15 October 2007

Why I'm Not for Peace

That's the title of an Ellen Willis piece I found via a random click. She died last year, I believe. This article is from 2002 and, in my opinion, it accurately articulates what is wrong with the American left, why it has failed in effecting substantive change, and why people like me are so unimpressed and disappointed with it.

There is no shortage of articles examining defects of the right so it's nice to read something like this for a more holistic perspective.

It expounds on ideas expressed in a Chris Hedges speech when he recalled the warnings of a teacher who had lived through Nazi Germany:

He despaired of liberals, who he said, as in Nazi Germany, mouthed silly platitudes about dialogue and inclusiveness that made them ineffectual and impotent. Liberals, he said, did not understand the power and allure of evil nor the cold reality of how the world worked. The current hand wringing by Democrats in the wake of the election, with many asking how they can reach out to a movement whose leaders brand them "demonic" and "satanic," would not have surprised Adams. Like Bonhoeffer, he did not believe that those who would fight effectively in coming times of turmoil, a fight that for him was an integral part of the Biblical message, would come from the church or the liberal, secular elite.

I can't post excerpts because the Acrobat file won't let me, so you'll just have to read it. The article is from Vol. 29, No.1 (top left).

I'd be interested to know what you think.

(h/t 3QuarksDaily)

(Added: These are the people we're talking about, photographed by 5chw4r7z)

1 comment:

Jimmy Carter said...

I read the first article and I have to say I liked it for a change of pace.

"on 9/11 it was our virtures more than our faults that were under attack"

compare to:

"The enemy can't stand the thought of free societies. That's why they attacked us"

Seems like both of them are making essentially the same point. Except one of them is George Walker Bush.

I also liked the fact that she cringed at the stupid antiwar slogans brought back from the antiwar era of the 60's. She didn't even like them then.

I love when she makes fun of the international criminal court and the impotency of that version of the liberal antiwar argument.

I see a problem with her philosophy at the end.

She talks about the tension in the 60's on the left between people who wanted to help everyone including themselves, vs the leftists that cared more for the third world causes to the extent that their policies could actually be to the detriment of their own lives. She clearly sides with the people who want to help everyone including themselves.

But earlier in the piece she derided bombing and the use of air power instead of putting a massive amount of American troops on the ground in Afghanistan. She didn't like the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban, she wanted American grunts doing it, and she didn't want it accomplished by bombing.

Without bombing you need to create the infrastucture for a larger ground war. You need to haul in the tanks and equipment, and of course you need a hell of a lot more people. I don't know why she didn't like the Northern Alliance, but I can't see anyone rational refusing the alliance or eschewing bombing in the name of primitave ground fighting. Our casualties would have risen 10 fold.

Some of our bombs kill innocent people. We try to keep that to a minimum. Some of our tanks and rifle shots kill innocent people too.

I don't agree with everything, but she made a lot of solid points. And many of those points have been made by conservatives (even the President), and you probably will only accept them when it comes from your radical magazine.

She talked about being chilled when she read a protest sign "Nothing is worth dying for", and she asked what Ghandi would have said to that. Freedom isn't free isn't just a bumper sticker. Blood has been spilled for every right that we have. She is wise enough to know that.