The Early Days of a Better Nation

Monday, March 24, 2003

I've updated my earlier, and bad-tempered, post on Americans.
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Sunday, March 23, 2003

My views on the war:

I opposed it before it started and will continue to do so even if WMD are found and/or the US and UK troops are welcomed into Baghdad by cheering crowds. WMD and the iniquitous and unpopular nature of the Ba'athist regime (which I've opposed as long as I've been politically active, i.e. since 1976) are not the real issues in the war. The real issues are the attempt to set up a regime which is compliant with the US; that is, to secure US control over the second largest oil reserves in the world, and to have forces in place for when the welcome day when the House of Saud is in Switzerland or on the lamp-posts of Riyadh. Control of oil, and strategic interest: that's what it's about, and that's imperialism.

Now that the war has started, there is huge pressure to 'back our boys' and hope for a quick and relatively bloodless victory. While that is indeed possible, if not probable, I don't share that hope. I do want the war over as quickly as possible and with the minimum casualties on all sides, and I don't wish any ill on the people doing the actual fighting, but the peaceful end I want to see is the immediate stopping of the war by mass opposition in the invading states, including the one in which I live.

The quicker and easier this war of naked imperialist aggression is for the US and UK, the more probability there is of more and worse wars to come. The US regime and its contemptible British and other accomplices would be encouraged to bomb their way down the target list, all the way to China and beyond. The rulers of the world should be regarded and resisted as if they were giant lizards from another star, which as far as humanity is concerned they might as well be.

I oppose this war regardless of its course, conduct, and outcome. The only support I give to the UK and US troops is to agitate for their immediate and unconditional return home.
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I went on the Edinburgh antiwar demo yesterday, excellently covered here by Charlie Stross .

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America: a country where ridiculous proportions of the population believe they were created by god, abducted by aliens, and attacked by Iraq. Also where some people believe that someone who burns a paper drawing of a US flag is as good as asking to be crushed under a bulldozer. It's not just the Right. Every political persuasion in the US contains many more stupid people than it or its equivalent does in Europe. On the Left Bank of the Seine you see poststructuralists smoking, flirting, and eating veal. Poststructuralism in America gave us La-La Land liberal toytown totalitarianism. French Maoism gave us Sartre and Althusser. American Maoism gave us Klonsky and Avakian. (I could go on.)

I know, like, and respect lots of Americans. Most of the weblogs I follow are written by Americans. Many of the books I read are written by Americans. But this particular distribution curve has a long tail at the low end. Why? The answer I've come up with, after some agonising over that question, is this:

Not because Americans are more stupid than anyone else, but because there is no American party of the Left. There is no labour (labor) party. There is no liberal party. (On any scale that registers, I mean. There are Liberal and Labor parties here and there.) The Democratic Party isn't a liberal party. It has liberals within it, which is a different thing. Nor is it a labour party, though it gets support from organised labour.

This means that the American Right can indulge in lying and character assassination with almost as much impunity as if it dominated a one-party state. And it means that the American Left either buries itself in the Democratic Party, where it's treated as an embarrassment, or spins its wheels with a complete lack of social traction (in academia or in tiny irrelevant sects) and embarrasses itself.

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