The Progressive Antiwar Movement: RIP?

John V. Walsh, June 15, 2014

Ralph Nader wrote a very perceptive essay in the wake of the edifying defeat of the despicable arch-imperialist, Israel Firster and reliable servant of Wall St. Banksters, Eric Cantor, at the capable hands of the libertarian leaning Professor David Brat. It was titled "Can Progressives Learn From Eric Cantor’s Defeat"? Can they? Yes. Will they? It is highly doubtful. It is difficult to learn if you think you have nothing more to learn.

But here we are interested only in the lessons of Cantor’s electoral humiliation at the hands of Brat for the progressive antiwar, anti-Empire movement. (For the significance of the Brat victory beyond the matter of war, see this.) What do we mean by Progressive? "Progressive" for the most part is little more than a change of name for what was once called "liberal." One looks in vain for a self-described liberal these days only because they have rebranded themselves.

Here are two relevant quotes from Nader’s essay:

“(The Brat victory) has several takeaways for progressives besides envy and shame over why they do not directly take on the corporate Democrats.”

“Unfortunately the driving energy of progressives, including the dissipating Occupy Wall Street effort, is not showing up in the electoral arena. The political energy, the policy disputes and the competitive contests are among the Republicans, not the Democrats…”

In summary, why are the progressives not taking on the corporate (and hawkish) Democrats in the electoral arena? And what does that mean for the next presidential year, 2016? Certainly it is desirable to have antiwar candidates in primaries of both major parties – and even better to have them win the nomination in each party. Thus, there are two electoral tasks for the broad antiwar movement in the rapidly approaching election year of 2016.

On the GOP side, antiwarriors must make sure that there is an antiwar Republican running in the primaries and hopefully winning the nomination. That person is Rand Paul. And Brat’s victory over the establishment’s candidate bodes well for Paul’s success. So the forces of peace are making headway in the GOP even though they face an uphill battle. They have a horse in the race, a formidable one.

On the Democratic side, things do not look so good. The progressives must field a candidate to take on the bloodthirsty Hillary to make good on Nader’s challenge. Otherwise, she could well be “the first woman” – to start a world war. So far there is no one – and the undependable Bernie Sanders is not that person, as even a cursory reading of the late Alexander Cockburn’s denunciations of Sanders over the years makes clear. Nor is that great American Indian, my Senator, Elizabeth Warren who ran for Senate as a hawk on Iran, a credible peace candidate.

That leaves the Democrats without any anti-Empire voice. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) will not do the job of challenging Hillary. From Norman Solomon to Medea Benjamin they are notorious by now for putting Party over principle. Other progressives operating outside the Dem Party, and few in number, are well defended, claiming that elections are for naught. But history argues against this. Truman, the architect of the unpopular Korean War was defeated in the New Hampshire primary, paving the way for an Eisenhower victory due in part to a pledge to end the war, a pledge he kept promptly. Lyndon Baynes Johnson, the inheritor of a very unpopular war from JFK was also undone in New Hampshire, by the principled Eugene McCarthy, not the most "liberal" Democrat and a bit of a libertarian. From that point on despite the best efforts of both Humphrey and Nixon to prolong it, the Vietnam War was over. Primary challenges have an effect. Ron Paul built a very powerful movement, especially among the young, with his 2008 and 2012 runs.

Other progressives will tell you that street actions like Occupy are the way forward despite the inability of Occupy to so much as articulate a platform, program or strategy. And they are bereft of even a shadow of ideology and consistency having long ago abandoned the more traditional left precepts. Most notably the decade of wars went largely unmentioned in their gatherings, in great part because they are now Obama’s wars. Nader kindly describes Occupy as "dissipating." Strangely, some of these Occupiers find refuge in the Green Party, which is dedicated to electoral action. The Green Party itself is a resounding failure. Its perennial presidential candidate is a very pleasant, organized and well meaning person but is entirely too solicitous of "progressive" Dems to make an impact. And she has not been able to win even a State House seat in very progressive Massachusetts, although she has tried.

Picasso said he became a Communist, because the Communists were for the peasants and he was for the peasants. Often it is as simple as that. What are people to do if they are for peace and the only viable force for peace is the libertarians, as was true in 2012? Then they will become libertarian Republicans. And we see that happening with many young people. If "progressives" cannot accomplish a challenge to Hillary, they will be finished for the foreseeable future, probably a generation at least. And that seems to be the way things are headed.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com.




