Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Zionism In The Light of Jerusalem

Wissam Nassar | DPA


Donald Trump's official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an embarrassment. A salutary embarrassment.

It’s a clumsy, all-too-obvious unmasking of decades of bipartisan U.S. policy whose contempt for Palestinians has been cloaked with a smile and a handshake.


As such, it's an embarrassment for the Zionist political and media elite that prefers to operate behind smiles and handshakes, and not flaunt their power.


It's an embarrassment to liberal Zionists and “peace process” promoters everywhere—in the American political parties and media, in European conservative and social democrat governments, and in Jewish Zionist organizations. For fifty years, they have laser-focused attention on the post-’67 “occupation,” and done all that they can [nothing concrete], in solidarity with the Israeli Jewish peace movement [dwindling to insignificance in an increasingly fascistic political culture], to end the occupation [ minimize its cost to the Jewish state, ‘cause “no concessions, no withdrawals, no Palestinian state” is already proclaimed Israeli policy].


It's an embarrassment to the Arab monarchs and the Palestinian Authority functionaries, who for decades have collaborated in the task of subduing Palestinian rage as Israel went about its colonizing project, holding out the promise that the good American Daddy and his kinder, gentler Israeli Jewish progeny would one day reward the Palestinians for their good behavior.


It’s an embarrassment to those liberals who want to portray Donald Trump as a uniquely evil interloper imposed on American politics by a foreign power, rather than understand him as the product of an American political culture that they helped to create while obtusely refusing to recognize what they were doing.


The only parties who are not embarrassed are the “hard”—that is, intellectually honest and consistent—Zionists in Israel and the United States (many liberal Democrats included) and Donald Trump himself, who is immune to embarrassment.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sticks and Stones: Free Speech And Punching Politics



Many Americans, and not only those on the left, were rightfully outraged in August by the sight of hundreds of torch-bearing “white nationalists”—i.e., white supremacists, explicit racists and fascists, the KKK, and Stormfront—marching through the streets of Charlottesville to protest the removal of a monument to a warrior “hero” of the slave system of the Confederacy. And hundreds of counter-demonstrators, from various political and religious tendencies, were on the scene to make that outrage known.

The melee that resulted, which ended in the killing of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, brought to a boil the debate about free speech and aggressive physical violence that has been percolating among various corners of what's called "the left" in this country since the sucker punch of Richard Spencer during his on-the-street TV interview in January.

The question is: In our country today, is it acceptable, even necessary, to deny right-wing, characterizable-as-“fascist,” political opponents the right to express their views in public, with whatever means necessary, whether that be legal censorship or preemptive physical force?

There is now a significant cohort of people—40% of millennials, according to Pew Research—who answer that question “Yes.”

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Rifle on the Wall: A Left Argument for Gun Rights
(Reprise)

(This article, which was published on Counterpunch, is a condensed and updated version of an essay that was published on this site in 2013, and can be found here. See also related links below.)





"That rifle on the wall of the labourer's cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there."
–George Orwell


As can be expected, in the aftermath of the horrific mass murder committed in Las Vegas by Stephen Paddock, the issue of “gun control” and “gun violence” comes to the fore again. Reprising some of the points I made in an essay on the subject after the Sandy Hook shooting, I want to argue against the impulse to use this event to eliminate what the marxist and socialist left has historically recognized as an important right.

Let’s start with the basic difference in principle: Some people consider the citizen’s right to possess firearms a fundamental political right.

The political principle at stake is simple: to deny the state the monopoly of armed force, and, obversely, to empower the citizenry, to distribute the power of armed force among the people. The “sub-political” concerns—hunting, collecting, individual self-defense—are valid in themselves, but they are not as important to the gun rights question as the political concern about the distribution of power in a polity. 

