Blind Obedience Can End “The War”?

January 17, 2008 will mark 17 years of open US hostilities against Iraq, although (maybe misreading of Baudrillard?) liberals disregard the Clinton years, since bombings and sanctions are not acts of aggression, unless Cuba is on the receiving end. The left wing of the US war party is as fixated on the Bush dynasty, as the right wing is with Clinton’s reproductive organ. The misguided souls who vote are too hung up on the stylistic differences to notice that US policy doesn’t change from administration to administration, except in very superficial ways, and so all sorts of kooky, hypothetical electoral and moral fantasies to “end The War” are being bandied about, as if “peace” is merely the absence of “war”.

For some unknown reason, perhaps it is the notorious US weakness in geography, many people appear to be delusional enough believe that the US intends to leave Iraq, and a politician or two can accomplish this. Maybe these people have never heard of Germany, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Guam, or any of the other places the US has indefinitely occupied? The hipsters are more likely to withdraw from Brooklyn and the Brits are more likely to leave the North of Ireland (a situation closer to Iraq than the ahistorical Vietnam comparisons) than the US giving up on expanding consumer markets, laundering tax dollars, and controlling energy supplies in the Mid-East.

Some of the political fantasies bouncing around out there are so absurd, that it seems their proponents must be aware of the impossibility of the situation, or getting some really potent weed. One of the most entertaining pieces of fan fiction regarding the 2008 US elections was recently posted on the website of the Lefty newsletter, Counterpunch.

In Welcome to the Revolution, Donna J. Volatile adds another voice to the cyber kool-aid chorus, that much like the religious Right believes that a Saint Paul is the only route to salvation, although they mean the Texas one, not the Tarsus one. Volatile beseeches liberals and progressives to set aside whatever principles they may have, and to ignore Paul’s positions on everything but Iraq, since they are only “wrapping paper” on the “gift” of Ron Paul.

Even Dennis Kucinich seems to think so, there is so much buzz in cyberspace about the possibility of a Dennis Kucinich/Ron Paul ticket, it is stunning. Dennis has even raised the prospect himself as has his wife Elisabeth. Who ever thought we’d see the day?!

There is a larger point to be made here and perhaps the most important one and that is there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the wants, needs and desires of the anti-war traditional conservatives and the anti-war leftists and progressives. We just all need to get over ourselves. If Dennis Kucinich would consider Ron Paul as a running mate isn’t it time for the anti-war movement to dig a little deeper to see what is going on here?…

Sounds like Larouche/Nader, but if Dennis Kucinich (proof that the ‘one good politician’ can’t change policy or politics) says he’s OK…

(I have always supported Dennis Kucinich, whenever possible but after the 2004 Convention and his failure to stand up at the Convention against the war and support the peace activists who were hauled off the convention floor, with their anti-war signs, and given his inability to run a strong campaign, I can no longer back him. I do respect his positions on many issues.)

Volatile can’t overlook Kucinich’s failure to rescue people who wanted to get arrested from being arrested, but Paul’s cryptofacism is A-OK. Here’s a gem from a recent GOP candidate forum, where St. Paul discusses the importance of imaginary lines over human lives:

I see the immigration problem as a consequence of our welfare state. We encourage people not to work here, but the welfare we offer the people who come–they get free medical care. They get free education. They bankrupt our hospitals. Our hospitals are closing. And it shouldn’t be rewarded. That means you don’t give them citizenship. You can’t solve this problem until you get rid of the welfare state, because in a healthy economy, immigrants wouldn’t be a threat to us.

It’s no accident that Paul has the support of neo-nazis.

Volatile wonders:

Are we to forever be held back by issues, such as abortion or even National Health Care, an issue that never gets delivered in the first place (we are no closer now than we were way back when) ? These issues are by design. Abortion keeps us divided. National Health care lends us false hope.

Damn pesky, non-Iraq issues. I like my reformists to seek reforms, not dismantle them.

Some of the masochists who think that getting arrested on purpose (not to be confused with repression of dissent and resistance) is a viable strategy to affect change in a nation with 7 million individuals “in the system”, 2.2 million of them in prison, almost half of them non-violent drug offenders, have released a year-end report on the handful in handcuffs. The willingness to be handcuffed and processed for crossing an imaginary line is eerily reminiscent of the border-fixated crowd’s desire to arrest and/or bring harm to people who cross those imaginary lines. Except the activists call the cops on themselves (and each other).

These Lefties, who consider themselves to be more politically advanced or whatever it’s called, than their beloved working class, who in their eyes “just don’t get it” and need to be guided or saved, alienate their coveted “masses” with voluntary arrest. In my own experience, the average working person seems to recognize that this isn’t MLK or Gandhi’s world anymore, probably a result of day-to-day life. Making reservations to spend a day or two at a county lockup won’t do much to encourage the teeming masses to “join your movement”. To many people, getting arrested on purpose is something homeless people do when winter temperatures become deadly, and need shelter for a few days.

The possession of illegal drugs can also be viewed as a form of civil disobedience, and can sometimes amount to de facto being arrested on purpose, but the drug war isn’t going anywhere, so I’m unsure how a few thousand arrests for summary offenses (glorified traffic tickets) will result in “peace” for the people of Iraq. It’s a mystery how the identity politicians have failed to notice that raising bail in advance, then being taken into State custody on purpose, and then whining about your maltreatment is anything but an obnoxious display of privilege, and correctly seen as a waste of time and money to those with little of either. How can participation in State violence end State violence?

