FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Rearguard Battles We Have Fought and Continue to Fight

Shortly after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, an article appeared in a left magazine. I can’t remember the article’s author, but I do remember the gist of the piece. We as a generation were exhausted from going to the barricades for so long to fight that war. The article predicted that despite the substantial loss of life and wealth in Vietnam, the empire that the U.S. now reigned over would last for perhaps another 200 years or so. In other words, the generation that had given and suffered so much could expect the vagaries and extremes of empire to continue despite our best efforts to change it.

The writer of that piece was prescient to a fault. Within a few short years of the end of the debacle that was the Vietnam War, the entire political, economic, and social systems of this nation would begin an inextricable move to the right and unravel for all but those with wealth who would soon learn how to buy the political system and have that system shamelessly do their bidding. The government was for sale and the military-industrial-financial complex would explode in a paroxysm of unimaginable wealth. It would begin in small ways during the Carter administration, and continue to expand under Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and finally through Obama, before morphing into unspeakable ugliness before the altar of the far right with Trump, et al. It would not be a bedtime tale recounted for children, but rather an X-rated horror story.

War always was the handmaiden of empire, but the endless wars of today could never have been predicted. After all, hadn’t Reagan worked assiduously but slowly at first to dispel the very real Vietnam Syndrome, before Bush I and Bush II made war both endless and usual. Now, Trump can actually threaten North Korea with all-out war and the crowds go online and to the malls to consume and celebrate the holiday season.

“Consume: be silent,” is not just a handy far-right slogan. It’s what is actually happening on the ground each and every day. It’s business as usual. They are the bread and circuses of ancient Rome.

Certainly, there have been rearguard actions involving millions of people who buck the system, but like all rearguard battles they have only achieved modest success while the Leviathan rears its ugly head and moves inextricably toward the abyss.

Who would have guessed that the system would be so corrupt that a president and part of his electoral base would celebrate grabbing someone’s “pussy” and supporting a senate candidate like Roy Moore in Alabama who allegedly has committed grave wrongs of a sexual nature against innocent individuals? Did the women’s movement ever really happen, or is it like some dream? Did a vibrant and critical mass of people take part in antiwar actions and once stop the carnage and the murder?

Henry Giroux gives a brilliant interview at Salon in “Scholar Henry Giroux: Trump’s attack on democracy will fail,” December 4, 2017). Giroux’s  interviewer, Chauncey DeVega, places Trump squarely within the “racism, misogyny, greed and white supremacy,” that is the U.S. today. And that horror of hate extends to  many parts of the larger world, as is obvious to even a casual observer. DeVega rightly asks: “In what ways has the culture of cruelty been energized by Donald Trump? Is American democracy lost?”

Giroux says: “I think it (polarization and moral sickness) has longstanding roots in a discourse of hate, demonization, objectification and exploitation that really begins to emerge… with genocide and slavery—but more recently from the 1980s on…”

Toward the end of the interview, Giroux strikes a positive note about Trump’s prospects for success in 2020. “I think he’s going to lose. Trump is out of control.” Giroux believes that people in the U.S. will rise to challenge the extremism and violence that is now so much a part of this society. “I think that this nightmare will not go unchallenged.”

But the challenges have been only partially successful. The military budget is exploding. Sexual predators have a voice at the highest levels of government. Institutions in the U.S. that provide for the common good are being dismantled as I write. Public lands are being attacked, as is the entire global environment. Again, we fight rearguard battles with only limited prospects for success. Many on the left identify with small issues that while big to them and their individual lives, don’t begin to critique and act on the larger national and international systems that enforce violent predatory capitalism and mistake that economic system for democracy. We need grander visions! We need to fight! We need the young to participate in these most vacuous of times! Freedom from fear, from want, freedom of speech, and freedom to believe what one wishes (without tormenting others) without the constant sword of war and Damocles hanging perilously close to us, is what we must demand!

More articles by:

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail