Dehomogenizing the Antiwar Movement

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As was to be expected, the various factions following the horrific attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon are becoming more etched in stone — and are the targets of each other’s wrath. Those of us who have written for LewRockwell.com have made arguments that seem to be similar to those made by people like Ramsey Clark and others, who have been professional leftists for the past half century, along with the newest leftists who wish to recapture the "glory years" of the anti-Vietnam War protests.

At one level, a reader might suppose that all of us are on the "same page" of this issue. The leftists, while decrying the terrorist act itself, blame U.S. Government foreign policy for helping to "fertilize" the soil for these attacks; the same can be said for the LewRockwell writers, including me. The leftists call for non-intervention abroad, and so do we. The leftists say they want justice, but not the wholesale slaughter of thousands of innocent Muslims, and so do we.

Thus, the neoconservatives such as Bill Bennett and the crowd at the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal editorial page see the arguments being made by the leftists and they and us place us in the same category. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is not even accurate to say that the two sides are making the same argument, for we are as far apart from the leftists on the interventionist state as all of us are from the war-drum-beating neocons.

A few days after the attacks, I pulled up the web site for Sojourners Magazine, which purports to be the publication representing the Christian evangelical left. Indeed, the magazine is leftist, but it is no more Christian than the atheistic The Nation or even the New York Times. Having read this publication on a semi-regular basis for the last quarter century, I can say with confidence that it does little more than put Christian code words as a façade for a virulent strain of leftist interventionism. In short, it is an awful, evil publication.

The magazine’s web site produced a letter signed by hundreds of the usual crowd, from the representatives of the National Council of Churches to Sojourner’s editor Jim Wallis, who once accused the Vietnamese "boat people" of seeking nothing more than a "fix" for their "consumerism." The letter, while having some pertinent insights, mostly was full of the "safe space" and "diversity" language that has come to characterize the leftist assault on our very language itself.

There were some portions of that letter with which I could agree, yet knowing the history of Wallis and many of the others who signed that letter, their worldview is no less interventionist than those U.S. policies which they now decry. To put it another way, many of the letter’s signers would not oppose U.S. intervention in the affairs of other nations if the purpose of that intervention were to establish a Marxist/communist state.

For that matter, those signers, not to mention all of the other professional leftists who have come out of the woodwork since the terror attacks, very much support U.S. Government violence against the people of this country. While I may agree with someone like Noam Chomsky that U.S. imperialism abroad has caused death and destruction, I also know that Chomsky would like to see that same government seize private property and income from citizens and herd them into a neo-Marxist state. Those who would not cooperate with Chomsky’s "Brave New World" would either be killed or imprisoned. In other words, these folks want the guns of government turned inward, not outward, as war would be made upon private enterprise, freedom, and those individuals who have been the most productive.

To put it another way, what these people hate most is capitalism and free enterprise. They declare that it is nothing more than a resurrection of German and Italian fascism, and that business firms, and especially large, multi-national corporations, are entities more powerful than governments, which must do everything possible to "control" these organizations. Therefore, any government that is not actively trying to do away with private enterprise is little more than a front for fascist capitalism.

Furthermore, if the United States were to become the full communist state of which they so dream, then they would want it to intervene abroad in order to "liberate" people "held captive" by capitalism elsewhere. As Paul Hollander so eloquently described their adulation for murderous totalitarian states across the world, beginning with the Soviet Union and continuing to modern-day Cuba, they have no problem with state intervention into the affairs of other nations if the purpose is to impose Marxism on others.

On the other hand, those of us who write for LRC hold that U.S. intervention abroad does not promote freedom, does not support private property, and certainly does not respect free markets. In the name of "business" and "free markets," the state supports hybrid "public-private partnerships" that violate any norms of the free economy. Furthermore, it violates the law of noncontradiction to say that U.S. Government intervention abroad would ever be for such a purpose.

To examine that statement first from an empirical point of view, the U.S. Government, after it has gained control of a nation, attempts to impose or continue state controls on commerce. As case in point is occupied Germany after World War II. For three years after Allied troops took control of that country, the U.S. Government kept all or at least most of the Hitler-era economic controls, including price controls that were strangling the German economy.

German Finance Minister Ludwig Erhardt finally had seen enough and on a Sunday in 1948, he ordered most economic controls lifted and introduced currency reform. The reason he made that announcement on a Sunday, he said afterward, was because had he done it on a day when the U.S. occupation offices were open, American authorities would immediately have reversed the order. So much for Americans promoting free enterprise abroad.

As one can see, the present U.S. Government has literally millions of economic controls and regulations that daily stifle commerce. To say that this same government would not try to impose such regulations abroad, given the proclivities of U.S. politicians and bureaucrats, is ludicrous. Thus, even though the American political classes insist that they are simply trying to "build democracy and freedom" abroad, what they are really doing is exporting our own brand of interventionism.

A free market, private property order cannot be imposed by a state. Instead, such an order occurs in the absence of state-borne restrictions. That is why I say it would violate the law of noncontradiction to declare the U.S. Government seeks to "impose" freedom elsewhere. Therefore, our imperialism is simply an attempt to replace one bad system with another, the new system staffed with people who are "friendly" toward the U.S. Government.

The Ramsey Clarks, Jim Wallises, and the thousands of New Left and CPUSA remnants do not see things that way. What they want abroad is what they want at home: a state that confiscates, imprisons, and murders. If the USA would do such things in the name of communism, then they would support its efforts. Although they may be protesting such actions by our present government, there is no doubt what they would do if they actually were able to take power. The mass graves of the former Soviet Union and Mao’s China — regimes that Clark and Wallis have vocally supported — bear eloquent witness to their real desires.

Yes, like Ramsey Clark and his fellow travelers, I speak out against going to war, as I spoke out 10 years ago against the Gulf War. I also believe that our Middle Eastern foreign policy is fundamentally flawed and continues to fertilize the ground of terrorism.

At the same time, however, I do not believe for one minute that I would want to live in a place governed by Ramsey Clark or Jim Wallis and their cronies. They are evil men who ultimately have evil purposes in mind. It is just that I happen to agree with them on a few things, so I will listen briefly to what they have to say, but only briefly.

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

© 2001 LewRockwell.com

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