Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Friday, April 08, 2005

political leanings and bigotry...

I was disappointed recently by what I can only describe as militant bigotry being displayed by some leftish bloggers who I would have thought knew better. Yes, my little luvvlies, we're talking about the "why is the pope a Catholic" hilarity.

This is not the first time I have been disappointed with unpleasant traits discernable on the left when scrutinised from a distance of less than a long way away. Now before all of your left knees start jerking uncontrollably, take a pill, go for a walk, and let me finish typing before you get all apoplectic with me. Ok?

I'm picking on the left, because the right, in my book, are ridiculous bigots and I definitely don't share their "values". So I look to the left to find a political "home", but I haven't found one yet. I feel it in my bones that my political home is somewhere on the left. That much I know. Or I thought I did. But every time I try to make a nest somewhere on the left side of politics, some ugliness there makes me run back to the relative safety of the centre. Everything that drove me away from the right, I can see mirrored on the left:

Authoritarianism: They are absolutely right and they get quite prickly if you dare to challenge their viewpoints. In fact, they hate it. You must not do it! Which brings us to...

Bigotry: Their mind is made up and don't confuse them with any facts or rational debate. NOT INTERESTED! If forced to debate, they will use all manner of sophistry to try to blindly maintain their position at any cost. Which brings us to...

Intolerance: They are extremely intolerant of those with whom they disagree. Which brings us to...

Monoculturalism: The three traits listed above can lead only to a monoculture defined and dominated by them. Which brings us to...

Hatefulness: The intensity of their "passion" translates as hatefulness towards those with whom they differ. Which brings us to...

War mongering: Whilst you will find them in great numbers at anti-war rallies protesting against wars waged by the right, they will overlook, nay, justify, violence and even mass-murder if it is carried out by those with whose cause they identify. If their ideological allies start a war, they will forget to turn out in large numbers on the streets to protest against such a war - in such a case their silence is deafening.

It's all too much for me...

So I'll just sit here in the centre, wistfully looking to the left, waiting for them to grow a brain... So many noble ideas, so few brains big enough to understand what to do with them...

22 Comments:

Blogger Jenni said...

I don't disagree with most of what you said, but I do want to say that I think there is a good amount of people who are truly anti-war, regardless of who starts it. I know I count myself among that number.

April 08, 2005 7:14 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Yes, Jenni. Tell me, did the Democrats kick up a fuss in the run-up to the first Gulf war? Because here in Aust we had a Labor govt at the time and they never said boo. Bob Hawke, the Labor prime minister at the time just went all-the-way-with-George-Bush (Snr). And then of course Iraq had ten years of sanction-war in which about a million Iraqi children died and I do believe that Clinton had no trouble with maintaining the sanctions and sending missisles into Afghanistan.

My point? Both major parties in the US and in Aust are totally under the thumb of the Robber Barons of Big Business and therefore will go to war anytime they're told that it's "in our interests" and so a true pacifist cannot in all conscience belong to either party.

Well, that's my view this week anyhow, Jenni... :-)

April 08, 2005 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Rowen said...

While I think there's a lot of merit in your post, the war example took it a step too far, I think. The big difference between Iraqs I and II was the situation going in. The first war didn't have half the problems of the second one, so I am quite happy being pro GWI and anti GWII. For example, I was pro-Afghanistan.

So your characterisation of the Left as resolutely pro-war or anti-war is shaky, I think. Hopefully war-as-last-resort and only when justified.

But then the right would argue the same position :)

April 08, 2005 8:36 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Rowen, re Gulf War I (GWI): It all depends how you view the machinations leading up to that war.

As I understand it, Saddam was quite chummy with the US ambassador at the time and told them that he was invading and why. The ambassador, quite deliberately I believe, led him to believe that the US had no interest in getting involved (diplomatic speak for "Go for it!").

I believe the US deliberately suckered Saddam into invading Kuwait so they would have an excuse to:
(1) Establish a major and permanent presence smack-bang in the center of the middle east oil zone.
(2) Trash Saddam's military capability.

