latest, media watch

The silence of the pseudo-left on the danger of war

by Eric London at Defend Democracy Press

war is cool for the new Left

A wide range of nominally left-wing political groups and publications have acquiesced to a series of dangerous military actions by the Trump administration that have brought the world to the brink of war.

On April 13, the US dropped the largest nonnuclear bomb ever deployed in history in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb weighs over 10 tons and is so destructive it reportedly obliterated the homes of peasants living several miles from the drop zone.

Four days later, Vice President Michael Pence traveled to the demilitarized zone on the Korean peninsula, where the US has threatened to use preemptive military force against the nuclear-armed North. Pence acknowledged that the MOAB bombing was aimed at proving that the US was prepared to go to war.

“Just in the past two weeks,” he declared, “the world witnessed the strength of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

The growing danger of a nuclear conflagration is widely felt. A Marist poll published this month shows that 72 percent of Americans are concerned about growing international tensions. Leading figures in Russia, China, North Korea and the United States have warned of the real possibility of war.

“Nuclear war has become thinkable again,” reads a headline in Monday’s Guardian. The New York Times’ April 17 editorial warns of “President Trump’s Loose Talk on North Korea,” while the Times news section compares tensions in East Asia to the Cuban missile crisis. Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman wrote an article titled, “Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and the risk of nuclear miscalculation.”

It is the most basic obligation of socialists to condemn and oppose US war threats and warn the working class of the dangers and root causes of imperialist war.1

All the more remarkable is the role played by various political groups that identify themselves as left-wing but have maintained an intentional silence with regard to the dropping of the MOAB and the threat of war in Korea. These groups hide the threat of war from their readers and provide political cover for US imperialism.

Not a single article relating to these events appears on the front page of Jacobin Magazine’s website, nor does its official Facebook page make any reference to the MOAB attack or the recent US threats against Korea. There are no references to the MOAB or rising tensions in North Korea on the front page of the Pabloite International Viewpoint website.

Similarly, Socialist Alternative’s website has no articles dealing in any detail with the bombing or US moves against North Korea. One article from April 15 titled “Trump administration damaged and unpredictable” includes a one-sentence reference to the MOAB in the 13th paragraph, while North Korea is addressed only briefly later in the article.

The front page of Socialist Worker, the publication of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), has no references to the dropping of the MOAB, and only on Tuesday did it publish its first article of the year relating to North Korea.

At no point in the article (“Will Trump start a new Korean War?”) does the writer, David Whitehouse, state that the ISO is opposed to the American government’s provocative war threats. It instead reports the potential outbreak of nuclear war as a disinterested observer, including 20 hyperlinks to various reports in the bourgeois press, including five from the New York Times alone.

Whitehouse refers to Washington’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea as a “sticky issue.” He reports US-South Korean joint war games, as well as proposals to assassinate North Korean leaders and launch preemptive strikes, but passes over them without making any critical comment.

The article downplays the danger of war. It begins, “Now that the latest North Korean missile test failed on April 16, the immediate risk of a US military attack may fade.” It comments further on that “Trump’s ‘new’ belligerence toward North Korea is really the latest oscillation between the twin options of ‘containment’ or ‘rollback’ that have lain in the US policy toolkit since the Cold War.”

Whitehouse complacently asserts that the likelihood of US military intervention is lower than some claim: “Trump can talk a tougher line, but US military options have begun looking weaker, not stronger, since the North’s three-decade arms build-up.”

Fifteen years after the mass protests leading up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the pseudo-left’s support for war shows that the present absence of an organized antiwar movement is not the product of popular apathy. Rather, it is due to the rightward shift of previously radicalized sections of the middle class whose opposition to war has disappeared in the decades following the Vietnam War.

This section of the population has greatly enriched itself since the late 1960s and early 1970s, in part from the spoils of the wars of the past quarter century that have inflated the stock market and enriched American banks and corporations. Their political orientation is toward the Democratic Party and the state.

This weekend, many representatives of this milieu will be gathering at New York University for the Historical Materialism forum. Sponsors and participants include Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara as well as historians Lars Lih and Eric Blanc. The ISO’s International Socialist Review is an event sponsor and ISO members Paul Le Blanc, Tithi Bhattacharya, Todd Chretien and Paul Heideman will appear as speakers.

Of the 60 scheduled panels, not a single one relates to the subject of war. The words “imperialism,” “war,” “Iraq,” “North Korea,” “Afghanistan,” “Libya” and “Somalia” do not appear in any panel title.

