by Justin Raimondo
CAN'T GET ENOUGH
As predicted in my June 4 column, the "peace agreement" has broken down, albeit far sooner than even I expected. Aside from the reasons given in that column the murderousness of the KLA, and the general vagueness permeating the text of the agreement the cause of the breakdown is clear enough. The blood lust of the NATO-crats has yet to be sated.
SURRENDER IS NOT ENOUGH
It wasn't enough that old Slobo had cried "uncle!" The NATO-crats kept escalating their demands: it wasn't enough that the Serbs were willing to pull out of Kosovo, they also had to be willing to pull 15 miles back from their own border. The bewildered Yugoslavs, who had walked into the talks expecting that they would merely be implementing the 9-point plan agreed to by Milosevic, were instead confronted with a 20-point ultimatum, which MSNBC called "essentially a surrender document." The Yugoslavs requested a "buffer zone" inside Kosovo as a guarantee against attacks from the KLA: they also held out for an end to the bombing: the NATO-crats' reply, according to the London Times, was that "the Serbs would be in no danger" from the KLA, and that the bombing must continue "until [NATO] can be sure that Belgrade is keeping its word." The "military-technical" negotiations, treated in the peace agreement as a minor detail, have instead proved to be a major stumbling block. The Yugoslavs came to the talks prepared to implement what they thought was a negotiated settlement: the NATO-crats came prepared to dictate the terms of surrender. But even surrender would not satisfy the mighty lords of the New World Order, who will accept nothing less than total subjugation.
An ominous paragraph in the London Independent, reporting on the arrival of elite U.S. Marine and British Gurkha forces in the region: "These forces were meant to be implementing the peace deal, but if that collapses, they will be used to fight their way into Kosovo." General Wesley Clark is reported as saying that if the peace deal falls through, the Allies should prepare to launch the ground war by September 1, but from this report it seems as if it might come sooner, possibly far sooner than anyone now expects. In any event, the troops are going in no matter what the outcome of the negotiations, either as "peacekeepers" or invaders and where 'o where is the American antiwar movement?
PORTRAITS OF THE PEACE PARTY: JUNE 5TH
It was a fine summers' day for a demonstration. The sun was hot beneath the thin veneer of morning fog, and the rising wind would soon scatter the clouds and clear the sky a clean bright blue. We had spent practically all night making signs, acrylic paint and stencils on foamboard; Yoshi had done most of the work, applying himself with purely Japanese diligence and precision to the job of patiently brushing black and red paint on paper stencils. We did eleven signs, which we trundled into Antiwar.com Treasurer Anastasia's van at ten in the morning. On the way down to UN Plaza we speculated as to how many would show up as a result of our appeals on this site: I was not optimistic. Had we made all these signs for nothing? I envisioned a good half of them laying on the ground, labors of love unrequited and unclaimed.
HAIL RED ARMY!
People were already gathering in the bum-infested area known as UN Plaza, a wretched rectangle of urban jungle festooned with benches and obelisks. The territory usually given over to drunks, drug dealers, and the flotsam and jetsam of the streets, was today occupied by an army of Marxists. As we set up the Antiwar.com banner and the signs next to the bizarre waterless "fountain" of concrete slabs a neo-Stalinist monument in the worst tradition of American bureaucratic "public art" I surveyed the crowd, which seemed to be growing larger by the minute. Right at the center I could see the huge banner of the Spartacist League, and their dozens of placards hand-lettered with extreme precision: You could always tell the Spartacists from a mile away: their neatly-printed slogans are the longest and the most incomprehensible, they seem written in a secret language only superficially related to English: "For a Socialist Federation of the Balkans! For the Reconstruction of the Fourth International! For the Construction of Trotskyist Parties Throughout the Former Yugoslavia!"
I am a voracious reader of the Sparts' bi-weekly newspaper, Workers Vanguard, my favorite leftist publication of all time. It is worth reading for its curmudgeonly contempt for the cultural prejudices of the middle-class rad-lib Left and its ferocious denunciations of the various other left-wing outfits (although a lot of the spirit seems to have gone out of it after longtime editor Jan Norden was purged). The Sparts devote a lot of their energy to what they call "opponent work" that is, exposing the foibles and inside "dirt" on other leftists, and are thus a fount of information on the foibles of the various leftist groups. Fiercely sectarian, and thoroughly hated by the other left groups, the Sparts are a surly bunch, who stand glowering at the rest of the crowd, rallying around their twenty-foot-high banner like some prehistoric tribe gathering around a sacred totem.
