Saturday, October 30, 2004

Operation Clark County

Norm comments on the Guardian's intervention in the US presidential elections, Operation Clark County - joining the legions of mockers. More on that, shortly.

I want, though, to state for the record, that I took part in that. I sent off for a name and address, and paid my dues to send a hand-written letter to an Buck-eye voter. I also enclosed some campaigning material from my Yanklander comrades in the World Socialist Party US. Obviously, I was breaking out of the remit of the cmapign, actually urging the Ohionian not to vote for either of the buggers (though I was more polite in my phraseology than that).

I don't think, though, that the campaign deserves the condemnation it has receieved. It is, perhaps, a shining example of the new cyber-campaign world we live in, where we are becoming part of one human polity. Norm expresses himself to be "generally in sympathy" with this type of reaction:
Meanwhile, he has shown the letter to some of his friends and the reaction has been uniformly hostile: "One guy told me, 'Ask this Scottish guy if he speaks German. If he doesn't speak German, the only letter he needs to write us is to say thank you'."
Aside from being likely incorrect - had the German's won world war two (and it is fairer to say the Russians defeated the Nazis than the Americans, but thats a quibble) the outcome would probably have been closer to Robert Harris' Fatherland than to us speaking German - yes, there'd people bleating about Blair being the poodle of Berlin, and German voters (in the post '68 revolution democratic Germany) reminding us that "Ihr würdet jetzt alle Russisch sprechen, wenn wir nicht gewesen wären"* when we try to influence their decisions.

There is only one word I can think of to describe such a reaction - cretinous. To take the freely given expression of opinion of one citizen of a free country to that of another, and to deny it has any validity or any right to be given, is, frankly, narrow, nasty, dogmatic cretinism.

Norm has on his blog talked on the fact that the world just happens to currently be organised on national lines, and we have to accept that as a fact. But, in actually supporting the right of cretins to cower behind national boundaries - in absolute negation of any notion of universalism - he has turned to the dark side of promotying the viscious, reactionary and anti-working class creeed of nationalism. His own opinion, given here contains the seeds of it's own undoing. His call is precisely not a call to but out of other people's elections, but in fact a powerful argument for an extension of universal democracy, I should have a right to vote over the fate of Israel, and Palestine, to vote over whether or not one group of people go to war - I have that right as a human, as a member of a human polity exherting itself. We should be promoting that human community, not snidely laughing at attempts to extend human dialogue (patronisingly, I may add, in many cases, as it is Them the commedy yanks who will react on the sneerers behalf with barbed defensive comments).

People who support mass murder in the name of universal values should be wary of what they laugh at.

That went on longer than I thought - I'm off to read about a new voting system I've just discovered.

[* - cheers to my German mate for providing that translation for me, blame her, OK]


Blogger SIAW said...

Not that we'd claim to speak for Norm, but to the extent that your remarks apply to everyone who laughed or sneered at Operation Clark County, it's worth pointing out that most of the laughter and sneering concerned, *not* the abstract question of people's right to address each other across national borders, but the practical aspects of the operation - the Guardian's naivety in imagining that its readers' letters would be welcomed; its dishonesty in pretending that it didn't steal the idea from Tim Blair and that it was meant in jest anyway; and then some of the letters it printed, notably Ken Loach's disastrously misjudged rantings and Lady Antonia's haut-en-bas ramblings. Yes, it's important to try to promote universalism, but it's at least as important to pay attention to the world we live in, which is full of people who are not universalists (yet), who deserve better than to be preached or lectured at, and who respond badly (quelle surprise) to woolly liberals patronising them from a distance.
As for "mass murder", well, no doubt you can reconcile your petty-bourgeois pacifism with your commitment to proletarian revolution - which surely at some point is likely to involve violence? - but it's hard to see how. Also, as you know, Marx recognised the possibility of historically progressive warfare: does your rejection of it mean that you're a better thinker than he was, or just that your Marxism is a bit - how we shall put this? - selective?

7:19 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

1) As I noted, the sneering allowed the Americans to be the nationalists by-proxy, the Guardian were naive, and would be 'justly' rebuffed by good ol' redneck Americans. By all means criticise the content of the message, but, please, do accept that so long as all yorkshiremen are liars, it's wisest not to criticise the act of writing the letter.
2) As for violence:
a)I do believe fundamentally that a peaceful revolution is possible, and we should aspire to it. Further, as I have noted before, my objection is to organised violence rather than sporadic violence per se, which I accept may happen. If we have to fight a civil war, we've lost allready, and all we can do is recreate the conditions of making a revolution.
b)Marx is dead. One can agree with his analysis of capitalism and disagree on prescriptions. I agree with the theory of class struggle, with the theory of value, with the importance of democracy. I disagree on the idea of terror.
c)Whilst war may have been progressive once, the American civil war springs to mind, a war that doesn't alter class forces, and within the context of modern capitalism, is not so.
d)Mass murder doesn't stop being mass murder even if it is justified. If I thought mass murder was necessary to create socialism and end the mass murder by starvation in capitalism, I would call it by it's proper name and not euphemise it away.

9:56 AM  

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