Monday, February 12, 2007

A splintered antiwar movement

John V. Walsh offers a caustic analysis of the January 27 antiwar demonstration in Washington, D.C., on today’s CounterPunch (for my money, the best Left alternative to Lamenting a “splintered antiwar movement,” he writes, “The roster of speakers for the UFPJ [United for Peace and Justice] demonstration ... speaks volumes. The key was not so much who was included but who was not. The list of speakers certainly had a lot of wonderful activists in the peace movement, but to a considerable degree it was a line-up of Democrats and movie stars.”

Walsh reports that Ralph Nader, “the only antiwar candidate in the 2004 elections,” was pointedly not invited to speak. “The non-invitation,” he writes, “removed Nader from the movement every bit as effectively as the censors armed with air brushes removed dissidents in the ‘socialist’ Czech republic chronicled by Milan Kundera.”

Libertarians should particularly be interested in this bit from Walsh’s piece:

“There was not a single Libertarian speaker even though the Libertarians and Old Right have been far more outspoken in opposing the war than the liberal ‘Left.’ Compare the pages of The American Conservative or with the editorials of The Nation, which endorsed the pro-war Kerry candidacy in 2004. This writer tried for months to get Ron Paul, the Libertarian/Republican Congressman from Texas, now a Republican presidential candidate, invited to speak at the rally and did so also in 2005. Several of us made an appeal to get Justin Raimondo, the Libertarian editor of, invited to speak. We got no response from UFPJ, and still have received none. In contrast, Raimondo advertised the UFPJ demonstration in a prominent place on his web site, and he even offered to pay his own air fare to D.C. to speak. But no response was visible. UFPJ was just plain rude to Raimondo. In general it appears that the liberal ‘Left’ has scant knowledge about the Libertarians and less desire to acquire it. Libertarians are just ‘a bunch of selfish people,’ according to the PC liberals. But there are more things in heaven and earth than the very PC have dreamed of.”

Walsh correctly regrets that “the peace movement is being increasingly tied to the Democratic Party.” He observes: “Notice how these rallies occur now only in non-election years, nicely tailored to get activists to work for Dems, but not to pressure the Dems to take a strong anti-war stand.” Walsh concludes:

“...if the antiwar movement is divided, we are subject to being conquered just as surely as the Sunni and the Shia. It is time for the Democratic Party to serve the Peace Movement and not the other way around. We shall see what course UFPJ takes to turn this around. Right now, it does not look good.”


At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Roderick T. Long said...

One of the nice things about the revived SDS/MDS is that most of the folks there have been welcoming of libertarian participation from the start -- as my being nominated for the board shows. Of course there's no guarantee I'll be chosen, but even the nomination indicates a big difference from the mainstream "left."


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