I LOVE THE SPARTS
I love the Sparts for the same reason the Left hates them: they exemplify the unthinking blinkered mentality, the serio-comic fanaticism that renders them insensible to the unintentional humor of some of their slogans. In the 80s, they showed up at demonstrations with huge banners proclaiming "Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!" They showed up at demonstrations in solidarity with the Nicaraguan and Salvadoran insurgencies with equally obnoxious placards, their favorite being "The Defense of the Soviet Union Begins in Central America!" In them the ingrained wackiness and complete alienation of the American Left is distilled in its purest essence: crankish, cultish, and utterly foreign to anyone the least bit normal.
MESSAGE IN A CYBER-BOTTLE
A skeptic of the Internet from the very beginning, I never believed that more than two or three people would show up in response to our appeal just as I never believed that Antiwar.com would reach any more than a few thousand people per month (at most). I had mentioned it repeatedly in my column, and we had sent out a special email message to our list asking people in the area to show up at the Carl's Jr. near the waterless fountain. But my expectations were low: I just could not conceive that more than a few people (at most) would respond to what amounted to a message in a cyber-bottle: we have no way of knowing how many people in the Bay Area we are reaching on any regular basis. In order to quash my fears that no one was going to show up, I went off in search of the Ad Hoc Coalition to Stop the War contingent.
IN SEARCH OF THE AD HOCCERS
For the past three weeks meetings of the Ad Hoc Coalition had been preoccupied with "building" the Ad Hoc contingent in the June 5th march. In meeting after meeting, the absolute necessity of "mobilizing" for June 5th was impressed on everyone, and thousands of leaflets were printed up and distributed exhorting people to march with the Ad Hoc Coalition that day. I went searching for them, but all I could see were the various leftist grouplets the Sparts, the International Socialists, the Workers World Party, and the soapboxer from the Revolutionary Communist Party braying his dogma through a very loud megaphone: "Only a Communist Revolution can save us all from World War III!" he screamed, waving his arms about and affecting the tone as well as the manner of a hellfire-and-brimstone preacher working himself up into a real stem-winder. Instead of the Devil, it was Capitalism; in place of Heaven, the Red Utopia of the Future. And the Ad Hoccers were nowhere to be seen. The whole idea in coming to the demonstration, and mobilizing the Antiwar.commers was to swell the ranks of the Ad Hoc contingent, the only supposedly independent nonsectarian organization at the march: but where were they?
I eventually gave up, and made my way back to the Antiwar.com group, which had by now grown considerably larger. A couple from Riverside, Nancy from the San Mateo Peace Coalition with some friends, another Nancy from Sonoma, a Serbian-American from southern California, a number of people from the Bay Area, the local Antiwar.com activists, as well as a number of friends from the Ad Hoc Coalition: just from the Internet, around twenty-five people, in addition to a good number who decided to join our contingent on the spot. We were soon out of placards. Virtual organizing, I thought, was not just a figment of somebody's imagination it worked!
A STUDY IN CONTRASTS
As we began to line up for the march up Market Street, the sun was beating down unobstructed by clouds, and I put away my jacket: it was going to be a long, sweaty march, carrying that twenty-foot pole all the way up Market Street and then some. Our banner was large, and quite prominent, standing out from the crowd in its computer-generated angularity and the unadorned simplicity of its principal slogan: ANTIWAR.COM in huge almost monolithic Helvetica Inserat letters. A starker contrast to "For a Socialist Federation of the Balkans! For the Construction of Trotskyist Parties Throughout the Former Yugoslavia!" can hardly be imagined.
AND THEY'RE OFF
The crowd had swelled to around 2,500 by the time the parade got moving. Crowd estimates by the Associated Press put it at around 6,000 and some Internet reports claimed 12,000, and I cannot account for the discrepancy, except that perhaps the latter may have confused the audience lining the streets with the marchers. As we started to move, I saw that the contingent behind us was the International Socialist Organization, about twenty or so, most of who were regulars at the Ad Hoc meetings. But instead of marching under the Ad Hoc banner which was nowhere to be seen they were marching under their own, a rather amateurish effort in bright red with white letters, a bit ragged around the edges. They glared at us and then speeded up so as to get right behind, aggressively shouting the rad-lib refrain "Money for jobs, not for war!" "Money for housing, not for NATO!" But we had two things they didn't have: a clever chant, and a megaphone.
