Comments: Actual Change We Could Actually Believe In

"They are not my people."

Ah, and I believed that I had had an original thought. However often I may have this particular thought (quite often), it appears that I may not have been the first one to have it.

Damn this blearghle!

Posted by Aaron Datesman at September 8, 2008 05:19 PM

Sometimes the Nurit Peleds of the world are right. Other times, they just form a Neville Chamberlain Brigade. Peace ueber alles at all times is as stupid or self-destructive as endless war. Better to jaw jaw than to war war, Churchill said. Indeed. But then, would the Nurit Peleds have been around if Winnie had decided, as many of his peers desired, to fight Nazism by lying on his back?

Posted by donescobar at September 8, 2008 05:34 PM

Donescobar, I often agree with you, but here you're just taking the usual cheap shot people always take against peace activists. What about Hitler? Good god, at least try to be original.

I'm not a pacifist, but this is the other thing that irks me--are you really equating Neville Chamberlain to sincere pacifists willing to risk their lives for what they believe in? There's a huge difference between that sort of pacifism and appeasement and while I don't expect rightwing idiots to know that, I'm constantly disappointed by leftwingers who seem equally eager to blur the teensy little distinction. I know the famously stupid thing Gandhi said the Jews should try against HItler. The thing is, though, that if tens of millions of Europeans had been like Gandhi, there's no telling what might have happened.


Posted by Donald Johnson at September 8, 2008 05:55 PM

Sometimes the Nurit Peleds of the world are right. Other times, they just form a Neville Chamberlain Brigade.

Chamberlain didn't act as he did because his brain was filled with wooly-minded fantasies about love and peace. He and his section of the British upper class were attempting to collaborate with Hitler, using him as a tool to damage or destroy communism. Then their ally got a little out of hand.

In the Israeli context, the closest analogue to Chamberlain would be not Nuri Peled, but the Likudniks who thought building up Hamas to fight Arafat was a really neat idea.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at September 8, 2008 05:56 PM

"He and his section of the British upper class were attempting to collaborate with Hitler, using him as a tool to damage or destroy communism."

I was going to add that too, but I wasn't completely sure of my facts. I know there were some woolly-minded pacifists in the 30's, and I won't defend them either, but they're not the same as someone who wanted to appease Hitler because they thought he'd make a good anti-communist, and there is also a distinction to be made between theoretical parlor pacifists and someone like Gandhi or MLK who is willing to die for his or her beliefs. The usual anti-pacifist rhetoric blends all three types together.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 8, 2008 06:00 PM

What in the world did Churchill have to do with the survival of the "Nurit Peleds"? Nice mythology.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at September 8, 2008 08:42 PM

OK, let's bash naughty Colonialist Churchill.
It is, by now, too tiresome and futile to mess with the good or evil puppets in the theater of the right or the left.
Let me say: Churchill was a colonialist, but became more or greater than that.
There are pacifists and there are pacifists. The wide-eyed chanters, ignorant of most history and stuck to a view of human nature only fanatic "human potential" survivors could defend, are as annoying as their Curtis LeMay opponents.
If scores of Europeans had acted as did Gandhi and his followers, the SS could have sent many of its Einsatzkommandos to fight on the front.

I am not knocking pacificsm as such. It just isn't "the answer" in every situation. Why is that so hard to grasp?
The Israeli pacifists are, on the whole, good people.Some, elsewhere, carry with them that sanctimonious goodness and saintliness people like Shaw and Orwell have described so well. Their certainty about what must be done or not done doesn't differ all that much from jingoistic and war-loving patriotism.
And Bernard, let me add my voice to the thousands of UK football fans who, when attending a match in France, chant: "If it weren't for us British, you'd be German."

Posted by donescobar at September 8, 2008 09:25 PM

I hope you are having fun with your contrarian schtick, Donesbar. Enjoy wacking away at your ridiculous, ahistorical, strawman. Chamerlain wasn't a pacifist, and he was sort of a nasty piece of work in a bunch of ways, but he was working from the knowledge that another war would destroy Europe and he was absolutely fucking correct.