Instead, the NYU panel features discussion topics such as “Queer(ing) Marxism,” “Women’s Strikes in the Age of Feminization,” “The International Women’s Strike and the Anticapitalist Feminist Movement,” “Silencing the Subaltern: Resistance & Gender in Postcolonial Theory,” “Concerning Violence: Subjections, Resistance, Subversions,” “Adorno: Subjectivity and Critique,” “New Directions in Marxist/Feminist Theory,” “Race, Repetition, Rebellion: The Political Economy of Surplus,” and “Late Althusser: Politics and Theoretical Practice.”

Any connections that the radicalized middle class once had to anti-imperialism or socialism are long gone. The categories of analysis they employ have nothing to do with class or historical materialism. War, social inequality and poverty all take a back seat to what really interests them: race, gender and their own sex lives.


  1. The White House bugged:

    “Donald, Honey: You be the Pope and I’ll be a nun…”
    “…Hey, it’s working…it’s working!…”
    “…The Lord is my shepherd…”

  2. The CIA creates, funds and continuously encourages pseudo-leftism or ABC (anything but class) leftism. This is a known fact. Read the book, The Cultural Cold War, by Frances Stonor Saunders.

  3. Anon says

    The fake left are the useful idiots of Oligarchy.

    Get Redpilled at /pol/

    • Paolo says

      Unfortunately you are correct and its shocking how many of these useful idiots there are. Ironically they cloak themselves in the garments and assume the tastes of what was known as the counter culture a few decades ago.
      I find myself reminded of the “tommorow belongs to me ” scene in Cabaret.

  4. Sorry, Not Buying it says

    Lenin warned against the social-imperialist forces (socialist in name, imperialist in deed) in each of the contesting European countries on the eve of WW1, who rallied behind “their” country’s imperialist bourgeoisie and herded the workers into the meat-grinder of imperialist mass murder and war. These despicable opportunists, who bartered the revolutionary content of their movements for a place at the capitalist-imperialist pigsty, had entirely relinquished the centrality of social revolution and the need to destroy imperialism from within one’s “own” country.

    Today, we see many “leftists” in the US who not only tolerate “their” government’s imperialist agenda but actively behave as cheerleaders for it. These people are expressing their class position (usually they are members of a privileged stratum, or try to recruit the good graces of people who are) and therefore have a desire to avoid hard questions about class – and therefore, of imperialism. They are given to parroting the “humanitarian” justifications for imperialist war fed to them by the government (when they do oppose war, they do so with the phoney evasion “Will this just makes things worse?” or on the chauvinist one of “What will this cost us in terms of lives and treasure?”), and as a means of moralistic posturing, they bank their hopes on “their” imperialist country’s “success” at “defending human rights” or some such, and wish to “put politics to the side” to “unite” with “their” imperialist bourgeoisie in pursuit of “doing the right thing”. We see an example of such clowns in the person of Louis Proyect, who wishes that “his” imperialist country will “do the right thing” and overthrow Assad. Proyect obliterates questions of class interest within capitalism-imperialism and instead chimes in with the imperialist mantra that predatory proxy war is a good thing so long as it can be given a humanitarian garb.

    It is the duty of all true socialists, communists, anarchists and progressive left forces to systematically undermine and ensure the FAILURE of the imperialist aggression of “their” country. No part of this should have the slightest thing to do with “love for my country”, but should be undertaken for the sake of advancing the world revolution, to show solidarity with the world’s masses, and to prevent the working class at home from being used as cannon-fodder for imperialism. Those who instead find shelter within the imperialist framework are switching sides to the enemy, and cannot be considered anything other than despicable traitors to the working class and blood-sucking parasites in the service of the imperialist bourgeoisie against humanity.

  5. The Left has much more important issues, like badgering the FEDS to let men dressed as woman use the girl’s bathroom.

    Besides, there’s so much to do, why there’s 24/7 sports; HDTV with access to all those X-rated movies; reality shows that make your IQ drop 10 points; Afghan heroin which is getting dirt cheap and staring for hours on end at your smart phone, reading fake NYT or WaPo twaddle. And let’s not forget keeping up with Kim K!

    America needs to taste war first-hand and see how much they like having bombs dropped on them or watching a family member disappear in a cloud of blood from a drone strike or going on that diet due to lack of food and potable water, since the roads were and the water treatment plants were bombed. Did I mention getting cancer from radiation poisoning from all those DU shells?

    Then watch how many become anti-war activists.

