'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MoveON.org: The Perpetual Precession of the Simulacra of Antiwar Activism 

Postmodernist philosophers are noted for their obsession with perceived differences between reality and socially generated representations of it. According to Jean Baudrillard, who died recently, we now live in an age marked by the substitution of the signs of the real, simulacra, for the real itself. He described this process as the precession of simulacra, a process that eliminates our capability to distinguish between nature and artifice.

MoveON.org is the classic manifestation of a liberal organization that sees the world in postmodernist terms, an organization that seeks to achieve the partisan goal of electing Democrats based upon the assumption that the precession of simulacra is an inescapable, established fact of our contemporary existence. I have previously described the efforts of MoveON.org to substitute the artifice of antiwar activism for the substantive kind (click on the label for MoveON.org below if you are interested), and barely a month goes by without discovering its participation in another initiative launched for the purpose of containing antiwar activism within the boundaries established by moderate Democrats.

For example, I discovered this one, while lurking over at DailyKos, the Americans Against Escalation in Iraq:

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq is a national campaign comprised of a variety groups from across the political spectrum that are committed to opposing the Bush-McCain plan to escalate the war in Iraq and to work for the responsible redeployment of American forces. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq includes veterans, students, some of the nation’s leading anti-war voices, and progressive organizations which traditionally confine their activity to domestic issues. Many of the organizations coming together to lead Americans Against Escalation in Iraq include those which successfully mounted a national campaign in 2005 to defeat President Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security. Using that same campaign model, these organizations are joining with more traditional anti-war forces, veterans and students to mount this campaign because the stakes are so high and because the future of a generation of Americans is on the line.

Despite standing for virtually nothing, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq expropriates the language and methods of past social movements in the hope that the sprinkling of the magic dust of authenticity will infuse their efforts with a credibility that is absent. Quite predictably, it is now involved in a multi-million-dollar Iraq Summer project dedicated to pressuring Congresspersons and Senators to change their stance and stop supporting the Cheney-Bush Iraq policy. And, yes, you guessed it, Iraq Summer is only targeting Republican members of Congress, not Democrats, you know, those like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who approved the continued financing of the war.

My hostility towards MoveON.org has primarily been because of its effort to prevent the emergence of a popular, mass based movement against the war in Iraq and, potentially, even US imperialism. Now, I have concluded that it serves an even more insidious purpose, the mobilization of people to participate in meaningless spectacles, based upon the assumption that radical political change is impossible. In other words, a perspective about US politics and social life that is irretrievably cynical and amoral, and allows the militarists to run free to plot new crimes.

Labels: , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?