Re: [sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-Robert Scheer sells out

From: Ted Morgan (
Date: Fri Aug 18 2000 - 19:35:33 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 Horowitz.

    On the other hand, I will say (again), that the media culture tends to push
    people into polarizing positions 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.

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