I think GWI was just as corrupt as the second one it's just it didn't look that way because
Saddam had been suckered into going ahead with his attack (there's no way he would have done so if the US ambassador had told him theey would bulldoze him into oblivion if he tried).

So you may as well see GWI as a brilliantly machiavellian strategy by the Yanks. And we all got sucked in at the time.

There are transcripts of the ambassador's meeting with Saddam, by the way. They're in the public domain.

April 08, 2005 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Rowen said...

Yeah, the role of the ambassador in the first conflict probably made Saddam think he had the green light from the US. It's been characterised as a stuff-up (miscommunication) on the ambassador's part. Whether that's true or not (I'm inclined to believe in human stupidity over conspiracy most of the time), it was certainly not on the same scale of deception as GWII.

They had UN sanction, a real coalition of nations, and they only drove Saddam back over the border (they didn't drive to Bagdad). I know there was a range of political reasons for keeping Saddam in power, but it limited the scope of the acion to countering Saddams agression. I probably would have supported the removal of Huissain as a part of that original campaign.

Even on it's worst day, GWI is still squeaky clean compared to WMD, Saddam-al Qaida link, mushroom-cloud-over-washington, human shredder, mobile laboratories, etc etc. So I'm only really anti-this-war, although if Bush ratchets up the rhetoric against Syria or Iran, I'll be needing some convincing.

April 08, 2005 9:32 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Ok, Rowen, so what you're saying is that you're quite happy with a war as long as it's not blatantly obvious that there's bullshit going down. You don't mind if there's bullshit as long as you don't find out about, right? The dead or the reasons for their deaths don't really bother you as long as those "reasons" seem to be believable, right?

There's a book list in the right-hand side-bar, Rowen. Have you read any of those? There's some well researched stuff there by Blum, Vidal and Chomsky.

For over 100 years now the US has been waging war in order to serve the interests of American Big Business. Up until GWII the lies were well-concealed and the bullshit was well-crafted and the people well-brainwashed before/during/after each episode.

But hey, five hundred dead Aussies in Vietnam is chickenshit. Nothing. Everyone knows all communists had to be killed. Three million Vietnamese dead don't bother you either, eh Rowen? Most of them were those stinking commie bastards who deserved to die for daring to subscribe to a wealth-sharing economic model from which American Big Business stood to make zip, zero, nada! (Can you guess now why we had to have a cold war?) Vietnam just got a bit warm, that's all...

Oh yes, Rowen, there are "good" wars and "bad" wars, aren't here? Ever been to one, Rowen? Nah... Thought not... You saw it on TV didn't you? Read about in Time magazine and The Daily Telegraph eh? You were "well" informed, weren't you, Rowen?
And that's like being there, isn't it? Want me to come to your place for Sushi and tell you what it's reallylike in a warzone?

What it's like to see soldiers dying becasue politicians are playing chess?

What it's like seeing innocent women and childern being blown to bits or burned to a crisp? Can you imagnine the smell? Have you ever wiped the soft, warm, wet globs of grey matter off your face after the guy beside had his head blown off?

Oh yes, Rowen, there are "good" wars and there are "bad", aren't there? There are "necessary" wars and "unecessary" wars, aren't there? It's so easy to be certain of that till you're in one, Rowen, till your suburb disintegrates under a B-52 "Arclight" bomb-run. Till your little sistter steps on a cluster bomb tommorrow and her niece steps on one ten years from now, long after the "liberators" have gone home after having set up a wonderfully efficient blood-sucking capitalist system where there used to be a well-working socialist one.

You've lost me, Rowen, because it's clear to me that you have no bloody idea, but that doesn't stop you from condoning "good" wars.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....

April 08, 2005 10:31 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Oh, I forgot to mention...

It's not safe to come to this blog...

There's a war-crazed Vietnam vet here, and he refuses to take medication...

