Paying attention to Cornel West’s ‘Cri de Coeur’ – News Block

by Richard Falk

We are pleased to publish this article from JWE board member and international legal scholar Richard Falk of Transcend Media Service.

In a surprising, welcome, and sacrificial move, Cornel West has expressed his intention to seek the presidency of the United States with the hope of becoming president. Putting his hat in the ring has little chance of attracting votes except from an alienated fragment of the citizenry. However, in a close election, as seems likely, West, as a third-party candidate, could win enough votes to help a right-wing neo-fascist candidate like Trump or Ron DeSantis move toward a disastrous victory for America. USA and dangerous to the world.

Such an argument holds that for West, using the pulpit of a presidential bid to sound an alarm about the arrival of neo-fascism may help bring about what he most fears and loathes. Of course, this is a serious concern that must be pondered, but giving in to such an argument requires keeping silent in the face of the profoundly flawed options being given to the electorate. Forgoing a token presidential challenge has the effect of excluding concerns such as systemic racism, predatory capitalism, hypermilitarism, and ecological criminality from the national debate about acceptable political leadership in the US. These and some other key issues have long enjoyed the backing of both major political parties, leading to social unrest at home, destruction abroad, and wasted opportunities for disarmament, ecologically sustainable development, and equity with regarding economic rewards and punishments.

More to the point, these underlying realities leave voters with a choice between a warmongering Biden presidency for another four years or giving the openly neo-fascist Trump a second chance to steer the country into an autocratic enclave for the billionaire class and ultranationalist minorities. Perhaps, if the US were not the first global militaristic state in world history, but just one among many middle powers, Biden’s election would probably make enough of a positive difference in terms of humanistic values ​​to make the candidacy distracting. de West is dismissed as an example of an irresponsible display of narcissism. But this is not the case here.

Biden’s response to the Russian attack on Ukraine did not seek an early ceasefire and diplomatic compromise. Rather, he opted for weapons and aid to sustain a protracted war in Ukraine as a demonstration of a US-led NATO resurgence, apparently motivated less by defending Ukraine than by an overwhelming interest in humiliating Putin and defeating Russia. . Not only this. Biden added a geopolitical level of encounter to the devastating war on the ground, hoping that inflicting a defeat on Russia would lead China to give up any hope of incorporating Taiwan. This agenda is aimed above all at extending the US. unipolar primacy as a permanent feature of the post-Cold War world, effectively a Monroe Doctrine for the world. Such a provocative course of action was undertaken in the face of the risk of nuclear escalation and the likelihood of another ‘eternal war’, which would undoubtedly bring the people of Ukraine prolonged suffering and consequent devastation. Underlying such behavior is an apparent arrogant attitude towards the start of a new cold war, which is already underway in the form of a costly and risky arms race, uncooperative problem solving in response to a series of global challenges that they cannot be resolved. successfully addressed state by state.

Above all, Biden’s Cold War style of partisan internationalism appears to endanger the people of the world to an even greater extent than Trump’s determination to repudiate the pillars of procedural democracy (respect for election results and commitment to peaceful transfer of power; independent independence). judiciary and rule of law with the will and ability to hold accountable the rich and powerful, as well as the weak and vulnerable.) Trump also threatens gender equality and women’s reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and media independence, and remains an outspoken advocate of the gun lobby and an apparent champion of white supremacism from right-wing militia activism. Overall, he’s not a pretty picture, but seen from a larger, independent planetary perspective, less damaging to the species than Biden offers.

The so-called two-party system may seem to create a meaningful choice, but it is an illusion fostered by the belief that bipartisanship in destructive aspects of public policy can be reconciled with the imperatives of peace, justice, and ecological sanity at home. and in the world. Cornel West is stepping up to expose the dangerous fallacy that lies beneath the conventional wisdom that these toxic structures are beyond the realm of political challenge. It is not paranoid to conclude that democracy in the United States has become more a matter of procedure than substance. When was the last time a mainstream US presidential candidate proposed defense cuts, a stronger UN, reassessing the special relations of unconditional support given to Israel and Saudi Arabia, or advocated repeal of the Second Amendment? to the US Constitution which affirms the right to bear arms?

There have been notable third-party candidates in the past, most notably a libertarian business magnate concerned with public debt, Ross Perot, an outright southern racist, George Wallace, and most importantly, Ralph Nader, who ran for the Green Party. in 2000. These candidates were able to convey dissenting messages, but they were attacked as killjoys, that is, fake candidates who diverted votes from true contenders, thus distorting election results and eroding the value of elections as a reflection of the preferences of the citizens and, therefore, of popular power. . Suppose only enough Americans vote for Trump (or his equivalent) to defeat his Democratic opponent, great anger will be directed at West, as happened in 2000 when Nader’s 97,121 votes in Florida allowed George W. Bush to win. . the state by 537 votes, and thus avoid an Al Gore victory (due to the Federalist quirks of the US Electoral College weighted voting system),

Mindful of the potential adverse consequences, I unhesitatingly support Cornel West for President in 2024, expecting hostility and misunderstanding from my liberal friends. A stalwart friend since we were college mates at Princeton from 1988 to 1994, West earned my love and respect then and ever since. West is North America’s most brilliant public intellectual, a fascinating speaker who for decades has not been afraid to speak truth to power in utterly subversive rhetoric. And the truth he speaks combines eloquence, passion, and spiritual wisdom in the tradition of William Du Bois, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, against violence and all forms of oppression. Like his predecessors, West promises a humanist assault on predatory capitalism and postcolonial forms of exploitation of workers, migrants, convicts, indigenous peoples, minorities. In Cornel’s words, “Neither side wants to tell the truth about Wall Street, about the Ukraine, about the Pentagon, about big tech.” The West demands social protection for everyone at home, an end to geopolitical militarism around the world, and a widespread commitment to justice, internationalism, and above all, the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity.

West for many years, a fearless African-American voice for justice with Christian and socialist undertones, was initially known for his depiction of systemic racism in his influential book race issues (1992) followed a decade later by democracy matters. Tellingly, West openly attacked Barack Obama for his complicit agreement with American militarism and hegemonic capitalism, whom he picturesquely derided as “a Rockefeller Republican in blackface.” West seems closest in his affinities to Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and Jean-Paul Sartre, leading white public intellectuals, who spoke what they believed regardless of personal cost. Each one was an advocate of transformative politics, ‘a socialism to come’, rather than a feasibility politics that accepted the ills of the system.

It is true that making this decision at this time is not easy and, as indicated, I would refrain from doing so if the United States were not the most militaristic and aggressive of states at a time of maximum multiple planetary risk, threatening the viability of the nature. habitat and making plausible reflections on the probable extinction of the human species. We in the US desperately need to heed Cornel West’s testimony at this historic moment if we are to value what it means to be an engaged citizen, not just of this or that country, but of the world in the third decade of the 21st century.street century. Above all, it means embarking on a space/time journey to a spiritually enhanced and radically different future for humanity and its natural habitat.

If this may require us to support Trump instead of tolerating Biden, it is certainly a high price that many must pay, but more broadly, it seems worth it.

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