MARCHING TO A DIFFERENT DRUMMER
Our contingent made a pretty picture, and we were spirited and even loud. This was made possible, again, through hi-technology, in this case a state-of-the-art megaphone with adjustable volume control and the look of a large ray gun. This was thrust into my hands by Eric, who naturally entrusted me with the answer to the question of what to say. But for once I was speechless. The droning of the leftists, like locusts in summer, was already rising from the crowd. The IAC marshals, each equipped with rather pathetic-looking megaphones of their own with half our wattage, I thought, sneering inwardly were trying to whip the crowd up with their robotic dogma-driven chanting, like the baa-baaing of so many sheep: "Money for jobs, not for war!" As we marched down Market Street, the "Help Wanted" signs on literally dozens of establishments silently mocked the marchers. "Clinton lies, people die," they screeched. For one giddy moment, I thought I heard "Four legs good, two legs bad!" But I must have been mistaken. In all that din, I could hardly think, and no good slogans came to mind. Then suddenly Nancy, who had come all the way from Sonoma, came up to me and whispered in my ear: "Not another Vietnam, click on antiwar.com!" That's it! I exclaimed, and we all took up the cry: the people around us, and those on the sidelines, looked startled, then amused, and some echoed the chant, until it began to catch on, resounding all around us.
THE THOUGHT POLICE
The International Action Center (IAC) marshals soon took notice of this insubordinate loudness, this untempered enthusiasm for an unapproved slogan. "What're you guys doing, having your own demonstration?" cracked the tough-looking dyke in tight black pants and a dutchboy cut. "Listen, comrade," I said, "you guys haven't abolished the First Amendment yet." A few imprecations were hurled, on both sides, before that little exchange was over. But not wanting to be a sectarian, I joined in the chants I approved of: "Stop the bombing, stop the war!" was monotonous but politically acceptable, if a bit drab. My double-amplification added greatly to the din, and as we approached Castro Street the IAC marshal came up to me and we started talking like old buddies. She said something about how we have to reach out to the gay community, and I said yeah, we sure do, did you read that pro-war article in the Bay Area Reporter, "Serbs Demonize Gays," all about how the evil Serbs are supposedly oppressing the poor delicate little gayboys who don't want to go into the army gays in the military is apparently not so high on the Yugoslav gay movement's agenda? She looked at me nervously, glanced at the "Republicans Against the NATO-crats" placard carried by a man who looked like a rock-ribbed Republican, mumbled something about how she had to get on with her duties, and disappeared into the crowd.
A COOL RECEPTION
We had gotten a good reception downtown and in the middle Market area at the cross-section of Church Street, but after that, as we headed deep into the gay ghetto of the Castro Distinct, the crowd lining the streets was distinctly cooler. The gigantic rainbow flag that hangs from the flagpole in Harvey Milk Plaza was whipping in the breeze, and the streets were festooned in rainbow banners, on every streetlamp, as part of the official city celebration of upcoming Gay Pride Week. It was like entering another country, a strangely didactic land whose inhabitants owe their allegiance to a fervent nationalism, a tribal spirit so unnatural and forced that it must be constantly reinforced and emphasized lest it peter out of existence.
"HARDHATS" OF THE CASTRO
A few drivers honked appreciatively, but the onlookers were largely silent, except for a few hecklers who actually started berating the marchers. One hysterical queen on the corner of Castro and 18th Street, the epicenter of the gay business district, started screeching about "genocide" and shaking her finger at the marchers. I thought about the antiwar marches of yesteryear, when the big threat came from angry "patriotic" construction workers out to rough up some of those damn longhaired hippies. What a change since then but not necessarily for the better. At least the hostility of the so-called "hard hats" was understandable: they were all-American "patriotic" types who thought the commie-hippies antiwar protesters were contemptible traitors. Wrong, but at least it was comprehensible. Today we are faced with pro-war fairies hissing at us from the sidelines, and perhaps threatening to scratch our eyes out is this what the world has come to? It is all too too bizarre.
