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Monday, September 26, 2005

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Don't hold your breath!
#27

rosedog

Marc....Hope you get to write such a piece for the nation. 'twould suggest a hint of a sea change. Or something good, I should think.

In the meantime, about that civil war we've been hoping to avoid in Iraq....? As of tonight, mainstream, risk-averse CBS news has just stated/admitted that there is an undeclared civil war already underway.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/09/26/eveningnews/main886305.shtml

Michael Balter

Marc, I was just about to let my long time sub to The Nation lapse because of its lack of analysis and self-criticism of the left. For things to change there, they would need to be aware that there is reader dissatisfaction. But is there really? Or is the average Nation reader getting what he/she wants? If so, there may be little hope of change.

Marc Cooper

MB.. Im afraid it's the latter. Nation circulation has doubled under GW Bush,.. which is good.. but the quality of the mag has declined... too much agit-prop and certainly a lack of debate within the left as to what real ptions are. A lack of intellectual curiousity. I fear that a lot of the subscribers acquire the mag as a political statement in itself rather than as a source of news. Others do read it, to reaffirm their already held beliefs. They are never ever challenged by the product, God Forbid.

Rosedog... chances are nil.

Mork

Marc, you're a hell of a salesman!

Nell Lancaster

Rosedog, thanks for the CBS link. The civil war has been on at the pace described in the story for at least six months now, and is a big part of why many people who follow the situation closely are coming to a reluctant conclusion: Nothing that U.S. (and British) forces are doing or can do is preventing or winding down the internal war. Withdrawal has to be the policy that gets serious examination, not more fantasies about "standing up Iraqi forces". In which category I would put the announcement that the British are going to replace the entire Basra police force:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0926/dailyUpdate.html

Marc, thanks for the pointer to Dennis Perrin's post. His reaction to the rally is remarkably similar to mine, and makes the point I was attempting to get across in the previous thread: there were some important exceptions to the speakers you object to at the midday rally:

"Still, there were bright spots. Several family members of those serving in Iraq were allowed to speak, and instantly brought some credibility to the pageant. Cindy Sheehan of course appeared, and received enthusiastic applause. Nancy Wolforth, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO, spoke about solidarity with Iraqi trade unionists. A representative from US Labor Against The War, a union group that also works with Iraqi trade unionists (as opposed to their killers), was given too little stage time, but at least was present."

Those who want to weaken ANSWER's role should donate to and work with United for Peace with Justice, or the even 'safer' Win Without War coalition. Had UfPJ gotten more financial and political support this summer when they were struggling to put on an event separate from ANSWER, they might have been able to pull it off. The problem isn't solely or even mainly a political one in UfPJ leadership -- there are material, logistical issues on which UfPJ needs help and support to prevail.

Mavis Beacon

My family's been subscribing to the Nation for as long as I can remember. Why can't readers play editor a little and suggest topics? I'm going to write a letter.

If you're writing The Nation please push them to dump Calvin Trillin's god awful deadline poetry. I know he's one of the best feature writers ever, but man that stuff is worthy of a thousand gags.

I think it's indicative of how frayed is the sense of humor among intellectual lefties. If they actually think the stuff is funny....Euy!

I'm inclined to agree with Marc, the publication could really be amazing, especially given the political climate, but instead it's mired in activist stenography coupled with the politcs of "The Democrats must...." The Democrats really should ..."

At least they still have Katha Pollitt.

Michael Crosby

While CBS is discussing the civil war that our involvement has wrought in Iraq, I noted today while chopping at Barnes & Noble that NBC has produced a full color coffeetable book entitled "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Perhaps they should begin preparing the Civil War Edition for Christmas 2006....or the "Retreat, Withdrawal or Evacuation" edition, for sale at the same time.

bunkerbuster

It's important to remember that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq isn't just about the inevitable collapse of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" under the weight of its own lies, contradictions and fantasies. It should also be about the collapse American militarism.

Those who still hope for a U.S. "success" in Iraq should ask themselves: who's next? It is certainly possible that the U.S. media will succeed in portraying the endgame in Iraq as some sort of success for "pre-emptive" invasions sans U.N. support and without key allies and despite opposition from neighborhing countries.

There's plenty of tyranny around the world to keep Raytheon shares up and the GOP dominant for generations to come, as long as the economic costs can be paid by the disenfranchised and the death and destruction rationalized in the mass media.

A decisive defeat for the policy of speculative military aggression is the best outcome for the war in Iraq. Such a defeat is already taking place, but what is needed now is a recognition of it and the beginning of a recovery from it. The vast death, destruction and suffering in Iraq are sunk costs. No parade of full-dress survivors in Times Square will ever make up for that.

irvnerve

I found this interesting exchange on LBO: 
 
Carrol Cox wrote: 
 
> /The members of the local anti-war group (except for Jan & me) are all 
 
/>/liberals, not marxists or even socialists particularly; they all support 
/>/DP candidates. I have from the beginning periodically made sure they all 
/>/know about how the WWP/ANSWER is regarded by people like Nathan. They 
/>/all don't give a fuck. They find the topic not only irrelvant but 
/>/aggressively boring and a waste of time. 

