Swans Commentary » swans.com January 14, 2008  



The Zoology Of Pwogs And Pwogrevs


by Gilles d'Aymery





(Swans - January 14, 2008)  A week or so ago, a tiger got loose in the San Francisco Zoo. It mauled two humans and killed another before being killed by the "authorities." The zoo was closed for a week or so and finally reopened with the moated enclosure where the tiger once resided now in search of new residents. With this empty space in mind, here's an opportunity to revisit the zoology of the "progressive" and "radical" Left. Truth be told, this is an exercise in futility since nothing much has changed in these political boutiques. The softies stick to their long-held strategy to support any Democratic candidate in the name of lesser-evilism, and parts of the slightly more radical crowd revel in tactical moves that include the number of reactionary angels on the head of the proverbial pin. From Kucinich's coitus interruptus to the embrace of Ron Paul, the entertainment is worthy of the Writer's strike and deserves a quick flyover of the circus where it plays.


Dennis and the credulous progressives

At the very least the progressive crowd (aka pwogs) won't have to wait until August 25-28, 2008, in Denver, Colorado, to find out that once again they have been taken for a ride. In 2004, Dennis Kucinich waited until the last minute, all the way to the Democratic Convention, to deliver his delegates to John Kerry, a pro-war, corporate Democrat who could not give a hoot about these progressives (so long as they voted for him in the name of lesser-evilism -- which they did). This time around, Kucinich showed his true colors as early as January 1, 2008, in the Iowa caucus. He called upon his supporters to caucus for corporate-controlled Barack Obama on the grounds that both of them had "one thing in common: Change." Obama, a trendy and upcoming operator, was quick to respond that he was "honored that [Kucinich] has done this because we both believe deeply in the need for fundamental change." Kucinich, an avatar of history, is crawling back to his UFO-sighted, vegan-loaded spiritual cave, where his red-haired, tongue-pierced wife will soothe the pain until she moves on to a better climate, leaving the cultural creative, egocentric pygmy to struggle for his lonely self. It goes without saying that the progressive community got rattled by his appeal and felt a sense of deep betrayal, proving once again, election cycle after election cycle, that this crowd is irredeemably and incurably irrelevant -- or at least utterly laughable.

As early as July 2006 (see my Blips #54), I opined that Kucinich could only be supported, religiosity and pomposity aside, if he pledged to release his delegates from voting for the nominee, let his supporters vote according to their conscience, and to not campaign for the pro-war candidate should he lose the nomination. He did not make the pledge. I walked away.

Norman Solomon, a strong advocate of Kucinich in 2004, did not walk away though. He supported Kucinich wholeheartedly, and following the call to caucus for Obama as a second choice he woke up with a really bad migraine. He had planned to vote for Kucinich but unable to swallow the latest perfidy he decided through a few intellectual contortions to throw his support to John Edwards instead ("Edwards Reconsidered," Counterpunch, January 3, 2008).

Another leftist who got had and threw his lot to Edwards once Kucinich made the loony suggestion that Ron Paul would be a fitting running mate is one of the Revolutionaries for Democrats that I covered in "The Democratic Salvation And The Idiotic Left" (November 2006). The mushy-brained pseudo-Marxist revels in doing revolutionary work in between elections (though I suspect that due to the lengthy campaign he has not had much time for such activity). Expect him to vote for whoever the Democratic ticket turns out to be. Perhaps a new entry should be added to the nomenclature of the left, "Entertaining Revolutionaries," or "Revolutionary Clowns."

Even Paul Street, the hard-hitting commentator and author who had given somewhat of an uneasy nod to Kucinich, was taken aback by the fraudulent treachery of the silly man (which should have been expected) and, although his opinion of John Edwards had not been particularly warm, he reversed his stand, using Ralph Nader as a shield against possible critics.

