Revolution, October 20, 2005
The Deadly Illusion of the Swinging Pendulum
By Bob Avakian
Revolution, October 20, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, recently sent some observations on the “World Can’t Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime” initiative to comrades involved in this political struggle. Because of their importance to actually accomplishing the goal of truly making November 2 “the beginning of the end of the Bush regime,” we are sharing these with all our readers as we go into these final crucial days before the 2nd.
We have to address—to hit from many angles, in a compelling way and with substance—the whole “pendulum swing”/”Bush is weakened and on his way out, so we don’t have to do anything” illusion that is not only asserting itself more or less spontaneously (in one sense) but is being actively encouraged and promoted by various forces, including Democratic Party representatives and those with ties to them. . . It will be necessary, on essentially a daily basis, to continue to return to and hit at this—again, in a compelling way and with substance—not only in a general and overall sense but more specifically in the particular ways in which this continues to pose (and re-pose) itself, the ways in which it continues to “metamorphosize” as events unfold. Part of the dynamic at play, which at one and the same time is part of and helps to reinforce the “pendulum swing” illusion, is the fact that the center and the “arc” of the pendulum continue to be moved further and further to the right—as illustrated by what is upheld, or not opposed, by the Democrats (witness the Commander-in-Chief wannabe Hillary Clinton, and her stand on the Iraq war, torture, the Patriot Act, and abortion, or what happened around Katrina, to name a few key issues—and think of where she will be by the year 2008 if things are allowed to continue with the dynamic and on the trajectory they are on, and if the question of Hillary Clinton’s positions is even relevant then). Thus, what even some progressive people perceive as the place where the pendulum might swing back to is something that a few years ago they would have considered totally unacceptable and outrageous (this is shown not only in the Hillary phenomenon just referred to, but also, very dramatically, by the way in which people got suck[er]ed into voting for Kerry—even while, on issues these people consider to be crucial, Kerry had the opposite position from theirs, not the least on the Iraq war). What this is illustrative of is the principle embodied in that statement of mine that if you try to make the Democrats be what they are not, and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are. And, very importantly, what is also illustrated here is the essential truth of the statement in the “World Can’t Wait” Call: That which you do not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept. So, once again, in the final push for 11/2, it will be especially crucial to struggle, consistently and sharply, compellingly and with substance against this whole basic illusion (of “pendulum swing,” etc.) in a fundamental and overall sense and in the many different forms it continues to take with the unfolding of events.
One key expression of the thinking that there will need to be persistent struggle against is the notion that we are exaggerating (and by this I mean what is said by World Can’t Wait (WCW) and its Call, not just the Party), that things are not really—and could not really become—that bad. Here again, it is necessary to answer this in a way that is sharp and at the same time has real substance, and is therefore—in the combination of substance and sharpness—really compelling. In this connection, I have been continuing to read the Crier book (CONTEMPT: How the Right Is Wronging American Justice, by Catherine Crier, Court-TV analyst and former Republican judge in Texas). She definitely makes a strong case, from her perspective, of just how serious this is, how real and how urgently posed the danger is (as indicated, once again, by the opening chapter of her book and in a concentrated way by its title: “Be Very Afraid”). And she provides some useful information and analysis of the links between the big business, political and legal, and the religious fundamentalist (Christian Fascist) elements in all this, and in particular the “storm trooper” role of the latter. This is gone into in some detail, for example, in the tenth chapter, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” This refers to four key figures she identifies (described with that name in a Wall St. Journal article) who are: C. Boyden Gray, an heir to the Reynolds Tobacco fortune, with extensive business ties; Leonard A. Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Edwin Meese—no need for further comment; and Jay Sekulow, who converted from Judaism to Christianity in college and is a close associate of Pat Robertson and chief legal counsel for the Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice (Christian Fascist “counterpart” to the ACLU). According to Crier:
“Every Monday morning the Horsemen set up a conference call to discuss ways of furthering their hard-line agenda. The call includes White House staffers and other conservative leaders....Tim Goeglein, Bush’s deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison and a close friend of Karl Rove1 [and himself a Christian Fascist], is almost always on the line.” [pp. 102-3]
While Rove plays an important role at this point, he is not indispensable, and there are a number of people in the Christian Fascist leadership who are already within, or who have direct access to, the centers of power at the highest levels. As an example, we can cite the statement by Dr. Richard Land, leading figure in the Southern Baptist Convention, who (as Crier cites him) says: “‘Bush doesn’t just understand our issues, he shares our worldview.” Crier also cites Ted Haggard, a leader in the National Association of Evangelicals, who makes the point that people like him have direct access to key White House aide Tim Goeglein: “he’ll take my concern to the president and get back to me in twenty-four hours,” Crier quotes Haggard as saying. [p. 112]
In summarizing the role and power of the “Four Horsemen” and what they represent, Crier puts it this way:
“What these Four Horsemen have, in abundance, is experience, networks, and clout. Taken together, they represent every side of the ultraconservative battle for the federal judiciary—big business, intellectual rigor, political reach, and religion.” [p. 102]
And note the way in which Crier concludes this chapter:
“The Four Horsemen lead the extreme Right’s campaign. But in order for them to be effective, in order for their existence to have meaning, they need the cavalry. That cavalry, as Sekulow’s media presence attests, is the religious Right. They are the willing followers, ready and eager to charge the ramparts to create a Christian America.
