Most sane peace-loving people agree that President-select George W. Bush and his neocon cabal are anathema and must be thrown out of office. Some progressives are defining November 2004 as being exclusively about achieving this aim. These progressives basically contend that Bush is so absolutely abhorrent that he must be disposed of no matter what. These progressives are usually lumped into what is commonly referred to as the Anybody-But-Bush camp. This, however, is not quite a true description of the camp. Truer would be the John Kerry-But-Bush camp. How else would one explain the vehemence exhibited toward presidential candidate Ralph Nader for having the audacity to present Americans with an actual anti-war option for their vote?
Progressive writers Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen turned to their articulate and knowledgeable colleague Tariq Ali to buttress the case for lesser-evilism that Kerry represents. It is granted that an expert source often lends credibility to a point-of-view. Nonetheless, quoting a name source and relying on such quotes, unless composed of pertinent facts and logic, is hardly compelling argumentation in itself. In fact it is often referred to as the fallacy of appeal to authority.
Ali offered the unsurprising observation that people outside the US would be pleased at the ouster of Bush. Then he offers his opinion that an Al Gore administration would not have attacked Iraq. Ali maintains that the attack on Iraq was a “neocon agenda.” But belligerence against Iraq was not solely a “neocon agenda”; the Bill Clinton-Al Gore administration was also an aggressive administration that enforced genocidal sanctions against Iraq, and carried out bombing campaigns not only in Iraq but also notably in Sudan, Afghanistan, and Kosovo. Would any progressives deny warmongering credentials of such a regime?
Ali states, “A defeat for a warmonger government in Washington would be seen as a step forward. I don’t go beyond that, but there is no doubt in my mind that it would have an impact globally.”
What kind of impact globally? Will it make any significant difference for people victimized by imperialism and Zionism? Ali’s statement is similar to the support for lesser-evilism extended by famed linguist Noam Chomsky. Chomsky says that “small differences can translate into large outcomes” without addressing how this helps the victims abroad.
“I think there is a lot to be done at the present time. And my own feeling is that a defeat for Bush would create a different atmosphere, let’s say in American political culture, to show it can be done. And it will make people much more critical...” opines Ali. One wonders for what reason Solomon and Cohen offer Ali’s “feeling”? Argumentation? Such a view has a misplaced emphasis. It stresses appearance over substance.
The warmongering of the Clinton regime sought to claim a veneer of legitimacy through invocation of the right to self-defense or forming international coalitions but it was warmongering nonetheless. Thus the defeat of Gore should be construed as the defeat of a warmongering half of the previous regime. This US Supreme Court-rendered defeat resulted in the creation of the neocon atmosphere in Washington. The world and Americans already know well what it is like to have one warmongering US government replaced with another warmongering US government.
Therefore, I submit that the emphasis on Ali’s key question of “Do we defeat a warmonger government or not?” is invalid and wrong.
Surely there is a more important question to be answered. Is replacing one warmonger government with another warmonger government a victory for progressives and the world?
Corporate USA symbolizes exploitation and death for many in the developing world. Hence a vote for Kerry represents a vote for death. Afghans, Haitians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Venezuelans, and whoever else stands in the way of western corporate-investor exploitation of their lands put their lives on the line. It is an electoral choice that compromises one’s moral center. A struggle that compromises on its principles, consequently suspends its raison d’être, and thereby endangers itself.
Fear is the weapon of the corporate-government nexus. The British logician Bertrand Russell thought, “Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” Progressives are in solidarity on achieving a better, more humane world; they differ on the tactics to achieve this aim. The system is rooted in avarice and rotten to the core and must be extirpated. A revolution is required to accomplish this. Progressives must overcome their fear, reject the corporate political duopoly and its false democracy and sham elections. Revolution must not be a dirty word. American literary giant Mark Twain unashamedly stated, “I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolute.” Progressives must define their own world and embrace the revolution to attain it. Spontaneity cannot be demanded of a revolution but, from the standpoint of Iraqis (as communicated to the writer) and other peoples oppressed by imperialism, there seemingly is no time like the present. Capitalism, and its lethal magnification, imperialism, must be overthrown and replaced by a people-centered and guided morality and philosophy. This is the key direction to articulate for progressives.
Kim Petersen is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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