The remaining crowd that did a hatchet job on Nader in 2004 (Doug Ireland, Ted Glick, Ronnie Dugger, the folks at Znet, the Cruise-Line Left at The Nation, etc., etc., etc.) and voted for the Democrats in the 2006 mid-term elections has been singularly quiet, or whispering its support for a Democratic nominee, whoever he or she may be. The reasons, I suspect, are three-fold. 1) They are much too busy with their own ventures: Ted Glick has moved to a new field of consciousness -- climate change. Doug Ireland is very occupied with writing his newly commissioned weekly column for the French magazine Bakchich (gosh, his American French is as horrendous as my French American!) and focusing on gay issues. The brain trust at Znet is content to leave Paul Street to rant on the issue at hand as those folks are working hard on their new impressive Web site and focusing on raising $120,000 with the help of their iconic supporters (Chomsky, Zinn, Pilger, et al.). 2) Many, if not all, follow the money, which comes from Democratic supporters. 3) There is no third-party candidate as of yet and therefore no need to denounce a potential "spoiler." Or they may feel a bit ashamed of themselves for time and again succumbing to the rationale of lesser-evilism -- though I doubt that they even comprehend the notion of shame.

It matters little though. They will all vote for the Corporate Democrat chosen by America Inc. -- all, without exception. They'll lament the choice, of course, but will emphasize the symbolism and barrier-breaking of it -- an African American or a woman or a populist. It's so predictable. To add fun to the already pathetic picture, some of these luminaries have jumped on the bandwagon of one very reactionary candidate.


Pwogrevs: Good old red and brown shirts

Pwogrevs are progressive revolutionaries who for a mix of tactical, antiwar, and ideological reasons, decide to support what and whom they are supposed to vehemently oppose.

Who's not used to Alexander Cockburn's antics? The Israeli government and the Jewish (Israel) lobby control America through their bankers and media moguls; global warming is sheer hogwash, driven by profiteers (Alex cannot fathom that profiteers have not created global warming; they simply take advantage of the reality); peak oil is an invention of the oil companies to better increase their profits; and all the muckraking hokum that apparently sells well on Counterpunch (CP). Having a fixation with Jews, in the lineage of his father Claud, he's been flirting with his alter ego at antiwar.com for years. Left-Right "unity" is his motto -- same as it was in Mussolini's times, and in our post-partisan era. Some leftists, even of the libertarian mold, have always had a fascination with the sirens of muscular order. Cockburn's evolving ideological drift toward reactionary politics was in full display when he wrote favorably in support of Ron Paul and took a few sharp arrows out of his quiver to shoot at Ralph Nader. (And no, Alex, Nader did not "endorse" Edwards. It should be evident enough that this is a ploy from the Establishment's guard dogs to discredit John Edwards -- "See, the guy is being endorsed by a radical, spoiling, lunatic; it's proof positive that he is not a viable candidate..."

Who knows, next he may well endorse Mike Huckabee, the Christ's soldier, Republican with a soul and welcome Chuck Norris on CP!

However, the position taken by Joshua Frank, the co-editor of dissidentvoice.org and regular contributor to CP, is more troubling. He recommends paying attention to and embracing the candidature of Ron Paul because of Paul's strict antiwar position. In doing so, Frank, like many antiwar activists, confuses an antiwar coalition with an ideological alliance. An antiwar coalition should encompass all activists independent of their ideology but should remain focused on that single issue. When you jump into an ideological alliance you're entering some very muddy waters. For instance, should one support David Duke because of his antiwar positions? I'm not suggesting or even insinuating that Paul is a white supremacist. I have no idea, but I sure know that he is anti-immigrant, against freedom of choice, anti-gay, anti-affirmative action, against civil rights, against universal health care, against public education, against all antipoverty programs at home and abroad, against any kind of governmental regulations in the name of the famed "free market" so dear to the paleoconservatives, and, and, and...the list is too long to enumerate here. Suffice it to say, Paul would be happy to return to a social construct that existed in the 19th century and erase all the rights that our forebears fought and died for so that the working class, the small people, the minorities, would be less exploited and share the fruits of their work in a more egalitarian fashion.

