Monday, September 10, 2007

Two Timely Essays at

Two interesting postings over at Winter Rabbit reminds us of an important vote in the United Nations later this week: Historic Vote: U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13th.

"We reaffirm our commitment to continue making progress in the advancement of the human rights of the world's indigenous peoples at the local, national, regional and international levels, including through consultation and collaboration with them, and to present for adoption a final draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples as soon as possible."

If the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples fails in light of all present circumstances, it will be an out-and-out de-affirmation
of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in my opinion of these general principles of human dignity. [emphases in original]

Winter Rabbit urges, and I do, too, you to sign a petition in support of the resolution over at Amnesty International.

Taking on 9/11 Mythology

Meanwhile, blogger eugene has written a penetrating essay, "Cold War Liberalism and September 11", which takes aim at the conventional wisdom that "9/11 changed everything":

Why is it that we should see Clinton's actions in the vein of Cold War liberalism? Because even though the Soviet Union had ceased to exist in 1992, the notion that American hegemony was a positive goal, something that should be defended and promoted by American foreign policy even with military means, pervaded the Clinton years. Richard Holbrooke, Bill Richardson, and Madeline Albright were all significant proponents of this idea - that with a collapsed Soviet Union, the path was now clear for American hegemony to be consolidated and extended. Clinton's two terms in office convinced Democrats that this was a wise policy, and the era's anti-left sentiments seemed to ensure that Cold War liberalism would continue into the new century....

The case for the Iraq War cited Cold War liberalism frequently, from the Marshall Plan to collective defense to global coalitions to the oppression of the Iraqi people.

Democrats would likely have gone along with the war anyhow, but the repeated appeals to Cold War liberalism are suggestive. They indicate how Democratic thinking could have ever been brought to support the war in Iraq. Purged of antiwar, leftist voices, the Democratic Party had already embraced the use of force in pursuit of American hegemonic goals it believed were just and moral. September 11, to them as much as to the Republicans, indicated the need for this interventionist ideology.

In 2007, we see that the Democrats have yet to repudiate this approach. Whereas Republicans like Giuliani want the more aggressive tactics of "rollback" championed in the 1940s and 1950s by the far-right, Democrats are content with Cold War liberalism, and that's been enough to generate Democratic support for Republican foreign policies.

Cold War liberalism continues to suffuse the Democratic Party, especially in its presidential candidates.

My comment to eugene

In reply to eugene's essay at Progressive Historians, I wrote, in part:

The Democrats support for American hegemony is precisely why they embrace "Cold War" liberalism, with "liberalism" itself, as a signifier for a particular belief system losing much of its specificity after 50 years of eclipse.
I don't see the Democrats embracing the left at this point. There is no reason for them to do so, as the politicians follow the money/influence of the socially powerful, and that means the major corporations.

It is time to rediscover Marx, and see that both the Republicans and Democrats are parties of class rule, and loyal to the capitalist class. If the left had influence in the Democratic Party of the late 1930s and 1940s, it is because 1) it was necessary to embrace some form of progressive program in the face of the near collapse of the capitalist system itself during the Depression; a time, by the way, when Communist and various socialist parties began to gain a mass following, and significant labor union influence. And 2) to gain the loyalty of the vast working majority to wage total war against fascism, which was widely understood to be reactionary and anti-working class, e.g., outlawing of unions, forced labor on a mass scale, etc.

The Democratic Party is not reformable. There may be good people within it; in fact, I personally know there are (I even support one of them -- possum -- in his attempt to win a congressional seat.) But this does not change my overall opinion, which is strategic, and aimed at consolidating opinion for the formation of an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist party in the United States. The failure of same in other countries is worth discussing, but that's an essay all by itself.

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