31 Responses to “The Progressive Antiwar Movement: RIP?”

  1. Polls show the US public are more anti-interventionist now than at any previous time, including right after the Vietnam War. Republican or Democratic candidates could use that, but no one who has watched the Demopublicans and Republicrats promise one thing and deliver the opposite for the last twenty or thirty years would believe they are truly anti-interventionists. Rand Paul talks the talk, but his allegiance to Israel would lead a cautious person to question his anti-war bona fides. Sadly, there's no candidate yet apparent that can give the US public what it wants and desperately needs: an end to endless wars, some hope that our children won't be blasted off the face of the earth by megalomaniacal NWO boosters, and a future that includes a chance to work at wages that can pay the bills.

  2. "If 'progressives' cannot accomplish a challenge to Hillary, they will be finished for the foreseeable future, probably a generation at least."

    Mmmmmmm….I don't know about that.

    I do think the progressive train is headed for the cliff *eventually* and that President Hillary Clinton just *might* be the one to drive it off, but whatever prog prez finally crashes the century-old progressive juggernaut it won't be until after they've won a few more national elections. The GOP will absolutely not nominate Rand Paul in '16 or any other Republican candidate seeking to reign in the US war machine. Their blatant methods of stonewalling the elder Paul in 2012 makes that quite clear.

    The Dems will continue to hold the White House for at least a few more election cycles by default as conservatives will not exactly be stampeding to the polls to vote for Jeb Bush or any other Bushian style nominee. This will continue to give the Dems a false sense of security and incentivize their continued isolation in their own self-constructed ideological echo chambers. Meanwhile, Tea Party conservatives and libertarians will hash it out with each other through state and local elections for control of the grass roots GOP until they finally reach some sort of rapprochement with one another or agree to some kind of common ground. Then they'll be able to finally nominate an anti-establishment, anti-imperialist, non-interventionist candidate to mount a serious and credible challenge to the ruling imperialist progressive establishment. And by that time, prog policies will be giving them a huge helping hand due to the huge messes at home and around the world they will have created.

    But that's not all going to happen by 2016. I think we're talking decades here.

  3. In 2012 I challenged "Liberal" Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, of the Orlando, Florida area, to stand up to Obama, and challenging him in the Democratic primary elections for President. I demonstrated in front of a Democratic Party dinner in Spring Hill, Florida, with Mr. Grayson as the keynote speaker. Our signs said that despite Grayson's image as a courageous politician who talked down Republlcans over their idea of letting elderly people die in place of servicing them, he did not have the guts to challenge President Obama in the presidential primaries. That demonstrated that Mr. Grayson put party over principal despite his bravado statements against Republicans. I have given up on "viable" democrats. We need to turn to third party candidates, preferably, socialists, who wish to change the economic system of America. Capitalism is crumbling by itself, and we need to believe that minor party candidates, such as socialists, can be viable in America. They were 100 years ago. The false branding that the US government and established political parties have labeled socialists is outdated and no longer credible. It is time to believe in ourselves and be assured that our present economic and political systems are broken and corrupt and must be replaced. That is where we will find viable "progressive" candidates. Brian P. Moore, Florida

  4. Brian P Moore, you are absolutely right. More and more Americans are beginning to realize we've been sold lies for generations rather than years, and by an entire political and economic system, not just a few of its politicians.

  5. It is quite amazing to hear that some sort of change in the entire social system, e.g. socialism, is necessary before the U.S. will abandon military Empire.
    As Lord Russell observed after the Bolshevik revolution, the U.S. is the world's bulwark of capitalism. If we are to await its collapse, we will have to wait until after the World War into which the U.S. Empire is leading us.
    Moreover, it is scary to see in the above two comments the same old suggestion that has been made for a century that a new socialist party is the only solution to the depredations of Empire. Such commentary means that the authors have learned nothing – they continue on the same old path of failure.
    The libertarians hold out the prospect of an antiwar movement "with American characteristics." That should be treated like manna from heaven. Instead the so-called progressives do all they can to crush it.
    Michael Moore and Cesare are blind to the lessons of the past. One follows blind men at one's own peril.

  6. "We need to turn to third party candidates, preferably, socialists, who wish to change the economic system of America. "

    Yes, that's just brilliant. Let's (yet AGAIN) install an economic system that has devastated every damned country it's ever been implemented in.

    "Capitalism is crumbling by itself, and we need to believe that minor party candidates, such as socialists, can be viable in America"

    Pal, get this through your THICK skull. What we have IS NOT capitalism , It's a bizarre mix of corporatism and yes, socialism.

    " The false branding that the US government and established political parties have labeled socialists is outdated and no longer credible."

