Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Pick Up All The Pieces And Make An Island

I've been reading a very interesting piece from William Rivers Pitt, in which he describes being heckled "from the left".

Stand Up Next to a Mountain
An interesting thing happened to me last week. I got heckled while giving a speech. Now, don't get me wrong, I've been heckled before. I've given speeches in most of the Red States across the country, and have gotten quite adept at the call-and-raise verbal jousting required when addressing an unfriendly crowd. I've been heckled by irate conservatives in Texas, in Montana, in North Carolina, in Colorado, in Arizona. I've been called a Socialist, a Communist, a Fascist, and a Communist Fascist, my own personal favorite. It's actually fun once you get used to it.

Last week was a different thing, however. I got heckled by people on the Left.
To read of William Rivers Pitt being heckled -- from the left -- was enough to set my hair on end. Surely this must mean that the nascent anti-war movement is heavily infiltrated, like its predecessor? What, I asked myself, were the circumstances? Pitt writes:
I was there to introduce Dahr Jamail, the reporter who is pretty much the only reason we really know what is happening in Iraq. In my talk, I adamantly stated that we have to get American forces out of Iraq, and went into a detailed plan on how that might be done. In the front row were two white guys with Palestinian scarves wrapped around their necks. As I laid out the plan, careful to say at the outset that this was not 'the' plan but 'a' plan, the guy on the left yelled, "Get off the stage with your pro-war (expletive)." His friend wadded up the program for the evening and threw it at me.
White guys dressed up as Palestinians make a scene when WRP is about to introduce Dahr Jamail? Are you kidding me? This sounds as phony as ... as ... as two white guys with Palestinian scarves wrapped around their necks sitting in the font row! Can you spell "bogus"?

Pitt doesn't cast any aspersions anywhere, proceeds as if this "attack" was as it seemed to be, and continues to describe how the left is, in his metaphor, "eating itself".
I've been watching it happen over the last few months. At meetings, at rallies, in online forums, via email, and among friends and family, the Left is tearing itself apart.
I'm thinking that this phenomenon is not entirely -- shall we say? -- "natural"! As a tactic, it's simply the old standby divide-and-conquer applied recursively: split right from left and then divide each group into ever-smaller groups. The consequences, however, are none too simple...

Pitt's piece goes on to recount a different story (which I won't spoil for you; instead I urge you to click here and read the entire essay). And thanks to Peg C. at the Brad Blog for the pointer to a great essay by William Rivers Pitt. But now I want to go in a different direction.

What is making the left eat itself? Is it really, as WRP suggests, a combination of things that are all clearly visible? Or is there some sleight-of-hand going on behind the scenes? And how can you tell?

The time-tested method is: Follow The Money! And that's what Charles Shaw has done in his impressive work The Gatekeepers of the So-Called Left

Part I ran on Scoop last week, and Part II is here now.
Last February United for Peace and Justice, the largest representative coalition within the American "anti-war movement", emerged from their second annual Assembly with a 2005 "action plan" that effectively caged the "anti-war" debate exclusively within the Iraq conflict to achieve partisan ends on behalf of the pro-war Democratic Party and their Neoliberal corporate benefactors. Their "action plan" refused to address any of the core issues of US Foreign and Defense policy, which are the root causes of a pervading culture of war and militarism that has taken over the nation in the years since WWII.

These decisions are part of a larger pattern of "regulated resistance", a system by which dissent is carefully managed and constrained by self, overt, or covert censorship; denial-based psychology; fear of personal or professional criticism and reprisal; and pressure from powers above including elected officials and those establishment foundations which flood millions into the not-for-profit activist sector.

This establishment money, and the access it grants, has caused many ostensible resistance leaders to suddenly and dramatically abandon long-held ideological positions and shift their behavior towards doing what can clearly be seen as the bidding of those in power whose views and values are in direct contravention to the established mores of peace and justice movements throughout history.

These "resistance leaders" of the "Left" act as "Gatekeepers"—influential "progressive" figures who use their resources and visibility to regulate the debate, tactics, and rhetoric of the "anti-war" and other "progressive" movements.
Read this article, and the predecessor, and look at the diagram at the top of Part II, and see whether your hairs don't stand on end, too. And thanks to Bushw@cker at the Brad Blog for the pointer to Charles Shaw.

Man! We've got hair standing on end all over the place tonight...

But on the other hand, big hair is not necessarily an impediment to success. Especially if you wear it right. And if you can play a bit of guitar, there should be no problem at all. Here's Jimi:

Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I stand up next to a mountain
Chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island
Might even raise just a little sand
'Cause I'm a voodoo child
Lord knows I'm a voodoo child

I didn't mean to take you up all your sweet time
I'll give it right back to you one of these days
I said, I didn't mean to take you up all your sweet time
I'll give it right back to you one of these days
And if I don't meet you no more in this world
Then I'll, I'll meet you in the next one
And don't be late, don't be late
'Cause I'm a voodoo child
Lord knows I'm a voodoo child
I'm a voodoo child