Saturday, July 07, 2012

A Proposed Credo for Truly Progressive Pundits and Activists

In September 1939, after the outbreak of World War II, the Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion defined his political stance in what became one of his most famous pronouncements and the motto of Palestine's pre-independence Jewish community for many years. Addressing the need to both support the British army and oppose Britain's perfidious White Paper--the policy of Neville Chamberlain's pro-appeasement government that less than four months earlier, on the eve of the Nazi onslaught, had severely restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine--Ben-Gurion, who would go on to become reborn Israel's first Prime Minister, declared: "We will fight [against] the White Paper as if there is no war, and fight the war as if there is no White Paper."

Today, as Hitler's clerical fascist (Islamist) admirers advance and plot and plan democracy's doom in the name of religion, while globalizing financial elites strive to dismantle social services, crush what remains of organized labor's power, and pauperize the middle and working classes under cover of fiscal reform, effectively waging a vicious class war that also threatens democracy's survival, there is an urgent need for a new, Ben-Gurion-like credo, one that truly progressive pundits and activists should have no problem embracing. Suggested text appears below. 

We will resist and speak out against austerity (savage spending cuts in a depression) as if there is no war with radical (rightwing political) Islam and resist and speak out against engagement (appeasement of and attempted alignment with radical Islam) as if there is no austerity. 

Shocking but true! It is possible to oppose both the Republicans' unprecedented, upward transfer of wealth and the Democratic administration's deadly downgrading of the war against Islamism--i.e. the narrowing of the definition of the Islamist enemy to include just Al Qaeda and its affiliates. It is possible, in spite of the way mainstream media outlets in the United States report and comment on--that is to say, slant--the news, to oppose both rightwing economic policies and appeasement of rightwing political Islam, to believe in both the need for a massive, job-creating stimulus, say, or national health insurance (Medicare with no minimum age requirement), and the importance of maintaining a strong national defense. Astonishingly, there was a time, before their respective parties were taken over by appeasers and austerians, when nearly all Democrats--and many Republicans--would have agreed with the preceding sentences and the above, proposed credo. (Seems like ancient history, that time, when Senators like "Scoop" Jackson and Jacob Javits were revered and influential.)

For that matter, it is possible to support the necessary use of force against an adversary such as Iran that, like Nazi Germany in the 1930s, cannot be appeased because it aims to overturn the status quo, and to oppose unnecessary foreign interventions--e.g. the Iraq and Vietnam wars--that bleed and drain and divide our nation and actually result in weakening, rather than safeguarding and strengthening, our national security.

Iran is the new Nazi Germany, Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler, Islamism is the new fascism.

And austerity is the new Hooverism.

What America desperately needed in 2008 was a new FDR. Instead, it elected a new Jimmy Carter.

Sadly, there is no cause for optimism. Voters in 2012 will have to chose between the lesser of two evils; but that does not mean that everyone with a magazine or newspaper column, or a TV or radio platform … or a lowly blog … has to follow a particular party line and stop thinking, writing and speaking out critically and logically about the most important issues of the day.

Endnotes: (1) The Zionist leader Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky, regarded as a right-winger because of his opposition to socialism, believed in the basic welfare state model--including universal health care/national health insurance. (2) The preeminent American political scientist, Hans JMorgenthau, considered the father of classical political realism, opposed the Vietnam War, branding it an unnecessary intervention and a fatally flawed attempt to extend the successful Cold War policy of containment--which he strongly supported in order to counter the Soviet threat to Western Europe--to a contested region of the Third World. In contrast with the leaders and ideologues of the New Left, Morgenthau never stooped to apologizing for, let alone supporting or even sympathizing with, Communist North Vietnam's totalitarian regime. He was a brilliant, dedicated analyst of--and advocate for--the U.S. national interest.

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