ADVENTURES IN DOLORES PARK
The Dolores Park rally was pleasant in the extreme. As the speakers droned on in the background, people stretched out on the grass and enjoyed the sun: it was an idyllic day for sunbathing, and the weary marchers made the most of it. Dozens of newspaper hawkers for every Marxist sect in existence stalked customers, and the various groups set up tables to market their ideological wares Antiwar.com included. We had a pamphlet, the one we give away with membership, and two leaflets: one, an introduction to Antiwar.com, and the other a special "Open Letter to the Antiwar Movement" and it was this latter that caused a controversy, for reasons that are apparent if you read the text, or even a small part of it, by clicking here. For one, we attacked the IAC for its sectarianism, for refusing to work with anyone who is not on the Left, and for its uncritical support to the current Yugoslavian government. We also criticized the Ad Hoc Coalition for is "visceral opposition to Serbian nationalism." This latter statement so enraged one of the leaders of the ISO whose table was right next to ours' that she made a point of summoning me over and berating me for telling "lies." Here was a woman who had sat silently at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Coalition while one of her comrades had risen to say that no Serbian flags should be allowed at Ad Hoc demonstrations, and that furthermore we needed no Serbians or, at least, "Serbian nationalists." They were all "fascists," according to the speaker, an intense young man with very gaunt features and haunted-looking eyes who spoke with what sounded like a French accent. If this isn't "visceral opposition to Serbian nationalism," then what is? I also pointed out to the rather annoyed ISOer, in front of her embarrassed comrades, that she was welcome to put her objections to the leaflet in writing and we would be more than glad to post it on our Website "I can think of more productive uses for my time," she snapped. "You'll reach a lot more people that way than by peddling that little newspaper of yours," I snapped back.
After that, I made a point of handing out as many of those leaflets as possible, if only to get under the leftists' collective skin. It was a double-sided job: on the back was an ad promoting our "Left-Right Conference Against the War," a headline that proved popular or at the very least curiosity-provoking. I handed out about 500 with no trouble, and we had others handing them out on the other side of the park. I listened to the speakers for a while, but it was the same leftist cant: Walter Johnson, a local labor leader, Barbara Lubin, the woman from the Middle East Children's Alliance who had attacked me from the platform of an antiwar rally we both spoke at in Berkeley, once again devoted herself to excoriating Republican opposition to the war. A Yugoslavian speaker, Ljerca Stimec, spoke with real passion about the pitiless assault on her country and the price her countrymen are paying for being the defenders of national sovereignty.
PORTRAITS OF THE PEACE PARTY: GLORIA LARIVA
The acoustics of Dolores Park are not all that great, and so I moved in a little closer so as to be able to hear every word of Gloria LaRiva's speech. Gloria is the local superstar of the ultra-left: I have described her in a previous column, and I will just say here that she outdid herself on June 5th. Up there on the podium, her voice one long sustained screech that was painful to the ear and to the brain, her arm pumping up and down in a caricature of some Stalinist demagogue: Yugoslavia still retains the gains of its socialist revolution, we are told, and the lies about Milosevic are just "imperialist propaganda." North Korea, Iran, Iraq she ticked off the names of these "rogue states," whose rulers are tyrants that no one defends no one but Gloria LaRiva and the International Action Center, which is so far from the actual center that the distance can only be measured in light years. Gee, listening to Gloria, it seems that Slobo isn't such a bad guy after all; he may even be something of a hero. She talks about her recent trip to Belgrade that makes two, so far in the company of Ramsey Clark, vividly describing the amputated limbs and people with their eyes gouged out, the "collateral damage" of NATO's bombs, and she seemed to relish the gory details: her monotonous voice suddenly acquiring undertones of real passion. For a moment, the audience was eerily silent; Gloria, sensing the mood, quickly moved on to safer subjects.
'TIL WE MEET AGAIN
It is good to get out in the real world, away from a computer screen, and interact with living breathing human beings: it was especially great to meet all the people who came up to us and said how much they appreciated the site. My reply to this was always the same: thank you, and it is really none of my doing, I am merely a lowly columnist and editorial director, the real work is done by the Webmaster, the incomparable Eric Garris. I even met a few readers of this Diary, whose encouraging words I treasure too much to repeat. This, more than anything else, is what keeps the staff here at Antiwar.com going, aside from the sheer refusal to let the NATO-crats have the last word. Speaking of the last word, it is high time to write it: after all, it is 4:26 in the morning, and although I have a lot to say today, I obviously cannot say it all in one sitting and still make my deadline. Therefore, I will end it by simply thanking all the people who showed up many coming relatively long distances and in doing so made my day. 'Til we meet again . . .
Please Support Antiwar.com
A contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration and its allies in Congress. Send contributions to
Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. 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).