The U.S.: Does Kucinich’s Defeat Signal the End of Liberal Left Anti-imperialism?

This article originally appeared in the Free Arab Voice and can be found at http://freearabvoice.org/?p=1702 We hereby republish it as NACAZAI agrees fully with comrade abu Nasr’s analysis of current American politics and hopes this pieces stimulates discussion amongst American socialist revolutionaries.

Muhammad Abu Nasr
March 3, 2012
For many years the most anti-war or anti-imperialist members of the US Congress have been the liberal leftist Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and the rightist libertarian Ron Paul of Texas.
The Zionists hated both of them and have been working against them any way they can. On Tuesday, 6 March 2012, Kucinich was defeated in the Democratic primary in Ohio. The authorities had shifted electoral districts to change the political balance against Kucinich and he was defeated by another Democratic liberal, a woman named Marcy Kaptur. Kaptur (of Polish background) is also liberal, but according to Wikipedia ‘votes for all military appropriation bills.’ As far as that goes, Kaptur is a classic American ‘leftist’ politician – meaning that she will support anything that brings benefits to blue-collar workers in her district – including Defence Department contracts and foreign intervention.
If such ‘leftists’ lived in Germany in the 1930s, they would be Nazis. In the U.S., the ideology of ‘help our poor by screwing the world’ is considered ‘leftist.’
In my own opinion, Kucinich was guilty of a lot of the problems that have marginalized the liberal left in the US. For example, since the 1960s, the liberal left identified itself with the cause of ‘helping the poor and disadvantaged.’ When the US economy was generally expanding and doing well in the 1950s and 1960s, the working population generally had a positive view of these welfare programs which seemed to be simply expanding the opportunities offered to working people in general by the government programs initiated by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s and 1940s. Also the tax structure prior to the 1970s put a greater burden on wealthier people than it does now. But as the economy in the US began to slow down and as the right-wing began its counterattack during the Nixon and later Reagan eras, the tax burden was shifted downward to the working people (described as ‘middle class’) and so programs to ‘help the poor and disadvantaged’ seemed to be an attempt not to spread prosperity to the ones still suffering, but a program to take money from the working people who were having increasing trouble ‘making ends meet’ to the poor who were not working.
Essentially, the liberals who continue to talk in terms used in the 1960s are (in the current context of tax laws and economic reality) effectively saying – ‘the working people must sacrifice to help the poor because that is morally right.’ The Right wing at least since Reagan have capitalized on this, turning the working population (“middle class”) into allies of the wealthy by focusing their campaigns on tax issues.
America’s Marxists, like the liberals, have tended to keep looking for ‘proletarians’ among the most disadvantaged – minorities in rural areas, migrant labor, and lots of Lumpen-proletarian elements, because the ‘lifestyle’ of these people reminds them of classic Marxist descriptions ‘they have nothing to lose but their chains’ and so on.
In fact Marxism is supposed to focus on the working masses, not on the Lumpen-proletarians and other marginal groups on the bottom. The social base of Marxism is supposed to be the workers, not marginal groups. But the liberals have managed to alienate the working people in the US from anything even reminiscent of leftist perspectives by focusing on the welfare of the poorest and most forgotten while being powerless or unwilling to challenge a system that fundamentally serves the super-rich.
This issue also affects how anti-war activity has been crippled.
The cornerstone of leftist anti-war attitudes is that working people everywhere are on one side and the exploiters are on the other. Therefore there should be solidarity between working people against aggressive wars waged by the elites. The idea is that the material interests of all working people dictate that in their own interest they should oppose ‘their governments’ waging wars on other countries. Marxist anti-war activity is not supposed to be about ‘moral qualms’ about violence, but about defending the true class interests of working people.
But liberals have undermined the whole class concept, substituting a kind of ‘moral solicitude’ for victims instead of solidarity. So domestically liberals are supposed to sacrifice to help the poor and internationally they should sacrifice to help the victims abroad. And that sort of thinking has deeply penetrated what little left there is in the US. So when the working people start to suffer from dislocations of retreating capitalism, they are led by the right-wing to react NOT against the wealthy but against the policies of ‘helping victims’.
First, this liberal thinking tends to feed tendencies towards ‘humanitarian intervention.’ So that when the liberal wing of the ruling class wants to wage aggressive wars, it simply dresses it up in ‘helping the victims’ language. When the right-wing wants to wage aggressive wars it presents them as “necessary for ‘our’ self-preservation.”
