By Jeff Mackler
In these momentarily difficult times, tragically a small layer of antiwar personalities and a few well-meaning organizations have been drawn into the reactionary “right-left coalition” that is planning a February 19 “Rage Against the War Machine” Washington. D.C. demonstration. In the unlikely event that this effort meets with even a modicum of success, it will represent a serious defeat for antiwar, anti-racist, anti-sexist, LGBTQI and social justice activists as well as all groups that have been fighting against the inherent horrors of the capitalist system for a lifetime.
Among the Rage Against the War Machine invited speakers is the New York Lyndon LaRouche Party’s U.S. Senate candidate Diane Sare. Her campaign literature hails the deceased LaRouche as her mentor and the “greatest statesman of the past 100 years.” In decades past, the virulent anti-Semite, racist, homophobic, neo-fascist and degenerate conspiracy theorist LaRouche and his thugs collaborated with various local police agencies to spy on and disrupt left organizations. Armed with clubs and nunchucks (wooden bars connected by chains) and other weapons, likely with police and FBI collaboration, they repeatedly organized, via their well publicized “Operation Mop-Up,” violent physical attacks on left organizations, focusing on public forums of the U.S. Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party. Their stated objective was to physically obliterate these organizations.
The ultra-capitalist Libertarian Ron Paul
Another confirmed speaker for this Libertarian Party-initiated cabal is former 18-year Republican Party congressman from Texas Ron Paul, who once briefly left the Republicans to become a candidate of the ultra-conservative Libertarian Party. The Libertarians, yesterday and today, claim to champion “unfettered capitalism” and “individual freedom.” Their stock-in-trade includes ending taxation, especially of the super rich, and virulently pressing for massive cuts in government spending for vital social programs. They oppose funding for public education, Medicare, Social Security, and the Post Office.
The Libertarians’ call for a return to a capitalist society where “free competition” prevails is pure fantasy. Today’s capitalist/imperialist world is dominated by a core group of behemoth multi-national corporations and banks that own and control the vast wealth and resources of the world. This infamous 1 percent—or less—dominates world trade as never before. This one percent, or more accurately, the one-hundredth of one percent, control governments, including the U.S. government. This multi-billionaire and trillionaire elite orchestrate elections and the results. The Libertarian fantasy that this unprecedented concentration of wealth and power can or will be changed by the hodgepodge of ultra rightwing Libertarians has zero relation to today’s reality. Need we add that any fundamental challenge to the existing monopoly-capitalist-imperialist system is inconceivable without capitalism’s victims, the vast majority of humanity, playing the decisive role, as opposed to a handful of Libertarians, wedded to capitalist ownership, control and exploitation.
Ron Paul: “Brains” of the Tea Party
Ron Paul is no liberator and has never been one. He was the “brains,” as The Atlantic accurately describes him, and champion of the mass rightwing racist, anti-immigrant Tea Party and a participant in its mobilizations. A self-proclaimed follower of the now-deceased Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises, Paul opposes virtually any form of government intervention in the economy to aid the poor or unemployed—or women and oppressed minorities.
Paul and other Rage Against the War Machine speakers are among a number of anti-vaxxers on the platform, that is, Libertarian types who consider that their “individual freedom” will be compromised by any government mask-wearing or vaccination mandates. Last week the Biden Administration announced its decision to end government expenditures for various COVID relief measures, despite the fact that leading studies, including from the University of California, project annual COVID deaths at a minimum of 120,000-150,000, not to mention untold hospitalizations and serious “long-term” COVID maladies. For the anti-science anti-vaxxers, the common good is trumped by the Libertarian-promoted “individual right” to be free from government-mandated vaccinations. For the corporate ruling elite, “economic philosophy” aside, getting their wage slaves back to work, regardless of the consequences, is their driving principle. That 1.1 million in the U.S. have died from COVID, by far the largest number of any country on earth – almost one-fifth of all deaths worldwide – is irrelevant to the U.S. capitalist ruling elite and the anti-vaxxer Libertarians as well. “Back to work!” is their credo! Let them die until the deaths eventually decline as a result of “herd immunity”!!!
