A series of short pieces on building an antiwar movement in the US. One that can end the war in Ukraine. While we are at it, let’s also stop future war with China. How about end the economic wars of sanctions and embargos. Curtail electronic wars of hacking? Let’s also prevent a cold war. Then we can commit to global arms reduction. No nukes! Start closing down all 800 foreign military bases. How about we end the CIA and all the other shady things we do in other nations? Retire all the aircraft carrier fleets. Then we can ban drone wars, avoid clone wars and stop star wars! Finally stop Skynet before it starts.
An acquaintance, a Jewish author who writes in support of Palestinians, shared a post regarding his being, “disappointed (an understatement) in the far-left narrative (Blumenthal/Greenwald etc) around Ukraine.” He goes on to say, that also, “the Palestinian hard-left believe that because the world is siding with Ukraine and ignoring Palestine–that this too argues for supporting Russia or, at the very least, opposing the Ukraine-NATO-US alliance.” Indicating he supports the Ukraine-NATO-US alliance and opposes Russia, to do otherwise being a far left and disappointing position to take.
The western mainstream narrative certainly agrees with him. It casts Ukrainian President Zelensky in the role of David and Russian President Putin as Goliath. As early as March 6, 2022, CBS Sunday Morning aired a clip showing that already several news programs had implemented the narrative. Then on April 26, 2022, US President Biden goes as far as to say, “For God’s sake this man cannot remain in power.”
Biden, with this statement, is sounding much like King Saul. Saul said to David, “Go and may the LORD be with you.” Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic, put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. At which point the story goes on that David famously decided to go without the heavy armor and got only 5 stones from the river and his sling. However the analogy to Biden is clear, he arms Zelensky with billions and massive amounts of weapons so that Zelensky can be Biden’s champion and defeat Russia in battle.
What happens next? In the story David slings one stone at Goliath and it hits him between the eyes and he falls dead. Then David cuts off Goliath’s head, at which point the Philistines run away. This is how the modern metaphor can become dangerous. Such as when it is let known on September 29, 2022, that unnamed senior officers are said by Newsweek to be working on decisive plans for “a decapitation strike to kill Putin in the heart of the Kremlin.”
David vs Goliath, an old metaphor misapplied.
My online acquaintance doesn’t seem to question his position on the matter of Ukraine. It makes too much sense for him, it feels to real. He probably considers himself too intelligent to be guided by a narrative framework that has been made to fit a well known metaphor. He thinks he doesn’t get fooled by propaganda either, unlike these people who disagree with the west and are useful idiots for Putin. Why can’t people see what will happen if Putin wins? As he said a little further on, “if you want Zelensky to fight on by himself without support from alliances or countries you detest, his fight will be short and his head will quickly be held aloft on a pike and paraded through Red Square.”
Our deepest beliefs.
I wrote a response for him. It was a lot just to be a comment on his post. And I soon found myself writing long comments responding to the comments of others. Trying to be thoughtful, hoping to connect and bridge the gaps. I will piece together the other worthwhile comments into later posts coming soon. For now, I started with this comment, a request to examine deeper feelings and premises.
Well let me ask you this, have you examined your feelings about Russia and Putin more closely? I say this because it is a western consensus that Russia is bad and Putin is evil. People don’t have to defend their arguments when they say these things and no one is going to point out that it’s hateful racist rhetoric. It doesn’t help that the west, for several generations, was taught to hate Russians when they were communist. The palpable hate is so accepted that people believe and repeat every foul thing that is said without question.
Normally, most folks understand that we shouldn’t be racist in regards to, let’s say, black people. Some may even understand that because anti black racism had been so systemic, everyone in the US has internalized anti black racism to some degree. That’s why, even though the vast majority may not think of themselves as racist, most folks probably have internalized some racist notions.
Hating Russia is also a systemic bias. It doesn’t mean every disagreement people have with Russia or Putin is wrong. It means though that we can be quick to judge unfairly. Unfortunately, because people in the west don’t acknowledge this bias, much less confront it, we may find ourselves easily believing some things that are blatantly untrue or highly exaggerated. Most of the time, when I hear politicians, journalists, and academics talk about Russia and Putin, they can’t help but throw in lots of unbacked superlatives. Russians are stupid, they’re criminals, they’re thieves, they’re rapists, they’re naturally evil and backwards. To me, it sounds not unlike the sort of things that these very same types of people might have said about black folks 100 years ago.