    Tell you what, move to Venezuela then come back and tell me how wonderful socialism is. I can't believe there are morons who STILL buy into this kind of stupidity. And dumb sh1ts like you want full socialism here.

  7. I don't get it either. These people must have 40IQs. Millions of died and suffered under the sick ideology of socialism yet they just give a crap. I guess they think if they wish hard enough it will magically work someday. They BADLY need an econ 101 class. Here people, read this. It's short. Even a kid can understand it. And best of all, it's FREE. You kids love hand outs so much well, I'm giving you one. Use it. Here:
    http://mises.org/books/economics_in_one_lesson_ha

    The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome. THINK you fools. THINK. This isn't rocket science.

  8. Mike: Personal attacks don't work, or ridiculing people for their ideas just reflects on the accuser.
    Democratic socialism is untried globally. There are no socialist models now that demonstrate anything negatively about socialism. The communists, the regimes of Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. were undemocratic and tyrannical. I, too, criticize them. Cuba and Venezuela, have struck a wonderful blow for bringing more services and rights to the poor and underclass despite the world economic pressures on them. Venezuela demonstrates one of the best systems of democratic elections in the world according to election experts. Corporate socialism is big in America for their selfish interests. Keep using the old labels, false myths, and misinformation that the right wish to propagate. Go back to embrace your Sedition Act of 1916, supported by both major political parties, who enthusiastically promoted World War I. 20 million people died unnecessarily then because of a selfish global economic system and capitalist self-interests. Political courage is necessary now.

  9. Brian, I don't like the personal attacks either. People can disagree without lowering themselves by using vulgarities. It destroys their own argument. That said, I really have a problem with this fantasy of democratic socialism on a "global" scale. What we need in the US, I think, is radical decentralization, not even more power to the unelected lifetime bureaucrats who run things. The US is no longer any kind of melting pot. It has become a seething multicultural cauldron. Even more socialism than we already have would only make things worse in such a bankrupt empire. I'd prefer to see the US break up into a half a dozen different countries so that the USG could no longer terrorize the world. But that also is a fantasy.

  10. I'm also thrilled by the Brat victory over the sellout and abrasive Cantor. However, what are his views on foreign policy? I haven't heard. If he's more on the anti-war side with tea partiers Paul & Amash, that would be great. But if he is more on the militaristic tea party side with Ted Cruz, then his victory is hollow.

  11. And it's of course in large part untried because the U.S. empire has crushed many a leftist movement in another country, often to back brutal government crack downs and install tyranical hard right alternatives (such that noone can argue the U.S. "meant well"). The U.S. government that backs fascists at this point.

    So to what extent it's been tried is debatable, as it's seldom been allowed to develop and run it's course naturally (and again this was not because the socialist alternatives were totalitarian and tyranical because often what was and is used to counter them ranges from just as bad to much worse in that department). Decentralized socialism (anarchism) has it could be arguend been even more ruthlessly crushed by state oppression (often U.S. backed).

  12. Aaron Woolf, Democrat, is running for Congress in the 21st District, NY. Those familiar with the area know the entire world revolves around all things Ft. Drum.

    So Mr. Woolf assures the area he will do all he can to keep Ft Drum from suffering cuts … including his idea of "new missions" which he has yet to define or expand upon nor have the local presstitues asked him what "new missions" means.

  13. This is what happens with the entire "progressive antiwar movement" is enamored with the sacralized victim group status of their great Black hope, Barrack Obama. He simply cannot be criticized or condemned without raising the competency question. If you try co claim he was brainwashed, hornswoggled or tricked you raise the question of "how stupid can you be?" He has, in fact, been a huge embarrassment if you are honest about it.

    The simple fact is that Obama was a man on the make from the outset. It doesn't appear to have been much of a hard sell to get him to switch 180 degrees of most of his campaign promises. A very sympathetic media covered for him as long as they could and now it's just nearly impossible to continue.

    We've never seen his grades, anything he has written and there are huge parts of his life that remain a huge mystery. No one else could have gotten away with this and this has nothing to do with conspiracies. He will probably go down as the worst President in U. S. History, except among progressives who are simply unable to admit to his limitations.

    If he had stayed in the U. S. Senate the charade could have go on forever. The Presidency — even with all of the advisors, helpers, coaches and scriptwriters at his side — was way over his head.

