Sunday, April 08, 2007

Exploiting the "Perpetual Peace" Movement

In 1984 Orwell observed that the State uses war to rally unquestioning support for its policies. Thus 1984's three States sought perpetual war.

Yet it occurs to me that the opposite is also true. Some people hope to benefit from a peace movement. And if so, surely they have an incentive to desire a perpetual peace movement -- which can only be achieved through perpetual war.

It does seem that various elements of the Left are less interested in stopping the war than in exploiting the peace movement. Voters for Peace wants to unite the peace and "climate change" movements. But that's no way to build an antiwar coalition. A "coalition" is a union of disparate groups around a single issue. Once you introduce other "progressive" issues, you drive away libertarians and conservatives who oppose the war, but who disagree with the "climate change" crowd.

So is the Left more interested in building a large antiwar movement (the best way to stop the war), or is it more interested in exploiting the antiwar movement as a recruiting drive for its other efforts?

John Walsh writes that United for Peace and Justice is preventing Libertarians and Greens from speaking at their rallies, so as to curry favor with the Democrats. Again, is the peace movement to be a broad coalition that can effectively stop the war, or is it to be a subsidiary of the Democratic Party, to be used to co-opt voters for the "antiwar" Nancy Pelosi?

Some "conservatives" pine for 9/11. Much as they may regret the tragedy of that day, I sense from reading their posts and blogs that a dark side within many "conservatives" misses those feelings of national unity, everyone rallying around Republican leaders, flags everywhere. Heady days. It's not something they dare admit even to themselves, but yes, many "conservatives" do miss 9/11. (See Sorry, Haters for an interesting indie film about a disturbed woman who misses 9/11.)

But are "progressives" any better? I think not. I suspect that many of them pine for the 1960s peace movement, which they owned, and jealously want to own again. They don't want their precious and fun-filled peace movement spoiled by the presence of libertarians and conservatives, however helpful the latter groups may be in shortening the war.

Something else progressives dare not admit to themselves: a fun-filled antiwar movement requires a war. So for "progressives" to enjoy the 1960s (whether to relive it, or for the first time), the war must continue. A perpetual peace movement requires a perpetual war.

But why pick on conservatives and progressives? I've met libertarians, both pro- and antiwar, with ulterior motives. I know one Libertarian Party officer who quietly supported the war (refusing to oppose it when I twice confronted him in 2002). But by 2004, when the war was a done deal, and he saw that his prospects in the Party were best served by spinning himself as antiwar, he began to sell himself as an antiwar leader.

Of course, I also know of pro-war libertarians who hope to curry favor with the Republicans. These pro-war libertarians are sell-outs, but they are more pathetic than Republican or Democratic sell-outs, who at least sell out for real power. What can one say of Libertarians who sell their "sacred honor" for crumbs from the table? For an invite to a beltway party, or for a nice mention from some celebrity pundit or politician? Such Libertarians not only sell out, they sell out cheap.

So yes, there are people across the political spectrum exploiting the war/antiwar issues for their own ulterior motives.

My own suggestion: those who sincerely oppose the war should set aside extraneous issues (like "climate change") and focus on building alliances with anyone of any ideology who opposes the war.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Libertarian Presidential Candidates Are Political Lightweights

I've looked over the current crop of declared Libertarian Party presidential candidates, all of whom offer statements in the current LP News. All hope to win the Libertarian Party presidential nomination in 2008.

I like some of George Phillies's positions. And I had dinner with Dave Hollist at the 2006 national convention. Both seem nice enough, but both are political lightweights.

So are the rest of the declared candidates. Not having met them, I can only go by their photos and statements, and what I see are the same old slick suits and toothy grins, spouting the same libertarian boilerplate. (Liberty good! Government bad! Duh!)

Many of these candidates come across like motivational speakers, like hucksters and opportunists and careerist libertarians, hawking their books and tapes, claiming expertise in marketing, making wild promises about their ability to spread the message and attract votes.

All of our declared candidates reaffirm how much the Libertarian Party needs Karen Kwiatkowski. I'm told that in April 2006, Kwiatkowski declared her intention to run for the LP vice presidential nomination in 2008. That'd be a shame. None of our current candidates has Kwiatkowski's Pentagon background, her credibility with the media, her sheer -- dare I use the word? -- gravitas!

It'd be a shame if Kwiatkowski were to run as a mere sidekick to one of the LP's lightweights. That's why I urge all LP members to lobby for Kwiatkowski. On listservs and blogs, at conventions and dinner clubs, urge her to run for president, and urge your fellow libertarians to support her candidacy.