[Marxism] Kucinich: Maverick or Stalking Horse? By RAHUL MAHAJAN

Carl Webb carlwebb at gmail.com
Sat Dec 23 18:02:51 MST 2006

Just what is the transformative left agenda that Rahul speaks of?

Carl Webb


December 22, 2006

Where Was He When It Mattered?

Kucinich: Maverick or Stalking Horse?

Winter approaches and a young politician's fancy turns
to thoughts of the 2008 presidential campaign. Among
the announced candidates is antiwar favorite Dennis

I have nothing against Kucinich. He's one of the most
progressive Congresspeople and a genuinely decent,
honest person who seems to have no trace of the
personal corruption so endemic to politicians.
Overall, his values and political stances seem highly
compatible with the transformative left agenda that so
many believe in quietly.

I disagree with him on some issues. On trade, I want a
fair international order with binding rules that apply
to everybody ­ rules that embody values very different
from those in the WTO ­ while Kucinich wants an
essentially anarchic world order where the United
States strong-arms other countries through bilateral
trade pacts. A position he shares with George W. Bush
-- back when Bush had positions on issues other than

To be fair, Bush wants to impose better conditions for
U.S. corporations and for militaristic U.S.
imperialism on weaker countries, whereas Kucinich
merely wants to impose "social clauses" that are
protectionist in effect ­ which is, of course, the
kind of "humanitarian imperialism" that Kucinich
resolutely opposes in the military sphere. He also
doesn't seem to understand that this is impossible ­
the United States, beholden as it is to corporate
interests and to its privileged position in the world
order, cannot possibly be in the vanguard on this
issue. Look to Venezuela, the G21, Mercosur, anywhere
except the United States.

I also task him for not voting against the absurd
congressional resolution blindly supporting Israel's
Lebanon war, whose avowed target was the civilian
political supporters of Hizbullah ­ he voted
"present," a cowardly act for someone who wants to be
a leader of the left.

Though these are important defects, Kucinich is in
general very good, and, based solely on the issues,
worthy of support.

Even so, if you are considering supporting him, I want
to caution you.

Given the conservative-nationalistic populist
refoundation of the Democratic Party, most likely
Kucinich will stand out as the only even slightly
anti-militarist and anti-imperialist Democratic
candidate. Short of a run by Nader, Bill Moyers, or
someone like that, he'll probably also be the only
worthy candidate with any public recognition.

Still, despite numerous fatuous proclamations of his,
there's absolutely no way he will win or even make a
respectable showing, and so one must consider what is
to be gained from supporting him.

Last time, his campaign spent $11 million -- $11
million of activist money poured down a rat-hole, in
my opinion, along with a great deal of time, effort,
and enthusiasm.

His campaign was intellectually deficient on foreign
policy, a crippling fault. His talks were long on
platitudes about peace, but short on the specifics
about real issues that might have spread the left
message beyond the choir. So ignorant was he regarding
the U.S.-backed coup against Aristide that, in a
televised debate, he said what the U.S. was doing was
good, but it needed to do more ­ it was left to John
Kerry, oddly, to expose the extent of the Bush
administration's animus toward Aristide.

Although Kucinich's "position" on Iraq was fine, he
had very little to say about it and avoided the issue
in favor of expansive visions on social programs that
couldn't possibly make any difference in a political
campaign defined by Iraq.

What really stood out, though, was his behavior at the
Democratic Convention. Although he had maintained his
candidacy in order to hang onto his delegates, loyalty
to the Party trumped the antiwar cause and he
capitulated to the militarism of the Democratic
leadership, instructing his delegates to back down on
the question of an antiwar plank in the Democratic
platform -- even though an estimated 95% of all
delegates to the convention were antiwar.

Even though he did speak there, he went with the flow
and talked about Kerry the great war hero. Not a
mention of the still-fresh Abu Ghraib/torture scandal,
alluded to only by Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson

Last but hardly least, he did nothing to help build
self-sustaining left organizations that could continue
to exert influence after the campaign was over.

Those of you who want to work for Kucinich don't need
to rule it out right away. But make him accountable.
He's not going to win and the meaning or lack thereof
of his campaign is going to be in relation to the
antiwar movement. He needs to know if he runs again
he's working for us.

Rahul Mahajan is publisher of the weblog Empire Notes,
with regularly updated commentary on U.S. foreign
policy, the occupation of Iraq, and the state of the
American Empire. He has been to occupied Iraq twice,
and was in Fallujah during the siege in April. His
most recent book is Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S.
Power in Iraq and Beyond. He can be reached at
rahul at empirenotes.org

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