Joanne Landy at it again
Posted to www.marxmail.org on May 13, 2006
In the latest attempt by the Campaign for Peace and
Democracy (a wholly owned subsidiary of the left-Shachtmanite
New Politics magazine) to put a halo over its head, executive director Joanne Landy is gathering signatures for a petition that carves
out a "third way" between the USA and Iran. Since the 1940s, this
current has always adopted a sort of moralistic
concept of politics in which one of the primary goals has always been to curry
favor with middle-class opinion. It is inspired by the anti-Soviet open letters
that people like Albert Camus, Arthur Koestler and Dwight MacDonald used to
circulate in the 1950s.
MacDonald, who was in the Trotskyist movement in the 1930s,
left with Max Shachtman but eventually cut his ties
to organized politics completely and launched a magazine called
"Politics." About MacDonald, Trotsky had this to say: "Every man
has a right to be stupid on occasion but Comrade Macdonald abuses it."
Although I am no expert on the history of New Politics and have no plans to
become one, I wonder if it was named after MacDonald's magazine in the same way
that the neoconservative New Criterion of today was named in honor of T.S.
After the USSR
disappeared, Joanne Landy and the New Politics milieu
were forced to ferret out new causes upon which they could establish their Tolstoyan saintliness. It should come as no big surprise
that Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro would serves as useful substitutes for the
role that Josef Stalin once played. In two open letters drafted on the occasion
of two separate wars with Iraq,
they proclaimed their desire for peace and their utter antipathy to Saddam
Hussein. This gesture was clearly designed to distinguish themselves from the
Ramsey Clarks of the world, who saw no compelling need to curry favor with
enlightened opinion in the academy or the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
arrested people who were operating with funding and direction from the CIA and
government agencies, Landy and company yelped for
their release. How dare Cuba
put people in jail who took their marching orders from diplomat James Cason?
You'd think that the USA
was freeing terrorists who were blowing up Cuban civilian airliners for this
kind of over-reaction to occur.
Landy's open letter on Iran consists
mostly of unobjectionable characterizations of how bad life in Iran today, such
as "Iranian women lack some of the most basic human rights" and
"Workers who try to strike or form independent trade unions are violently
She also makes the record that she too is opposed to Iran
having nuclear weapons, even though Israel
has between 2 and 3 hundred. To reduce the threat of nuclear war in the Middle
East, "a new democratic U.S.
foreign policy" is required. In keeping with the generally moralistic
posture that characterizes the "third camp," there is not the
slightest inkling of how such a policy can be realized, especially in light of
the deepening bellicosity of the US
ruling class and its two parties. Perhaps George W. Bush will read the open
letter, slap his forehead and cry out, "Why hadn't I considered this
before?" Nor is there much likelihood that Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad will be moved by these words.
The open letter includes a laundry list of concrete demands
that would be part of a "new democratic U.S.
foreign policy." Some seem dubious at best. For example, it calls for
"Supporting the right of national self-determination for all peoples in
the Middle East, including the Kurds, Palestinians and
Israeli Jews." Anybody with a lick of sense would understand that there is
a contradiction between calling for self-determination for both Palestinians
and Israeli Jews unless you are talking about the discredited "two-state
solution." Since the ineffable Michael Lerner, a leading 'left' spokesman
for the two-state solution, has signed the open letter, one might gather that
this is exactly what the open letter intended but lacks the forthrightness to
The letter also urges the "Abandoning the effort to
impose, through the IMF/World Bank or unilaterally, neoliberal
economic policies of privatization and austerity that bring mass misery to
people in large parts of the world." Although one must clap loudly for
these lofty sentiments, the plain fact is that the only concrete moves taking
place today against "economic policies of privatization and
austerity" are occurring in Latin America under the
inspiration and with the material aid of the despised Cuban government.
Furthermore, no matter how backward Ahmadinejad
is around a whole range of questions, he has demonstrated a willingness to
close ranks with Venezuela
against imperialist attempts to reestablish control over oil resources. One
imagines that the real hue and cry in the mainstream media over Iranian
backwardness has more to do with this threat than it does over anything else,
since the same kind of policies exist in Saudi Arabia where the
"crime" of homosexuality is punishable by death.
The plain fact is that Joanne Landy
and company are not really addressing the Iranian or US'an
Presidents, but people like us: the organized, unorganized and disorganized
left in the USA.
She feels an almost irresistible compulsion to appear without sin among her
peers in much the same manner that religious sects like the Jehovah's Witnesses
or the Hasidim strive to distinguish themselves from the unsaved. And it
generates the same reaction, especially when it is thrown in the face of the