Wrote this as a response to a YouTube video from the latest episode of Bill Maher's HBO series, on which he was interrupted several times by various 9/11 Truth protestors, because of disparaging remarks he'd made about them and their cause in an earlier episode of the show.
My comments reproduced here specifically relate to comments made by an "old hack" to the blog entry at http://invereskstreet.blogspot.com/2007/10/and-cows-disagree-with-me.html, which is part of the Inveresk Street Ingrate blog, run by a MySpace friend of mine, Darren, whom I address directly towards the very end of my remarks here, and who's, as he puts it, "the only living SPGB(Socialist Party of Great Britain)member living in New York"(City, that is), and to counter-comments made by Darren about Maher and Ron Paul, the 1988 Libertarian Party Presidential candidate and current House Republican Represenative from Texas and the only Republican Presidential candidate running who is, at least publicly, anti-Iraq War.
Few more items to put down here before we jump into the text below, and that's one, I was a bad commentator to the topic because at no time in my comments did I mention anything about the 9/11 Truth protestors and their beliefs, as well as the way Maher and his staff dealt with them, two, I was way over-long and damned prolix, as you will see below, in my responses to the comments about Maher, and three, I got way off-topic in bringing up the whole What's Wrong With The American Left As I See It thread in my response.
To Darren and those who read the blog at the original site, my apologies, for having done those, as it's one thing for me to get all wordy and shit on my own blog, but it's uite another for me to do it on someone else's, as am merely a guest on the latter, and don't have the right to rabbit on and on and on, like I do here.
Yeah, I've done it in the past, have done so at present, and probably at some point, will do so in future.
But, it's better for everyone concerned, and far better manners, for me to keep my remarks as brief and on-topic as possible, and will have to work harder to make those much more of regular habits than I have.
The last item before we get to it, is to say that these following comments below are mine, and are exclusively my responsibility for posting. I don't claim to speak for others, generally, as it's wrong and egotistical of me to do so, and I generally think, unless one can actually produce hard evidence backing the assertion up that one also speaks for others, it is in general.
My remarks are based on a combination of my experiences, such as they have been, on the Nevadan and Las Vegas Left, and from what I've read in both the "mainstream" media and left and other political media, on-and offline, and reflect, for good or ill, my interpretations and reflections on them.
While I speak about the American, and, in one portion of the remarks below, the English-speaking Left, the fact is that most of what I say here is rooted in my worm's eye experiences of the Nevadan Left, and may not apply to other segments of the American Left, nor the Left in the English-speaking world. Also, some of these remarks are based, especially in spirit, on remarks made by George Orwell about the British Left in his 1937 book, The Road To Wigan Pier, in which he took the British Left, and specifically the Communist Party of Great Britain, to serious task for its failures to reach the bulk of the British working class and for its cultural flaws.
While there's a vast gulf between the Great Britain of seventy years ago, and the British Left of that time, and the American Left of 2007, there are still at least enough similarities, in my view, between the political positions and cultural defects found on both to warrant mentioning them here.
Also want to mention that there are plenty of individuals and some groups on the Nevadan and American Left I respect and admire.
It just frustrates me to see just how much time, energy and preciously few resources they have are often wasted on intellectual and political stances that end up going nowhere outside of the confines of those groups. To me, this is a real shame and pity, because, considering the many issues at hand that folks, especially so-called ordinary folks, have to deal with, and will have to deal with in the near future, that the Nevadan and American Left so often seems to blow it by not getting better organised, financed and mobilized, so they CAN get their messages out to the American public at large, and let them know that there ARE real alternatives to the conservative-moderate-liberal consensus on which the American governing classes, their allies and supporters, and the American public itself have settled over the past 30-40 years.
Good intentions and political and ideological purity won't cut it, and haven't, in my view, if the individuals and groups seeking power to make decisive, progressive changes for the better can't and won't even get themselves close to getting actual power to make those changes.
It shouldn't be just up to the Democratic Party, nor to Ralph Nader, to present those alternatives to the current social, political and economic order, and, quite probably, should NEVER have been.