Voting and intentional arrest have a poor track record in ending the bosses’ wars, but even the Franco-Prussian War had to be put on hold for the Paris Commune. Participation in electoral politics and courts of law, serve to legitimize the State’s monopoly on violence and facilitate the internal and external projection of force. Greeting the politicians and police as “liberators” will not make you free.

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7 Comments

  1. Good post. I like the message you are kicking. Few individuals recognize their Constitutional duty to not only petition the government for grievances, but to overthrow tyrannical rule. Your forum gives a voice to those rights and duties. I want to assist you in disseminating this message.

  2. How can we petition for change, especially when we have a government that engages in extraordinary rendition and legally classifies people as enemy combatants — all of which, according to the government, circumvent any need for accountability or consequence. Democracy generally works when the government itself is following the rule of law. When it isn’t, then chances are, we are not living in a democracy but a facist state. What to do? I don’t think we need to overthrow the government, as the previous commenter seems to suggest, but we need to figure out quickly how 9/11 has become a casus belli for all that is wrong with the government today.

  3. Maybe I’m thick headed but I don’t understand how neo nazis supporting ron paul really matters. I guess its because I don’t really think they matter.

    That being said, it reminds me of this cat I met one time, a self-described ‘white supremecist bolshevik’ or something like that. He support the release of mumia.

    I don’t always agree with ron paul…but what I do like about him is that I can follow his reasoning and understand clearly where his positions generate from. He says he never votes for anything not explicitly authorized in the constitution and makes descisions accordingly be they popular or not.

    Im sure there was something else I wanted to say but can’t remember.

  4. C.,
    Nice to hear from you, old chum. Hope all is well.

    Ron Paul’s neo-nazi support is just emotional icing on my logical, abstentionist cake. I don’t want any president, and that goes double for the person the boneheads want. I disagree with you and Ron Paul on the relevance of fascist groups. To my knowledge, Paul has done nothing to distance himself from these idiots.

    I don’t really spend too much time thinking about Mumia. He’s either one of many people who are in prison for something they didn’t do or part of a tiny handful of people who have answered back to State violence. A rare occurrence, no matter what the media and FOP would have you believe. Landscaping is more dangerous than law enforcement. There are any number of issues that nazi third positionists use to try to use as a Trojan horse. Besides, an anti-authoritarian reading of 21st century history leaves little doubt that ‘nazi bolshevik’ is redundant, except the Red fascists murdered a helluva lot more anarchists than the Axis powers combined.

    Paul does adhere to what seems to be a pretty orthodox interpretation of the US Constitution; that of a wealthy, Protestant, landholder, none of which applies to myself or the vast majority of people in the US. The US Constitution wasn’t too ‘revolutionary’ at the time, since it offered (past tense) only nominal protection against the State, but no protection from Capital and ‘corporate persons’. There was no revolution 1776, just a change in management. It meant little to the average person, unless you happened to be a slave, since ‘independence’ from the Brits extended chattel slavery in North America for a few more decades.

  5. Hello. All is well, thanks and I hope the same is with you!

    My point with mumia was that this wack job that I had the displeasure of knowing supported a pretty popular left wing cause. Wack jobs also support/agree with/whatever a certain republican candidate. Both people are equally as unimportant to the causes they support. That was really my point.

    As for nazi bolsheviks, well, I didn’t really get around to questioning the guy on the topic…I more stared and wondered what planet he came from.

    I agree with most of the last paragraph. Mostly what I was getting at with Paul is that at least one can understand where the guy is coming from, much unlike most politicians who gaze into their crystal ball of ‘public’ opinion to make their decisions.

  6. Sometimes, fringe lunatics like myself, tend to inflate the importance of other marginal types.
    I agree with you, as far as Paul’s voting record and such. Even Bush with the 9/11 blank check and expanded executive powers, couldn’t push the more nefarious parts of his personal agenda, and stuck with what was” good for business”, which is bad enough. A US president simply lacks the power to institute the kind of sweeping changes Mr. Paul advocates, even the ones I agree with.

  7. I agree that the current electoral situation is pathetic, and I myself am likely to abstain and advocate abstension from voting in the next presidential election (though I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the Cynthia McKinney campaign). However, it doesn’t seem to me to follow that radicals should always and everywhere abstain from participation in bourgeois elections.

    Logically, if you’re going to say that voting for anyone — even radical candidates — “legitimizes” the state, then you also have to say that, say, fighting for higher wages “legitimizes” wage labor. The only way around this is to assert that state is somehow a greater evil (or, at the very least, the “root cause”) of other forms of illegitimate authority. It’s clear to me that it isn’t.

    I don’t imagine that you advocate abstension from the day-to-day struggles of working and oppressed people. At least, I hope that you don’t: in many ways, it’s these struggles that pave the way for revolutionary change, both through their radicalizing effect (with the New Left and its antecedents, for example, coming out of the Civil Rights and antiwar movements) and through their ability to win reforms that can facillitate the deepening of these struggles (like the Employee Free Choice Act, which would be immensely helpful to the labor movement).

    Participation in elections can serve at least two valuable purposes: first, spreading radical ideas to new audiences; and second, where possible, winning reforms. Concerning the first: it has to be conceded that a well-executed election campaign or action by elected officials can do much to spur social movements. As for the second: while it’s certainly the case that pressure from below is the key factor that wins demands, candidates that *express* that pressure can often make its effects even more felt.

    Of course, there are plenty of times when electoral campaigns can do neither of these things effectively, especially here and now. But the tactic can’t be discounted entirely (though I imagine that, given the peculiarities of the American party system, it will have to take a form at least somewhat different from that found in other countries; I hear that Stanley Aronowitz’s Left Turn explores this facet of the question in some detail).


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