Reply to Marc Cooper

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Sep 13 11:14:27 MDT 2002

This is a reply to a section of a Marc Cooper article in the current LA
Weekly titled "Dissonance: A Year Later: Only fear and loathing remain".
The slop can be read in its entirety at: Cooper also has
a roost at the Nation Magazine, where he now joins fellow contributors
Eric Alterman and Christopher Hitchens as latter day Rudyard Kiplings.

September 11 revealed America, for once, as victim instead of
victimizer. The left's Manichean view that only two forces -- American
imperialism and appropriate reaction against it -- shape world events
was no longer viable.

America as victim? Once upon a time somebody like Cooper had Marxist
pretensions. With all sorts of radicals now eager to make themselves
palatable to bourgeois opinion in the USA, I guess that class is the
first thing to go out the window.

The left might have seen that American military deployment is not a
priori evil.

The categories "good" and "evil" have little to do with 9/11. Instead we
are dealing with the incontrovertible effects of US imperial hegemony
across the planet since the fall of the USSR. By placing its Centurion
guards in the Mideast and Asia, Imperial Washington invites the
barbarians to storm the gates just as Great Britain did during the
Victorian era. The British Parliament was not as "evil" as the Mahdist
fundamentalists, but the fundamentalists reflected the class interests
of the Sudanese herders and peasants against the British cotton merchant
and their Egyptian underlings. That's at least the way Marxists
interpret such questions. Marx and Engels supported every atavistic and
*fundamentalist* outburst against colonialism, from the Sepoy revolt in
India to the Taipei rebellion in China which was led by somebody who
thought he was Jesus Christ's brother. How's that for backward hatred of

Virtually none of the dire predictions the left made about the war in
Afghanistan have come to pass. The U.S. has not (unfortunately) occupied
the country.

The US has not occupied the country? What kind of Orwellian horseshit is
this? Of course it occupies the country, if you include the aircraft
carriers and airbases that stand behind Karzai's dictatorship (not to
mention the Special Forces). If this is supposed to pass for "radical
journalism", then the left is poor shape. Fortunately, the left is in
good shape since Cooper and his pals at the Nation broke with the left
long ago.

Millions were not driven out or killed or forced into famine. American
ground troops have not been dragged into a Vietnam-like quagmire. The
regime we have put into power is not worse than -- or the same as -- the
Taliban. It's backward and corrupt, but it's better.

And who gave the USA the right to pick and choose governments? That's
the real question, not the character of Karzai's miserable cabal.

Civilians were killed -- as they are in all wars.

Bloodless shit out of the toad's mouth. Reminds one of Kissinger or
Albright, doesn't it?

(The Salvadoran guerrillas -- heroes to the left -- once boasted of
their successful assassination of dozens of civilian mayors of poor
rural towns.) But there was no targeting, no carpet-bombing, of Afghan

A singularly perverse comparison between the FMLN to US imperialism. In
any case, the US never "targets" civilians in adventures such as these.
It only drops bombs from a mile high on concentrated urban populations
where "collateral damage" cannot be avoided. That is how four million
Vietnamese civilians lost their lives.

If it wished, the left could have seen an America that had matured and
progressed over the last 50 years. It could have taken pride in an
America that didn't lock up millions of Arab-Americans, where the level
of hate crimes barely flickered upward.

An America that had matured? Why is that I cannot avoid images of Boris
Karloff lurching about the laboratory while Dr. Frankstein cries out,
"He can walk! He can walk!"

And while Attorney General Ashcroft has strained to stretch and snap
constitutional guarantees, a resilient American civil society and a
democratic, if flawed, court system have offered effective resistance.
Two American citizens have been stripped of their legal rights and
declared enemy combatants. That's two Americans too many. But it is only
two. This is not martial law. This is not fascism. This is not Chile or
Argentina or East Germany -- not even close.

Effective resistance? That would be some consolation to the poor slobs
locked up for INS violations, whose only crime is that they were in the
wrong place at the wrong time after 9/11.

Especially for the left, September 11 offered a unique opportunity to
come back home, to find commonality and identification with a society
from which too many progressives and radicals have felt alienated and
estranged. In the suffering of September 11, the American left might
have taken the hand of its fellow Americans and together searched -- at
least for a moment -- for what unites rather than divides us.

Come back home? To what? The Clintonista Nation Magazine? The Hollywood
yuppies at LA Weekly? The Pacifica Board? No thanks, I prefer internal
exile in Amerikkka.

But American leftists are surprisingly ready to brand those who depart
from their views as "fascists."

Nah, nobody thinks you're a fascist. Just a pathetic liberal trying to
woo bourgeois opinion in the USA.

The left, already tiny and isolated, has too frequently derived its
industrial-strength self-righteousness from its own marginality. The
left actually fears engagement with the broader society around it. It
chooses self-loathing. Or, better, the loathing of all those common folk
in whose name and interests it claims to be "struggling." So when
millions of ordinary Americans, shocked and frightened by September 11,
and moved by the scale of the human tragedy, and wanting to do
something, put out a flag, the American left responded too often not
with compassion, but with scorn.

I suspect that Todd Gitlin fed him these lines.

What has been truly staggering over the past year has been the dogmatic
refusal of much of the left to simply say "yes." Yes, America was
attacked. Yes, we unequivocally mourn the unprovoked death of 3,000
fellow citizens. Yes, the window washers, the cooks, the secretaries
and, yes, even the stockbrokers who were incinerated that morning a year
ago were guilty of absolutely nothing, except showing up to work on time.

Of course, "America" was attacked. But nobody attacked Belgium or
Sweden, did they? Why can't people like Cooper, Alterman and Hitchens
put two and two together? When you construct an Empire upon which the
sun never sets on the Stars and Stripes, naturally the barbarians will
throw rocks and hurl spears. Down with Empire!

Instead, from the left, we get a steady stream of "yes/buts." Yes, to
all the above -- but we killed more people in Vietnam. Or yes, but we
created Osama bin Laden (a patent lie). Or yes, but we starved more
babies in Iraq. Or yes, but . . . well, you fill in the blank: But what
about the oil pipelines? But what about covering for the Saudis? And so
on and so forth ad nauseam. Every possible explanation from the left
except the one obvious and true explanation right before our eyes: that
a conspiracy of highly educated, religiously motivated zealots -- as
opposed to impoverished and oppressed freedom fighters -- ruthlessly
massacred 3,000 of us a year ago. And would have just as easily killed
10 times as many in the same barbaric onslaught. Period.

On this anniversary of September 11, without guilt or hesitation, I
mourn their deaths. And I mourn a political culture whose moral compass
has been driven awry by ideological rigidity from all sides.

This kind of demagogy is no substitute for a solid analysis of Imperial
America's role in the world but I suspect that Cooper was last able to
provide such an analysis when the Beegees were popular.

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