Anyway, in closing, please remember that these are my opinions, and are just those-opinions, and, to use an old joke proverb about the relationship between opinions and arseholes being alike that I habitually over-use, they mean about as much as anyone else's out there in Internetland.
So, here we are, and here we go. Please read, and hope this provides some small measure of food for thought for y'all out there.
With that, let's get to it, and be seeing you.
Maher has always been a bit of a libertarian conservative at heart throughout his career, so am not surprised that he might like Ron Paul's stances on at least some issues.
That said, Paul may be anti-Iraq War, but, as Darren pointed out, he is also essentially an isolationist, libertarian conservative, at least from what little I've heard and read about the man and his positions.
Hence, I wouldn't vote for him if Jesus Christ Almighty, the Gautama Buddha,the Prophet Muhammad, and Vladimir Illych Lenin were to come from their respective resting places to the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, and offer anyone who voted for him free Bubble-Up, Rainbow Stew(Sorry, but am referencing the lyrics of a mid-'70's country music song here)and blow-jobs for everyone, everywhere, who voted for him in '08.
Libertarian conservatives, for the most part, whether in the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party in the US, or in some other political grouping, are essentially the kind of economic liberals whose ideological ancestors had no problem calling out the militia to shoot down unionists and working people in the street if they got even just the least bit uppity.
Those in the Libertarian Party are, generally speaking, essentially lower middle-class and working-class conservatives of mainly European-American descent, who are on the make, or at least would like to be.
Have known a few individual libertarian conservatives here in Nevada, where I live, who are reasonable folks, and for whom I have at least some personal and intellectual respect.
But, in my experience of the ones I've known here, that would be damned few in number.
One of the saddest things about being even marginally on the left in the English-speaking world, and especially in the US, is that Left-wing parties are, again, generally speaking, neither financed, organised nor led well enough to contest most local and state elections, let alone national ones.
That's a God-damned shame and pity, it is, because, even if you and Idisagree with the intellectual and other premises of, say, the Green Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Communist Party USA, the Socialist Workers' Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, or the various other small left parties and groups out there, the fact that most Americans don't even know they exist, nor could care less, means that the only substantial choices left to American voters, whether left-centrist or far left, are to either vote for Democratic Party candidates, who might promise one or two items in their campaign platforms, and forget about implementing them once in power, or to abstain from voting, period.
Now, if one goes the latter route, one's then confronted with the choice of using non-violent resistance of various sorts, or using violent resistance to seize power.
The biggest problem with non-violent resistance is that it takes quite a long time to plan and implement, and that its results may be quite scant much of the time.
With violent resistance, the biggest problem is, and it's actually quite similar to planning, organising and mobilising for election campaigns, is that one needs lots of money and other resources to successfully carry such a campaign out, and a large enough nucleus of people, at various levels of involvement with the movement, who are committed enough to see it through, succeed, fail or simply break even.
Fire-bombing a police station here, shooting a soldier or civil servant dead there, and other sorts of sporadic activities like those don't work all that well in persuading governments to change their policies, publics to rally to one's cause, and police and armed forces to either come over to one's side, or at least become neutral in the struggle between one's group and the governing classes. If anything, the kind of urban guerrilla warfare practised by groups like the Weather Underground and the SLA in the late '60's and early '70's back-fired badly on them, as it did on the South American groups like the Tupamaros and Motoneros, whose examples they followed, in that the police and other law enforcement agencies, and, by extension, the US governing classes they served at that time, were able to get a generally high level of support from the American public in cracking down on those groups.
Combine that with the often sheer ineptitude, both politically and militarily, shown by the Weathermen and SLA and other groups like them, and it's no surprise that they ended up, not victoriously triumphant, as they and their supporters would have liked, but as wretched failures who either ended up dead, imprisoned or on the run for long periods of time.
If there's anything that can be learnt from the failures of such groups, and I think there can, it's that any group, left, right and centre, hoping to seize power by armed force within the US had best take into account is that any such war cannot be fought on the cheap, whether in terms of money and other resources, or lives.
