Allied Farce:
A Wartime Diary

by Justin Raimondo



Although Slobodan Milosevic has called off the war, and the bombing could stop as early as Sunday, today's June 5th march is still on and I spent all day yesterday making signs for the contingent. Stencils, paint, and the ability to sloganize: these are the tools of the picket sign artist, and it is indeed an art. The great challenge is to condense ideas, programs, and whole ideologies into three or four reasonably short words. I have mainly confined myself to the prosaic: U.S. OUT OF THE BALKANS, and NO NEW COLD WAR. But I cannot resist the temptation to goose the Left, to give them a visual jolt, and so we also have: REPUBLICANS AGAINST THE NATOCRATS and ANTIWAR.COM: WHERE LEFT & RIGHT UNITE!


It was really gratifying that so many people in the Bay Area responded to my exhortations in this column to come out and join the contingent: at least 20 people emailed to say they would be there. I am continually amazed at the power of the Internet to create a whole constituency, an entirely new organization, where none existed before. Today I am going to march under the same banner with 20 people I have never met, and all because of some computer files floating somewhere in cyberspace. What will they think of next?


And good riddance: I'm talking about those insufferable Monday night meetings of the Ad Hoc Coalition Against the US/NATO War in the Balkans. I have not been reporting on the meetings regularly, so as to spare you the pain I have had to endure Besides, how much do my readers really need to know about the machinations of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the intrigues of Socialist Action, and comrade Ralph Schoenman's latest epistle to the workers and peasants of Valencia Street? It is all so obscure. But I cannot resist telling just one last story of my adventures in the Ad Hoc Coalition, not only because it is funny, but also for the political lesson it holds.


Last week's meeting was a breakthrough for the forces of Goodness and Enlightenment. My friend Andy, a rather intense young man passionately opposed to the war, and I had come up with a proposal for an action directed at the local board of supervisors. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is an institution whose members spend much of their time trying to out-PC their colleagues, and therefore has never shied away from foreign policy questions. They took a position on the Gulf war in 1992, they boycotted South Africa before its "liberation," they condemned the government of Burma for human rights violations – yet they were strangely silent on the war in the Balkans. Our idea was to confront them with the issue, by raising the issue at one of their public meetings. After developing our plan, Andy and I went to the general Ad Hoc meeting and presented our plan. Or, rather, Andy did: it was better for the sake of the plan that he – a respected independent – be the spokesperson, lest I attract the usual suspicions of the Commies. The plan was discussed, voted on, and approved unanimously, but I am afraid we roused their suspicions anyway – the Commies' ears really pricked up when I announced that the Action Committee would be meeting at my house. The day of the meeting arrived, and I sat there wondering if anyone would show up – but, as it turned out, that was the least of my worries.


Andy showed up, of course, but also another independent, Sam, a thin young man with intelligent eyes, the expressive face of an artist, and a serious manner lit up with flashes of sardonic humor. After his first Ad Hoc meeting, Sam had come to the second with a leaflet criticizing leftists for not taking a truly "ad hoc" single-issue approach to organizing, and for trying to exclude antiwar Republicans. This had really infuriated the Commies, particularly the ISOers, who could not understand why the very people they were trying to win over – politically independent antiwar activists – rebelled against being manipulated and talked down to. Heavy-handed and, for the most part, not all that smart, the ISOers are great at alienating those who might otherwise actually consider joining their minuscule quasi-authoritarian cult. They will do anything to maintain their control over an organization of which they are a part, and so I was not at all surprised when the doorbell rang and two ISOers marched through the door. One was the Commissar with the glasses who had come up to me after my first Ad Hoc Committee meeting and declared that he would "fight" me for the heart and soul of the antiwar movement; the other was a thuggish-looking rather dimwitted young man, with a thin face and a loutish vaguely threatening manner; our one interaction had been a discussion of his idea that all Republicans are racists. And here they were, sitting right in my living room, being served tea and blueberry pie by the ever-solicitous Yoshi! They had come to spy on us, it was as plain as day, and from the look on Andy's face I could see that I was not alone in my opinion. Sam seemed oblivious to the underlying tensions in the room, which began to build rather rapidly as the ISOers tried to take control of the meeting. But for once they were outnumbered, and after awhile the pattern of obstructionism became so apparent that the Commissar began to pull back. His thuggish friend, who seemed relatively new to all this, did not get the hint, however, and insisted on talking away, making a little speech about the evils of capitalism. The Commissar, realizing that his heavy-handedness was making him look ridiculous, was eager to go, but his sidekick just kept jabbering. The Commissar turned red with anger, and started moving toward the door, "We really have to go," he said, giving his friend a meaningful stare: and finally they were out the door.


Andy and I just looked at each other; he smiled, and I burst out laughing. Sam just looked at us, as it began to dawn on him that something really odd had just occurred: my Pacific Heights home had been invaded by Commie spies! Not only that, but they had left their cake and tea untouched, as if they hadn't wanted to be contaminated by such decadent bourgeois luxuries: bad enough that they had been forced to come into Pacific Heights, the ultimate San Francisco Yuppie neighborhood. Oh, how they had squirmed in their chairs, made physically uncomfortable by being in such close proximity to such a large number of right-wing books: the complete works of Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, Isabel Paterson, Garet Garrett and John T. Flynn surrounding them on every side. The framed poster of Murray Rothbard pecking away at his typewriter, with the caption "Murray N. Rothbard – greatest living enemy of coercive government – staring down at them must have confirmed them in their view that they were deep in the heart of enemy territory.


I will probably be seeing my two Commie friends, as well as Andy and Sam, today at the rally: the Ad Hoccers are marching as a contingent, and the people will swell their ranks. I am going to miss them, the Commies as well as Andy and Sam: some people are so easily provoked, their flaws are so obvious and so consistently entertaining, that they become quite likeable, in a sense, not in spite of their foibles but because of them. Today's rally is going to be very interesting, and I will be sure to report back here on the details, so stay tuned tomorrow.

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Past Diaries

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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