Historians Against the War: Progressives Only Need Apply

When Historians Against the War was created back in 2003, libertarian historian David Beito was excited about the opportunity to forge alliances across ideological lines and pursue an agenda of peace above all else.

Having purged Beito and fellow libertarian Thaddeus Russell from the HAW blog last spring over their slamming of America’s current dictator, the organization’s leadership is now making it official: Only progressive historians oppose war and only they know how to “positively influence” Our Great Leader.

Too bad.

Read Beito’s Liberty and Power article all about this sad saga here.

Author: Scott Horton

Scott Horton is Managing Director of The Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio for Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles and KUCR 88.3 in Riverside, podcasts the Scott Horton Show from scotthorton.org, and is the Editorial Director of Antiwar.com. He’s conducted more than 4,500 interviews since 2003. He is also the author of Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan (2017).

27 thoughts on “Historians Against the War: Progressives Only Need Apply”

  1. There is no such thing as democracy where the world and its principals are implemented and or practiced. But there is a manipulated democracy where in the name of people the harms are done to satisfy the political and economical deals that are made. Meanwhile people are paying the price, in that regard an example of the political dealing is the health care that was promised before the election.., so where is that promise so is with other promises that were made.

    Look, George W. Bush and his elite of political and economical enforcements were presenting the new fascism in form of the militarism establishment and everyone knew that, for democrats to say that they are not representing the old militarism trend.., they brought out the gene from the bottle so he could do the same thing but under the democratic pretense, rest is a question for the people and by the people to react and vote for when is time for a real change.

  2. Possibly Beito is taking his ball and bat and going home because he can't run things. Historians tend to be conservative personalities, but not necessarily movement "conservatives."

  3. They must not have received the memo. Wars of aggression and murder are perfectly acceptable as long as Democrats do it.

  4. I have no desire to run anything….certainly not HAW. Do you have any specific comments on the points raised in either Horton's blog or the Liberty and Power Blog?

    1. As someone who considers himself to be a lefty Green and against both Bush's and Bon Bon Good Speech's unwinnable wars I for one am sorry to hear this happened and hope still for a left right alliance war mongering state centralist "centrists."

  5. Only progressive historians oppose war and only they know how to “positively influence” Our Great Leader.

    Best I can can tell, only fascists, banksters, warmongers and Zionists have figured out how to "positively" influence The One. The rest of us will have to hope His Holiness Saint Obushma of Oslo will resurrect the dead on the third day and maybe the American economy with it. Verily, he could transmute depleted uranium, lead and shrapnel into gold, if only you cynics out there would but give him the chance.

  6. The really sad part is that the 'left' and the 'right' have to unite to stop this. Or, what's a better way to think of it is that we have a corrupt, war-loving government that represents only those who are gaining wealth and power from all of this. Some see this from a traditional conservative point of view, and thus oppose it. Some see this from a traditional progressive point of view, and thus oppose it.

    The trick is to realize that we all oppose the same thing. And that as long as we remain devided, we'll remain powerless to change anything. Any historian, progressive or not, could tell you that divide and conguer is a strategy often used by those in power to keep the opposition powerless.

    Yet, I hear too many conservatives attack liberal opposition just because they are liberal, and I hear too many liberals attack conservative opposition just because they are conservative. Despite the fact that both groups agree on the issues, and what the solution should be, both groups spend a lot of time attacking each other. Given the history of the FBI and Cointelpro and dirty tricks by both political parties, sometimes I wonder how accidental this all his.

    I congratulate Mr. Beito on his inclination to try to make alliances across party lines. The result of his attempt is at least informative.

  7. One of the things the left is struggling with in these days is that most of the more prominent organizations that were opposing Bush's policies were really controlled by Democrats. Now that the (D)'s are in power, these organizations suddenly refuse to mount any real opposition.

    Usually, its just a few people who've gotten themselves named to some sort of leadership position that turn out to be the fakes. They then have used those positions to block any continued opposition from those organizations.

