This website has a libertarian bias. We at Being Libertarian never felt the Bern and I doubt fewer of our readers are going With Jill. It shouldn’t be surprising that I’m critical of Jill Stein’s vice presidential pick, but Ajamu Baraka is such an extreme case that I think his statements and views need to be looked at critically. They are extreme even for a candidate of a leftist third party.
When Googling Ajamu Baraka you may find this article from The Hill which describes Baraka’s resume. It notes his involvement with “Voter Education Project and the Black Liberation movement in the 1960s and ‘70s and continuing with his groundbreaking work against the death penalty with Amnesty International and as founding director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, Ajamu has fought for social justice while challenging the stranglehold on power that economic and political elites have enjoyed for decades at the expense of the majority.”
Baraka, who has spent most of his career as a human rights activist has a rather interesting interpretation of what they really are. He sees the libertarian notion of individual rights as a product of the “assumptions, world-views and social practices of Western, liberal, white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial-capitalist states” and that for human rights to progress they must become ‘people-centered’, meaning that groups of oppressed people would give an open democratic forum to discuss rights and define them.
From a libertarian perspective (or my false-conscience neo-liberal reactionary mind), there are many issues with creating such a system, as compared to establishing a clear universal legal system of rights granted to all people.
How does one figure out which ‘group’ one belongs to? From the safe-zone of a university ivory tower it’s easy to think that all marginalized people will work together or even be easily classified, but classification can be complex. Not to mention who decides who is more marginalized than others: take the case of America. Most would say that poor African Americans are the most marginalized group in America, but lately Trump’s ascendance to the GOP nomination was in part fueled by the resentment of poor rust belt whites whose struggles were ignored by the left who still see them as privileged and the establishment right which took their votes for granted.
Creating a people-centered system of rights would divide society into competing interest groups which would instigate Robespierre like purges over who is more privileged. Think the people without water in Flint screaming at the people without water in Appalachia. If you think I’m being hyperbolic, look at what has happened to numerous African nations post-independence: most suffered civil wars between competing factions of locals who, once freed from the colonial yoke, raced to gain control of the state apparatus because they didn’t trust each other.
Baraka says the problems facing our society are mostly systemic, like most revolutionaries wants to rip down systems of oppression but doesn’t have detailed plan of what he will build in their place. He assumes the laws of history or the voice of the people will create a new spontaneous order; not a power vacuum with a violent game of musical thrones.
Jill Stein is hoping that the Green Party can herd in swaths of Bernie or Bust voters, however, this may prove difficult looking at Baraka’s very low opinion of the Bernie movement:
In their desperate attempt to defend Sanders and paint his critics as dogmatists and purists, the Sanders supporters have not only fallen into the ideological trap of a form of narrow “left” nativism, but also the white supremacist ethical contradiction that reinforces racist cynicism in which some lives are disposable for the greater good of the West.
As much as the ‘Sandernistas ’ attempt to disarticulate Sanders ‘progressive’ domestic policies from his documented support for empire, It should be obvious that his campaign is an ideological prop – albeit from a center/left position – of the logic and interests of the capitalist-imperialist settler state.
Even more enraging to Baraka than the Zionist traitor Sanders, is Beyoncé. Her 2016 performance at the Super Bowl was denounced by many conservatives for its use of Black Panther imagery, but was also denounced by Baraka for being an inauthentic commodified capitalist form of activism. Never mind that Beyoncé’s Super Bowel performance, regardless of what you think, was seen and heard by millions more people than any blog post or speech Baraka will ever produce in his lifetime; it’s bad because it isn’t the fruitless virtue-signaling activism that meets Baraka’s standards.
We at Being Libertarian have been critical of Bernie from the get-go, but it is shocking that a campaign which will have to rally much of the Sanders movement if it wants to get more than 1% of the vote, picked a VP that is this critical of Sanders.
Baraka also has a rather unusual view of foreign policy.
He sees Bashar al-Assad as a democratically elected leader fighting NATO imperialism, not a man whose corrupt rule instigated the Syrian Civil War which he is now winning through his ruthless bombing of his own cities.
The left criticize Trump’s coziness with Putin, but Bakara sees the Russian President’s actions in Crimea as legitimate and thinks the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 by Russian-backed Donbass rebels was a false flag, in his own words, similar to the Hamas-ordered murder of three Israeli teens that instigated the 2014 Gaza conflict. He said this on No Lies Radio, which seems to be a less popular left-leaning version of InfoWars which claims that radical Muslim terrorists are disguised Zionists.
I’ve had people tell me the libertarian movement is illegitimate because of its friendliness towards anti-government conspiracy theorists. If Alex Jones hadn’t endorsed Trump months earlier maybe he would be more open to endorsing the Stein-Bakara ticket which is now pandering to the most extreme fringe of the anti-GMO movement even saying that radio waves should be a cause of concern.
Baraka should also be criticized for his ideological inconsistency, as for years he has been an active critic of the death penalty winning “abolitionist of the year” from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, but was furious that the Department of Justice didn’t seek the death penalty against the white supremacist shooter Dylan Roof.
Bakara, who is a man who possesses very radical opinions, didn’t feel any pity for the left-leaning French cartoonists who were gunned down by Islamists. He called those who mourned the cartoonists and celebrated free speech who rallied under Je Suis Charlie as taking part in “a white power march” and that the shooting was a natural reaction against Western imperialism.
Of all the Sanders activists Stein could have chosen, she chose an anti-Bernie supporter who is so far left that he believes in the moral legitimacy of any state hostile to the United States, whether its Putin’s Russia, al-Assad’s Syria or the Hamas government. Right now the Green Party is desperately trying to sweep Bakara’s past statements under the rug: he’s deleted the articles on his website that were critical of Bernie Sanders, and those declaring Beyoncé and Cornel West as sellouts to white supremacy.
This election cycle Johnson might make it to the debates, while Jill Stein will be busy putting out the fires of bridges of support she was supposed to cross. If only she and Rosanne Barr had put their differences behind them, maybe she would break out in the news cycle.
Many libertarians have been critical of the Libertarian Party nominating two moderate libertarians, former Republican governors with connections with powerful political figures and a message tailored to appeal to non-libertarians. There is probably a nearby alternative universe were the extreme elements of the LP were able to force Johnson to choose a radical libertarian anarchist activist who was an apologist for brutal dictators and liked to go on podcasts to talk about false flags, if anyone still holds this fantasy you can see where that would get Johnson in the case of Ajamu Baraka.
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