    • Sorry, Not Buying it says

      “The Left has much more important issues, like badgering the FEDS to let men dressed as woman use the girl’s bathroom.”

      Really, you’re going to sink to a chauvinist jab in the service of heterosexual supremacy? This sort of feudal-minded chauvinism that dilutes and saps the strength and coherence of the Left. If you feel that the Left has an erroneous line (and on many, many scores, it certainly does), then take the time to explain why to your fellow comrades and to other members of the working class that you’re trying to reach and educate. But don’t indulge in infantile, right-wing jabs at people who don’t fit into the religiously-prescribed “norms” of “your” society. That makes just a reactionary and a hindrance to working class solidarity.

      • The ridiculous LGBTQ string of letters and the bathroom “issue” is beyond insane. The working class doesn’t care about that crap. Fixating on gay issues is what is alienating the working class away from left politics.

        • Sorry, Not Buying It says

          Yes, fixating on gay issues issues alone is alienating to the working class when it’s done by capitalist demagogues like Clinton; that in no way means that the working class should take a social conservative (i.e. chauvinist) stance on gay issues. When you throw potential comrades under the bus for the sake of “harmony” with the working class by not rocking its regressive positions against gay people, then you’re crossing the line into tailism and opportunism. One important and vital task of the revolutionary left is to stand with all marginalized people, swell the ranks of the movement with them, resist and rectify wrong and chauvinist inclinations among cadre and the working class, and AND oppose capitalism-imperialism. Our task is not simply to help the working class obtain some tangible economic benefits, but to infuse them with revolutionary consciousness, and replace backward thinking with advanced proletarian revolutionary thinking.

          I hope you don’t think that LGBTQ people should be excluded from the communist movement? If so, on what basis do you think this, and why do you think it’s appropriate to discard and alienate people who would be very much given to a revolutionary perspective?

          This reads like a revoltingly chauvinist stance: “The ridiculous LGBTQ string of letters”.Are you wiling to engage in self-criticism over this? Or do you insist on some male feudal “right” to trivialize the struggles and outlook of people who don’t fall within a traditionalist sexual “norm”?

            • Sorry, Not Buying It says

              We have to ensure that there can be no chauvinist splits within the revolutionary movement. Bourgeois ideas find fertility in these fissures, and it is in the realm of culture that bourgeois ideas have their corrosive effects. The Cultural Revolution wasn’t called the “cultural” revolution for nothing. We have to fight wrong ideas, even when (ESPECIALLY when) they’re prevalent in the working class movement, and must resist all temptations to adopt tailism and opportunism. We also need to acknowledge that it has very often been women and queer folk who have done the revolutionary heavy lifting when it comes to being among the masses, spreading revolutionary consciousness and bringing communist ideas to the masses in the imperialist centers. Straight men within the communist movement have often talked a lot and engaged in macho bluster, but have trailed far behind the most marginalized, oppressed sectors of the working class when it comes to building a communist movement. That’s what counts, not anyone’s “God-given” “rights” as men.

              To belittle homosexuals and cast them, their outlook and their struggles as “crap” is a massive disservice to revolutionary communism and a concession to the enemy. It is also to oppress them twice (and thrice if they are also people of color, and quadrupley if they are also women). Why add to the oppression they already face as workers under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie? Let’s NOT have sexist, feudal-minded communist men who will fight the class war only to fight an anti-homosexual war. Let’s NOT have racist communists who will fight the class war only to fight a race war. Let’s NOT have sexist communists who will fight the class war only to keep women down. Let’s eject right-wing, chauvinist, feudal, obscurantist detritus from the ideas of our movement.

              • Sorry, Not Buying It says

                Who’s the homophobic idiot who keeps thumbing this down?

                • My guess is that you are not getting down votes for the substance of you arguments. I know that I myself find very little to disagree with in what you write. And while I have never down voted anything you’ve written, I do find myself sometimes taking exception with what seems to be your characteristic mode of ‘dialogue.’

                  You have a slightly off-putting tendency of impugning the character of those with whom you have genuine disagreements, and sometimes, perhaps even often, it’s less a matter of a disagreement than you actually misattributing ideas and attitudes to your selected interlocutors, ideas and attitudes to which they do not obviously or necessarily subscribe — but you yet insist that they do . . .

                  I think you have a great deal of wisdom to impart. You have a sharp mind and have read and thought deeply, and are an excellent expositor.

                  But I think you need to slightly re-consider your pedagogical approach if you want to bring more people along with you.