    Fortunately, this is only temporary. The people who always really opposed the wars still do so. Given some time to reorganize, they'll either take back control of these organizations, or just establish new ones leaving the fake opposition leading organizations that lose lots of members.

    The good news is that we'll know who really oppose these wars, and who was only faking opposition because the other party was in power. I guess its safe to say that those on the right who opposed the wars during the Bush years really meant it, and that those on the left who continue to oppose these wars now also really mean it. These are the people who need to unite together.

    1. So sadly true Michigan Peaceworks in Ann Arbor that I had assumed opposed American interventionism period apparently is only a shell for the Democratic party and is moribund now that it is Barry Uncle Otoma burning innocents to death in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.

  8. Progressively speaking the current administration is engaged on a mission of redemption that's unlike the former missions in the middle east. But before that mission can begin the security of those humanitarians who are to execute it has to be ensured. And so for a little while, a very little while we hope, it is necessary to fight terror. It may be necessary to destroy Afghanistan before it can be saved.

    Deth from above!

  9. Let's not make the crucial mistake of confusing the Democratic Party in America with the progressive movement. They have nothing in common, unfortunately…

  10. Ah, don't forget Marxists always win from both ways: they are increasing the contradictions of capitalism, ie., by promoting it's worst features.. and getting filthy stinking mega-rich in the process.. then when the country is a smoking ruin they can pat themselves on the back as being responsible for that ruin. Ha! How do you counter a philosophy like that? You have to be a psychopath merely to understand it!

  11. They are not 'Marxists'. The US has virtually no 'Marxists' at all. The phobia about even the slightest forms of socialism ideology is at the root of the matter. The US, due to being one of the world's most powerful or the most powerful empire of them all for the last 130 years has given us the delusion that we don't need socialism of any sort to be powerful. But as socialistic nations like China catch up with the US and surpass the US, we will have to learn a very bitter lesson: socialism is what made us stronger, not weaker.

    Socialism isn't what is looting the system. Social Security paid for itself and then paid for one third of our national overspending, for example. Medical care here isn't socialist because it doesn't keep costs down by having the State run the medical care, it is all 'for profit' and thus, is a looting system for sucking up government funds exactly like the military which also isn't socialist but is a profit center for people to enrich themselves.

    This is why the twin giants wrecking our finances are medical care (both government and non government) both of which are really PRIVATE PROFIT machines. This isn't socialism, this is capitalism running amok in systems that are needed to protect the health of the populace and protect the empire.

    Libertarians have to figure this out if they want to fight the state. So long as they cling to the delusion that capitalism is unmitigated good and socialism is evil, Libertarians will be highly unpopular with the greater masses of humans here who have to cope with keeping families alive and well and get the children educated, etc.

    1. The phobia about even the slightest forms of socialism ideology is at the root of the matter."

      I agree. And it's ironic that so-called "libertarians" often espouse a view constructed through a century of propaganda aimed at convincing Americans that greed is good and stealing from the poor is good and necessary for 'freedom'…

    2. Okay, I'm guessing you missed this: There is no consensus on the meaning of capitalism.
      If it is anything it must be spoken of in extremely broad terms, for instance: capitalism is a system which arises out of any circumstances with human needs. It is not a system which humans implemented to satisfy their needs. Libertarians posit that trying to extinguish it so that it doesn't interfere with people's well being is like walking out on a beach and putting your hand up trying to stop the ocean. They think that the role of government should be limited, contained, or all together destroyed because of exactly what you alluded to, people will use the government as a tool in their capitalist conquest.
      What libertarians need to understand is that just as this greed is inevitable, so is expansive government. At times things seem different because of advances in technology and linguistic development but really nothing changes.

  12. Part 1 of comment.

    I am reminded that one of the greatest Progressive historians of all time–Charles Beard–was opposed to many policies promoted by the only "progressive" president we've had–FDR. To be sure, Obama is no progressive. The only true progressive in 2008's electoral process–Kucinich–was gagged by both the media and his own party and forced to remove himself from consideration.