Posted by Ed Marshall at September 8, 2008 09:47 PM

A bit of fun, yes, thank you.
What's an "ahistorical strawman" anyway?

And what would Europe without that war, under the heel of Hitler, have become? But come on, you know the answer, you've read Rosenberg's "Myth of the Twentieth Century," the intellectual bible of the NSDAP.

Posted by donescobar at September 8, 2008 09:57 PM

My understanding is that when people actually tried nonviolent resistance against the Nazis, they had some success. It wasn't tried that often, but it did happen. I'd have to do a lot more reading before I'd claim more than that, but I don't think tens of millions of people died in Europe in the 40's because there were tens of millions of heroes trying out their Gandhian pacifism, only to find it didn't work. Rather, you had tens of millions of people not lifting a nonviolent finger.

Cowardice isn't the same as pacifism. Not that I'm knocking cowardice--it might well have been my snivelling choice if I were in some portion of occupied Nazi territory.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 8, 2008 10:02 PM

Yup.
Very little armed resistance, a few examples of the non-violent kind. The first, except by Tito who tied down two, yes two German divisions, was pesky and mostly crushed. The second was either ignored or crushed, except in allied Bulgaria, which didn't hand over its Jews to the Nazis.
But you're right, who--except in Warsaw late in the war and by the Danes smuggling people to Sweden--could have done much to stop the mighty Wehrmacht and the Gestapo informers in every block.
Collaboration is a whole other story.
But no, one should not confuse pacifism and cowardice.
Pacifism can lead to the absurdity I tried to point out, as in the case of the US Quaker leader who famously remarked "If I can't love Hitler, I can't love at all."
Righto. There are slivers and traces or large lumps of this kind of rot in some--not all, pacifists, a kind of philosophical Stockholm Syndrome.
Now, I supported the once large Israeli "Peace Now" movement. Many of its members were splendid people who had learned much from the Jewish experience in Europe. Why this movement dwindled to a very few is a scary story.

Posted by donescobar at September 8, 2008 10:21 PM

THESE ARE NOT MY PEOPLE, ANOTHER COUNTY IS HEARD FROM:
NYT, today, p.A13
The Democrats scrapped plans for another vote to get a bill voted on that would give health coverage to 10 million children. Not enough votes to override the W veto.

Not a word from the soccer moms. No march of even 100,000 on Washington. Nada.
But I forgot. The NFL season just got under way. First things...

Posted by donescobar at September 8, 2008 10:37 PM

And keep in mind donescobar, WWII wouldn't have been possible without the hollowing-out of the German economy and enfeeblement of its government by the same powers that ended up fighting it. Peace activists were irrelevant. You may as well complement that canard with the notion that "peace activists" were responsible for the attacks on the Towers. After all, they protested war in the middle east. Never mind that warmongers in the state department enabled those attacks and empowered the various mafias that make up our newest brown enemy.

