Alan Ginsberg once shouted at his wayward compatriot Norman Podheretz, “We'll get you through your children, Norman!” It was a rallying cry that quickly took hold in radical circles. But reading socialist lawyer and all around America-hater Jules Lobel’s recent quasi-autobiography, Success Without Victory, it looks like the radicals had it wrong after all. They should have been shouting, “We’ll get you through our lawyers!”
Lobel, for those unfamiliar with his work (and, fear not, for you are legion), has been a longtime disturber of the peace, litigating through such far-Left entities as the Center for Constitutional Rights (where he currently serves as Vice President) and the National Lawyers Guild. In Success Without Victory, Lobel recounts the joys and sorrows of a career defending the international communist Left. Among the most precious jewels Lobel sees in his crown are his efforts to keep the United States from removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991; his attempts to end the Cuban embargo and the persecution of Fidel Castro; acting as a sort of unofficial Minister of Propaganda for Communist governments in Nicaragua and El Salvador; and trying to prevent the American-led “imperial bullying” of champion ethnic-cleanser Slobodan Milosevic in 1999.
Obviously, none of these were successful, a pesky detail that Lobel dismisses as shortsighted. Nevertheless, Lobel’s ego has clearly been bruised by the losses and he spends no less than half the book attempting to justify the rationale behind his life’s work. Lobel’s cases, he confides, are not really about, “arguing the finer points of law, or about winning legal victories, or even about promoting our beliefs about the Constitution.” Rather, his long-term goal is “the creation of a community based on shared values and the articulation of a tradition of resistance.” As such, Lobel sees nothing gaudy or inappropriate about putting his limousine Marxist “struggle” on the same plane as that of the abolitionists and women’s suffragists.
Paradoxically, after arguing that he really is a true blue success, Lobel lashes out at a provincial America culture unable to recognize his genius with the sort of socialist jargon typically reserved for freshman sociology majors.
“The American success culture is invariably concerned with the present, with immediate accomplishments,” Lobel writes. “In our view of success as individual achievement, we isolate the individual from community and from tradition. A society that emphasizes success as immediate accomplishment lives almost exclusively in the present, with only tenuous ties to past generations or concerns for future generations.”
As a young man in the 1960s Lobel had been optimistic that, “an impending crisis of American capitalism” loomed, one he hoped, “would lead to a democratic socialist society.” What were the positive indicators that had Lobel so excited? “Riots in the streets of major U.S. cities, mass demonstrations besieging the Pentagon, and an increasingly radicalized student, black, and Latino left.” Condescendingly, Lobel explains how after college he, “tried to integrate myself with what Marxists believed would be the engine of change – the workers” by getting a job at a bakery. Such work is a prerequisite for every “Progressive” who wants to eventually travel in the high society circles of the leftist intelligentsia. Predictably, Lobel’s martyrdom was short lived and he was soon bound for law school where he could fight on behalf of the poor, dumb working class stiffs he once worked with. Oh, the romance!
Lobel talks a good game about constitutional law, but when it comes down to brass tacks, his life’s narrative as laid out in Success Without Victory describes a fifth columnist whose ultimate goal is to restrain American power and allow Communist revolutions to flourish. The rights of Americans, even those he represents against the U.S. government, are always only pawns for his bigger war against the spread of American ideals. Outside of using its legal system to further his own agenda of international communist revolution, Lobel is nothing less than hostile to America.
Worse, Lobel takes it upon himself to constantly praise America’s enemies. Early on in his book, Lobel praises the Soviets (!) for refusing to send troops to Iraq in 1991 without a vote of the rubber stamp Duma. The Soviets, Lobel writes without a trace of irony, “appropriated the fundamental principle of separation of powers that the framers of our Constitution believed vital to a republic at the very instant that a U.S. president was preparing to abandon it.” In one fell swoop, Lobel manages to praise one dying dictatorship (the Soviet Union) in the process of attempting to defend an expanding one (Iraq).
Like most Marxists, Lobel is infatuated with Fidel Castro’s brutal regime in Cuba. He describes the embargo against the nation that once was to serve as a forward base for Soviet nuclear forces as “an illegitimate effort by an imperial United States to force a small Latin American country to bow to its wishes.” Lobel manages to skirt any concern whatsoever over Castro’s Stalinist police state policies, but spends a full page castigating President George H.W. Bush for refusing to participate in a fishing contest with the Cuban dictator. “Castro immediately accepted (professional fisherman Dan) Snow’s challenge. Bush did not,” Lobel writes. “Apparently isolating Cuba and winning the Cuban vote in Florida was more important than a week of the best bass fishing in the world.”
Well, I should hope so. Why shouldn’t Bush have been more worried about the needs and feelings of Cuban-born American citizens than angling with the murderous wretch who drove them from their ancestral home? Lobel does not care. His dedication is to the Communist revolution. At one point, he brags about having symbolically filed a lawsuit on International Workers Day, a Communist holiday, “to express solidarity with the poor people of El Salvador.”
At points, Lobel’s sappy nostalgia for murderous regimes borders on the perverse.
“When I began my legal activism with the CCR, it was a time of optimism,” he writes. “The Sandinistas had won in Nicaragua, there was a nearly successful revolution in El Salvador and strong insurgencies in other countries in Latin America seemed poised to sweep away dictatorships and injustice. Popular revolt was on the rise, or so it seemed. But, by 1991, the insurgencies in Latin America had stalled, the Sandinistas had lost power, Cuba was in crisis, the so-called socialist world had collapsed, and the United States had just bombed Iraq ‘back to the stone age.’…The international arena looked bleak for progressive change.”
In the closing chapter of Success Without Victory, Lobel delivers this parting rhetorical shot: “At this moment in history, the United States is at the height of its imperial might and governed by leaders whose great power is challenged only by their arrogance.” At least Lobel’s revolution is not over
Although just released in January of this year, Lobel’s book does not go into his harangues about the United States’ self-defense in the wake of the September 11 attacks. But, in the interest of showing just how far outside the mainstream Lobel is, his recent wartime comments are worth examining briefly. Even after that black day, Lobel could not find an ounce of love for his own country. He chided his fellow countrymen for being unwilling to look at the “root causes” of terrorism, insisting that “even if the United States furnishes evidence as to the authors of the September 11 attack, it cannot use military force against them…To use force against the perpetrators of the attack on September 11 is a violation of international law.”
Lobel has recently turned his attention to the plight of Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in the remaining free portion of Lobel’s beloved Cuba. Even in the face of Islamo-fascism, Lobel cannot bring himself to endorse the use of American power.
As we face this worldwide terrorist threat, we must remain vigilant about communists like Lobel, who work tirelessly to undermine American values in the name of the Constitution. Lobel’s dedication to hostile foreign powers and an ideal of international socialist revolution should not be taken lightly. Like his hero Karl Marx, Lobel views the destruction of capitalist society as a generational struggle. Lobel is counting on U.S. courts to serve as a Trojan horse for the dismantling of U.S. sovereignty, and he has few qualms about whether or not the rest of the country is interested in going along with him. “My ancestors, these nineteenth-century litigators,” Lobel writes, “created a culture of constitutional struggle by reading their aspirations into the Constitution and by refusing to accept the mainstream interpretation held by the courts, government and most of society.”
Success Without Victory lays out the legal Left’s for America. In this day of judicial tyranny, it is worthwhile for us to take note.