  14. give it up, buddy. obama's problem isn't the "competency question" — as i'm sure intellectually he could run circles around you and your klan buddies. obama's problem is that he has no moral core. he's a chicago pol who was selected on his ability to sell abhorrent policies with a smile. he's simply the spokesperson for a certain set of billionaires and oligarchic, corporate interests. i tend to think he may not embrace all the military wet dreams of the MIC, but he's pliable enough, or has been "convinced" by the example of JFK and MLK to toe the line when it comes to the operators of the "deep state." it's frankly pretty silly to ascribe his "failures" to his race and any number of bizarre conspiracy theories about how he's a manchurian candidate sort of figure. actually, this kind of reaction is probably highly valued by the puppet masters who like the partisan divide and rule possibilities of having a black president who mobilizes the african-american voting bloc on the one hand, while supporting the warfare and national security state without reservation on the other. while our rights are peeled away like the layers of an onion, we have numerous people missing the point entirely with mindless and pointless distractions.

  15. I still have a spreadsheet* of the votes on the TARP act that quite clearly show who voted in favor but also changed their vote after killing it on the first try. Many of these shmoes are still in office, and some have advanced, God bless 'em! The list is chock full of donkeys and 'derms, so if you can't work against a war-pig for partizan principles, pick a regular wall st. pig. Everybody hates those guys, and very often they're the same little practical pig.
    * I don't "own" it on Google drive, so I can't post it… Anyone know what happened to Feingold? Battle fatigue? Obama's envoy to Central Africa. cmon progressives; try harder ( with a vengeance)

  16. I have no Klan buddies and I am, in fact, a 50+ year member of the ACLU. I was in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, at one of the marches on Washington and active in the civil rights movement at my university as well as Vice-chair of the local CORE chapter. You're trying to stereotype Obama critics with this kind of rhetoric.

    I'm not unsympathetic to him as a person but I think he was way over his head with this job and there's really not much question of how he's betrayed his left/progressive base. Where I think race played in is their magic idea that his Blackness gave him kind of special ability or insight, Eliminate that issue and assume you had no idea what his race was and the narrative about Obama would have been quite different. He would have been seen as a guy with the correct politics, no experience, a murky background and probably not the best choice. His being Black changed everything and he became the great hope of the left. They got suckered big time.

  17. Put the "Progressives" to beddy bye – Common Dreams, Amy Goodman and Juan Cole – they're all Cointelpro, CIA Mockingbird, Anyways

  18. Pod People "Progressives" putting the Left to Beddy Bye,

    part dumb

    So why do so many "anti-war" Progressives continually lie about Obama wars, then?

    I would say its because 90% of them are CIA Mockingbird

    We are to assume it is just because they are Democrat Party shills. It isn't. Look at the censorship, the lies, the propaganda, on Obama wars started by Obama for oil/gas pipeline control. No Blood for Oil was the slogan before, now look at the Progressives TOTAL HYPOCRISY of blowback from CIA armed Al Queda in Iraq – "look its all Bush and the NeoCons fault!" The fact is the US never left, is not leaving Afghanistan but using mercenary contractors, Blackwater, proxy terrorists. Remember the film "New American Century" where all the Taliban were coming over the hills with US weapons, so too are Libya and Syria the result of Hillary/Obamas wreckless Kissinger inspired "Balkanization" of Middle East/Asian regions. Kissinger, in fact, was GIVING ORDERS to Jim Jones Obamas N'tnl Sec Adviser Jones himself confessed. So then it is too consistent to be a conicidence all this censorship by Juan Cole, Steve Zunes, Amy Goodman, Rachel Maddow, Mike Malloy, THREE YEARS RUNNING into the Syria conflict to have hidden all the atrocities caused by this from the anti war movement. Instead they chose to be the anti-Bush/GOP war movement like with Code Pink/Benjamins recent WH Iraq demonstration. So too – the sectarian-religion excuse for these conflicts been used as a cover story for Obamas wars, so consistently used as the fallback by so many "Progressives" in a coordinated fashion that they must be USING A SCRIPT from CIA Mockingbird. In fact the Libya, Syria, terrorists they are simply hired guns and US trained Al Queda. Obama started those wars not Assad and Quaddafi we know from this from peace groups and fact finding missions such ANSWER and the Australian Peace Mission to Syria. No help from the now defunct Randi Rhodes and Ed Schlitz who did everything to hide the truth about those wars.

    Also Read "Juan Cole consultant to the CIA." "Is Democracy Now Giving Us the State Dept Line on Libya" by Black Agenda Report

  19. Right. Actually nothing wrong with a litmus test if it's a good one. I've used the 2012 NDAA as a litmus test. It's true throwing away habius corpus and rolling us back to a state of law not just pre-constitution but pre Magna Carta isn't the only issue that matters – and I mean that. But it's kind of more than SUFFICIENT to know who NOT to vote for. I'm surprised that way more of our existing congress wasn't thrown out in the primary. That's what should have happened.