    1. The names Nader and McKinney come to mind as other 'progressive' candidates in the last election.

      My point is that there were TOO MANY progressive candidates in the last election. In a winner-take-all election system, that's suicide. We ran five, count them five, seperate anti-war opposition presidential campaigns in the last election ….. Paul, Kucinich, Barr, Nader, McKinney. More than that if you count former Sen. Gravel. And even more if you count some much smaller party campaigns that I couldn't even tell you the name of the candidate.

      And not one of these campaigns had anywhere near the strength to make an impact. Maybe Paul got the closest, but the Republicans have never tolerated a true 'outsider' campaign to win the nomination. The big candidate with backing of party leaders and lots of money always wins the Republican nomination. So while Paul maybe made the biggest splash, it was also probably the most doomed-from-the-start of the efforts.

      The point is, in a winner take all system, we need ONE campaign. Winner-take-all says we have to do that. And likely don't have the strength to win even then. Our opponent is so very powerful in so many ways, that even if we mass all of our strength in one unified, sensible effort, we are going to face a very tough task. When we split our strength between five efforts, it only shows that we are silly and don't have any real intentions of trying to change anything.

  13. Part 2 of comment.

    As long as there is a US Empire and the president refuses to roll it back 100%, then whoever is president will be Public Enemy #1–because the Empire promotes exploitation and expropriation in the name of the Open Door policy (whose fundamentals have never changed over 100+ years) that itself causes death and destruction without resorting to imperialist wars of the types currently being waged. The unwillingness of many historians–including progressive historians–to oppose this central facet of our being provides one of the reasons for its existence. The USA is an Empire. Empires kill people, which is why Empires are dispised/hated/loathed inimical to freedom and human rights and MUST be opposed. Yes, there currently are other Empires–China, Russia, Canada, and India qualify–that must be made to answer for their own crimes. But the greatest threat to freedom currently on the planet is the US Empire, which must be defeated and its citizenry forced to stare at the horrors it perpetrated just like the Germans after their Empire's defeat in 1945.

  14. Too many of us libertarians worry about “socialism” and “jihadism” destroying America. The forces destroying America are unprincipled capitalism and militarism.
    Capitalism can be creative if it is oriented towards innovation and growth; the capitalism we have presently is cannibalistic. Cannibalistic capitalism is oriented towards achieving a monopoly, cost-cutting and plunder. It is not libertarian, it is reptilian.
    Likewise militarism is consuming what used to be public service. Our police are now all SWAT teams, Every Podunk volunteer fire department is getting grants to “secure their community”. Taking an airplane ride is now a day trip into fascism. Every outdoor sporting event calls for a flyover of military airplanes. Our communal wealth is going for overseas invasions, Gestapo-like Homeland Security surveilance , and just generalized police state fascism.

    1. Its the seemingly reflexive comments about 'stalinists' and 'marxists' about anyone on the left that worry me. And the nearly identical comments on any left-leaning board calling libertarians a bunch of 'teabaggers' whenever libertarians are mentioned there.

      The problem is, the left opposition and the right opposition are on the same side opposing the same corrupt, militaristic government that has proclaimed itself as the 'center'. And, in order to accomplish anything, we have to unite.

      The right opposition has shown that its too weak and powerless to effect anything by itself from the right. And the left opposition has shown that its too weak and powerless to effect anything by itself from the left. The only sensible course is to unite.

  15. I agree with the above. Though the leftists who dominate HAW have proven intolerant of antiwar libertarians, the same came be said of the warmongering leaders of the tea party movement who are now expelling them too. Antiwar libertarians, unfortunately, are pretty isolated these days. Maybe the whole idea of a grand ideological coalition is flawed.

    1. Which would mean that the only grand ideological coalition that is possible is between warmongers of various stripe. I don't even want to consider the possibility that is the case. The implications would be too tragic.

  16. Don't give up yet, David B. As the comments on my article posted above make clear, it requires openness and willingness to change to make a right/left coalition workable. It may not be possible at all, but a lot of people are working on it. I think that people who have the "realignment" perspective will then need to reach out to those on the "left" and "right" who have narrower views.
    This will not be easy or quick.

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