[Marxism] What is antiwar.com? And what is really at issue?

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Jun 9 21:30:56 MDT 2004

I think the SWP is opening a big (that is, from a Lilliputian
standpoint) slander campaign against the antiwar movement (and of course
the independence struggle), which constitute the biggest threats to its
"homogeneity," "discipline" and stability  (which requires basic
leadership infallibility although allowing for occasional corrections
by the leadership that make the leadership EVEN MORE INFALLIBLE than it
was before).  
The charge will be that the movement is bonapartist, fascist, or
antisemitic in tendency (in a kind of incipiently incipient way)
because forces like Buchanan or whoever is targeted direct their
propaganda to it and are permitted to do so. The SWP, remember, insists
that the movement must be   I think the Manuel article cited by Waler
signaled what is coming from the convention being held this coming
I think the party will be revealing its presidential ticket.(I doubt
that they are thinking about abstaining because they don't want to take
votes away from Bush -- remember Florida!).  I think a major focus will
be a campaign against Nader, presenting him as a Perot-type
Bonapartist-type candidate appealing to right and left and "presenting
himself as a strong man."  After all, after 2000 and the current
Democratic hysteria around Nader, it doesn't make sense to continue to
portray Nader as just trying to funnel votes to liberals.  Presenting
him as Ross Perot or Huey Long is a better bet, as an attack on the
two-party system FROM THE RIGHT. From that standpoint I imagine that SWP
leaders are lighting candles for Nader to use the New Alliance and
oddball rightist-led Independent Party to provide his line in New York.
Frankly, I am opposed to that but then I do not have  an electoralist
approach to the Nader campaign.
And the current approach -- which aligns the SWP with the attack on all
critics of Israel as anti-Semitic (unless they fully understand the
workings of imperialism and homogenize with the SWP) -- actually may be
more salable than the more immediately recognizably rightist attack on
protesters as Anti-American or for denouncing Bush.  It will certainly
be more salable than their tragically ignored calls to "Listen to
Rumsfeld, not the liberals" or Jack Barnes genuinely unrestrained
enthusiasm (I haven't read him as so genuinely HAPPY about a political
development since the May 1970 student strike against the war and the
accompanying upsurge -- yes, he had better days) for the election of
Schwarzenegger in California, when he was buoyed by the illusion that
this was a clear working-class vote for the administration's war policy.
Actually, I think it is quite possible that antiwar.com is a deliberate
attempt to organize an "open" forum that gives right-wing opponents of
Bush policy an opportunity to mix it up with liberals and leftists.
There is much more of this today than there was in the anti-Vietnam war
movement though there was some then also.  The biggest driving force is
the deeper class polarization and attacks on working  people today,
though the disorganization and lack of centralization of the antiwar
movement (the fact that in reality it is not a nationally organized
movement) presents opportunities for this.
On the neocons, I don't think they have been basic architects of policy.
They present themselves as "idea men."  Contrary to common leftist
opinion, they are not ultrarightists but they are ideologues.  Rumsfeld
seemed to be impressed with their ideas for a time, but he is a
professional politico-administrator, and he is clearly adjusting to the
fact that not all the neocons high-flown generalizations have met the
test of reality.  As political intellectuals, they are prone to draw
very  big conclusions from a rather small and ideologically selected
group of facts, and in Iraq their ideas have consequently failed some
tests.  (By the way, Jack Barnes has similar tendencies and, from my
experience, I think he has a soft spot for the neocons).  
They are not all Jewish, although their most prominent figures are
Jewish.  People like former Secretary of Education William Bennett and
Professor John DiIullio (a frequent contributor to Irving Kristol's The
Public Interest magazine who briefly worked for Bush II).  For many, the
neocons originated with Commentary magazine, long edited by Norman
Podhoretz and now others of like mind.
Many radicals who are neocon theorists (and there are a lot of theories
built around this group of rather shallow intellectuals) believe that
the neocons primarily serve Israel.  They  also believe that the US
policy on the Middle East is dictated by the  pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.  I
don't believe this.  I believe that US policy is determined by the basic
interests of the ruling class in the United States.  They have
