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.