Couldn't agree more. Why does it bother the Nathan Newmans and Marc Coopers so much? It's not like you have to sign a statement of support for Kim Jong Il to participate. It's just pure sectarianism in the name of anti-sectarianism. And it's crap. 
 
Doug Henwood 

Jim Russell

"I have from the beginning periodically made sure they all
know about how the WWP/ANSWER is regarded by people like Nathan. They
all don't give a fuck."

I agree Doug.

Marc Cooper

Well Irvnerve.. I suppose if the antiwar forces of America were winning its political battles and exercising great influence, criticism of it would be in the who gives a fuck category. But as long as it continues to lose it seems a rather baffling attitude. Henwood is plain wrong.

Freddy the Pig

If one can stomach ANSWER's political affiliations (I can't; they seem to be pro many of the worst regimes on earth) one is still left with the fact that, as Marc has said, they are sooooo tedious. People always defend them by saying "they're the only ones organizing, give them credit" but what they organize is such an intellectually disorganized, scare-away-normal-folks, Free Mumia Support Castro Erase Israel Were The Twin Towers Blown Up By Karl Rove's Mind Rays clusterf**k of randomness as to make Tom Cruise look sane. It reminds me of the event I attended where the family farmer gave a lecture on sustainable cattle raising, followed immediately by the Vegan group telling us how eating meat is dooming the planet. I don't want everyone to be 100% on message but is even knowing what the heck your message is and getting everyone to focus on it really too much to ask?

Maybe the groups mentioned by Nell Lancaster are the, no pun intended, answer. Until SOMEBODY starts organizing non-ANSWER, tightly focused antiwar marches with a message that can attract larger numbers of Americans, too many of us don't want to be part of anti-Semitic, anti-American events destined to keep the Left on the fringe.

bunkerbuster

Were there any "Erase Israel" people at the rally?

I haven't read that anywhere else and I'm wondering if Freddy the Pig is exaggerating, fabricating or tellin' it like it is.

Freddy the Pig

ANSWER's anti-Israel views are a big part of its platform and caused a stir a couple of years ago when they wouldn't let Rabbi Michael Lerner speak at a peace rally because he was "pro-Israel," to name one example. (That's their savvy instinct for broadening their base to include the mainstream Democratic party at work, Lerner of course being an old adviser to Hillary and so on.) I don't honestly know if they managed to keep anti-semitism in their pants or not at the most recent rally, you couldn't pay me to go through accounts of the event with a fine-toothed comb to find out, but they're quite open about the fact that Israel is one of the big bad guys in their minds, just as Castro and Kim Jong-Il are among the good guys. No thanks.

bunkerbuster

The Israeli government is a "big bad guy," and many, if not most, Jews agree with that, so it's just inaccurate to characterize that view as "anti-Semitic."

Worse, is Freddy the Pig's feeble attempt to spin his willingness to fabricate an "Erase Israel" presence at the rally somehow a noble kind of ignorance: ``You couldn't pay me to go through accounts of the event with a fine-toothed comb to find out.'' If you don't know, Freddy P, you can't just make it up. And when someone points that out, you really should just admit you don't know and were speculating or describe the source of your information.

richard lo cicero

I love Calvin Trillin's poetry! It keeps alive the traditions of Ogden Nash.

Alex Higgins

I don't always agree with Marc, but i think he is right to keep banging on about ANSWER.

There is always the problem in taking on groups like them - it uses up effort that might be used against scores of serious ongoing injustices.

And yet... 16 years after the Berlin Wall fell it is unbelievable that the anti-war movement in the USA and in Britain should be manipulated by Stalinist crazies.

Stalinism is not just an historic footnote - if you'll forgive me being pious, it was one of the biggest, bloodiest tragedies of the 20th century and one of socialism's greatest enemies.

That its surviving admirers can expect to play a leading role in important popular movements, and can expect to lecture us at rallies without anyone being so boring and awkward as to note their gratuitous, voluntary support for mass-murderers says something bad about the left.

Something which the right picks up on with salivating eagerness - delighted that we should constantly offer the David Horowitzes of the world such a massive, massive gift. Are we trying to lose all the time?

How can it be beyond the left to organise a movement for peace and justice where its organisers can agree on such basic, no-brainer stuff like being against dictatorship and mass-murder?

Someone asks who gives a fuck? (Wisely without extending the question to say "Who gives a fuck about North Korean gulags or Bosnian mass graves?")

What to say? How about that people willing to express that kind of lack of principle even when they don't have a position of power or privilege to defend are unlikely to become more principled in any leadership role they might have within the movement.

One of my younger sisters, still in her mid-teens, has been doing fab work getting her classmates to become activists and going along to demonstrations for the first time. I had to give her a crash course, warning her of the various sects on the prowl looking for young recruits eager to help, but innocent of the various ghouls waiting for them when they march. Kind of like a grown-up lecture to small children - "don't take sweets from strangers, don't get in their car... oh, and don't sign up to a political party who think that the Tiananmen Square massacre was a victory for the working class."