What I would say to you (the same thing I tell to everyone) is next time you read an article about Russia, replace it with Canada in your mind. If you can’t believe Canadians would be doing the things said about Russians, then probably take the article with a grain of salt. Unless you have done the work to not be, chances are you’re at least a little bit Russophobic.
On another point, most of the people referred to as the far-left in the west do not support Russia in this conflict. We can see that as true in the lack of protests, amongst other ways. Few even have a foreign policy that is realistic and thought out. The leftists who offered counter foreign policy opinion have slowly disappeared. We are at the point that the Democrats don’t deliver a single antiwar voice contrary to Biden’s dangerous escalatory games. Libertarians offer a more straightforward foreign policy challenge, an isolationist one, but arguably that’s better than what we currently see coming from the left.
In what is known as the left, there are widely divergent foreign policy positions. There are mainstream Socialists like the DSA who say little on foreign policy, even though some may want to. Then there are Socialists who have never found a foreign government that met their high standards. Then smaller Socialist groups that have more nuanced positions supporting some states but not others. Then there are the Anarchists who don’t support states but may like small groups within a country instead. Then there are the leftists who have anti-imperialism and solidarity as their highest issue. They understand geopolitics and are more realist, they may be the ones that say that we in the US live in the belly of the beast.
The leftists that are the most supportive of Russia, or by coincidence, whatever country the Democrats have decided to hate, are vehemently attacked for it. Usually they are attacked the hardest by people who call themselves leftists as well. The attackers have foreign policy largely indistinguishable from the Democrats, except seeming to have a visceral emotional connection to the suffering of whomever the Democrats deem worth supporting while alternatively a deeper hatred for those the Democrats deem important to hate. Their focus is being seen performatively in support of whom they designate good guys, or attacking the supporters of whom they call bad guys, these categories line up with mainstream media and the state department. They will never debate. They show up at your events, demanding to be heard while insulting you.
The leftist who appear more supportive towards Russia, may just seem that way because they are principled against the demonization of other countries and their leaders. When all western countries are being subjected to an ongoing influence campaign in demonizing Russia, to intentionally reject that campaign will be seen as hostile to those volunteering to advance it. Then there is the fact that the positions of a leftist appearing to be more supportive of Russia will be very different, maybe even seeming comical, or as the total opposite of your own understanding. Keep in mind that most people, unless they really dig, know someone, or know where to look, will have only been exposed to caricatures of Russian positions on things. They will know the caricature positions from snippets heavily edited, insulting commentary, straw man arguments and they will never have gotten real information. This is very different from their understanding of your positions. The leftist who is supportive of Russia will, if they live in the US or the EU, will have undoubtedly heard all the positions and arguments you may hold.
Here are some positions that you might hear from someone who seems to you more supportive to Russia.
1. Russia is winning the war.
2. The US started this conflict in 2014.
3. Russia is probably on the right side of international law.
4. Russia has been amazingly humane in this conflict despite the prevalence of horror stories, Ukraine has likely committed more and worse atrocities despite the constant praise.
5. Russians are overwhelmingly united, support Putin and understand the reasons for this war.
6. The US is an empire in decline, delusional about the power it thinks it still has and the lack of power it still thinks Russia and China have.
7. The US is very dangerous, being worried about the possibility of the US using nukes.
8. Russia is weathering the economic war very well and will continue to do so.
9. EU hurt itself by sanctions, the US blew up Nordstream pipeline and the EU is subservient to the US.
10. Ukraine has been a puppet state of the US since 2014, Zelensky is literally an actor who played the President on tv, and Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe.
11. Ukraine has probably had 5-10 times as many killed and injured in the fighting as Russia.
12. Most of the world supports Russia.
13. The war ends immediately if the US stops sending money and weapons.
If you suspect I take these outrageous or “evil” positions because I am a useful idiot to the Russian propaganda machine, you might be right. Or it could be I spent 1,500 hours of my life researching this in the past year. The only way to really know, is to engage in intellectually rigorous and logical discourse. Most choose ignoring differing opinions and name calling instead. There is no logical incentive for me to take this unpopular and socially unacceptable position unless my research has truly pointed me to see this as correct and important.
Thanks! And check out my past articles!
Thanks everyone who made it this far! Check out the posts that are coming next. I’m trying to bridge the gaps, mend the divisions, address the movement’s cultural and structural challenges and forge ahead courageously with others to stop this war. Every day that goes by is one more day that people die in this brutal war who needn’t. One more day that the US could have stopped them from dying but didn’t. We the people, with courage, strength, effort and focus, can bring the war mongers to heel. And that is what we must do.
Feel free to send me questions, comments or share it with someone if you think it may help!