[sixties-l] on selling out...

From: Ted Morgan (epm2@lehigh.edu)
Date: Fri Aug 18 2000 - 20:06:14 CUT

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    Interesting thread. On selling out generally, I think the key is quite
    clearly not whether we
    disagree on diverse issues and their relative importance (if forced to
    associate only with those
    who agree, we will always be a tiny, marginalized to the point of
    irrelevance minority). I think
    back to the old saw, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of
    the problem," which of
    course doesn't by itself resolve the issue since people disagree
    profoundly on where one draws the line on being 'part of the problem.'
    Still, if one endorses a presidential candidate who has
    been a crucial catalyst for rapid globalization of capitalism, the
    increasing gap between rich &
    poor/ North & South, and who has essentially genuflected before the
    anti-government ravings
    of the Right, well, I think one's political acuity is pretty suspect.

    I can understand how people got caught up in support of the NATO attack
    in Kosovo --there
    were quite clearly "Reasons" for intervention against Milosevic & his
    stormtroopers. My big
    problem with Gitlin's analysis is his easy labeling of those who opposed
    the NATO attack
    --e.g., Zinn, Chomsky, Ehrenreich, etc.-- as "rejectionists" who somehow
    "reflexively" or
    automatically (by implication, mindlessly) oppose all military
    intervention, use of force, etc. by a U.S. administration. This
    viewpoint simply distorts the arguments of the left on that intervention
    (check the many articles in Z Magazine, for example, on the war and its
    aftermath --e.g. the
    "ethnic cleansing" by Kosovars-- as well as the basic fact that Serbian
    violence against
    Kosovars greatly escalated in the AFTERMATH of, not prior to, the NATO
    attack, and the
    rising democratic opposition to Milosevic was quickly eroded by the NATO
    attack, etc.).

    [I also note that, on the Gulf 'War', Gitlin takes account of
    "unimpeachable UN" claims of
    Saddam's having anthrax, but ignores the resignation of two UN officers
    (Halliday & his
    successor) overseeing the oil for food program because they saw the
    West's policies as not
    being really concerned with 'weapons of mass destruction,' etc. and he
    somehow ignores the
    fact that the existing US-backed sanctions are themselves weapons of
    mass destruction in Iraq, at least if 40-45,000 dead children a month is
    an indicator of 'mass destruction.']

    So, the problem for me really emerges not in debating different
    positions, on saying, for
    example, 'I think NATO should intervene here for these reasons,' but, in
    effect, in doing the
    mainstream's business of marginalizing truly left criticism of US
    foreign policy/ globalization, etc. while simultaneously filling the
    mainstream media's required role of "leftist." That's very
    damaging. In some ways, as politically damaging as the volatile

    On the other hand, I will say (again), that the media culture tends to
    reduce people to polarizing positions (eliminating dialogue in the
    process) and we have to escape that trap if we on the left are ever to
    reach a broader audience. We need to know how to pull together behind
    worthwhile political actions & objectives, even with people we
    profoundly disagree with on other issues, or whose analysis doesn't
    match our own --all the while contending with their analysis.

    Ted Morgan

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