                  Insult or an aggressively disparaging tone simply tends to put people off.

                  I’m quite certain that if you soften your tone only a little, you will, as I think you should, actually reach a lot more people.

                  I say this as someone who esteems your opinions highly.

                  • Sorry, Not Buying it says

                    Thanks, and duly noted. I will strive to be incorporate your suggestions into my subsequent posts.

  6. Seamus Padraig says

    “Fifteen years after the mass protests leading up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the pseudo-left’s support for war shows that the present absence of an organized antiwar movement is not the product of popular apathy. Rather, it is due to the rightward shift of previously radicalized sections of the middle class whose opposition to war has disappeared in the decades following the Vietnam War.”

    Most of these sixties radicals were always fakers. What really drove the protests against the Viet Nam War was the possibility of being drafted. Think I’m making this up? Well, reflect upon the fact that, as soon as the draft was abolished in 1973, the protest basically ended overnight. Does anyone here remember any major protests in late 1973? Me either. The last significant anti-war demonstrations I am aware of occurred in late 1972, as a response to the so-called Christmas Bombing of Hanoi in December of that year.

    CONCLUSION: Most of these people never really were socialists in any meaningful sense; they were just a bunch of narcissists who wanted to play at being radicals.

    • Anna Zimmerman says

      Sadly you are absolutely right…there may have been a handful of people demonstrating for the right reasons, but I would always assume that they were a minority.

    • Maybe the protests dropped off because the US and N. Vietnam signed peace accords, effectively ending the war and allowing our fav, John ‘Canary’ McCain to return home?

      On 15 January 1973, Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action against North Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords on “Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” were signed on 27 January 1973, officially ending direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

  7. rtj1211 says

    It really would be helpful for Americans to see mutilated dead bodies in the raw. On American soil. Napalm burns all over American citizens. Agent
    orange contaminating all their daily infrastructure. That will teach them what war in Vietnam achieved.

    The reason Americans are so gung ho about war is that bombing campaigns never happen in America.

    Cover vast areas of America with depleted uranium to create hundreds of thousands of deformed American babies, that will teach them what war in Iraq achieved.

    The reason Americans glorify modern weapons is because they have never been mutilated by them.

    Then finally, nuke them. Make ten million of them die from radiation sickness. I do not care about Americans, they are not humans until they treat others like humans.

    No American can call me anything but an American leader. They can only call me inhuman if they oust their inhuman Establishment who do to others what I am suggesting be done to them. Having ousted them ,they must stop being intergenerational genocidalists.

    Oh and while you are about it, tell the grisly truth about ‘the American dream/nightmare’.

    I dream of an America that is thrown out of global affairs until it treats its own population like human beings. Especially the Main Streeters.

    I dream of an America that has a healthy contempt for tax avoiding corporations, banning all discourse with public officials until they pay their arrears and banning any representations concerning the tax code from their lobbyists for 75 years to punish them for abused their position since 1980. That is not anti business, it is anti criminal businesses. I trust America still knows the difference, even if its bribed and blackmailed senators and congressfolk do not.

    I dream of an America more interested in creating a heaven in America rather than destroying the world to expiate the hard ons of a ridiculously small number of imperial psychopaths. I trust that the ridiculously small number of frustrated imperial psychopaths in China, Russia, India and the Middle East do not see that as an opportunity to become fulfilled psychopaths themselves, because that is the only fig leaf covering the American Eagle’s nether regions currently.

    If America set an example for non-exploitative, non-coercive, sustainable community living, I might look up to it.

    It does not, so I don’t.


    • Sorry, Not Buying it says

      While well-meaning, your post was kind of weird and went off on strange tangents.

      You write: “Then finally, nuke them. Make ten million of them die from radiation sickness. I do not care about Americans, they are not humans until they treat others like humans.”

      but then later on:

      “I dream of an America that is thrown out of global affairs until it treats its own population like human beings.”

      So you want America to treat its own population like human beings (the very people you just said you “don’t care about”), but you want that population to be “nuked” first (even though you want them to be treated like human beings)? This makes no sense.

      “That is not anti business, it is anti criminal businesses. I trust America still knows the difference, even if its bribed and blackmailed senators and congressfolk do not.”

      So you want to leave intact the institutions (capitalist enterprises) that have a structural imperative to eliminate any rules against bribing senators and congresspeople, and who have become experts at undermining such rules through decades of experience?

