May 19, 2003

Not My Antiwar, Thank You Very Much

Moved by I know now what impulse, I decided today to finally take a look at the site which has been so prominent in anti-war linkage for so long, and especially at the Justin Raimondo character who is its editorial director. I have returned with only one thing to say.

Has the whole world gone fucking insane? got started to oppose US intervention in Yugoslavia. Now, I've said before that I think one of the worst things about American foreign policy in the 1990s was that we did not act to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans as quickly and as forcefully as we should have, but I could respect a general libertarian argument against intervention, like Gene Healy's or Jim Henley's. (I'd think it was wrong, even on its own terms, but another time.) The fact that Raimondo's bio online links to an outfit calling itself the von Mises Institute suggests that's where he's coming from. But in fact the vMI crowd are the kind of pseudo-libertarians who endorse monarchy, because if states were personal property, their rulers would go in for less welfare spending and allow less immigration. Raimondo is, in fact, a proudly paleo-conservative activist of the hard right. He gets Pat Buchanan to write admiring prefaces to his books, like this one about how wily ex-Trotskyists subverted the noble nativist American conservative movement:

And today? "Two traditions stand head-to-head, contending for the future of the . . . movement. One piously holds out the promise of enterprise zones from South Central Los Angeles to Mogadishu, while the other dares utter the forbidden phrase, America First!" Written in defense of, and in the style of, the dead lions of the Old Right whom Justin Raimondo reveres, Reclaiming the American Right is not about olive branches; it is about conflict, about taking back the movement, about taking back America.
"America First" was of course the leading isolationist organization in the US during the years before our entry into WWII, many of whose leaders were, if I may use the phrase, subjectively pro-fascist: they were divided over whether we shouldn't have joined the war, or whether we joined the wrong side. Digging a bit more, I find that Raimondo delivered the nominating speech for Buchanan at the 2000 Reform Party convention, and that he's pushed the Mossad-caused-9/11 meme.

Raimondo's bio at says he "writes frequently" for Chronicles, which is another hard-right organ. Looking over its current and former tables of contents, I find, beyond the now-expected isolationism: anti-Muslim bigotry, defenses of Rick Santorum, Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond, denunciations of abortion, paeans to Confederate generals, denunciations of Gen. W. T. Sherman, the ludicrous conspiracy theory that the Iraq war was to keep the euro from becoming the world's reserve currency, and even (how I wish I was making this up) defenses of Milosevic and the Serbian national cause, i.e., a policy of fascism and genocide right out of the Europe of the 1930s, complete with rhetoric approximating "you may flinch at the methods, but it takes real men to defend western civilization against the hordes of the east". I didn't find anything in praise of Marshall Petain, but then they don't have most of their back issues online;I did turn up Raimondo's "Rothbardian" defense of conspiracy theories.

I hope to never see a clearer instance of Teresa Nielsen Hayden's saying "Just because you're on their side doesn't mean they're on your side". For us on the left, Raimondo is the enemy, the old enemy, the one we've fought since Dreyfuss and before. I understand that seeking complete purity in allies is a recipe for failure. And I'm not pulling a Hitchens here, still less a Horowitz, saying that people like this invalidate the anti-war cause. The fact that Raimondo is the worst kind of reactionary idiot doesn't mean that (a) the war against Iraq was not a blunder, and (b) that his "put away your puppets" column wasn't good tactical advice. I'd be flabbergasted if most of the people who link to have any inkling of this stuff, much less approve of it in the least. But I'm very disturbed that I can find only one other progressive publicly repudiating Raimondo, namely Gary Farber (who I haven't been reading often enough). I'm all for a broad front, but not with this.

Update: On re-reading, I see that my third paragraph might give the impression that Healy and Henley had libertarian arguments against the US going to war in the Balkans. I was thinking, though, of arguments analogous to the ones they made against going to war with Iraq; I and don't know what their position, if any, they hold on Yugoslavia.

The Continuing Crisis ; The Running-Dogs of Reaction

Posted at May 19, 2003 19:41 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth