a decent analysis, I'd say
Source Dan Scanlan
Date 04/09/04/00:01

Six Grim Consequences of the Anybody But Bush Plague
by M. Junaid Alam
Aug 24, 2004

"I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for
something I don't want, and get it." - Eugene V. Debs

The Anybody But Bush plague has infected the American left with
ruthless speed and efficiency. Descrying how, why, and under what
circumstances this or that particular leftist figure has fallen
victim to it is a rather cumbersome and tedious task best left to the
coroners of history. It seems far more prudent now to identify, in
concrete terms, the most important consequences the ABB epidemic will
have on our attempts to reshape society along more just and rational
lines. Below, I outline six of them.

One: The first and most devastating consequence of ABB politics in
the short-term is that it has resulted in total political paralysis
on the burning question of war in Iraq. It is irrefutable that this
issue more than any other currently occupies the full attention of
the American public; polls have found that it ranks above any other
foreign or domestic among the electorate, and that a continually
growing -now majority - part of the population opposes the war. It is
equally irrefutable that John Kerry and the Democratic Party have
decided not to jeopardize the ruling-class consensus to continue and
deepen the war effort: far from opposing the war, their goal is to
appear as more efficient and responsible executors of the war than
the Bush team.

For a left which has placed its neck in the noose of the Democratic
Party the implication is obvious: the priority is to elect Kerry, not
oppose the war. A major segment of the leadership and the
rank-and-file they influence in the anti-war movement are currently
scurrying about getting out the vote for John Kerry. The main
intellectual and political firepower of the liberal anti-war left is
and has been directed at whipping up the ABB frenzy, slandering
Nader, painting Bush as Hitler reborn - in other words, not focused
on Iraq. This represents a tremendous failure to capitalize upon an
enormous opportunity: to galvanize and consolidate public anti-war
sentiment into a powerful domestic movement to end the war at this
pivotal stage of conflict. Instead, with the drive to vote for
pro-war Kerry, all that is being built up is false illusions among
the many who stand against war, and the pay envelope of the few who
kneel before power.

Two: A second and related side effect of the ABB position is
deafening silence concerning the Palestinian plight. Naturally, Kerry
has heartily embraced the one-wall dungeon Ariel Sharon is building
for the Palestinian people and has joined camp with Bush in heaping
all blame on the politically enfeebled and isolated Yassir Arafat.
Liberals have never spoken in defense of the uprooted, occupied,
brutalized, and suffocated Palestinians, much preferring to cower
behind the canard of "anti-Semitism" and hypocritical one-sided
moralizing about suicide attacks. Nonetheless, since a major ABB
theme is that removing Bush will oust the "dangerous clique" of
Israeli-linked neoconservatives from power, it seems necessary to
point out that these same liberals not only condemned those who
identified the dangerous influence of neoconservatism before the war
started as "anti-Semites", but have now adopted the anti-neocon
mantra while failing to defend the actual primary victims of that
ideology - the Palestinians.

Three: The third major repercussion of the pro-Kerry stampede
includes the first and second ones, but goes far beyond them. For the
issues of Iraq and Palestine are neither divorced from each other,
nor from the broader political dynamic that defines our time: growing
Muslim resentment of American foreign policy and America's
aggravation of that resentment in the form of intensified perpetual
war and war posturing against Muslim countries. What is called the
"war on terror", "clash of civilizations" or "the new imperialism",
depending on one's ideological convictions, is a conflagration fueled
primarily by the dual crises of Iraq and Palestine. Therefore the
Democratic Party endorsement of colonial occupation in both areas has
consequences that reach beyond the problems exclusive to each
conflict specifically, and are thus doubly damning.

The unavoidable truth here is twofold: continued pulverization of
Iraq and strangulation of Palestine is a necessary consequence of
American-Israeli projection of power into a region which will never
willingly submit to conquest; and increasing Islamic hatred, anger,
militancy, and terrorism against America is an inevitable consequence
of that pulverization and strangulation.

Those liberals who fear the possibilities of a police-state, of
interminable terror alerts, of the constant paranoia on the home
front that comes hand in hand with the prospect of individual
terrorism, would have done well to wise up and realize that none of
this is really the result of George W. Bush: Islamist terrorism is on
the rise not because of the president's poor syntax, but because
Muslims are getting killed by American soldiers and American weapons.
As long as this persists, the American public's suspicion, hatred,
and contempt for Muslims will obviously rise as the Islamist backlash
grows. Therefore the people will heartily welcome - even demand -
increasingly racist and totalitarian measures so long as they are
provided a measure of comfort and security, no matter who is in

Four: The fourth problem we will face in the aftermath of Anybody But
Bush is increased difficulty in mounting a meaningful third-party
campaign. With the gracious help of none too few ABBers, the
two-party system has refined and honed its ability to ensure its
monopoly in the electoral arena. So far this has included challenging
signatures to get Nader on the ballot in various states simply to
drain and sap his campaign's funding and energy, standing around
pretending to sign the petition and giving the illusion that enough
people are present and then running off at the moment of signing,
using functionaries of the Democratic Party to prevent ballot
signatures directly, and sending scaremongering letters to people who
support Nader stating they could be thrown in jail if they supplied
incorrect information. That much of this has been conducted by
liberals without any direct funding or guidance from the Democratic
Party is a crucial index of where they stand. All these underhanded
maneuvers employed in sabotaging Nader's campaign will not simply
expire the day after the election. They will remain in the
ruling-class tool box to derail future initiatives, and serve to
reinforce the atmosphere of antipathy towards third-party politics.

Five: The fifth consequence of ABBism is the internal implosion of
what was the most viable third party, the Green Party. In a
nomination process which very well may have been rigged and
undemocratic (see the Greens for Nader analysis), the party ended up
rejecting the Nader ticket in favor of the essentially unheard of and
unknown David Cobb. That no one knows or has ever heard of David Cobb
is apparently the main strength of his campaign: its platform is to
vote for the Democrats in "swing states" - that is, where it matters.
The Green Party, which gained national recognition after backing a
longtime fighter for important domestic pro-worker, pro-consumer
reforms in Ralph Nader four years ago, which made huge strides in
California with the leadership of the fiery Peter Camejo and popular
Matt Gonzalez just last year, is now spearheaded by a man whose sole
political purpose on the national stage is to encourage people to
vote for an opposing political party. Such is the completely absurd
and bizarre impact of ABB politics.

Six: The sixth and final ramification to contend with is the fact
that ABB-lite arguments advanced by radicals result in complete
disorientation and confusion about what the left actually is, what it
is capable or willing of doing, and how it can act effectively. That
there is in fact no monolithic creature known as "the left" should
have been made clear by the obvious differences and fault lines in
the anti-war movement over questions like the importance of
Palestine, the nature of the Iraqi resistance, the meaning of the
"Support Our Troops" slogan, the authority of the UN, and so on. Of
course, political unity became important because the war drums were
beating and getting people out on the streets was the priority;
whether people opposed the war because they opposed the system
producing it or merely the president launching it was not the point.

Now however, the inability and unwillingness to state the obvious -
distinguishing what it means to be anti-capitalist as opposed to
merely anti-Bush - is totally inexcusable. No purpose of unity is
served by radicals lending cover to liberals with watered-down
versions of the ABB argument, because the liberal opposition to the
inherent flaws of the system will be silenced, tamed, and bought out
if their supposed savior John Kerry wins the presidency. And then
it's back to square one all over again.

M. Junaid Alam, Boston, 21, is co-editor of the radical youth journal
Left Hook and can be reached at:

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