Why is the antiwar movement stalled?

In two words: the left

So says Raimondo at Antiwar.com. He is scathing against leftie ideologues who don’t want a right-left coalition to fight against the insane wars of the US because that might cut into their already absurdly small power bases.

The Ron Paul faction of the right as well as the Buchananites oppose the wars too. Does the left want to build little micro-mini-empires or does it want a genuine mass movement to end the wars? Because a real mass movement means people from all across the political spectrum join into together working for a common cause, and ignoring their differences.

A left-right coalition would make the antiwar movement uninhabitable by the inveterate sectarians of the ultra-left, whose only concern is to recruit naïve young people into their dying little sects. Trotskyism, today, is about as relevant as phrenology, and about as useful when it comes to building a mass political movement of any kind – and the sectarians know it. They are essentially parasites who converge on any “peace” movement that arises and suck the juice out of it until they’ve had their fill: then they feast on the bones.

Gosh, a conspiratorist might opine that such groups do a fine job of destroying real dissent before it can become bothersome to the state.

What is needed is not another leftist-dominated “coalition,” which puts on conferences that address the faithful, reasserts their well-worn dogmas, and sponsors marches of a few thousand (at most). You’ll note that these marches nearly always take place on the coasts – especially San Francisco, that bastion of the left’s past glories – but never penetrate into the American heartland. Until and unless they do, the antiwar movement, as an organized force in American politics, will literally remain a fringe phenomenon.

Concurrent with that and due to the same mindset –

Marxists don’t do the internet, and when they do, the results are laughable.

That’s because Marxists generally *can’t* do the internet. Building a presence on the web is about two-way communication. You build relationships, you link back and forth, exchange sometimes opposing views, and build a community of equals. But your typical Marxist zealot mini-party has no interest in that. For them, the web is about we tell you what the truth is and you listen. And that’s why their websites tend to be laughable, dogmatic – and irrelevant. It’s all one way. Ever notice that practically no Marxist parties allow comments on their websites? Open discussion and honest dissent is not encouraged. Instead, the Marxists lecture. Readers are supposed to absorb the perceived truth without questioning. But the web doesn’t work that way.

As long as the organized antiwar movement remains a leftist sandbox, where sectarians get to pontificate – and do little else – it will stay a sideshow. Once we get beyond all that nonsense, however, there are no limits to what we can do: just look at the polls. The American people are with us – and they’re ready to join us in our fight. Indeed, they’ve never been readier. The question is: are we ready to receive them, and lead them?


  1. Why is the anti-war movement stalled? I would not say “the left”, I would say “the Democrats.” Didn’t they take back the Congress in 2006 specifically on a platform of “ending the war”? And then continue to vote to finance and expand it? I would argue that the Democratic Party is the dangerous parasite that latched onto the anti-war/peace movement, co-opted it, and put it into the service of the global warfare and corporate welfare state.

    • All true, but the hard left does the cause no favors by primarily concentrating on recruiting for their micro party rather than building a genuine mass organization.

      • Until those who bash “leftist ideologues” come up with things like the Italian scala mobile for wages, permanent public employment programs for zero unemployment, state financial and foreign trade monopolies, gradual socialization through asset redistributions to wage earner funds, and so on, they’ll advance less than those same “leftist ideologues.”

  2. Funny thing about Ron Paul, no matter how distasteful he’s right more than wrong, and I’ve cursed myself for agreeing with Buchanan since Nixon. Even funnier, while negotiating payment for a gig last week I found myself saying “Taxed Enough Already, thank you”.

    As for certain websites “preaching at you”, regardless their bend… AntiWar is one I stopped visiting long ago for that simple reason.

    • Raimondo can get a wee bit dogmatic too, however I thought his article made some cogent points. An antiwar movement composed only of the hard left will never be effective.

      • It has always been my position we hold common ground. Indeed, when asked “what I think of” the “Tea Party” I tend to respond “late to the party…” Much, though not all, of what they bitch about now I’ve been bitchin’ about since Nixon.

        And that’s before we start talking about black helos.

  3. Jacob proves Bob’s point quite eloquently. Ask any American whether he/she opposes his/her kids dying in Afghanistan and they will probably say yes. Ask any American if they favor “the Italian scala mobile for wages, permanent public employment programs for zero unemployment, state financial and foreign trade monopolies, gradual socialization through asset redistributions to wage earner funds, and so on” and (depending on what part of the country you’re in) they’re likely to either give you a blank look, or show you their rifle.

    So, do you want to end the war, or is that just a platform for promoting another agenda?

    I bash both Left and Right– and I support an alternative to the top-down approach. I’ve seen it work in places as diverse as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Mexico, and, yes, the U.S. When someone tells me they have a plan to fix this country if they can only have all the power, on a good day you’ll get the blank look.

    • The only way it will work is when “we” get a plan to change the country, “we’ being a broad-based, across-the-political-spectrum coalition of people working together. And not socialist ideologues lecturing about how we need restructuring first (done their way only, of course) with, as you mentioned – big surprise – them in charge instructing the befuddled masses how to change their errant ways

  4. I thought I would throw this in there because it has some pretty good points. While I agree with Bob that the Left deserves a certain level of criticism for the closed way in which things were developed I also think we need to be mindful of what is being put out. This piece is written by Louis Proyect, who most people might know from his blog or marxmail. He makes a lot of valid points and, as always, presents his ideas clearly.

    Justin Raimondo, the America First Committee and the antiwar left

    I think a critique of the anti-war movement requires a lot more inquiry even if we are just sticking to analyzing the left. Something which I can not do here. But, this topic did come up in a recent conversation so I wanted to mention one thing. Even if the major anti-war left “coalitions” like ANSWER or UFPJ, etc, had been more open would this have changed things that much? In a way, I think by saying things would have been different if these “coalitions” had been open hypes up their sense of importance and makes them appear more worthwhile than they may have been. It’s a weird question because you have to speculate on a lot of different factors possibly changing from the opening up of said groups or their alliance with other forces.

    • Feel free to post here about what Proyect says.Varying viewpoints are always good.

      I think Raimondo and Project both have valid points. Mine is, clearly whatever the left is doing is failing badly, the messages aren’t getting though, and the momentum is elsewhere. New ideas and approaches are needed.

    • Once again, I think there’s more to it than protests. With a comprehensive strategy, it could have been very different.

      I wasn’t privy to any analysis that might have been done, but a quick brainstorm suggests that a strategy might have included (in addition to protests) identification of, counsel with, and coordination with anti-war elected officials, a media strategy using professional publicists (remember all those complaints about how the protests just weren’t getting any coverage?), analysis of who supports the war and why, which would in turn lead to additional strategic directions, and a grassroots effort to (1) organize and (2) mobilize Americans who were prone to oppose the war to take some small action. To do the latter, means tailoring the message to the audience, which means dropping the Leftspeak. As Bob points put, there are plenty of conservatives who oppose (or could be convinced to oppose) the wars. But they won’t be convinced by railing against their way of life.

      Above all, an anti-war movement has to focus on being anti-war. Yes, there are long term structural changes necessary. But to get distracted by the details when the bullets are still flying is like (to borrow a Buddhist parable) refusing medical treatment until you know who shot you and why.

      As for the long run, more people will be convinced with actions than dogma. “Walking the walk” is both unusual and effective. As St. Francis is credited with saying of Christianity, “Preach the Gospel. Use words only when necessary.”

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