So as a result when Kucinich, a liberal, complains about US aggression abroad it usually sounds like whining that the US is doing nasty things to people abroad and that this is immoral. The Right-wing easily overcomes that moralistic objection by saying, ‘but we’ve got to do this or our enemies will take advantage of us.’ The Zionists play on this as well, of course.
However, in the current climate of thinking, Ron Paul, the libertarian, attacks imperialism from the right. Instead of complaining that it is nasty and immoral to hurt other people, he says ‘let’s quit helping everybody’ (i.e., let’s end humanitarian intervention) and “let’s take care of our own problems.”
So in effect he’s actually appealing to the interests of working people and – objectively – to the reality that there are shared interests among the world’s working people. He’s not a Marxist or closet Marxist at all, yet by appealing to the interests of the working people (middle classes) rather than their ‘moral conscience’ he is actually being a better “Marxist” than the liberals who try to appeal to a kind of spirit of charity and helping the poor and disadvantaged.
And, not surprisingly, Ron Paul’s appeal is much greater than that of the liberal ‘leftists’.
So Kucinich always seemed to me a rather pathetic figure. He apparently had support in his traditional district (now merged with another district – hence his loss in the primary election yesterday) but nationally he wasn’t able to appeal to the masses because he never addressed their interests but tried always to appeal to their conscience and charitability.
There are lots of other facets of the problems of the left in the US. The Jewish issue is one.
Writing in the liberal left publication Counterpunch (“A Snare and a Delusion: Ron Paul’s Anti-Imperialism” 20-22 January 2012) Andrew Levine wrote that it would be a ‘colossal mistake’ for leftists to support the anti-imperialist Ron Paul. Levine suggested: “that people should back Jill Stein of the Green Party of the United States or some other left opposition candidate.” Such an approach, Levine said, would send an unequivocal message.” But what message? Well look up the Greens. Their candidate (whom nobody’s heard of) is a Jewish woman, and her campaign manager is a Jew and when asked about Palestine they claimed that they hadn’t been thinking about that issue. Yeah, like a Jew raised in the US never thinks about “Israel” and Palestine ! Forget that bullshit. In fact the Green platform is all about protecting the environment and domestic concerns and often the Greens even call for humanitarian aggression – “we always support dictators, but we should be supporting democracy.”
By the way, even if – like me – you don’t think electoral politics makes any difference, the slogans and the appeal you try to present in writing or demonstrations or any public context is colored by this environment. Most of the anti-war groups, consequently, appeal to a sort of pacifist conscience of ‘causing no harm.’ And so, such people are doomed to be marginal, to appeal to the constituency of Buddhist monks and Christian Quakers. Since there’s virtually no conscious left – even a screwed-up left – talking about ‘workers solidarity’ is about as useful as screaming in some foreign language. This is one of the problems of the whole ‘occupy’ movement. These people are angry over the power of the wealthy elite that calls the shots in the society, but they have no broader framework or ideology and so all they can come up with is that ‘we all should think of the poor and disadvantaged,’ ‘down with greed’ and that sort of thing – all of which is easily manipulated and none of which has much appeal to the average person EVEN if he or she also hates the ‘top 1 percent’.
Of the top 20 richest Americans listed by Forbes magazine*, 17 are liberal Democrats, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Wal-Mart’s Jim Walton, Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle’s Lawrence Ellison, and Google’s Larry Page. With George Soros-style liberals at the core of the American ruling elite, the co-optation of the slogans and moralistic talk of the ‘occupy’ movement will be easy. And it will also be simple for this leadership to channel discontent internationally into color revolutions and ‘humanitarian’ intervention.
The liberal lefts who are genuinely against imperialism, like Kucinich, have trouble overcoming the confusion in their own camp really.
As a result it’s more the Right wing that has potential to move people towards some kind of actual changes. But they too are easily co-opted because the language of national pride and aggression can too easily slip into the context of national isolation is too easily – particularly since US aggression is always presented as ‘defence.’ But still, in terms of acquiring some kind of mass audience to anti-imperialism, that seems more likely on the right than on the left in the US these days.
And the defeat of Kucinich is at least a symbol of the demise of the anti-imperialist liberal left, if not the actual demise of the liberal anti-imperialist left.
*(The reference to the Forbes magazine richest being largely Democrats is here:
http://www.jshott.com/2011/12/who-are-rich-1-percent-that-occupy-wall.html)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s