differences with the Israelis, but as long as Israeli occupation seems
to be working -- that is, the Palestinians are successfully being beaten
down -- they will stick with Israel and even with Sharon.  (The fact
that Washington has had a hard time in Iraq only reinforces their
admiration of the Israeli rulers capacity to take a "hard line" and
seemingly make it stick.)   
But to argue that everyone who doesn't see this is an anti-Semite is a
slander of massive proportions.  This is a debate within the movement,
not a debate over anti-Semitism, even though anti-Semites will make
appeals to those who use these arguments.   In effect, it declares that
anyone who identifies with the Palestinians or opposes US policy,
without understanding the dominant responsibility of US imperialism, is
an anti-Semite.  The argument that AIPAC (which is an organization which
plays its role with strong support from the dominant sectors of the US
ruling class) or the neocons acting as Israeli agents set US policy in
the primary interests of Israel needs to be disproven by facts,
including a more accurate description of the world situation.
The neocons in general are not Israeli agents even if some of them
accept Israeli money which is probably quite common in US politics
precisely because the ruling class has so far had no real objection --
though they drew the line when Jonathan Pollard, a pro-imperialist who
put Israel first, spied for the Israeli regime.
Ask yourself the question: Are those who believe that the Cuban mafia in
Miami and Union City and the Cuban American National Foundation have
basically set the US course toward Cuba for decades motivated by racial
hatred of Cuban-Americans? They include quite a few Cuban-Americans,
just like the Jews who denounce AIPAC with rage and proclaim, in spirit,
"not in our name."  Are they anti-semites?  Are Cubans who denounce the
Cuban mafia seething with hatred of Cubans who don't live where they
belong?  No. 
Its an emprical fact that the Cuban exiles have a strong, effective,
well-organized lobby.  And, as with AIPAC, that is  because the US
ruling class has organized them to do so and politically and financially
supported them in doing so.  Like the AIPAC leaders, the Cuban mafia
like to boast that they are setting US policy, not implementing it.
That gives their claims a lot of credibility -- and who can avoid
fighting them since they take the front line in the fight.  The
exaggeration of their strength flows from the situation, reinforced by
the desire to see the origin of the problem not in the government and
rulers of the United States, but in some supposedly less humane "outside
force."  The argument needs to be answered concretely.  Announcing that
advocates of this view are "anti-Cuban" are unconvincing since they are
not "anti-Cuban" but against US policy toward Cuba.  The same is true
with the theories about AIPAC and the neocons and their "nefarious"
(compared to who?) influence on US policy.
Of course, the SWP did suggest that those who supported returning Elian
Gonzalez to his father and ultimately his country were supporting a
supposedly massive blow to democatic rights, and were supporting a US
government military assault on the Cuban community in Miami.  So the SWP
is actually being consistent --- in its rightist thrust.
I have mentioned in the past, and I still believe, that a potential for
anti-Semitic scapegoating exists when the "war on terrorism" decisively
collapses (whether in Iraq, as seems quite possible, or elsewhere).  I
take it for granted that the role of the neocon criminals will be part
of this. WClass polarization really is sharpening.  The economic
difficulties of US imperialism are rising. The imperialists have not
gained what they expected to gain from the collapse of the Soviet and
East European workers states, which they imagined had handed them the
world on a platter.
The home front is one of their key weak spots.  Despite all the setbacks
we have all experienced, the rulers have not succeeded in reversing any
of the fundamental gains we won in the 1960s and early 1970s  -
including the "Vietnam syndrome."  Without trying to pull rank as a
worker at all, I have to say that I see evidence of this every day at
work despite the weakness of the US labor movement. As Buchanan once
suggested, the road to world domination for US imperialism has got to
take on the block by block fight to transform the political situation in
the United States  radically in favor of the rulers.
Without that, I have become convinced that world hegemony on the scale
required by the needs of the US ruling class is not attainable today.
And I suspect that means -- although I am well aware that such
predictions have been made many times in the past, and their track
record is not exactly fantastic -- that we are headed into a period of
serious political, economic, and social crisis.
Fred Feldman

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