“The Four Horsemen are an aptly named group of leaders. For their followers truly believe in their namesake—the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the four riders who will usher in the end of the world and the last coming of Christ. To the followers, these judicial appointments aren’t just a matter of politics as usual.
“They’re a matter of life or death.” [p. 104]
And keep in mind that, with the Presidency and the Congress in the hands of a Republican Party in which the “religious Right” plays a dominating role, the judiciary is the one branch of government not yet fully under this kind of domination.
As to what these Christian Fascists in particular are after, let us have one of their own prominent leaders speak for them—the Reverend Dr. D. James Kennedy, of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida—who, according to Crier, has “ten thousand congregants and broadcasts his weekly sermons to over forty thousand cities and towns in the U.S. as well as over two hundred nations.” And, Crier goes on, “Kennedy isn’t just a pastor—he’s also a reactionary ideologue.” [p. 110] And he is also powerfully connected politically. Here, as cited by Crier, is Kennedy’s articulation of the Christian Fascist program for the U.S.—which they are very serious about and determined to realize:
“At a rally at Coral Ridge, he elaborated to an enthusiastic crowd: ‘As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors—in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.” [pp. 110-11]
Are we exaggerating? I don’t think so!! Can we continue to “comfort” ourselves with the dangerous illusion that this is merely the rantings of a marginalized crackpot—or even just a religious fundamentalist with a significant following but no real connection to the centers of political power? Only at the cost of repeating the profound historical error, and crime, that Pastor Neimoeller summed up from the experience of, yes, NAZI Germany and ignoring what he called on others to learn from in that tragic and monstrous experience.
Of course, things should not be reduced to just the Christian Fascist element and the danger it poses, as real as that is. The reasons why the Bush regime must be driven from power are spoken to very eloquently and powerfully in the Call for WCW (and in particular the opening indictment [“Your government’s”] in that Call), and it is crucial to continue to bring all that (and more) out in a living way (on the part of WCW in accordance with its basis of unity, and on the part of our Party in accordance with its full views and program).
1 It is important to understand, and to convey sharply and convincingly to others, that—as a reading of this Crier book and other things make clear—whatever happens with Karl Rove, DeLay and some others, and even if they are indicted and/or forced to formally resign (from public political life or from specific positions they now hold), there is a highly financed and connected network of Christian (and other) Fascists that is already strategically and powerfully placed and continually becoming more so, which will not be deterred or in any significant way held back by such things as people like Rove (and/or DeLay, and/or Frist) falling into disgrace and possibly being replaced, even if that were to happen (which is by no means certain): Trent Lott fell from his position, and his place was taken by Frist, for example; Gingrich is gone and now there is Hastert—and has the pendulum “swung back?!! Of course, scandals in the Bush regime could become part of a process leading to a significant change in the U.S. (and the world), but only and precisely if they are seized on as further bases for driving out that regime (and not if they reinforce illusions that is not necessary to do this because some mythical “corrective mechanism” among the powers-that-be will somehow “fix” everything).