Fighting the Common Enemy

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Unity among the left is a rare and fragile thing, I know. We fight with each other nearly as much as we fight with the right wing. Under normal circumstances, that’s not a problem, because we tend to see this kind of diversity as a strength rather than a weakness: new ideas force us to either re-evaluate our thinking or fight harder for what we believe. In this way we grow, we progress as individuals, as a community, and as a society. And that thinking isn’t easily threatened by the kind of ideological rhetoric you see on the right: Our karma will run over your dogma as the saying goes.

But I’m sure everyone knows that these aren’t normal circumstances. The right wing is firmly in control, only their current reluctance to take it to the next level, that is, to start sorting us out and herding us into camps, is what prevents them from completely seizing power. For the present, they’re willing to go along with the standard rules of government as a pretense, but once the opportunity presents itself, don’t think that they won’t hesitate to grab more power and use it against us. And they will never, ever, accept electoral defeat. A regime capable of lying to the international community about the need to go to war with Iraq is certainly capable of finding ways to prevent losses at the polls and even use force when necessary. This, in short, is not your grandfather’s fascism. It’s a new, improved version, well-marketed and more disciplined.

Let’s put this into perspective. The truth is that the left is still a majority in this country: more people still voted for Al Gore in 2000, even more voted for the left when you add in the votes for Nader and the Greens. So it’s not like, as the “mainstream media” would have you believe, we’re just a few people hanging around in coffee shops. The policies of the right are made by a very small group of people, and they’re maintained by a cadre of enforcers and propagandists, “a vast right-wing conspiracy” that uses manipulation and intimidation to get their way. They know that if they were to fight us on a level playing field they would lose, so instead they concentrate on making sure the playing field is so tilted towards them that it would take nothing short of a nearly perfect effort to overcome it. And it’s that kind of unity that we need, because our enemy is well-organized, well-funded, and now are firmly entrenched.

I know it’s not easy. Too many in the Green Party refuse to accept the Democratic Party as a left-wing organization. While they’re right in saying that the Dems do some of the same things as the GOP does, that doesn’t mean that both parties are “the same.” Too many of the older liberals, what I call the “peace love dope” crowd don’t understand that what worked thirty-five years ago will not work now. Anti-war marches in 2003 outdrew many of the Vietnam and civil rights marches, but it didn’t do anything to stop the war or even change public opinion much. That’s because the right wing owns the media now and they will present their own version of events, and you can bet they’re not interested in our side. The print papers give us slightly better treatment than the visual media, but less and less people are reading newspapers today. Even going after sponsors doesn’t work as well as it should, because the people who sponsor programs like Rush aren’t interested in selling a physical product, they’re selling an ideology.

But unity doesn’t mean that we should seek total ideological purity. In politics, you never get that. No one ever gets everything they want, not even the powers that currently be are that strong. What we need is more of a strategic alliance. There will be time to smooth over the rough edges later, for now we have other goals. Instead of running separately, the Greens should work their way into the Democratic Party, taking it over at the grass-roots level. You could accomplish a lot more that way. Either that, or stop fielding candidates in key states, splitting the vote and allowing the GOP to win with a minority. The point isn’t to win a moral victory, it’s to win elections, and if you can’t grasp that then you’d better prepare to die politically for those beliefs, because the rest of the left won’t forgive your fanaticism and the right will just plain have you eliminated. Is that what you want?

One other thing: we can’t be afraid to use hardball tactics when it comes to getting power back. We need to match their ferocity with a ferocity of our own, we must know when to honestly debate an issue and when to crush an opponent who isn’t interested in a debate. Hit hard, hit fast, and never apologize. Remember, there’s no such thing as second place in politics, you either have power or you don’t, and if you’re unwilling to do the things necessary to get power, then you shouldn’t be involved in the game at all. Once you’ve won, then you can (and should) be magnanimous towards your former enemies. But until then, go for the throat.

But that’s just the first stage, because the common enemy isn’t just the Republican Party. Defeat them and they’ll only come right back, repeating the cycle. The common enemies are the demons that lurk inside of every one of us, things like fear, ignorance and greed. If we manage to take out the GOP we need to concentrate our efforts there: fighting fear with love and courage, ignorance with understanding and experience, greed with compassion and magnanimity. Without them, our common enemies will die out of their own.

In the end, they cannot really win, because their philosophy is a self-defeating cycle of power and revenge, power and revenge. The only question lies in how they will be defeated: can we take them out ourselves by uniting against them, or will the rest of the world unite and defeat them on the battlefield? Considering how many people would die if the latter happened, I’d prefer the former. But we’re the only ones who can prevent that, and we can only begin if we recognize what the common enemy is.

Joseph Vecchio, a veteran of both the US military and of the internet, is a freelance writer. His daily blog, “Pax Liberalis,” can be seen at http://joevecchio.blogspot.com. He contributed above perspective to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from Georgia, USA.

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