Libertarian Party’s Ludwig von Mises Caucus
Along with the Libertarian Party and the People’s Party, the reactionary, racist, free-capitalist Mises Caucus of the Libertarians also appears among the handful of the February 19 D.C. Lincoln Memorial rally’s financial sponsors.
There is no serious antiwar component to these advocates of a society run by unfettered capitalists. Their traditional rightwing isolationism shuns any form of collaborative relations among nations for their common good. These capitalists, big and small, have never championed support to the right of poor and oppressed nations to self-determination, that is, to be free from capitalist/imperialist intervention, occupation and war, not to mention to be free to break with capitalist exploitation to pursue socialist development, including land reform and abolition of the massive trusts and monopolies that dominate all capitalist societies and exploit working people. On these matters, Libertarians, with few exceptions, stand on the other side of the class line.
History of non-involvement or opposition to fighting social movements
Now in my 65th year as an antiwar, anti-racist and social justice activist and leader, I have never experienced a single example of any Libertarian group joining in any democratically organized united front mass action formation aimed at mobilizing working people against any U.S. imperialist war, not to mention any other anti-racist or social justice initiative. Today, Ron Paul and his Libertarians claim past opposition to the 2003 U.S. slaughter of 1.5 million during the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” Iraq War. Back then, two of their representatives did attend one of our San Francisco Bay Area mass democratic planning meetings to prepare our protest against that impending U.S. invasion and slaughter. But when they insisted, as a condition of their participation, that we eliminate any mention of our demand “Money for Human Needs, Not War,” as well as other social justice demands, and lost their proposal to do so by a vote of roughly 150 to 2, they left—never to be seen again. There were few, if any, Libertarians among the 300,000 who took to the streets of San Francisco in 2003 to oppose that heinous oil war. Our protest did include contingents from all seven Bay Area Central Labor Councils, scores of unions, Black and Latinx organizations, youth and students. There were no Libertarians. Right-winger Ron Paul aside, the Libertarians have an unbroken record of opposition to every fighting mass social movement I have participated in or helped to lead over an entire lifetime.
Defending human needs and challenging capitalism’s systemic racism is anathema to Libertarians, who believe that an unrestricted capitalist market system, perhaps coupled with some privately-run charities, is the sole road to achieving everything of value. His rhetoric aside, during one of his election campaigns, Paul was singled out and supported by warmongering President Ronald Reagan for his “understanding the need for a strong U.S. military.”
Zero Libertarian opposition to U.S. wars and support for social justice movements
My life in the fight for social justice includes nine arrests during the civil rights movement for leading or participating in the early sit-ins and mass anti-racist protests. It includes helping to physically defend Dr. King when he spoke at a mass civil rights and antiwar protest in New York City. It includes helping to found several regional and national antiwar coalitions from the Vietnam War era to the U.S. wars in Central America, the Middle East, Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Grenada, and defending Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and Alex Saab. The Libertarians have been absent from all these struggles! Today, with a slight of hand and ten demands, including one advocating that the U.S. engage in “negotiations, a cease fire and diplomacy” to end the Ukraine War, the rightwing Libertarians aim for an end-run around organizations that have fought U.S. wars, racism and for social justice for decades. They seek to separate the antiwar movement from the very social forces – working people and the oppressed – that capitalism and its endless wars exploit. And they cede the “right” of U.S. imperialism to “negotiate” the future of Ukraine. The Rage organizers engage in endless rants insisting that their ten demands should be acceptable to all antiwar activists, their Libertarian capitalist origins, rightwing promoters and reactionary speakers notwithstanding.
Right wing populist rhetoric
Right-wingers, from Hitler’s Naziism—full official name, National Socialism—to the LaRoucheites and Ron Paul’s Libertarians, periodically clothe themselves in populist left-sounding rhetoric in order to gain mass support for their reactionary objectives. It does matter, indeed it is critical to understand that February 19 is being organized by right-wingers, that the organizers openly invite and promote reactionaries onto their stage to promote their putrid ideas. They grant credibility to neo-Nazis like the LaRouche spokeswoman.
