In Alex Cockburn’s Counterpunch, John Walsh complains that United for Justice and Peace, the old-line leftie antiwar umbrella organization, excluded anyone hostile to the Democratic party from the platform of its latest (and smallest) Washington demonstration. Ralph Nader, who was in town, was pointedly not invited to speak, and I was surprised to learn that I was also snubbed:
There was not a single Libertarian speaker even though the Libertarians and Old Right have been far more outspoken in opposing the war than the liberal “Left.” Compare the pages of The American Conservative or Antiwar.com with the editorials of The Nation, which endorsed the pro-war Kerry candidacy in 2004. This writer tried for months to get Ron Paul, the Libertarian/Republican Congressman from Texas, now a Republican presidential candidate, invited to speak at the rally and did so also in 2005. Several of us made an appeal to get Justin Raimondo, the Libertarian editor of Antiwar.com invited to speak. We got no response from UFPJ, and still have received none. In contrast, Raimondo advertised the UFPJ demonstration in a prominent place on his web site, and he even offered to pay his own air fare to D.C. to speak. But no response was forthcoming from whatever committee decides on the speakers, a committee which is none too visible. UFPJ was just plain rude to Raimondo. In general it appears that the liberal “Left” has scant knowledge about the Libertarians and less desire to acquire it. Libertarians are just “a bunch of selfish people,” according to the PC liberals. But there are more things in heaven and earth than the very PC have dreamed of.
I actually didn’t know much about this: I’d only heard vaguely that there was some kind of effort to get me and other non-leftists on the speakers’ platform. But it wasn’t me who offered to pay the plane fare: in the face of such attitude, I say screw ’em. I know these people all too well ….
When I was an organizer for Students for a Libertarian Society, back in the 1970s, I had to sit through innumerable endless meetings of antiwar “coalitions” representing every left-wing sect and tendency on the block. And, in San Francisco, we’re talking each and every grouplet. These guys invariably use the coalition as a kind of alternate universe, in which their minuscule numbers and political significance are artificially magnified. The Revolution may not be happening in the real world, but within the confines of these innumberable conclaves of the converted, a kind of Pyrhhic “victory” can be achieved. It is this playpen atmosphere that keeps the “official” organized antiwar movement almost comically irrelevant.
I have to say that I find the style and methods of the UFJP-commie crowd uninspiring. These people are stuck in a time warp. Do they really believe demonstrations, no matter how massive, are going to stop this rotten war? This is an old paradigm that never really worked to begin with. In an age of mass communications, when it is possible to educate the American people relatively quickly, it would behoove us to come up with a manifestation of mass protest that fits both the times and this particular war. The whole model of the UFPJ protest — a single big centralized action, controlled by a near-invisible “central committee” — is an outmoded template. After all, why should we go all the way to Washington, slog about in the cold and rain (or whatever), and carry something as old-fashioned as a placard? It’s like looking at someone with an antique Model-T tootling down a superhighway. It seems to me that utilizing the information superhighway — and the apparently massive antiwar sentiment out there that the “official” movement never even thinks to reach — is the key to developing new paradigms of protest.
So, no, I don’t care about not being invited to the not-so-big antiwar demonstration: I have no interest in becoming an unofficial adjunct of the Democratic party, nor in building any organization that pursues such a stupidly sectarian strategy. All I know is that I reach more people with a single edition of “Behind the Headilnes” than they managed to drag to Washington, and, in that, believe me, I take absolutely no satisfaction whatsoever.