  20. YES THIRD PARTY –

    just dont call it "Progressive"

    the Progressive Caucus has rendered that term meaningless.

    The Congressional Progressive Caucus: Exposing the Deception
    http://whiterosereader.org/2013/06/28/the-congres

    "Congressional Progressive/Pentagon Caucus"
    http://warisacrime.org/content/congressional-prog

    Human Rights Watch in Service to the War Party
    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Herman%20/HRW_Y

    http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/08/amnesty-interna

  21. Not entirely – there is a contigent of truth tellers left, and independent voices like the Stephen Lendman show on PRN.fm , etc. who are not establishment shills –

    There is a wall of fake sources, hosts and contributors in the anti-war blogosphere
    http://politics.gather.com/viewArticle.action?art

    EXPOSED: Syrian Human Rights Front is EU-Funded Fraud
    http://www.blacklistednews.com/EXPOSED%3A_Syrian_

    Amnesty International Propaganda Targets Russia & Syria
    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/04/amnesty

    Central Asian Backlash Against US Franchised Revolutions
    http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/SRR/Volume14/kgs3.h
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/01/antiwar-com-you

  22. Read the Corruption of Human Rights Watch

    The question becomes not "What Progressive groups are CIA fronts?"

    But "What Progressive groups ARE NOT CIA fronts?"

    http://consortiumnews.com/2014/05/13/the-corrupti

  23. As you say the spokespeople for the "progressives" are generally compromised – how else would they get on the air? Would a corrupt system enable uncorrupting forces to speak at will without a muzzle? Liberal hacks like Hillary or Pelosi are labeled "progressive" by people who don't like progressive ideas; to better destroy the ideas. Hillary has one leg in the Israel-First camp, one leg on Wall Street, and is trying to get another leg in the "fortress America" camp – no wonder the woman is strained.
    The times itself will create the leader – America is so corrupt that a revolution is inevitable.

  24. Incidentally, calling Hillary or Ms Pelosi "Progressive" is like me calling Lindsey Graham or John McCain a " Libertarian" – it doesn't make them one; but it allows me to smear both gentlemen whom I don't like with, with a political philosophy that I don't believe in.

  25. Someone said litmus test. Here's mine: how much does the politician grovel to AIPAC? The first duty of every political candidate is to pledge to continue the blank check to Israel and to find other ways to entangle us with "our only ally in the Middle East." Likewise any nominee for Secretary of State or Defense or Ambassador to the UN must pledge allegiance to Israel during the confirmation process.

    Even if Israel were so pure that it walked on water, no one can sincerely believe that a modern state with a high European standard of living representing one tenth of one percent of the world's population should be guaranteed one quarter to one half (depending on how the numbers are crunched) of US foreign aid. Shilling like this for Israel or any other country in exchange for campaign donations should be a clue as to the integrity of a politician. It's an excellent litmus test.

  26. Rand Paul has one of the most impressive anti-war track records in the history of the Senate, and has been thoroughly consistent and outspoken regarding the matter of presidential warmaking (the president requires congressional authorization). He has been strongly outspoken and voted/introduced legislation against everything from the Libyan intervention right after he entered office to the proposed Syria strikes last year to the current push for a new Iraqi adventure. His voice was crucial in causing Obama to back off from the planned Syria strikes and seek congressional authorization (which, when it became clear said authorization might not be forthcoming, prompted him to back out entirely and spare himself the embarrassment), and he is making the same point now. Beyond that, although he is not as solid as his old man, realize that the core of Rand's philosophy derives from Ron Paul's, and Ron Paul was perhaps the most anti-war federal officeholder in US history. An entire chapter of his book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington," was about foreign policy and thoroughly emphasized his stance against unilateral presidential warmaking, and non-defensive warmaking in general.

    Now, Rand Paul is clearly concerned about maintaining electability and has hedged to a certain extent– if he did not make some effort to butter up Israel, he would have no chance at winning a Republican nomination. But he has certainly never said he would launch a unilateral offensive presidential war on behalf of Israel, and given his extensive demonstrable rhetorical and voting record and background, I think you're just being obstinate if you seriously argue that he wouldn't "give the US public an end to endless wars," or at least ones launched unilaterally by presidents.

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  29. It is interesting to note, that none of these analysts says anything about whose running the american parties behind the curtains: US foreign policy is today totally ordered by, what Eisenhower called, the military-industrial complex. The american people has today very little influence on the american establishment, both Democrats and Republicans are run by the same oligarchs. You can critizise these parties forever, they do not listen anymore.

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