Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 18, 2012

The black bloc, jihadism, and Counterpunch

Filed under: Alexander Cockburn,black bloc idiots,Jihadists — louisproyect @ 6:06 pm

Anybody who reads Counterpunch on a regular basis as I do (I also donated $50 to a recent fund-drive and subscribe to the electronic version of the newsletter—so I do understand its value) must be aware of its two highest priority talking points of late:

1. Al-Qaeda type jihadists are a terrible danger to al-Assad’s Syria and good enough reason to back the dictator. For example, Peter Lee wrote an article in this weekend’s edition:

More worryingly, al-Qaeda’s enthusiastic attempt to piggyback on the spiraling unrest in Syria—and the car bombings in Aleppo which, if not the work of Zawahiri’s minions, can probably be traced back to al-Qaeda’s Gulf-funded Sunni Islamist fans in western Iraq—are a warning that backing the feckless SNC in an agenda of regime collapse is not going to be the carefree, Iran-bashing romp so many interventionists are advertising.

2. Chris Hedges’s attack on the black bloc is an ominous threat against radical politics in the U.S. and every effort must be mounted to defend the vandalistas, either critically or uncritically. One of the prime examples is an article that appeared in the February 9th edition by Peter Gelderloos, the author of the aptly named “How Nonviolence Protects the State”. In the article, titled “The Surgeons of Occupy”, Gelderloos draws an unfortunate amalgam between the black bloc and the anarchist movement as a whole: “But beneath the black masks, anarchists have been an integral part of the debates, the organizing, the cooking and cleaning in dozens of cities.” So, in effect, when Hedges attacks vandalism, he is also attacking cooking and cleaning—I suppose. I say suppose because Gelderloos, like many black bloc aficionados, is skilled at demagogy. Or more accurately, uses demagogy rather ineffectively to avoid a serious debate.

I had no idea who Gelderloos was, but was intrigued to discover in the midst of a spittle-flecked attack on me by a Kasama Project commenter (I am a “Pseudo-Trotskyist renegade… practicing revisionist right-deviationism”) that “Gelderloos makes statements of support for the mass-murder of Spanish civilians by the right-wing Muslim group Al-Qaeda” in “How Nonviolence Protects the State”.

Wow, how about that!

As it turns out, there is a pdf version of the book. Wasting no time, I tracked down the passage in question and converted into regular text:

A good case study regarding the efficacy of nonviolent protest can be seen in Spain’s involvement with the US-led occupation. Spain, with 1,300 troops, was one of the larger junior partners in the “Coalition of the Willing.” More than one million Spaniards pro-tested the invasion, and 80 percent of the Spanish population was opposed to it, but their commitment to peace ended there—they did nothing to actually prevent Spanish military support for the invasion and occupation. Because they remained passive and did nothing to disempower the leadership, they remained as powerless as the citizens of any democracy. Not only was Spanish Prime Minister Aznar able and allowed to go to war, he was expected by all forecasts to win reelection—until the bombings. On March 11, 2004, just days before the voting booths opened, multiple bombs planted by an Al-Qaida-linked cell exploded in Madrid train stations, killing 191 people and injuring thousands more. Directly because of this, Aznar and his party lost in the polls, and the Socialists, the major party with an anti-war platform, were elected into power. The US-led coalition shrunk with the loss of 1,300 Spanish troops, and promptly shrunk again after the Dominican Republic and Honduras also pulled out their troops. Whereas millions of peaceful activists voting in the streets like good sheep have not weakened the brutal occupation in any measurable way, a few dozen terrorists willing to slaughter noncombatants were able to cause the withdrawal of more than a thousand occupation troops.

So nonviolence lacks “efficacy” but killing 191 Spaniards in train stations does not. A while back, I made a big deal about a book on Infoshop.org making the case that the black bloc is following in the steps of the Weathermen but this reaches level of insanity that simply takes my breath away.

What can we say about this? Can we make a connection between the black bloc and jihadism? Probably not. But I would say this. Alexander Cockburn would be well-advised to exercise a bit more editorial scrutiny in the future. I know that it gets hard when you hit 71 to stay on top of details but I am quite sure that there would be any number of interns out there who would be willing to give him a hand, if for no other reason to spare a once very admired journalist from allowing his website to embarrass itself further.

36 Comments »

  1. Luis,

    The blog you quote from is a parody site, which is pretty obvious after spending about 1 min. on there.

    Comment by Who? — February 18, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  2. Forget about the blog. The real scandal is the book with its business about the efficacy of killing 191 Spaniards. Compared to that, jerking off is nothing.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 18, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

  3. It’s good to hear that in your obsessive zeal for “intrigue”, you drank my poisoned goblet and established the proof of my thesis that your attack on “hooliganism”, “black blocism”, “juvenile anarchism”, “trick or treat anarchists”, etc. is part of an overall strategy to liquidate social revolution by parading right-wing anarchists (such as Gelderloos) as a bogeyman to channel the class-anger of academic, journalistic, Labor, and “civil society” bourgeoisie against diverse social-revolutionary political forces in the US.

    I cannot personally verify claims made regarding Gelderloos’ masturbatory habits, nor would I particularly want to, but I do know that his book is promoted along with Hedges’ at Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith’s “Deep Green Resistance” seminars. The anti-Bolshevik anarchists have always been bedfellows with the right-oppurtinist liners and now, as there is no honor among thieves, the latter are being publicly denounced by the former as an argument for liquidationism.