The partisans of such an ideological alliance will retort that there is no way, no chance that Paul's principles could turn into the policies of the United States, proving that they are in dire need to revisit their history books, and one could rhetorically ask: If a Paul administration could not deliver his program what makes you believe that he would be able to end the war? They also argue that we have to reach out to conservative, even reactionary voices and forces if we want to achieve results (end the war, etc.), all the same ignoring that in doing so they end up co-opted by these reactionary forces and continually move in one direction, and one direction only: that of the reactionary they otherwise seemingly abhor and combat. Haven't they learned yet from the centrist Democrats?

Out of rationales, which to be honest they have in profusion, they'll wink and allude to the fact that the odds of Ron Paul getting the nomination of the Republican Party are so slim it's worthy and not that risky to monkey-wrench the game. It'd be more useful that instead of wasting their time on baloney they spent it on building a credible alternative to the duopoly, one that reflects their actual social and political principles. What a quaint idea, less gaming and more work back at the drawing board.

But this short review would not be complete without having a look, or taking an ironic shot, at my favorite "monkey-wrencher," the endearing Stan Goff, the self-defined unorthodox Marxist and feral scholar of fame within the withering blogoleftsphere. You'll recall that Stan is the master tactician (also covered in my November 2006 article) who advocated voting for the Democrats in the midterm elections. Having found out that the Democrats did not make one inch of a difference regarding Iraq (wow, what a find!), he announced a few months ago that he would campaign for Ralph Nader, were he to run in the coming presidential election. He also blathered a few positive words about Cynthia McKinney and her attempt to become the Green Party flag bearer.

A renown strategist, Stan sat in front of his chess board, pondered what lateral move he could make to defeat his opponents (the "war party" as Justin Raimondo calls them), and, Eureka!, came up with another genial tactical move. Forget about the king (Nader) and the queen (McKinney): let's muddle up the opposition by registering as Republicans in the primaries and vote for Ron Paul, he wrote in a little rant published on -- where else but -- CP. That will throw the proverbial monkey wrench into the game. Then he went on to refine and further clarify his tactical move on his blog.

A lively discussion ensued. The gallery applauded. To paraphrase: "What a gutsy move, Stan; I'm all for it. Let's become Republicans for a day or more and vote for Ron Paul. We'll show 'em the power of our discontent" -- Even good old John Steppling embraced the tactic, taking the occasion to plug one of his latest typo-laden admonitions against the Imperialists. It was all bon enfant as usual and, in the big scheme of the presidential charade, rather insignificant.

Still, it was a reminder of the age-old commonality between the red and brown shirts, and made me wonder whether these people will ever, ever bring a coherent message that could be supported by the masses of confused voters -- those millions who long for real change but cannot find a bearer for their hopes...and are instinctually rejecting the perpetual contortions and tactical moves of activists that are incapable of offering a realistic alternative to the duopoly.

Thus, here we are: The pwogs for Democrats remain as entrenched as ever in their ineptitude and the pwogrevs call for an alliance with a reactionary nut ball. It's déjà vu all over again. I am sorry the tiger had to be killed, but the emptied, moated enclosure is available. I hear that there is no access to the Internet and computers are forbidden in that space. It could be used for more creative purposes!


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About the Author

Gilles d'Aymery on Swans (with bio). He is Swans' publisher and co-editor.



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This Edition's Internal Links

Spoiler Today, Rebel Tomorrow - Cartoon by Jan Baughman

Buy Now And Lighten Up - Peter Byrne

Clinton And Obama On Iran And Biofuels - Michael Doliner

The Secret Ingredient Of Activism: Mutual Support - Philip Greenspan

One Minute To Midnight - Martin Murie

End The Empire: A Polemic - Michael Doliner

The Insurgent Word: Fear - Gerard Donnelly Smith

Lest We Overlook The Obvious - Carol Warner Christen

Groucho, Chico, & Harpo - Charles Marowitz

Porte - Poem by Guido Monte

Blips #63 - From the Martian Desk - Gilles d'Aymery

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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art14/ga245.html
Published January 14, 2008