Confusions and Misconceptions of the American Left
Some people see the world and the goings on in it as some mishmash of unrelated, chaotic and random things and events that lack any discernible or definable pattern or trend. The world seems to them like some crazy place with many crazy people in it and crazy things happening, all the time and at the same time. You’d often hear them say things like: “it’s a crazy world” or “the world is gone mad”.
There are the ISIS terrorists massacring people for their religious beliefs. There is the non-ending conflict in Palestine, where Israel demolishes Palestinian homes, builds settlements and imprisons and kills Palestinians, who fight back by throwing stones at Israeli military vehicles. There is the civil war in Syria, where Islamists and Assad’s government forces are engaged in a devastating war, creating millions of refugees, flooding the neighboring and European countries. There is the U.S. government that’s bombing ISIS positions in Syria and opposition forces in Yemen and the Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Somalia, while continuing its war in Afghanistan against the Taliban. There is the terrible situation in Iraq and Libya that were devastated and became ungovernable after the U.S. and its allies waged a war against them to depose their former dictators. There is the civil war in Ukraine, after the U.S. backed the opposition and succeeded in overthrowing the government. There are millions of people dying of hunger and curable diseases in Africa, the climate change threatening life on Earth, sweatshops in Bangladesh going up in flames and killing hundreds of low paid workers to keep the price of cloths we buy cheap, the drug wars in Mexico, police shooting and killing people in the U.S. and attacking peaceful protesters and so on and so forth.
This group of people may see the hand of the U.S. and its allies behind many terrible things that are taking place. For example, they may be aware of the fact that the U.S. armed, funded and trained the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan in 1980’s to fight against the Godless Soviets with those Islamic fighters later turning against the U.S. and forming the Al Qaeda terrorists. They may be aware of the U.S. role in maintaining the occupation and Israeli apartheid in Palestine. They may even be aware of its historical and current role in the Koreas or that it supported the Syrian opposition in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian government, as it did in Iraq, Libya and Ukraine, before the terrorist group, ISIS, rose through the opposition and became a threat to the U.S., which then prompted the U.S. to bomb its positions in Syria, which exacerbated the refugee problem. They may be aware of all this, but just before their brains start seeing some pattern in all this and try to tie all this together, they start seeing a blurry and chaotic picture, where the Russians and Chinese and the Iranians and the Afghans and Pakistanis and Syria’s government forces, as well as the U.S. government and the Israelis and Hamas and the Saudis and the British and the French are all equally bad and to blame.
Another group, which considers itself socialist and anti capitalist and among the revolutionary left, sees all this, but suddenly makes a 180 in certain areas of “conflict” and ends up taking the side of US imperialism, which ironically they claim to be vehemently and passionately against.
When I wrote in s recent post how the US decision to overthrow the Assad government in Syria by supporting the opposition, which included Islamist terror groups like ISIS, contributed to the war, which made refugees of millions of Syrians, this is what someone, who is supposedly anti capitalist and anti imperialist, wrote in response: “U.S. decision to topple the Syrian government” = that’s nuts. The U.S. is bombing in Syria, sure. But never, never bombing the armed forces of the dictatorship, only I.S. Meanwhile, Assad continues to drive what are now millions of people into exile with his barrel-bombing campaigns of collective punishment–which are qualitatively no different from those of the Zionists, but only larger because the population is larger”. In other words, this “leftist” sees the Assad government as a bigger danger and threat and more evil than the U.S. empire and even more so than the Zionist state. He not only defends US military intervention and bombings in Syria, but is actually critical of the US for not bombing the Syrian forces and toppling the government!
This “anti-imperialist” goes on and brings the “evil” Iran into his indictment, too: “There’s an unspoken alliance between Iran, which has boots on the ground supporting the Syrian regime as well as supporting the Iraqi regime, and U.S. imperialism”. So, basically, he’s angry at “U.S. imperialism” because it’s not trying to overthrow the Syrian government and of course with Iran, for supporting Syria, more than he’s upset with ISIS for massacring innocent people for not believing in their interpretation of Islam. Or maybe he’s not upset at ISIS at all, which in his world, are the good guys here and are the only ones who try to do the good deed and topple the evil government. I’m sure this person must be happy with how previous regime changes by the U.S. and its allies, such as in Iraq, Libya and Ukraine turned out. In his comment, he actually even expresses disappointment about “US policy” of “hands-off Assad”. I wonder what he considers “imperialism”, which he claims to be against. It seems that to him, it’s not military intervention that makes the US imperialist, but its lack thereof. Non-intervention is imperialistic and war is peace. And he’s one of our leftists!
When the government of Ukraine was overthrown with the help and support of the CIA, another revolutionary leftist (Trotskyist) friend, who had been a socialist and active within the left most of her adult life, took the side of those who with the help of the CIA overthrew the government and established a pro-US, pro-EU and pro-IMF regime which had fascists among its ranks! Her reason had more to do with President Putin, whom she despises, than anything else. Her political “analysis” amounted to the mere fact that Putin represented the Russian oligarchs and was supporting the old government. No mention of the CIA or the EU role or long term US plans to surround Russia. No connection to the imperialist neoliberal policies. Just that Putin is a bad guy. Just like the other friend whose hatred for the Iranian and Syrian governments is all the analysis he needs.
And, then, there is the group of people who see everything as a conspiracy and the work of the CIA. In their strange worldview, the CIA has Godlike powers planning and executing world events many generations ahead. Almost no event is ruled out as a hoax, a false flag or the work of the CIA, even the Sandy Hook massacre of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut (all you have to do is Google Sandy Hook and you’ll see more hits calling it a hoax than describing what actually happened), the Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, the recent shooting of a police officer North of Chicago and many others.
Then, there are those, who see everything as the work of the Rothschild family or wealthy Jewish bankers.
Those who subscribe to such overly simplified and generalized worldviews as the conspiracy theorists, try to make sense of an otherwise chaotic looking and seemingly inexplicable world by resorting to something that simplifies things for them and makes them more easily explainable, leading them to absurd beliefs. This type of worldview has an uncanny similarity to religious thinking, which also tries to understand and explain a world that’s hard to understand and ends up simplifying things through an all powerful God that makes everything simple and easy to understand.
How you view and understand the world determines what conclusions you reach and what or whom you unwittingly end up giving your tacit support to. Despite the best of intentions and desire to oppose injustice, wrong understanding and positions are no different from having the worst of intentions. Despite all that we may say about the EU, the ECB and the IMF, if we support the pro-imperialist coup regime in Ukraine, we are in effect supporting those institutions that we claim to be against. Likewise, when we confuse Islamist terrorists with “rebels” and call for the overthrow of the Syrian government in the hands of those terrorists, confusing such CIA/Israeli/Saudi intervention with a people’s revolution, we’re joining our voices with imperialism, despite all our anti-imperialist slogans.
The world problems are neither the result of unrelated random events that lack any discernible force behind them, nor are they all the work of an almighty organization or a family that plans and executes them perfectly, with no chance of challenging or stopping it. The world may be complicated, but it’s not beyond human comprehension or intervention.