When will the left be safe for decent people to walk amongst?

Alex Higgins

"Wasn’t that the case in the great 1963 civil rights march on Washington? Have you ever in your life met a single person stupid enough to say that the only important thing that day 42 years ago was merely showing up in D.C. because it really didn’t matter what Martin Luther King actually said? That no one was really listening?

"Why do we accept such a miserably lower standard for the anti-war movement?"

Absolutely! (this is from Marc's last post) I remember being young and super-naive and going along to various left-wing and anti-war rallies a few years ago here in London, each time hoping to learn something new from the speakers.

I soon realised that so many of these rallies were just plain boring and that the passive audiences were in danger of coming out knowing less about international affairs than they did at the beginning.

Occasionally we would have a great speaker, or a live witness to some tragedy or fight for justice and it would bring dignity to the proceedings.

But when was the last time i went to a rally or demo and was actually inspired by the speakers? Or didn't fear having to persuade first-timers or the curious that they shouldn't be put off activism for life...

If the radical left insists it is happy having no vision or idealism, then it is little wonder we drift from defeat to defeat - and sometimes defeat without much honour.

Brian Becker

As a former member of the Workers World Party, I want to salute Marc Cooper's courageous efforts at exposing these commie skunks. When I was a member, I became increasingly disenchanted with their anti-American nonsense. I heard first-hand about the leadership's frequent trips to North Korea where they feasted on roast swan and 250 year old French burgundy served in glass slippers. Why, I even heard about an orgy that Deidre Griswold and Ramsey Clarke attended at Kim Jong-Il's palace, where they frolicked about in an enormous vat of champagne while a nude chorus line danced on stage to the accompaniment of Duran Duran recordings. I dearly hope that Marc can take off some time from his powerful and fearless blogging activities and his responsibilities to Vanity Fair and lead a new movement with Ariana Huffington to rid this country of these dirty commies and return it to the grand traditions of Adlai Stevenson, Walter Lippmann, Steve Allen and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

Freddy the Pig

"The Israeli government is a "big bad guy," and many, if not most, Jews agree with that, so it's just inaccurate to characterize that view as "anti-Semitic."

Really? Many (and maybe even most) Jews agree with that? And you're accusing me of fabricating?

Tell you what, find me one place where they ever endorsed a two-state solution. In the meantime, I find this more interesting, Bunkerbuster:

"It's important to remember that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq isn't just about the inevitable collapse of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" under the weight of its own lies, contradictions and fantasies. It should also be about the collapse American militarism."

And what will come of that? The other thing keeping the antiwar movement small is the idea that there's only one bad guy in the whole world (or two, including Israel) and America is it. The fact is that Bush's war has brought some positive change to the middle east and gotten rid of some real bad regimes in favor of things that can hardly help being a little better. Any shaking up of the existing order, no matter how ill advised, will create opportunities and some positive outcomes. (That it may not have been worth the price in retrospect does not change that fact, once it's happened.)

Are we fixated on refighting the arguments of 2003 forever, or are we willing to take the world as it appears in 2005 and have the vision to steer it toward what we would prefer now? Woodrow Wilson opposed World War I (at least he said so) but he didn't use that as an excuse to stay home from shaping the post-1918 world at Versailles. Where is our voice and vision about the reality that Bush has created as opposed to what we wish had happened two years ago (or five years ago in Florida)?

Until we can find some middle ground between pure anti-American isolationism and reckless Republican adventurism, we will remain a fringe susceptible to hijacking by some Stalinist nut group with about 12 active members who are very good at filling out parade permit forms.

Freddy the Pig

"Tell you what, find me one place where they ever endorsed a two-state solution."

D'oh, I meant ANSWER, in case you can't tell who the "they" was. Sorry.

Alex Higgins

"...rid this country of these dirty commies and return it to the grand traditions of Adlai Stevenson, Walter Lippmann, Steve Allen and Arthur Schlesinger Jr."

On closer inspection, those traditions are not so grand.

Righteous disgust at the World Workers Party shouldn't lead to an uncritical embrace of the old US political class - disillusion awaits there too.

The comment about the WWP leadership dining mightily in famine-struck North Korea is interesting, though, Brian. If you still have evidence for this, please circulate it because people on the left need to know about that stuff. (At least we seem to - though WWP's openly expressed politics ought to be enough to discredit them...)

In the short-term, it's embarassing for us. In the long-term, it helps us with some overdue, in-house clearing.

Abbas-Ali Abadani

"Marc can take off some time from his powerful and fearless blogging activities and his responsibilities to Vanity Fair..."

Am I missing something here? 'Cuz I can't remember the last time Marc had a piece appear in Vanity Fair.

Are you confusing him with Hitchens? Or, perhaps, by "his responsibilities to Vanity Fair" you're referring to that time he served hors'douvres at one of Dominick Dunne's gala parties.

Game set match affair as I recall, what what.

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