      This is why analyses that avoid the class question just end up going around in circles and making excuses for the very system that produces the problems that you cite. They ignore capitalist macrodynamics and imagine instead that a few tax code modifications here and there are going to get the “good” capitalists back on track and that the “criminal businesses” will be sidelined. This mantra is guaranteed only to lead the working class down another blind alley. It’s time we stopped bending over backwards to show how “non-threatening” we are to capitalism (“I’m not anti-business”) and instead agreed that this system needs to be smashed.

  8. John says

    The North Koreans have learned the lesson of Sadam Hussein and Muamar Gadaffi.
    Without the ability to defend yourself, world rogues like the USA will run all over you.
    It is interesting to note that the MOAB has turned out to be largely ineffectual.
    Nearby trees and homes by the detonation point are still standing….
    Like much else, a lot of hot air but no real outcome from the USA.
    The latest news: Donald Trump: “I would be honoured to meet Kim Jong-un”.
    It is impossible to make this kind of nonsense up!

  9. Dead World Walking says

    Patriotism/jingoism have got to be the ugliest isms of all.
    In the end we all fall together.

    • Anna Zimmerman says

      This is a false conflation. Patriotism and jingoism are not identical. One can in fact argue that a genuine patriot would be sceptical of war because all parties will inevitably suffer, both physically and psychologically. It is about time we became more sophisticated in recognising the subtleties of patriotic feeling; loving my country does not preclude having a healthy respect and regard for other countries, just as loving my family does not preclude my having positive feelings towards other people. Quite the opposite, in both cases. I would argue that the kind of militaristic, chauvinistic nationalism that people rightly abhor is not genuine love of one’s country at all, just as the possessiveness of a narcissistic stalker could not be called real love.

      • Anna Zimmerman says

        I should add that for me, ‘loving my country’ is usually quite literal; it involves loving the land and its flora and fauna, along with aspects of British culture. It has nothing to do with vile governments and their antics. The fact that this distinction is rarely made is a sign of how impoverished the debate over nationalism has become.

      • Seamus Padraig says

        Yes, thank you, Anna. Jingoism is not patriotism; jingoism is merely patriotic-sounding rhetoric used to advance an imperialist agenda. Seeking to defend your own country’s sovereignty is not the same as seeking to deprive another country or people of theirs.

        • Sorry, Not Buying it says

          “Seeking to defend your own country’s sovereignty is not the same as seeking to deprive another country or people of theirs.”

          This statement is itself a jingoistic one, given that the context is of a capitalist-imperialist power (Britain). What “loss of sovereignty” are you alluding to? This sounds more like white nationalism and its fear of being overrun by “brown hordes”.

          • Sorry, not buying it: I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion that Anna is a white nationalist. I didn’t find anything amiss about her comment.

      • Sorry, Not Buying it says

        Unfortunately, you’ve failed to distinguish between big-power patriotism and small country patriotism. The latter can serve a genuinely progressive agenda; the former is invariably regressive, no matter the “non-imperialist” garb it wears. Being “in love with” Britain over and above paying attention to and focusing on the class question is in effect to be in love with the British imperialist and the culture that gives its sustenance. Britain doesn’t need to be “loved”; it needs to be dismantled and turned into a dictatorship of the proletariat, just as the US needs to be. There shouldn’t be a US at all. If the worker’s revolution succeeds, the US as it stands will be destroyed, and rightfully so. Just as Americanism needs to be eliminated, so does Britanism.

        On the other hand, if we’re talking about an oppressed nation like Palestine, then patriotism can be a positive affirmation of that nation and its struggling masses. In that particular historical context, patriotism/nationalism can serve a progressive role. It would be ridiculous to conflate Palestinian nationalism with British nationalism, however “non-threatening” you want the latter to be.

        • Sorry, Not Buying it says

          Correction: meant to say “in effect to be in love with the British imperialist bourgeoisie”.

          • Anna Zimmerman says

            You’ve missed the point of what I am saying. I am far from being ‘in love with Britain’ because for me the idea of Britain and Britishness are tainted concepts. What I love is something that far predates such artificial constructs – the land itself, which currently has the label ‘Britain’ attached to it. People do have a deep attachment to place, because it is what nurtures them and helps them to feel whole. There is a reason why we refer to ‘Mother’ Nature, and why Karl Polanyi talked about land as a ‘fictitious commodity’. Trying to turn land into yet another object to be bought and sold, or flitted in and out of with impunity by cosmopolitans, ignores the need to be grounded in a specific place that is home. It just so happens, purely by accident of birth, that the British Isles fulfil that role for me; if I was born in a desert, I would be attached to the desert instead. Only industrialised and deracinated peoples who have grown accustomed to commoditising everything around them fail to understand these imperatives.

