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).

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail