The Anatomy of a Rotten Bloc

by Rich Rubenstein on November 20, 2010 · 0 comments

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I received an e-mail today from Sama Adnan, Executive Director of, an outfit advocating solidarity with Palestinians and other Muslims that works with Congressional reps. for peace in the Middle East and Afghanistan. So far, so good. But Sama’s letter contains a poison pill. After bemoaning the loss of 28 pro-Palestinian representatives in this year’s Congressional elections, it states:

“There is a silver lining in the November 2 losses: the Freshman Congressional class and its promise of many supporters for a rational American foreign policy. We hope to see Tea Party House Representatives more responsive to America’s national interests. Tea Party Representatives must stay true to their aversion of entangling alliances by working to keep American troops from unnecessary conflicts, and subject American aid to Israel to the declared United States policy of a two-state solution.”

This proposes an alliance between extreme right-wingers with isolationist leanings and progressives opposed to U.S. imperial expansion. In reply, I sent Sama the following letter:

Dear Sama,

The policy of making an alliance with right-wing forces with whom one has some conjunctural agreement is what old-time leftists used to call the formation of a “rotten bloc.” A rotten bloc seems to make political sense on the surface, but it has several grave long-term weaknesses:

(1) It involves supporting the election or re-election of people whose aims and methods ultimately strengthen oppressive forces everywhere, including the Middle East.

(2) It involves trusting those who profess “leanings” toward isolationism to overcome their contrary “leanings” toward ultra-nationalism and holy war. But in a crisis, their nationalist leanings always trump their isolationism.

(3) It mis-educates the public by failing to analyze the causes of the conflict properly and to prescribe effective long-term methods of conflict resolution.

(4) Historically, it almost always strengthen the far right at the expense of the left. You MUST think not only of how the Tea Partiers may vote on aid to Israel but of WHAT SORT OF POWER YOU ARE HELPING TO BUILD when you ally yourself with them.

In a nutshell, I’m afraid that there is no way that I can support an organization that supports the Tea Party.



Gareth — I’m copying you on this because of our previous conversation. The Cato Institute, maybe. The Tea Party, never!

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