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Elliot BenjaminElliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 150 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.

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Integrated Politics

Libertarians and Liberals Against
the War in Afghanistan

Elliot Benjamin

Could the Far Left and the Far Right ever agree about anything?

Could the Far Left and the Far Right ever agree about anything? Amazingly the answer is Yes, as the respective Libertarian and Liberal leaders Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich recently joined forces in their agreement about ending the war in Afghanistan [1].

Paul and Kucinich each ran for President in their respective 2008 Republican and Democratic primaries, being as far apart as night and day on nearly every political issue that was debated. The opposite ends of the spectrum that these two candidates place themselves on issues such as healthcare, welfare, jobs, unemployment, taxation, education, poverty, mental health, abortion, etc. is indeed striking. But yet they came together as a united team in spearheading congress to discuss finally putting an end to the war in Afghanistan.

Undoubtedly their motivations for doing so were not exactly the same, to say the least. Libertarians place a priority on government non-intervention while Liberals often focus upon humanitarian issues. But they share an overriding concern about the economic absurdity of our tax dollars going to a senseless, illegitimate, and apparently interminable war instead of to so many of the desperate needs we have here at home.[2]

Liberal leader Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of the progressive peace oriented organization Tikkun and co-founder of the Network of Spiritual Progressives has conveyed to me that he would “love to do an interview with Ron Paul about these issues.” To assist Lerner in creating the possibility of such an interview ever taking place, I sent the following e-mail to Mark Elam, campaign manager for Ron Paul's 2012 election campaign.

Dear Mr. Elam,

I am very interested in pursuing the joint efforts of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich in bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan. I find it refreshing to see political leaders come together in an immense central issue that they agree upon, in spite of huge differences in their political outlooks on numerous other issues. It is in this spirit that I would like to ask you for your assistance in conveying to Ron Paul an interview request from Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of the liberal Tikkun organization and co-founder of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. I would very much like to promote a coming together to oppose the war in Afghanistan in spite of major political differences in other areas, that Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich have set in motion. I believe that a very significant step in this process could be Rabbi Lerner interviewing Dr. Paul. For my own part, I am interested in pursuing this uniting of forces to end the war in Afghanistan, focusing upon what is agreed upon while respecting political differences in other areas. If you find my perspective to be of interest, I would appreciate any advice and connections you can offer me to develop these ideas into something concrete that could have an influence on putting an end to the war.

Liberal leaders such as Kucinich are outraged about Obama's recent focus on extending our war in Afghanistan “at least” until 2014.[3] Perhaps if Libertarian leaders such as Paul continue in their passionate opposition to the war in Afghanistan, this uniting of forces could create a spiraling effect across the country to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan. I see this as a potential focus of “integrated politics,” along the lines of Ken Wilber's “integral politics” in its essential feature of somehow finding a basis of agreement in spite of the opposite ends of the spectrum perspectives on nearly all issues. But I use the term “integrated” in a much simpler and more natural way than Wilber's four quadrant/eight perspective “integral” theory (see my 2007 Integral World essay "Integrative vs. Integral" at www.integralworld.net)

It is indeed challenging for people with opposite views on numerous major issues near and dear to their hearts to consciously and constructively work together on one particular major issue. In order to work harmoniously and effectively in a team effort, they would need to put all these other major issues temporarily aside as they agree to disagree on virtually everything other than this one particular major issue. But I believe that opposition to the war in Afghanistan is a major issue that has exactly this kind of potential to temporarily unite the opposite spectrums of Libertarians and Liberals in this kind of joint effort, with Paul and Kucinich serving as the template.

The possibility of Spiritual Progressives and Tea Partiers entering into civil dialogue, as Michael Lerner has expressed the desire to do in his requested interview of Ron Paul, is enticing to me. Even more enticing to me is the possibility of mass demonstrations against the war in Afghanistan taking place in Washington, consisting of multitudes of people from both the Far Left and the Far Right.

Perhaps I am dreaming and living in my own philosophical fantasy world. But one never knows until one tries, and I have therefore written this essay as my way to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan, as I appeal to Libertarians and Liberals to temporarily come together in an integrated politics to save our country from an interminable war.

NOTES

[1] 'Dennis Kucinich (D) and Ron Paul (R) force debate over Af-Pak war', posted at www.uslaboragainstwar.org, July 28, 2010, taken from www.allvoices.com, July 28, 2010.

[2] 'Veterans cross state for peace', knox.villagesoup.com, November 8, 2010.

[3] 'Kucinich to force vote on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan', thehill.com, November 11, 2010.




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