Activist Cindy Sheehan backstage at a rally on the San Francisco State University campus in 2008. (Photo: Getty Images)
The United States has produced several mythic historical figures â€“ Paul Bunyan, John Henry and the like â€“ but our actual prophetic peace activists are actually far more interesting. People like Eugene Victor Debs, Emma Goldman, and in our present day, Cindy Sheehan.
Myth America: 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution places Sheehan firmly in the pantheon of progressive heroes. Myth America is an online book by Sheehan geared towards destroying the military industrial and security industrial complex that killed her son Casey in the corrupt war in Iraq.
Sheehan is calling for re-localization and the uncoupling of the "robbed class" from the war profiteers and new high-tech robber barons that are flourishing under globalization. The beauty of Sheehan's work, directly echoing the speeches and writings of Debs, is its sheer bluntness.
I interviewed her for freepress.org, and she began by pointing out that "the last month or so in Iraq does not show that the war is winding down, and that part of Obama's plan to withdraw from the cities in Iraq simply involved redefining the border of the city." She termed the so-called withdrawal "painfully slow."
"The peace movement has been co-opted by the Democratic Party," Sheehan said, while on her way to a national gathering of peace activists in Pittsburgh on July 10. She ran a Congressional campaign in the Democratic primary last year against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and raised the issue of Pelosi being aware of the practices of torture and waterboarding.
Sheehan favors the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to look into the issues of torture and war crimes in Iraq. She is well aware that if you begin digging up facts concerning the practices of the Bush administration following 911, you're going to "pull up some Democratic skeletons as well."
Sheehan argues that it's necessary to dig up all the bodies and bones or there'll be "no healing."
In one sense, Sheehan is both old-fashioned and cutting edge â€“ she uses the appropriate term in discussing U.S. foreign policy â€“ "imperial." When asked she believes current U.S. policy is imperialist, she replied "Of course."
But her focus is more on re-invigorating the peace movement at the local level, which she says is doing a "bad job" under the Obama administration. Make no mistake, Sheehan sees the current imperial policy of the U.S. reflected in a domestic "class war" as well. The book poses a key question: "What can the vast majority of Americans do as the "robbed class?" She recently wrote: "The so-called Ship of State that 'turns slowly' cannot turn at all if the rudder keeps pointing in the direction of economic piracy for the Robbers and economic pillage for We the Robbed." This populism from below sentiment has usually been a harbinger for large-scale social economic movements, from the original Populists to the Socialists, Wobblies, progressives and New Leftists.
Her new book analyzes the relationship between the U.S. government and the six or so transnational media corporations that control 80% of the world's for-profit content. Sheehan's strategy is to avoid the Robber Class corporations as much as possible, whether its through publishing e-books and articles on the internet, or re-allocating one's capital in a different direction.
Sheehan's pitch is to free ourselves from our co-dependency with the Robber Class. "... Only buy used, only use cash or bank debit cards, or only buy from local merchants," she recently wrote. "They can only steal from us if we enable them." And when the Robber Class steals from us they generally get away with it. Sheehan argues that Bernie Madoff was punished so severely because he stole from the rich.
Sheehan's book is a plea for the robbed class to take back their independence and the wealth that they produce, not only for their own good, but for the good of all the people on the planet.
Bob Fitrakis is the Editor of freepress.org and the author of "The Idea of Democratic Socialism in America and the Decline of the Socialist Party."