But I have no symppathy left...

I gave you all the clues you needed, up there in the blog description and also in the disclaimer immediately under it...

But still you came...

The horror... the horror...

Don't you love Wagner? I love Wagner...

April 08, 2005 10:55 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Gerry, I am going to beg ignorance on your question. During the first Gulf war, I was in elementary school. I know I was unhappy with the war though, because my grandfather's Reserve unit got sent to Kuwait. :)

I don't think the Dems are perfect. Far from it. I think of it as a coalition, where I align myself with other people for political people power. I don't always agree with everything the Dems do, and sometimes I vocally disagree. But more often than not, the Democratic party is where I belong.

April 08, 2005 1:23 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

No worries, Jenni. The point I wanted to make was that if one was truly anti-war, and given that both parties will keep generating war because it will be increasingly "in America's interests" to do so, one could not possibly vote for either party. One would have to create a new party which would absolutely refuse to go to war short of a military invasion of the US (terrorist attacks don't count, but that a whole other post if someone wants to dabate that), and then more than half of your country would have to vote for that party. That ain't going to happen, so three things are utterly predictable:
(1) Wars involving the Us will continue until the US collapses economically (and that's a circular thing becasue if it looks like collapsing, the US will go to war.)
(2) Terrorism against the US will continue (and perhaps increase catastrophically) whilst the US persists with its mad dream (nightmare)of economic and political hegemony.
(3) Truly anti-war people will keep voting Democrat and feel frustrated and betrayed because the worse things get and the more the fear gets cranked up, the more the people will vote far-right (which of course the Christian Fundies will exploit nicely.)

Good luck. This shit's going to destroy us too. Let's all sing a song like "Accentuate The Positive" while the world tears itself to pieces. And Nero fiddled...

April 08, 2005 3:41 PM  
Blogger the urban fox said...

But you don't need to join any club. Feel the way you feel, with all the individual views you have, and let that be enough.

Why feel disappointed if groups of people who self-identify as "left wing" disagree with you on certain issues? There's no need. Bigotry comes in all stripes, as you so perceptively say.

I know what you mean when you talk about wanting a political "home". It's understandable that you seek to align yourself with an existing group. Human beings like to belong to a common cause. But, speaking from personal experience, it may be the case that you simply can't find any group which matches your views 100%. I guess in that case, you either have to join in one group and agree to disagree on the points in contention, or you resign yourself to being an independent thinker with no firm allegiances to any group.

Maybe it's helpful not to think of left, right and centre. Maybe look at political belief as having a third dimension, namely independent thought and your own instinctive morality, which means you don't need to stick to those rigid definitions of left/right? Would that give you more peace of mind?

April 09, 2005 1:05 AM  
Blogger the urban fox said...

Thinking about it, I guess you could put all "independents" in one big, tolerant, dialogue-welcoming, diversity-encouraging group and feel the community that way. Right, I'm just off to design our club logo...

April 09, 2005 1:07 AM  
Blogger Brownie said...

The Late Pope shook his finger at them and said 'No more war' - to think Bush had the nerve to face the man's coffin. the creep.

April 09, 2005 8:50 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Brownie, I think he's too stupid to know that that was a PR blunder (or maybe it wasn't?), I dunno... But, yeah, I'd have yelled out YANKEE GO HOME !!! just before they removed me from the crowd... :-)

Fox,

April 10, 2005 7:58 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Ooos, I forgot to respond to fox in the previous comment.

Fox, I divide the political spectrum into left (pro-socialist) and right (pro-capitalist) in my simplistic little world (but I guess these terms mean different things to different people), anyhow, in the way I define it, I'm left, yet many things on the left abhor me so intelsely I am replelled back to the "centre". The fundamentalism, the hypocrisy regarding war/violence, the bigotry that lurks there which is only matched by the far right. So many wankers, so few bullets (oops my pacifism slipped there...)

