Noam Chomsky gives Kerry endorsement
Amerika's leading radical critic has endorsed John Kerry for president in the name of the "real world." As a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) way back, it does not surprise us, though many think of Chomsky as more of an anarchist. DSA advises working within the Democratic Party.
Noam Chomsky has moved in considerably more pragmatic directions in recent years, and frankly, MIM does not trust him as much as we once did. We cannot help thinking that he has had some "influence" in the government and now he seeks to educate the imperialists. We're not surprised, because he never spent much time attending to the question of the vehicle of change.
Chomsky is among many who came into politics in the Vietnam War. John Kerry holds much appeal in a generational way as an important figure in the movement against the Vietnam War.
There is a whole generation of people who believes it "figured out" some things during Vietnam. MIM has been reproached by everyone from cops, to gardeners to university presidents who say they "used to be Maoist" based on the whole 1960s phenomenon.
Something that arises inevitably in thinking about a Chomsky endorsement, if the "leftist" intellectuals want to say Kerry is "smarter" than Bush, then we are prepared to concede the point. This is probably where we "get off the bus" with the intellectuals, because many instinctively believe these matters are a question of smarts and that it's frankly scary to have less than the brightest persyn in charge of the U.$. government. Would a "dumb" imperialist even realize he was setting off armageddon? It's worth pondering, but Marxists believe that the economic system pushes forward these candidates and makes a Bush-type inevitable, if not in 2004, then 2008, 2012 etc.
Then there is the argument that the common persyn wants to see a marginal improvement in his/her life. On this point, we are not prepared to concede the "real world" to Chomsky/Kerry, even as we concede that intellectuals are not comfortable with Bush. Without further ado, let's turn to predictions about Kerry that are specifically about "real world calculations." We believe the "real world" depends on power struggles and so we should look at how a President Kerry shapes that power struggle.
John Kerry appears to have the Democratic Party nomination for president. His advantages include his biography, because he is a war "hero." But against this advantage Bush has about 50 million more dollars than Kerry to spend on campaigning, even after Bush has spent 60% of his money.
Something else we should look at is the Congress. In all likelihood it will remain Republican if nothing truly catastrophic happens between now and November, 2004. That will give mushy voters a reason to vote for Kerry, because voters probably do not intend to give Republicans control of the House, Senate and presidency.
Now let's suppose Kerry wins and think of a Kerry presidency. Kerry voted for the war in Iraq and wrote part of the Patriot Act. As I write this Kerry just started campaigning for bigger military budgets as one of his four major planks on security.(2)
*At most we would see Kerry cut some spending on Iraq, and there is no saying he would not cut on the parts reconstructing buildings and other things blown up by U.$. bombs. Even if Kerry pulls out of Iraq completely, it will only be because of the total failure of previous Iraq "security," which would also be the total success of civil war that the united $tates stoked up in Iraq.
*Congress will have partisan incentive to confront Kerry with "Patriot Act" legislation to sign.
Even more certain than the above predictions are the following dynamics:
*Democrats already told anti-war people to "compromise" and "be realistic" by supporting Kerry against Bush instead of any of the candidates claiming to be against the war in Iraq. With the election of President Kerry, nothing changes. The new excuse will be to compromise to help Kerry win in 2008 and also to help Democrats in Congress in 2006. The Democrats WILL compromise, because the Republicans will still have the House and Senate. A president cannot make law. It has to come from Congress.
*Kerry will muddy the waters as president, unlike Bush who prefers to talk like a simpleton, either because Bush is a simpleton or because he understands his supporters very well. People for and against the war and for and against the Patriot Act will think they support Kerry. That is the easiest way to increase support for an imperialist government when times are not that sharp politically. Conversely, if Bush is president, the dynamic is very clear and all credit or blame falls on Republicans. In fact, Bush would do more to make the dynamic clear to people on an international scale.
*Democrats will shut up about the Patriot Act and the wars out of fear of hurting their beloved President Kerry. While Republicans control the House, Senate and presidency, Democrats know that the "Patriot Act" could aim at some of their followers. This gives the Democrats the maximum motivation to fight. With Kerry in charge of implementing the law, the Democrats will prefer to "compromise" and look toward "electability" by having a "Patriot Act" and similar legislation.
*This is not to mention what others have noted-- that countless single issue groups fight harder when a Republican is in power and sit on their hands when a Democrat is in power--environmental groups for instance.
The bottom line "real world" consideration may be this: Democrats out of power are more useful than in power. The longer they stay out of power, the more third parties will try to break the two-party system and the better their prospects if one party appears mortally wounded with no power in any branch of government. Even if Bush really is able to do "worse" things than Kerry, then he only speeds up the revolution, and with the problems this world faces, we need that revolution sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, I have sometimes thought that it might even make sense for revolutionaries to go to the polls (rather than conscientiously abstaining, as I always do, from the bourgeois-demokkkratic electoral farce) and vote for bU$h, Reagan, or any other hillbilly asshole that the Republicans put forward. The Democrats are at best a hair's breadth to the left of the Republicans, so we get nothing out of their being in power, and we shouldn't be pushing reformism or pragmatism anyway. Perhaps the ugliest possible face of U$ imperialism will incite the Third World to start some real political change--the kind that can't be had from a Metropolitan ballot box.
We welcome with any space necessary, Noam Chomsky's response to be added here.