Friday, May 09, 2008

Myths or facts about the anti-war movement?
Like the anti-abortion movement — I’ve marched for both and hold the same views on both issues today — it’s ineffectual, feel-good politics, one a substitute for Roman Catholic identity in the wreckage of Vatican II (or for conservative Protestants who outnumber conservative RCs, in the wreckage of the late 1960s in general), used by cynical Republican operatives (at least that’s true of most well-meaning orthodox RCs; the rank and file follow secular society on this and vote for people like Hillary Clinton to stay in touch with their working-class roots); the other boomer nostalgia (Charley correctly pegging ‘boomer’ as popularly meaning ‘at university between 1968 and 1972’ or why luxury-car TV ads now have the rock music of that period).
Myth One: In the 1960s, the peace movement was so much more powerful and so much cooler than we are today.
Which Frida Berrigan doesn’t so much disprove as say ‘it doesn’t matter; that was then, this is now’.
Myth Two: There are no young people active in the peace movement. Don’t they care?
True — there’s no draft so kids of this class and their parents don’t care.
Myth Three: We are marginalized and we are not having an impact.
Berrigan: We are still small. But, we speak for the majority of Americans every time we go into the streets. More than once on a street corner I’ve held a sign over my head and got the car-horn honks and thumbs-ups. So why doesn’t it make a difference? See Two above. If the administration took the left seriously it would shut them up by invading the Sudan or something.
Myth Four: We are not smart enough to end the war.
Here Berrigan and I are singing from the same song sheet:
Our role is to say: you do not need to have a PhD in foreign affairs to say that the war is wrong, to say that withdrawal needs to be immediate and complete, to say that we should not be spending our blood and treasure on wars of preemptive aggression based on lies. In fact, it is the PhDs and the experts, the arm chair warriors who got us into this war.

Myth Five: We can elect our way to an end to war.
Probably false in practice as Berrigan says before (amidst good criticism and suggestions about more humane ways of life rather like the best of Rod Dreher’s crunchiness) seeming to fall into ‘odious forms of collectivism’ about property and possibly race and ‘gender’ (so is it le or la overcrowded council estate?).
What is the alternative to prison, to soulless schools, to militarized borders? to capitalism and market driven globalization? to cluster bombs?
The market not government.

A commenter echoes me (the world would be better if liberals were like Dennis Kucinich):
Sure, I’d love for the Democratic and Republican nominees to have been Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul (that would make for a hell of a debate — and I think a smarter and more complex one, too), but it ain’t going to happen.
So sit back and wait for this. ‘O put not your trust in princes’, be thrifty and resourceful, practise charity at home, go to Mass, say your prayers (stay close to the Mother of God and the other saints) and stay in the state of grace.

A reminder: as recently as the 1930s conservative Protestants were for peace, liberal ones hawks out to change the world by force. World War II, the Cold War and the late-1960s upheaval changed the former; they started glorifying the military.

From Rational Review.

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