This is not a right-wing position. Only in the ridiculous political discourse of the United States, where Barack Obama is a marxist, can citizens' right to gun ownership be considered a purely right-wing demand. The notion that an armed populace should have a measure of power of resistance to the heavily armed power of the state is, if anything, a populist principle, and has always been part of the revolutionary democratic traditions of the left. Per George, above, and Karl, here: “The whole proletariat must be armed at once with muskets, rifles, cannon and ammunition… Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”

That’s because left socialists who hold a marxist analysis of capitalist political economy have a particular understanding of the state—including our American capitalist state; for them, it’s an apparatus whose main purpose is to protect class rule and its accompanying injustices, and to project compliance-inducing aggression on behalf of the American elite and its favored allies — locally, nationally, and internationally. They understand that any mitigations of these injustices and aggressions are not the products of the liberal state’s inherent neutrality and altruism. They are the hard-won, always-precarious, fruits of social movements that scare the liberal capitalist state into forgoing particular wars, advancing particular minority and civil rights, establishing remunerative social welfare policies, etc.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fool Me Twice: Trojan Horse Democrats Pile Into the House of Single-Payer



Duplicitous Democrats are trying to sabotage single-payer, again.

It’s great that more than a third of Democratic senators have signed on to co-sponsor Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-All bill. It’s a potentially strong bill that’s been welcomed by single-payer activist organizations like Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and National Nurses United (NNU), and it represents a victory for the tireless work of single-payer activists and the popular pressure they stoked. It is also, we must recognize, only possible because of Bernie’s insistent promotion of healthcare as a right, in a campaign that widened the field of American political discourse.

Above all, it is a result of continuing disgust with American for-profit health insurance system. It marks the exasperation with Obamacare’s half-assed attempt to patch up that system, and the rejection of the even crueler Republican schemes. 

At the very least, this bill puts single-payer “on the table” of legislative action and public discussion. The “public discussion” part is perhaps the most important. People will now hear about single-payer, and its advocates will not be completely shut out of media coverage from Fox to PBS, as they are now. Even the Democratic Party will have to talk about it.

But please, please, do not be fooled. It does not mean that most, or any, of those co-sponsoring Democratic senators actually support single-payer. Most of those Democrats have signed on because they felt politically forced to, because they knew they could not face their constituents if they didn’t. But many of them do not support single-payer, have no intention of actually working to make it happen, and will, in fact, do their best to undermine and prevent it.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Donald The Destroyer: Assessing The Trump-Effect

Newsweek.com

Oh please say to me
You'll let me be your man
And please say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
Now, let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

So, we’ve officially gone from The West Wing to Animal House. To the regret of Democrats and liberals, Donald Trump cuts a presidential image far removed from the Sorkinite Aristotelian Quaalude (h/t Emmet Penney) of a Jed Bartlett in the Oval Office. To the chagrin of Republicans and corporate conservatives, his demeanor increasingly resembles the adolescent antics of a Bluto punching it out ringside at the WWF. Politicians and commentators from both sides of the narrow aisle are all shocked and saddened at the ongoing insult to American “presidentialness.”

In a recent irruption of his self-sabotaging panglossia, Trump has given a bizarre interview to the New York Times in which, among other gems: 1) He warned the Special Counsel to stay away from his businesses.  2) He stated that health insurance costs $12 a year. 3) He taught his interviewers that the head of the FBI does not report to the Attorney General. And 4) In a series of blurts that I find particularly bizarre and telling, he repeatedly emphasized that French President Emmanuel Macron is a “strong” guy who “loves holding my hand… people don’t realize he loves holding my hand...He’s a very good person. And a tough guy…but he does love holding my hand.” As the man with the cigar might say, textbook symptomatic utterance.  (It's such a feeling...I can't hide. I can't hide. I can't hide.)

These are all signs of Trump's complete ignorance regarding policy fundamentals as well as his overwhelming narcissism. It's quite a bonus that it comes so obviously tinged with a familiar “bromantic”--i.e., per cigar-man, homo-erotic--attraction for strong men who (he imagines) give him the love he so desperately needs. There are charming versions of that in the playfulness of the locker room or at the chessboard, but it's somewhat more disturbing as a central, unrecognized obsession of the pussy-grabbing leader of the most powerful country in the world, whose discourse seems to whirl around a black hole of narcissism and need. It makes for a hollow and dangerous man.

Featured Post From The Archive:

Hillary’s Hide-and-Seek

This Sunday’s New York Times ( NYT ) article by Amy Chozicko , headlined “Issues in Hillary Clinton’s Past Leave Her Muted in Furor...