Yes, I hear what you're saying about independents, but I think there needs to be a "100 monkeys effect" in the public thinking with regard to the need to transmorgify capitalism into socialism, like, yesterday - BUT WITHOUT ANY VIOLENCE. That's why I look wistfully to the left but get driven back to the centre by the lunacy I see lurking there.

April 10, 2005 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerry, I agree with everything you said, but I would take exception with "For over 100 years now the US has been waging war in order to serve the interests of American Big Business." Try 300+ years; don't forget the French and Indian Wars. G.W. (no not this one, the original) was almost bankrupt and "big business" back then was real estate with lots of slave labor (blacks, indentured servants, prisoners, etc.). Raising cotton and tobacco was very labor intensive and wore out the soil in short order, so you have to do something about the original inhabitants (sound familiar?) and since they didn't make good slaves (the bastards kept running away) the only viable option was genocide. But it was OK because they were heathens, read: non-Christian, (sound familiar?) and my illustrious ancestors were Christians.

DS

(the sarcasm is intentional)

April 10, 2005 9:13 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

DS, "the original inhabitants [...] didn't make good slaves (the bastards kept running away)..." Ahhh... now I understand what you guys mean by "land of the free, home of the brave"...

April 10, 2005 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Touche.

DS

April 10, 2005 10:31 AM  
Blogger Douglas said...

Gerry,

As a communist, I am somewhat glad that you have stopped shooting commies and started using words instead.

The Left is a pretty big place covering the Anarchists of various hues, Communists (Marxist, Marxist-Lennists, Maoists, Trotskyists, Stalinists, etc.), Socialists, ParEcon, Greenies, liberals (both in and out of the party), Labourites, Hippies, etc. Sometimes I think there are more labels than people on the Left.

The traits you describe are very applicable to various groupings on the Left, and even in my own party. I ascribe these traits to the lack of confidence about one's political position. It is easier to shout someone else down than to engage them. Once they gain confidence through education (self and Party), they can engage even those on the Right (who are not all raving lunatics as one may presuppose).

I think the real questions are not who is on the Left, Right, or the Centre, but what type of society we are living in, what type of society we want to live in, and how we are going to achieve that. For me, my current answers are a change from a Capitalist society to Communist society achieved through a revolution led by a Leninist Party.

To achieve that, my political activity is guided by what has the potential for the greatest gains in political awareness. Protesting against the war in Afghanistan and Iraq exposes people to the role of big business in the prosecution of wars. This is a big awakening of people's political consciousness for minimal effort on the Party's part.

Whereas the war in Darfur will require a far greater eductation effort to make the link between Capitalism and the genocide in Sudan. At present, minimal effort is being put into that issue.

This allocation of Party resources is borne out on the streets. We get a far greater response from people about Iraq then Afghanistan and Palestine than Darfur, Kurdistan, Morocco, Algeria, Congo, Thailand, Myanmar, Aceh, etc.

Are all of these and others worthy causes? Yes. Can we help them all at once? No, there are too few of us at present. Should we put out the fires or tackle the pyromanic who is lighting them? I would say the latter as well as the former. If we put all of our effort into fighting fires, the pyromanic is still at large. By pinning the pyromanic down, less fires are lit. (This analogy is stretched further than it should be).

Sorry to clog up your blog.

April 11, 2005 12:57 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Douglas, "clogging up my blog"? hardly. I wish I could attract more comments like yours. It is intelligent. Thank you.

Shooting communists? Hah! I know where I stand now. If anyone ever ordered me to shoot at another human being, I would turn the gun on that person and shoot them. If everyone did that, there could be no wars.

One of the problems I have with "classical" communism, from my under-educated point of view, is that they have been quick in the past to preach "gun barrel revolution" rather than Gandhiesque type revolution where violence is eschewed.

Even that generalised kind of leftism that oozes out of the pages of the Green Left Weekly offends me with it's blatant support for people in the union movement advocating and excusing violence, abuse, and harassment as valid union tactics.

How can a person truly committed to peace and non-violence take them seriously?

