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Left and Right Against War, Part 87

Left and Right Against War, Part 87
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

On February 20, a meeting took place in Washington, D.C., between progressives, libertarians, and conservatives who deviate from the bipartisan foreign-policy consensus and favor an antiwar, anti-imperial alternative. Participants were indeed all over the ideological map, as these interesting summaries (1, 2) reveal. (I was invited to attend but could not make it; I’d already been at CPAC and needed to get home to my wife and our new baby.)

Does this mean a genuine cross-ideological coalition against war is brewing? I would like nothing more than to think so. I am confident that many libertarians and conservatives would welcome it. But I am not so sure about the progressives.

Do not misunderstand me: I am all in favor of such a thing. Here’s my article on a great model such a coalition might follow. And it was in this spirit that Murray Polner (a man of the Left, who did attend the February 20 meeting) and I wrote our book We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now (Basic Books, 2008).

As I wrote when our book came out, "Our aversion to mass murder was the common personality quirk that drew us together, and we decided that that was a pretty good basis for a fruitful collaboration. It’s a privilege to know Murray, and I’m happy to say our joint efforts have borne some good fruit indeed." The book includes (but is far from limited to) contributions from Daniel Webster, John Randolph, John Quincy Adams, Charles Sumner, Julia Ward Howe, Lysander Spooner, Stephen Crane, William Graham Sumner, William Jennings Bryan, Robert La Follette, Randolph Bourne, Helen Keller, Jeanette Rankin, David Dellinger, Robert Taft, Murray Rothbard, Russell Kirk, George McGovern, Philip and Daniel Berrigan, Butler Shaffer, Country Joe & the Fish, Andrew Bacevich, Pat Buchanan, Bill Kauffman, Paul Craig Roberts, Howard Zinn, and Lew Rockwell. Now that’s a diverse coalition.

Murray and I brought these great people together between the covers of a book. But can they be brought together under the aegis of an activist organization?

The jury is still out. For example, an organization called Historians Against the War (HAW) began auspiciously enough in 2003, as a group of, well, historians against the war. People of all political persuasions were welcome. With the passage of time, though, being against the war was no longer enough. You had to hold particular economic views, be a "progressive," and support Obama. It was insufficient simply to hold the libertarian position against corporatism, the warfare state, and the military-industrial complex. (Chalmers Johnson evidently likes my article on the subject, which he calls an "important exegesis," but although I was never an active member of HAW, my work would apparently not have satisfied its more exacting standards.)

And thus began the purges of those who did not conform, and in particular of those who scolded the organization for softening its antiwar rhetoric following the election of Obama. Instead of viewing Obama as merely a left-variant of the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment, which he obviously is, these critical thinkers bought into the pretty speeches and left it at that.

Continue reading: http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods130.html

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