            • Sorry, Not Buying It says

              Fair enough, but you said “loving my country does not preclude having a healthy respect and regard for other countries, just as loving my family does not preclude my having positive feelings towards other people.” Britain is a country.

              • Anna Zimmerman says

                This is the danger of thinking in slogans and simplistic binaries. ‘Country’ or ‘nationalism’ or any of these words could mean many different things and prejudging what others mean helps nobody. I am amused by the fact that you consider ‘British nationalism’ to be obnoxious and ‘Palestinian nationalism’ benign. Surely this depends, in both cases, on the flavour of nationalism espoused by any particular person? Or are you implying that every Palestinian person is ipso facto a saintly being, incapable of hatred, parochialism or chauvinism? These are double standards indeed. We see so much of this absurd double think – ‘progressives’ lionising tribal communities or fashionable ethnicities in their quest for autonomy, whilst sneering at the Western equivalent. People legitimately feel the need to belong to a community and it is high time we started a more adult conversation about how that can work for everyone.

                • Sorry, Not Buying it says

                  “I am amused by the fact that you consider ‘British nationalism’ to be obnoxious and ‘Palestinian nationalism’ benign. ”

                  If you’re “amused” by that, then it just underlines my point that you’re indulging in big-power privilege and chauvinism, whether or not you want to face it.

                  “Surely this depends, in both cases, on the flavour of nationalism espoused by any particular person? ”

                  No, it doesn’t. There can be no “progressive” British nationalism. Because, as I said (and as reality will attest) Britain is a predatory capitalist-imperialist state with a long history of subjugating other peoples and super-exploiting them. Palestine is an oppressed nation garrisoned by a racist settler-colonial state in the form of Israel. I’m “amused” that you can’t distinguish between these.

                  “Or are you implying that every Palestinian person is ipso facto a saintly being, incapable of hatred, parochialism or chauvinism?”

                  This is a stupid and disingenuous diversion. You’re essentially saying that for Palestinian nationalism to be considered more progressive than British nationalism, every Palestinian must be a “saint”. In other words, Palestinians are beholden to an impossible standard that they have no chance of meeting before you’ll acknowledge that big-power nationalism and oppressed nation nationalism are qualitatively different. Again, an expression of your imperial privilege which you refuse to “check”.

                  “We see so much of this absurd double think – ‘progressives’ lionising tribal communities or fashionable ethnicities in their quest for autonomy, whilst sneering at the Western equivalent.”

                  And boom, there it is: your white nationalism, layered on top of your imperial nationalism. What, pray-tell, is a “fashionable ethnicity”, by the way? Why are YOU “sneering”? Perhaps you really DO fear the brown hordes? Because your language right now is really coming across as that of someone not schooled in the perspective of oppressed nation peoples. Your analysis and outlook are GARBAGE and utterly infected with chauvinist assumptions and blind-spots.

                  “People legitimately feel the need to belong to a community and it is high time we started a more adult conversation about how that can work for everyone.”

                  I agree, and it needs to start with a proper demarcation of big-power and oppressed nation nationalisms, not privileged big-power citizen angst about “fashionable ethnicities”.

                  • Anna Zimmerman says

                    This is a fatuous exercise because you are clearly incapable of perceiving the complications of life, or seeing the subtleties in any argument. The world is not made of up binary oppositions, however convenient that would be for you in continually jumping to unwarranted conclusions. For your information, I am a longstanding member of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and have attended numerous demonstrations on their behalf, so I am the last person to belittle their plight. I just pay them the compliment of being fully rounded people, capable of the full range of human emotions, good and bad – just like every other person in the world. You are the one that is discriminating, by painting people in such broad swathes. I am merely saying that everyone has a right to express their cultural heritage, which is my understanding of a form of nationalism. Although it may be hard for you to acknowledge, cultural heritage in Britain was only tangentially tainted by imperial swagger, and even then only in certain aspects, and predominantly for the upper classes. ‘Cultural heritage’ and ‘nationhood’ are really broad terms and go far beyond the militarism that you seem to be obsessed by. I don’t see what imperialism has to do with, say, morris dancing, or rolling cheeses down a hill, or regional accents, or folk songs, or traditional food.