Posted by No One of Consequence at September 9, 2008 10:29 AM

Yeah, I sense the frustration among so many on the Left because it has been almost totally ineffective in talking to the vast majoriity of Americans. That's why topics far away (Palestine, Afghanistan, Africa..) are always more prominent and popular. That's why it has put almost all of its eggs in the antiwar basket. Important, but at a price.
The Left, or Progressives, does not touch the nerves or emotions. Reagan's "Morning in America" ("where every man has the chance to become a rich man") tops community concerns and the common welfare every time. Who captivates the union guys (what's left of them)? Bernie Sanders? No, Sarah Palin. How many progressives or Lefties feel at ease talking to Palin types in Wal-Mart or at Appleby's? What would they tell those people? War is bad? (Yeah, yeah...) Teach them the history of American corporate control of our foreign policy? Tell them that Indian reservations are a crime against humanity? Yeah, yeah...
It can't be helped anymore, at this time, but Regan's mirage IS the American dream. Or myth.
Until the Left can gnaw or nibble or whack away at that, touching nerves and emotions and self-interest, fuggedaboutit.
Anything progressive will be tagged as "socialist," and whether you like it or not, that's a red flag (sorry) for immediate mistrust, disdain and rejection. Left is a dirty word. Even soggy old "liberal" is a pejorative.
So, the war remains as the object of left criticism or protest. But that's like hopping on one leg.
Back to the Thirties (with a touch of the Sixties.) Awaken class-consciousness. Start a (non-violent) class war. Chip away, if you can, at the American mindset. Replace the businessman (person) as the quintessential American hero.
Can't be done? Not in 20 or even 50 years. Economic decline and eco-disasters might help. Gloom uncoiling out of gloom. Americans hate darkness, dark stories, stories without a silver lining. (That's why puff like "Schindler's List" is THE American holocaust movie.)
Until a bit of the tragic sense of life intrudes into our Reader's Digest/PEOPLE/self-help and relentlessly upbeat and blindingly narrow view of ourselves, of human nature is under attack and questioned, ain't nuthin' gonna happen.
Right, I don't mind talk among ourselves. Good people, with a sense for social justice and a conscience. But stalled and dead-ended at every turn when it comes to tackling the money and the power. Because the objects of our affection want that too, and they don't want to hear why they're not getting (enough) of it. Find a way of telling them. and the dialogue could begin. At least we could aim for dusk in America.

Posted by donescobar at September 9, 2008 11:03 AM

I agree with that last post, donescobar, but can't think of anything useful to say about how to change things for the better.

Posted by Donald Johnson at September 9, 2008 12:16 PM

And that's what so frustrating. Who does? There's hardly any talk of how it could be done. It would be decades in the making, and we aren't used to thinking ahead for that long. So, we stew. Humor helps, and a Guinness to wash it down.

Posted by donescobar at September 9, 2008 12:30 PM

donescobar: "They ain't gonna buy it if they don't know ya got it"---Obie Baker RIP. Its ANYTHING YOU sell. It PAYS to advertise.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 9, 2008 02:58 PM

Sure pacifism can lead to absurdity. Anything can lead to absurdity.

Posted by abb1 at September 9, 2008 03:32 PM

Living your life by Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, as I have, cannot lead to absurdity.

Posted by donescobar at September 9, 2008 05:09 PM

They agree on a wishy-washy wish list of "wouldn't it be nice" liberal wetdreams.
Reality is Gingrich ang Pelosi and Hartford Insurance and Merck and General Dynamics.
They'd "agree" children shouldn't starve or be bombed. But hey, it's tough out there.

Posted by donescobar at September 9, 2008 10:32 PM

donescobar, whose comments just get more demented as person goes along: "Living your life by Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, as I have, cannot lead to absurdity."

Are you serious? So you turn the other cheek, and do not look on a woman with lust, and do not resist the evildoer; you take no thought for the morrow, nor do you judge, lest you be judged? You pluck out your eye and cut of your arm if they lead you to sin, lest your whole body be cast into Hell?

If you follow the rest of the gospel of Matthew, you know that it is best to be a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven, and that the Lord returned on clouds of glory 19 centuries ago, before the generation of his original hearers had passed away.

Posted by Duncan at September 9, 2008 11:49 PM

My arms is cut, my eye is plucked.
In all seriosity, not everything can lead to absurdity. Distinctions must be made.
Put some rum in your coffee.

Posted by donescobar at September 10, 2008 09:20 AM

What doctrine can't lead to absurdity? Some reciprocity idea, like the golden rule or something?

Posted by abb1 at September 10, 2008 03:34 PM

Well, probably something like Kant's principle of a priori morality. But who cares about that today?

Posted by donescobar at September 10, 2008 05:12 PM

Interesting that you had to pick Kant. From what little I understand of Kant's writings, I always get the impression that every word of it, every idea is plainly absurd on the face of it. You don't have to be a zealot to make it absurd, it already is.

Morality a priori? What can be more absurd than that?

Posted by abb1 at September 11, 2008 03:49 AM