Perspectives: A Review of 2013
by Paul Buhle
(Swans - December 16, 2013) For me, nothing in the year 2013 has been as significant as the fairly steady stream of revelations about US misdeeds or malign intent, from spying to bullying, threats and destructive actions.
There is no need to recount the details to the readers of Swans, who follow these events at least as well as myself.
What I wish to emphasize is the scrambling of partisan lines, behind the very real differences over women's reproduction rights, environmentalism (or claims to environmentalism), presidential appointments, and so on. What could be more surprising than Tea Party types strenuously protesting, even filibustering, against plans for Imperial violence and against the defense of the Security State. These efforts recall the far more moderate, mainstream objections of Senator Robert Taft ("Mr. Republican") and former president Herbert Hoover, at the dawn of the Cold War, against Truman's determination to build a world-wide military occupation by US forces. The elder statesmen (Taft was an unsuccessful candidate for nomination in 1952) spoke for realism, not humanitarianism, in warning that the U.S. would exhaust itself in the effort. In that way, they were curiously close to Henry Wallace, driven out of the 1948 presidential race by red-baiting and FBI actions against the left.
The disappointments in Obama must be considered part of a larger picture, the loss of the hoped-for "Second New Deal" making advances against poverty, racism, and bad faith in the global picture. We erstwhile supporters can still say: he sounded good until about June, 2009, when State Department support for the Honduran Coup proved we were in for no such future. Heavily privatized health care, fracking, etc., proved what we feared, that the intent was always elsewhere. And yet: as Tom Hayden has written, the withdrawal from Iraq, retreat from Afghanistan, last-moment change of heart (or trigger) on Syria, demonstrate that the Peace Sentiment (there may not be much of a peace movement, but even a small movement cannot be ignored now) has driven Democratic or liberal hawks backward. And thanks to the revelations about the NSC, brought their real intent into the open.
So amidst the horrors clear enough, from Africom (the vast military occupation project in Africa) to Republican assaults upon state services at the state and local level, we know the Score a bit better. It's something.
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About the Author
Paul Buhle retired from college teaching to produce radical comics fulltime. His latest include Studs Terkel's Working, A Graphic Adaptation [reviewed in these pages], The Beats, A People's History of the American Empire (aka an adaptation of Howard Zinn's classic) and a pictorial biography of his childhood hero, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman. His last production (2011) is Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular & the New Land, edited with Harvey Pekar, and reviewed in these pages. His latest comic is Radical Jesus (Herald Press). (back)