ZNet (was: Re: One more thing on the US Far Left (continuation of response to Gilles)

loupaulsen at attbi.com loupaulsen at attbi.com
Tue Dec 3 12:25:09 MST 2002


> This makes me think that in Lou's initial answer to my questions, he
> does not mention ZNet as a party on the Left. [...]

> How would you categorize ZNet within the leftist movement (please
> note that I entertain cordial relationships with Ed Herman, who has
> generously agreed to contribute to Swans from time to time, and with
> David Peterson). To use Lou's metaphor, I experience some difficulty
> to graphically represent ZNet on the US ideological map.

Although the people around ZNet really hate WWP and our politics and every
organization that they associate with us - and this is not a new thing, it was
evident in the Yugoslavia war as well - I should begin by saying that ZNet
provides a lot of valuable information to the movement, and I have used their
links more than once.  I don't think ZNet conceives itself as a 'party' or
organization of activists.  I think they see themselves as intellectuals, or
critics, providing information, guidance, and expertise so that the activists
will do things "correctly" (in their view).

Chomsky defines himself as an anarchist, and I believe this applies to the
rest of ZNet as well.  Certainly they are very anti-authoritarian, which puts
them to one degree or another in opposition to every socialist state,
liberation army, or just about any formation which actually uses armed force
or police power.  I have little doubt that in response to my "test questions"
they would say that the Bolshevik revolution was "bad" and that the overthrow
of the governments of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact countries was "good" (just
the opposite of what I would say, of course), to the extent that they have an
opinion on the points.

Their anti-imperialism is very sincere, but is phrased in idealistic terms,
and generally comes across like this: "Of course X is a monster, and Y is an
evil tyrant, and Z is a vicious bloodthirsty despot.  But of course we mustn't
forget that the U.S. is doing much more harm than X, Y, and Z put together."
It's not a 'class analysis' at all.  It's really more like "radical
liberalism" if that makes sense - an uncompromising and passionate depiction
of the failure of the U.S. to act in accordance with -democratic- and -moral-
principles.  It's not a socialist view, but that's not meant as an insult, and
on balance they do a lot more good with their non-socialist anti-imperialism
than a lot of ineffective socialists do.  But they are more reliable when they
are presenting information about the crimes of the U.S. than when they are
writing prescriptions about what to do about it - they tend to fall victim to
illusions about the U.N. and international courts and such.  Also, when they
start worrying that the "authoritarians" are influencing the movement too
much, their academic-sectarian side comes out, and they start writing stuff
about how bad we are etc.  (Compare this with some of the non-socialist anti-
imperialist activists in the radical Catholic tradition, like Voices in the
Wilderness for example, who do tons of work, risking their lives, really, and
are not sectarian at all.)

Where you put them on the map depends on the dimensions you select for your
map, I suppose :-)

Just my personal take,

Lou Paulsen
member, WWP, Chicago

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