                    • Sorry, Not Buying It says

                      I hear what you’re saying, I do. Obviously not all aspects of culture in an imperialist country are reflections of imperialism and militarism. But the problem remains that 1) you’re not clear on the national question, and the difference between big-power nationalism and oppressed national nationalism. Your reduction of the issue to the personal qualities of individual people in Britain and Palestine is bizarre, as though that were the only relevant, or even primary, aspect for distinguishing the difference between the two. This is itself an imperialist take, because it falls back on the luxury of ignorance afforded by imperial privilege; 2) even aspects of culture that are nominally unrelated to imperialism and militarism can become celebrations and defenses of those things when we’re unclear on the national question and the fundamental difference between big-power nationalism and oppressed nation nationalism, or make snide swipes at “tribal cultures” and whine that not enough deference is shown to “Western culture”.

                • Sorry, Not Buying It says

                  Not if you’re serious on the national question, no.

                  • Anna Zimmerman says

                    ‘Serious’ does not equate to ‘blind’ and ‘fanatical’.

                    • Sorry, Not Buying It says

                      There’s nothing blind and fanatical about ensuring that one doesn’t dilute the distinction between big power nationalism and oppressed nation nationalism.

  10. Frank says

    Should we really expect a mass anti-imperiaist movement within the imperialist heartlands? Isn’t the pseudo-leftism is a function of the imperial tribute which effectively buys off real opposition. It’s like Orwell said:

    ”In a prosperous country, above all in an imperialist country (UK), left-wing politics are always partly humbug. There can be no real reconstruction that would not lead to a least a temporary drop in the English standard of life. This is another way of saying that the majority of left-wing politicians and publicists are people who earn their living by demanding something that they don’t genuinely want. They are red hot revolutionaries when all goes well, but every real emergency reveals instantly that they are shamming. One threat to the Suez Canal and ‘anti-fascism’ and ‘defence of British interests’ are discovered to be identical.” (”Not Counting Niggers” – 1939)

    This pseudo, imperial socialism actually split the Fabian Society on the issue of the South African war 1899-1902 where the social imperialist, chief among which was G.B.Shaw opined that ‘Good government is better than self-government.’ This initial split led to the bizarre situation where one of the original Fabians, Annie Besant, who supported the (Swaraj) Indian National Movement, was arrested and imprisoned on the orders of the then Secretary of State for India, another original Fabian comrade, Sydney Olivier, in the first Labour Government in 1923.

    The social-democratic and centre-left has always seemed to have a problem with imperialism, particularly when it accedes to parliamentay power. It has always been thus. Is there any real reason to expect it to be otherwise? Just aksing.

  11. bogomil says

    It has been a dysfunctional corporate police state for 35 years, and with their tax payers funding 17 spy agencies, the chances for a Viet Nam style anti-war movement are zero !
    The National Guard shooting at Kent State would seem like child’s play compared to what the Deep State regime is prepared to unleash on any sign of dissent.
    Much like the ’68 Chicago police riot, the Occupy protesters were shown the same contempt to those attempting to take their protests to the street.

  12. A recent survey shows that fully 51% of Americans support the military/industrial complex above all else. When any opposition to American military abominations and the murder and mayhem that results from same, criticize the US government, they are also going to have to criticize the American people as well. In a democracy, you get the government you deserve and the American people are fully responsible for their dysfunctional and violent society and the horrors it commits elsewhere!

    • “In a democracy, you get the government you deserve and the American people are fully responsible for their dysfunctional and violent society and the horrors it commits elsewhere!”

      Except that the U.S. was never a democracy, and Americans, as children and adolescents and university students, were never responsible for the content (or lack thereof) of the education they received, nor for the vicious social fragmentation or atomization to which they have been subjected all their lives.

      If there is one thing the American establishment has always been good at and strives always to refine, it is how to keep the masses confused, disorganized, divided, and slavishly intimidated.

      I don’t know how ordinary Americans will ever manage to extricate themselves from the cruel bondage in which they find themselves, but it wont happen until and unless the majority of them come to recognize how they are always being stitched up.

      At the moment, they are so deep and lost in the wilderness that there is little hope for them in the near term of even one or two generations. But perhaps not all will be lost to the future. At least one seeming paradoxical hope remains, as Caleb Gee, a young American blogger, suggests:

      “[t]he coming generations, however, will be a lot more diverse (and won’t be the beneficiaries of white [or any other kind of] privilege), will be the most burdened by income inequity, and will be stepping into an economy that provides a lot less opportunities. Why should this give anyone hope, you might ask? They are going to be the generations that realize they have nothing left to lose, and will be inclined to bring about Revolution, tearing this unjust system down and hopefully replacing it with one that is more just.”

