Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Michigan Peace Works and their magazine, Armistice

(Originally posted by Pat on 3/20/10)

Today I happened upon a Michigan Peace Works rally. It was literal serendipity. I may return to this rally later to show my support, but I had just gotten up and really did need to get something to eat. (Microeconomics trumps social justice? Biology overrides philosophy?) Before I left however I made sure to pick up a copy of their independent youth magazine Armistice.

I cannot recommend Armistice emphatically enough. Read it, share it, support it in any way you can. From an editorial team composed primarily of high-school students (with a few undergrads as well) comes one of the best works of journalism I have ever read. Their editorials could teach the New York Times a few things about clarity, honesty, and reasonableness. Even their cartoons are not merely silly diversions or else partisan slanders, but really biting commentaries on the places American politics is going. (Given our massive unemployment rate, huge fraction of homeless, and enormous national debt, Uncle Sam as a homeless beggar is frighteningly accurate.)
I had expected a radical leftist polemic (which, honestly, would have been fine; though invariably over-the-top, such things often do have some interesting insights), but Armistice is much more than this. Its authors are not Communists or anarchists or utopian radicals; they are democrats, true (lowercase) democrats who believe in the dignity, equality, and authority of citizens. They would surely vote on the Left, but only because where we stand the Right is not really conservative but some sort of reactionary crypto-fascism. Systematic torture, people being kidnapped and held without trial (“rendition”), unprecedented mass surveillance, increases in executive power, aggressive wars, distortions of history and science in the name of ideology, the highest incarceration rate in the developed world—these are not radical fantasies but undeniable facts. The writers of Armistice are particularly skilled at making these facts clear: we vote Left not because we like Marx but because we like Locke; our model is not Lenin but Jefferson. We believe in democracy, and we see our democracy being torn apart piece-by-piece by the forces that call themselves the Right. If the Right party in the US really were conservative in the sense of preserving the values upon which America was founded—liberty, equality, justice, peace, freedom of speech and conscience, secularism—then we would support it. We are the conservatives; you are something else. To steal a line from our fiercest opponent: We love America, and we fear for it.
I don't agree point-for-point with every author of Armistice, but nor do they agree with each other on every detail. Rather, we are all united by our common liberal democratic values, and where we disagree the disagreements are minor, reasonable, and at least in principle resolvable. Always the writing is clear, the facts are accurate, and the arguments are cogent.
If this is the face of our nation's youth, then perhaps there is hope after all.

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