“Incompatible”? – Novels, Politics, News?

No US antiwar movement, per the recent article by Alexander Cockburn? How about serializing an overt anti Iraq War novel? 

Why hasn’t this happened, long since, at a progressive news site? News and culture.

Is it due to lack of resources? Or is it due to what James Petras nailed years ago in “The CIA and the Cultural Cold War Revisited”?: 

“The singular lasting, damaging influence of the CIA’s Congress of Cultural Freedom crowd was not their specific defenses of U.S. imperialist policies, but their success in imposing on subsequent generations of intellectuals the idea of excluding any sustained discussion of U.S. imperialism from the influential cultural and political media. The issue is not that today’s intellectuals or artists may or may not take a progressive position on this or that issue. The problem is the pervasive belief among writers and artists that anti-imperialist social and political expressions should not appear in their music, paintings, and serious writing if they want their work to be considered of substantial artistic merit. The enduring political victory of the CIA was to convince intellectuals that serious and sustained political engagement on the left is incompatible with serious art and scholarship.”

An activist “propagandistic” progressive partisan antiwar novel is the sort of thing that should be published in left news periodicals in serial form, just as Upton Sinclair’s partisan novels were – novels eventually turned into book form that people carried to work. Probably serialization should be done before book publication but seems to me just as useful to do it after book publication. Of course, I understand resource constraints may prevent any such publication, as we run into the same crunch at Mainstay Press. I wrote the fact-heavy anti Iraq War novel Homefront in the first six months of the March 2003 ground invasion of Iraq, then added a bit before its 2006 publication. Early on, the narrator was a reporter, but I later reduced her role. Still the novel reads as an investigative drama into the crime of the Iraq invasion and occupation. (I wrote two Vietnam-centered antiwar novellas in years prior to the ground invasion of Iraq. Homefront is the sort of antiwar novel for Iraq that was never written (or if written, never gained much of any prominence at all) for Vietnam, or Korea, or even WWII. The same holds for the antiwar fiction I wrote about Vietnam which I adapted to complete the Iraq invasion/occupation trilogy with Homefront. The trilogy is short enough that it ought to be combined into a single novel.) Homefront is perhaps more reminiscent to parts of Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia than anything, though the main homage is to digging out the facts of the matter. The lack of progressive partisan fiction is one reason the antiwar movement in the US is as flat as it may be. It’s possible that Homefront’s like hasn’t been seen since Johnny Got His Gun in the 1930s (though Homefront is more explicit and detailed about ruling power), it seems to me. The culture has been that decapitated that long. Noam Chomsky: 

“Caricature is an art, and not an easy one.  But when well done, a very important one.  As for dealing with Orwell’s problem, I try to do it in the ways I know how to pursue; 1000s of pages by now.  No doubt there are other ways, maybe better ways.  But others will have to find what works for them.”

What Chomsky says here of progressive partisan caricature in fiction is true of progressive partisan fiction generally, which was widely understood and acted upon by progressive news publications of the 1930s – a period that was the “most intensively political period of the century,” Terry Eagleton notes in passing in his recent article on the contemporary political decline of leading literary writers. Progressive partisan fiction is badly needed, always has been. Pakistan has banned all fiction from India; it fears the power, the influence of all imaginative writing so much, while accepting some nonfiction. We should take stock of the power and influence of progressive partisan fiction, and seek to perpetuate it.

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