Last year at Jamia Millia Islamia Central University in New Delhi, India I met students and teachers who thought that it was cool that I’d written an anti-imperialist book and that it was still in print nearly fifty years after it was first published. It was easy to be an anti-imperialist at Jamia Millia. After all, the students and the teachers were anti-imperialists and all worked-up about U.S. drones, U.S. air strikes and about the Syrians on the ground who had been battered and bombed.
It was also relatively easy to be an anti-imperialist in the late 1960s and early 1970s when anti-imperialism was a red badge of courage in SDS, the Venceremos Brigade, in anti-war circles and even among the Yippies, who were far more internationalist in their outlook than many on the Left assumed. Once upon a time, Jerry Rubin went to Cuba to check out the revolution, and later to Chile with singer and songwriter, Phil Ochs, to see what Salvador Allende was doing.
But here in the U.S. in 2018, is it still possible to be an authentic anti-imperialist, an anti-imperialist in more than name? I thought about that question recently when a former comrade explained that he was still an anti-imperialist and wondered if I was one, too.
It wasn’t the first time that my politics were questioned. In 1980, soon after Reagan was elected president, Professor Edward Said asked me if I was still on the Left and hadn’t drifted to the right like that former radical, David Horowitz, whom Alexander Cockburn dismissed as a “whiner.” A plain “Yes,” or a “No” answer wouldn’t do, nor a “Maybe.”
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