This means planning, organising and mobilising people and resources well in advance of starting such a campaign, just as one would with an election.
It means knowing the people and groups you want to have supporting you in your struggle, and targeting your messages to them in language they can readily understand, which means, at least in the case of Marxist-Leninists and the like, leaving the Marxist-speak behind in one's public messages.
Most Americans aren't familiar with that language, and have been conditioned to tune out, as nutty lefty radical, hippy-dippy, wackos who should go back to Russia, even if they came from Cleveland or San Jose, anyone who uses that sort of talk.
If you're of the Green-vegan-animal rights-lefty persuasion, leave out the romanticism about veganism, how animals have rights that are equivalent to those of humans, why everyone should be riding bikes, etc, if you want to reach most Americans in whatever public pronouncements you put out.
Most Yanks, even middle- and upper-middle-class ones, who are feeling increasingly pinched and insecure about their own, their kids' and even their grand-kids' futures are gonna make very little, if any, time for that line of reasoning and rhetoric.
Working-class and poor Americans, especially those in the African-American community who feel that European-Americans often care far more about the rights and lives of animals above their own,are generally gonna give even shorter shrift to that, than middle-class folks will.
Wanna reach those folks??? Talk to 'em about bread-and-butter issues, like why the Hell the stock market and the people who make money off of that are generally doing so well, but everyone else is struggling so hard just to get by, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and their expense in lives and resources that could be better used elsewhere, the inordinate cost of health care and of care for old folks and disabled folks, Social Security, and a whole bunch of other topics that hit people, especially so-called ordinary ones, right where they live.
Tell 'em what you and the people around you are going to DO about those issues and more in clear, concrete, easy-to-understand language that even the biggest dummy can readily understand, and leave the academic lefty language for those in the movement who speak and understand it.
Then, organise and mobilise yourselves to the point where you can begin to bring significant resources to bear in realising those solutions, even before taking power.
Nothing works better, I think, than a real and successful demonstration of your principles in action, and it's likely to gain at least a few more converts than just writing and talking about them will.
Everything I've said here can, and should, be applied to those left parties and groups who are looking to fight an electoral campaign, or at least a non-violent resistance campaign, as much as any violent campaign to seize power, and their use in the former two paths has a huge advantage over the last-named, in that there's no mess, physical, political, social or economic left to clean up after those campaigns as there is after a violent one.
For you folks out there who might say that it doesn't matter if there's a mess left to be cleaned up afterwards, I'd say, think again, because, at the very least, you gotta make sure the corpses left over are either buried or burned, unless you want nice little out-breaks of disease and the like, the rubble cleared from the streets and roads, so people and stuff can get from place to place, and to get necessary services like hospitals, schools and such up and running again as soon as possible.
Fail to do those basic tasks, like the American occupation of Iraq has done, and you create a situation where people will turn to anyone and everyone opposed to your cause, because you and your colleagues failed to come up with at least the basics.
Promises don't fill empty stomachs,and neither do good intentions, and people won't tolerate being promised that everything will straighten itself sometime in the distant future for ever.
The Yanks are finding that fact out in Afghanistan and Iraq, and any possible left government that came to power here would eventually find that out for itself as well.
Better by far then to do the necessary donkey-work of planning, organising and mobilising for electoral and other non-violent campaigns now, and to get the message out to the American people that the left exists, and that it has solutions to the various problems this country and the world face that make more sense than anything other groups have to offer.
Either that, or prepare to remain on the sidelines of American politics for-ever and a day.
Finally, to Darren, sorry to leave such a long-ass comment on this topic,and also sorry for getting off-topic at various points in this comment.
To be honest, am very frustrated with both the incredible mediocrity of much of the American governing class and its potential candidates, and, at times, with much of the American left, which often seems to me to be so preoccupied with intellectual hobby-horses and fancies that it can't even fight a local election campaign and win properly.
Criticisms of the governing classes, their policies and actions are fine, up to a point. But, without concrete actions to get into power so those policies and actions can be ended, they sadly do mean all that much.
That's my take, at least. Make of it how you will.