I love what S11 stand for. I hate the violence and vandalism they bring to the protest.

Etc etc etc...

I argue that if the left does not become totally pacifist and absolutely committed to not getting involved with or supporting acts of physical or psychological violence, they will remain stuffed and ineffectual as a movement. They will never garner the numbers they need to win anything except localised battles and elevating thugs to power.

But more to the point of the above post, if the left doesn't transcend its authoritarian or fundamentalist mentality, it'll remain ineffectual.

I t claims to be attacking intolerance and bigotry, and yet it displays intolerance and bigotry. The left has serious psychological and philosophical problems. Many of its individuals are merely pseudo-educated bigots, but bigots none the less. I may be no different except that I've had less pseudo-education, but I'll be damned if I'll align myself with an organisation as nuts as myself.

To misquote Graucho Marx, "I wouldn't join a party that would have me." :-)

April 11, 2005 10:35 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Hmm.

I'm a bit wary of commenting on this one, Gerry, as you've lived it and I haven't...

I am generally a pacifist, but I can think of circumstances where unfortunately war could be justified, as a last resort. Because although it's one of the prime evils, I can think of worse evils.

(Although of course it's easy for me to say, as I've never been in a war.)

I presume your opposition is to starting wars, rather than defending them once someone else has invaded you (Europe in WW2, the Vietnamese in Vietnam).

If the international community established a genuine criminal justice system, charged a monstrous human rights abuser and summonsed him to appear, and he didn't, would you agree that military action would be justified to bring him before the court? If not, isn't that carte blanche to monsters to murder and torture their own people, knowing that no-one will ever stop them?

BTW - I was firmly opposed to this recent war. War was not a "last resort", it was their first.

ps I apologise if this comes across as arrogant or objectionable, Gerry; I think you came down pretty hard on Rowen. Of course we've never experienced what you have. But does that mean we can't comment on the subject?

April 11, 2005 3:53 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

Gerry,

Thank you for your kind words.

Your response highlighted a very real problem for the Communist Parties of today. The salient images of Communist Revolutions are the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917; Fidel and Che fighting in the mountains; Dien Bien Phu; the Long March; etc.

Yes, there are Communist Parties involved in armed struggles in The Philippines, Colombia, Peru, Nepal, Yemen, Palestine, etc. Their reality is that of death squads, occupation armies, paramilitaries, rampant corruption, widespread poverty, etc. That is, they are literally fighting for survival.

Potential Party recruits are either attracted or repelled by this violent image. We try to weed out the former and overcome the anxieties of the latter.

The violent image of Communists does definitely impact on recruitment. This is why the Capitalist media gleefully plays it up.

A very good example of this is, as you pointed out, S11. There were wankers who went around building barricades ("...playing at being revolutionaries" as Trotsky would say.) Comrades tried to talk them out of this madness but to no avail. I remember seeing the savagery of the police attack on the second day with the Inspectors and senior officers desperately trying to calm the rampaging police. Yet, it was the demonstrators who were blamed for the violence.

And there is the example of Merlin Luck who sat in silence with tape over his mouth while holding up a sign, and was accused of being aggressive.

For those who want to hold up Jesus as a man of peace, they should consider what he did in Mt. 21:12-13, Mk. 11:15-19, and Lk. 19:45-46.

April 11, 2005 8:03 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

MrLefty, and Douglas, I'll answer you both thus:

Alistair Hulett, whose Scottish folk songs (a tad left wing) I had the honour of hearing at a folk festival recently, had this to say, in part, speaking about World War I and Glasgow's shipyard workers:

The leader of Red Clydeside was John Maclean. When the war was declared he said, "It is the task of socialists to build class patriotism, to convince workers not to slaughter each other for a sordid world capitalism." The Red Clydesiders set out to build an anti-war movement, and to turn it into a movement against the capitalist system that created the war in the first place.

Note Maclean's term "world capitalism". Note also the era - circa 1915. They ( I've always loved the Scots) were refusing to fight for global capitalism way back then.

