through the minds of the hundreds who could be seen clinging to the sides of the World Trade Center towers as they began to realize that they were doomed—those whose lives were snuffed out when the first tower collapsed, those in the second tower who then saw their own imminent fate unfold before their very eyes, those who were trapped and burned alive deep inside those towering infernos, and those who were forced to leap to their deaths.

We grieve for the children, for those who died, for those who lost parents, and for those who must live forever scarred by the ghastly images that shattered their innocence long before they were prepared.

We despair at the sorrow and the feelings of helplessness that must surely have overwhelmed those who said their farewells over cell phones without the solace of a final embrace.

The SLP and its members salute the heroic workers who risked, and in many cases sacrificed, their own lives in their efforts to pull others from the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Let those acts of heroism and sacrifice stand as a monument to the virtues of human nature and as an imperishable condemnation of those who have maliciously labeled the American worker as self-indulgent, lazy and of no account.

And we salute the thousands of working-class men and women in New York and Washington, D.C., who voluntarily stepped forward to help the firefighters, rescue workers and police as they struggled against time and the treacherous ruins for the sake of others with whom their only bond was the bond of humanity.

Perhaps it was only natural in the heat of the moment that millions of ordinary citizens should think of shooting first and asking questions afterwards. The motives behind the attack of September 11 could not interest anyone when the horror was fresh and the danger of further attacks seemed imminent. Socialists have ever stood by the right of a nation to defend itself against foreign attack.

Those who perpetrated these unspeakable deeds and inflicted so much suffering have damned their cause in the hearts and minds of every sentient human being regardless from where on earth they may have viewed the horrible televised scenes placed before their disbelieving eyes.

At the same time, the SLP and its membership condemn the reckless and irresponsible capitalist “news” media, which, under the guise of keeping the public informed, flooded the airwaves and cluttered our doorsteps with images and a torrent of words designed to inflame racist passions and fan them into demands for war and for revenge.

Furthermore, the SLP condemns the war-mongering and opportunistic politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties who appear bent on desecrating the memory of all those who died so horribly on September 11 with mindless demands to shed the blood of even more innocent men, women and children in far-off lands.

We are repulsed by the hypocrisy of those political leaders who wave the flag and invoke the cause of “freedom” even as they move to undermine or abrogate the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the American people.

President Bush says that the terrorist acts of September 11 were acts of war and that the country is now in a state of war against terrorism. He has presented the conflict as one of “good versus evil” and pledged to “eradicate terrorism’s networks.” But no intelligent person can accept such simplistic “explanations.” Such assertions merely show that the president and his advisors are woefully uninformed and inept, or that they have chosen to conceal a more complicated truth behind a shroud of mysticism.

The human wretches who committed those foul deeds were not bent on suicide and murder for their own sake. They were missionaries in service to a cause, religious zealots, political fanatics, or both.

But terrorism itself isn’t a country or even a cause. It is a method, a means to an end, a tactic employed in pursuit of some goal. Terrorism is not something that can be tracked down, flushed out of its lair and eradicated.

To end terrorism it is essential that the motivation that prompted men to commit the heinous acts of September 11 be understood. Obviously no one believes that the men who committed those crimes acted out of purely selfish personal motives. Indeed, nothing in this world happens in a social vacuum. It is at best naive to contend that the terrible events of September 11 were unprovoked, regardless of how completely unjustified and indefensible they were.

There are those who suggest that the motive behind the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was revenge for the countless acts of equally dreadful terrorism and butchery perpetrated by the United States. They presume to know what was on the minds of the men who commandeered the airliners and rammed them into the targets chosen or chosen for them on September 11. In truth, however, the men directly involved did not disclose their motives and their surviving confederates have not spoken out to claim responsibility for the crimes. What those motives were can only be a matter of speculation.

Nonetheless, it is true that capitalism has destroyed many more lives and caused much more devastation in pursuit of profit and power around the world than occurred in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., on September 11.

It is also true that capitalism has devoured many times the number of American lives in pursuit of its material goals than were snuffed out on September 11—not only in foreign wars and lesser military adventures—but in the factories, the mills, the mines of our country.

The roots of terrorism in the modern world will not be found in the mountains of Afghanistan. They are embedded in the soil of a social system that bears terrorism as one of its fruits. Rooting out terrorism, whether perpetrated by a political state armed with sophisticated weapons or by some sect of self-anointed avengers, will take much more than a few bombs tossed in the wrong direction. The root of terrorism in the modern world is capitalism, a system that “foments civilization, and yet...incites to barbarism,” as Daniel De Leon once observed. There is no need to track down terrorism, but the need to root it out is urgent.

(September 2001)


Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • www.slp.org • socialists@slp.org

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