Today’s Libertarian-initiated fake Rage Against the War Machine effort is the singular product of a handful of individuals with near-zero record in organizing mass social justice protests. It has but a handful of endorsers. It has nothing in common with building an independent, democratically-organized, united front, mass action mobilization against imperialist war and for social justice. The February 19 Washington, D.C. “protest” was initiated as virtually the personal project of a few self-proclaimed leaders devoid of any connection to any fighting social movement.
Again, its speakers, including Scott Horton and Jackson Hinkle, as others have previously demonstrated, are anathema to championing key social issues that cannot be excluded from any fighting progressive social movement.
The same with the Libertarians’ junior partner, The People’s Party, led by disillusioned Bernie Sanders supporters who believed that the warmongering Democrats could be transformed by the “independent” Sanders and his ilk. Sanders has been caucusing with and voting with the Democrats 99 percent of the time. He has never broken with the trillion dollar-plus annual U.S. war budget. Today, the near-non-existent People’s Party has re-emerged on paper only with its newfound Libertarian allies, aimed at hustling innocents, and not-too-innocents, toward participation in a bogus antiwar action replete with reactionaries.
Today’s U.S.-NATO proxy war against Russia was instigated by the 2014 U.S.-backed fascist-led coup that removed Ukraine’s elected government. The fascist coalition government they established, with full U.S. collaboration, and with then-Vice President Joseph Biden in charge, ordered the slaughter of the Russian-speaking population in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. Their objective was to place Ukraine’s vast fossil fuel and agricultural resources under the control of the U.S. capitalist elite. Ukraine is but another U.S. oil and resource war akin to the U.S. wars that removed or aimed to remove the governments of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, Syria, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba—to name a few. These wars are inherent in the U.S. imperialist system that operates 1,100 military bases in 110 countries. This system will never be seriously challenged by the pro-capitalist forces in the current “right-left” Rage operation. Its aim is to dupe people of good will to come to Washington to listen to an array of speakers, mostly with an anti-working class agenda, who are today being officially cautioned to temper their hate mongering for the day. One Rage Libertarian organizer has already pledged that “There will be no hate speech” at their event.
Hopefully, the handful of intellectuals who have mistakenly agreed to speak on this reactionary platform will reconsider. Others have already withdrawn.
There are no shortcuts
There are no shortcuts to building the kind of deeply-rooted, independent mass movements that are a prerequisite to challenging wars and all the horrors inherent in the operations of the predatory capitalist system—today including the growing threat of nuclear war. Today, and only for the moment, in my view, we are witness to a massive but temporary contradiction in the U.S. working class and its associated organizations and social movements. On the one hand we see a deep hatred for all U.S. wars and the systemic racism inherent in U.S. society. On the other, this deep-seated anger and frustration with the system’s very nature has yet to crystalize in an effective, ongoing democratically-organized mass movement aimed at fundamental social change. We saw brief flashes of this resistance when 25 million mobilized two years ago during the Black Lives Matter mobilizations in thousands of U.S. cities. The participants, largely youth and working people, understood the nature of the racist beast but lacked an independent deeply-rooted leadership aimed at a break with capitalist politics. Today, the task of constructing that leadership, a leadership that champions every struggle of the oppressed and exploited at home and abroad, stands before us.
Both the Libertarians and liberal misleaders of the Bernie Sanders order have been absent from these struggles. They will make no contribution to any serious challenge to capitalist racism and endless war. That’s our job. Join us!
[Jeff Mackler is the National Secretary of Socialist Action. He is a founder and Administrative Committee member of the United National Antiwar Coalition. He is Director of The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, a member of the National Steering Committee of Assangedefense.org and a founder of the Northern California Climate Mobilization. He can be reached at http://www.socialistaction.org firstname.lastname@example.org]