World War I overall: According to Wikipedia, over 9 million men would die on the battlefield, and nearly that many more people would die on the home front from food shortages, starvation, genocide, and being caught up in the fighting.

So, about 18 million died, and I think it's fair to say an equal number were severely and permanently incapacitated. 36 million very serious casualties. Was it worth it or could other means of resolving the conflict have been tried before engaging in carnage of this size?

In a previous post I said (in part):

The Americans and their allies were pure aggressors and therefore Ho Chi Minh had even greater justification for armed struggle against these mass-murdering mongrels (of which I was one).

All of this notwithstanding, there were better, more enlightened methods available to Ho Chi Minh, but given his time in history, he may be forgiven for not realising this. After all, Gandhi's work had yet to reach fruition in India.

But now, in 2005, we have many examples which show us that peaceful people power is a force no government or aggressor can stand against, especially if the eyes of the world can be kept on the struggle.


Read the lot.


And in the comments section of a still earlier post I said (in part):

I guess pacifism is regarded as a quaint eccentricity by most people. But I believe if people want it to work, it can work. Mass peaceful resistance is, I think, the most powerful and effective way to resist any aggressor/oppressor. It's also the only way to retain one's integrity.

I still say most left wing groups justify violence by the fact they fail to rule it out, and that is why, as a pacifist I cannot have anything to do with such groups. I know the right wing is just as bad, but since I'm left-leaning, my search is for a pacifist left wing group. I cannot find one.

This whole world is riddled with armed conflicts right now because in every case both sides believe they have the moral high ground. The only thing that can halt this shit is pacifism. I would even say that it is playing into the hands of the right to resort to violence.

I assert that the reason pacifism isn't entrenched as a doctrine in the left is because of the dominance of the idea that armed resistance is a valid "the last resort". Whilst one believes this "last resort" is an option, one can actually never practice true pacifism.


Read the lot.

I think from all of this you can eclect my response to your comments.

Mr Lefty, you also said I think you came down pretty hard on Rowen. Of course we've never experienced what you have. But does that mean we can't comment on the subject?

I was hard on Rowen because s/he too readily dismisses the ambassador's comments to Saddam Hussein as some sort of "minor accident". In diplomacy there are no accidents. She (the ambassador) would have been thoroughly briefed on which line to take with Saddam (they already knew he was about to invade). Saddam was no idiot. If the ambassador had told him if he invades the US and its allies will crush him, he would, in my opinion, have backed right off. Real quick. Only a lunatic would take on the military might of the US. And it is this difference in the ambassador's response that convinces me the US was suckering him into a position where they could gain huge strategic advantage over the middle east oil fields, bugger the lives of 200,000 "Ayrab scum" So, I was hard on Rowen because either s/he was uninformed and nevertheless found it convenient to assume the war was necessary and justified, or s/he intentionally chose to dismiss what I believe was a deliberate diplomatic ambush of Saddam by the US ambassador acting on Bush's orders.

Remember, if I'm right, 200,000 Iraqi troops were sucked into being butchered, mere pawns in a chess game over oil, just so the US could establish permanent bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In both places the royal families are sucking the country's oil revenue dry and both are mere puppets of the US. The poeple of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait hold different views I believe. I stress that I'm convinced that the war would have been avoided had the US issued the sternest possible warning to Saddam via their ambassador, rather than give him the diplomatic nod to attack.

Anyway if Rowen thinks I owe him/her an apology, Rowen can interact with me about that and I'll consider it.

I've just had it with armchair generals forming opinions that justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of human lives and it especially offends me if I think the person is just taking that position because they find it convenient for some rather flimsy reason.

Let it be a lesson to all that on this blog you're likely to be verbally savaged if you think you can justify mass murder without having sufficient reason to do so. This is a pacifist blog and not one for apologists for war. Simple.

Any questions?

April 11, 2005 11:59 PM  

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