      Things will unfortunately have to get a whole lot worse before brute reality can begin to really penetrate the pathalogical fog of American indoctrination.

  13. michaelk says

    Fashions come and they go, also in politics and on the left too. I suppose it’s not too hard to understand. The left thought they stopped the Vietnam War, when it was really the extraordinary resistance of the Vietnamese people who did the real heavy lifting, bleeding and dying, in huge numbers. It was a triumph for third world anti-imperialist resistance, not first world middle class protest. But let’s let that pass for now.

    Bourgeois feminism and bourgeois identity and sexual politics, don’t threaten the fundamental structure of capitalist economics and the state. Much of how we behave in society towards each other, our ‘identities’ both sexual and in myriad other ways, are linked to our position within the capitalist machine. We’re like cogs with roles to perform. Wealth and power have always mattered, incredibly, and what’s bizarre is that we live in period when wealth and power, and one’s role in the machine, have once again become massively important; yet, paradoxically, for huge swathes of the left the study of wealth and power and the harsh realities of inequality and the character of our economic system, have been pushed aside and replaced by an almost perverse interest in the individual. The left have become frighteningly narcissistic and cut off from the lives of millions of ordinary people, for example, the rise of Trump.

    Also, one can’t underestimate the role of the media and the academic world in ‘steering’ the left towards sexual and identity politics over the last forty years or so. The ‘sexual revolution’ was nowhere near the same kind of threat to the established order that revolutionary Marxism was. Consumer sex was something everybody could buy into, one way or another. In the West, almost everyone became consumers of more and more crap, mountains of crap, shipped in on huge ships from every corner of the world and at lower and lower prices. And if one couldn’t afford it one could always just borrow, and borrow, and borrow.

    The mainstream left and even the ‘extreme left’ have virtually abandoned ‘anti-imperialism’ and the ‘class struggle’ as models for describing the world. So much ground has been left and a vacuum opened up which has been filled by the nationalist right, like le Penn in France. This is both tragic and ironic, at a time when opposition to war and inequality has been growing, the left just shrugs and ignores the populist tide at precisely the wrong historical moment, amazing.

  14. Oh my gosh! ISR was such a stalwart? I didn’t realize that it was affiliated with ISO, which I only yesterday discovered was compromised. Fake progressives abound and pseudo progressive sites are being outed regularly. But I had no idea how widespread the darkness was, with the failure of avowed socialist orgs like ISO etc. now coming into view.

  15. At some point even the dimmest of dimwitted Murkan warmongers will grasp that the only defense against being threatened by the world’s biggest bomb is to possess nuclear weapons and be prepared to use them if attacked.

  16. Paul Baker says

    This is driven by the Democrats who sincerely believe Trump is a Russian secret agent and that Assad, Putin and Iran must be defeated – by war. Their shameless propagandising is reflected in newspapers that pretend to be left of centre, such as the Guardian which is resolutely anti Russia and anti Assad. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that it is the Israeli lobby in both countries that drives this thinking. Defeating Iran is their obsession but to fo that means reducing Syria to rubble and pushing back the Russians.

    • Brutally Remastered says

      Quite. The depressing truth of it, I am afraid. The israel lobby has compromised/purchased politicians and media in the West and they push us all to war and the destruction of marvellous people and culture. What will we be left with? Sarah Silverman, Bill Nye and Tony Bloody Blair. Christ.

      • Sorry, Not Buying it says

        You don’t think there are reasons that an imperialist state like the US would attack countries in the Middle East other than Israel’s desire for it?

        • That is so obvious that I’m embarrassed for those who toss out that ‘Israel made the US do it’ (which takes various forms), whenever I see it. I just sigh. I don’t even bother to engage, usually. What’s the use?

      • Blaming the “Israel lobby” is the perpetual far right explanation for the crimes of US imperialism.

        • Anna Zimmerman says

          You’re right. It’s a contributory factor, but no more than that.

    • BigB says

      @binra: my friend, you forgot to finish your equation:
      At some point fragmentation = paralysis = healing crisis = reintegration = peace.

      • Brutally Remastered says

        Nuclear war does not leave much room for “healing”.

        • BigB says

          You take the short view – the planet will recover after a few thousand years – which is but a microsecond in geological time. The cycles of life will continue, or start again. Maybe intelligence will evolve toward peace when us bellicose ecocidal money and material worshipping fools are gone?

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