    Comment by trotskyist ultra-left — February 19, 2012 @ 2:03 am

  4. Should say the former are denounced by the latter.

    Comment by Trotskyist ultra-left — February 19, 2012 @ 2:04 am

  5. Trotskyist ultra-left, have you seen the movie “Morgan”? You should sue the screenwriter for plagiarism.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 19, 2012 @ 2:14 am

  6. What Proyect is doing here is evading the issue now that the reality has been brought to life.

    Gelderloos’ sympathy for reactionary Islamic violence against the occidental working-class is easily explained. Reactionary Islam is the political ideology of the Islamic national-bourgeoisie who have mobilized a mass of Islamic workers, peasants, and de-classed petit-bourgeoisie around an anti-feminist and anti-cosmopolitan criticism of occidental imperialism. The political ambition of the Islamic national-bourgeoisie is to carve out breathing room (so-to-speak) for Sunni-theocratic capitalism, and the bourgeois leadership of the Islamic movement is willing to make unprincipled strategic alliances with the “devils” of western imperialism to do so. (as we can see by the Islamist winter) Gelderloos plays a very small role in this, he is a renegade Yankee bourgeoisie who travels the world in search of violent intrigue to appease his bourgeois boredom and writes convoluted ideological justifications of his touristic economic parasitism.

    However you are using Gelderloos as a cudgel, as I predicted you would, to bash the spontaneous class antagonism of “juveniles”. (On this regard I can only cite Rühle’s observation that older males attempt to reinforce the patriarchal dominance over youth that is characteristic of bourgeois society even within the socialist movement, which is characterized by attacks on “juvenile anarchists”.) However Gelderloos has nothing to do with Occupy, he’s probably drinking champagne somewhere in Europe as we speak. What you are attacking has nothing to do with Peter Gelderloos – what you are attacking is the real autonomous movement of revolutionary forces in the US – women, children, queer people, ex-convicts, working-class students, unemployed youths, members of internally colonized nations, homeless, farm-workers, service workers, computer programmers, precariously employed blue-collar, workers, veterans, those stigmatized as “mentally ill” or “disabled”, ruined and impoverished retirees, declassed homeowners, low-level scientists and academics such as yourself, etc. While you yourself belong to this great camp, you are lending your name to the liquidationist cause of the capitalist “left”, (all who Hedges defends against charges of collaboration) liquidationist because they seek to dismantle workers’ power within the Occupy movement to fit into the agenda of bourgeois social-democracy and the re-election of Obama. (This is what we see in GAs across the country that are monopolized by the political agents of the left-bourgeoisie who ignore the demands of the working masses)

    You have not commented on the fact that Hedges has deployed, in his attacks, the bourgeois anti-communist Derrick Jensen.

    While we are recommending consumer-culture spectacles, you should watch episode 114 of “The Boondocks” which is a decent artistic portrayal of the subject at hand.

    Comment by trotskyist ultraleft strikes back against revisionist liquidationism — February 19, 2012 @ 3:52 am

  7. An excellent illustration of why ultra-left Trotskyists are taken seriously only by themselves.

    Comment by David — February 19, 2012 @ 6:21 am

  8. Your Black Bloc types are often nowhere to be seen or heard from for comment on their actions — until now! There was recently some vandalism in Pittsburgh (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12047/1210680-100.stm) in a neighborhood where an Occupy Pittsburgh fundraiser had just been held. Soon after, they revealed themselves (further) to be petulant asses when they released a “communique” about their actions (http://anarchistnews.org/content/we-are-children-damned-pittsburgh-feb-15th-2012). These super-duper über-revolutionaries performed such actions as “bouncing caution cones off of Starbucks windows, dragging signs and dumpsters into the streets, [and] pushing each other in shopping carts.” My, how capitalism & state are falling!

    I hate twits like this.

    Comment by Hank — February 19, 2012 @ 7:19 am

  9. Peter Gelderloos seems to be a principle voice for Anti-Democratic Insurrection within Occupy. I highly recommend skimming though his reflections on us occupy: http://libcom.org/library/reflections-us-occupy-movement-peter-gelderloos. Also, Derrick Jensen interviews him in End:Civ advocating Violence at the 50:30 mark here http://youtu.be/3hx-G1uhRqA.

    Comment by Oakland Jasper (@jaspergregory) — February 19, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  10. No doubt “trotskyist ultraleft” would have stuck Lenin in the same “liquidationist” camp. Strange, as the guy played a key role in organizing the first successful proletarian revolution in modern, if not of all human, history. That is to say:

    – we are not interested in wallowing in our own oppression; we want to end it.
    – we are not interested in being beaten up and arrested by the cops; we want to beat them up and arrest them.
    – we are not interested in organizing a revolution and romantically losing; we play to WIN; we play for VICTORY.

    This can be applied in equal measure to the “beautiful pacifist losers” such as Hedges as well as to the ultraleft variety. Two different peas in the same loser pod. If not:

    – we are not interested in self promoting publicity as prep for our future conversion into Democratic Party Left reformists; The revolution will not be All About Us.

    Louis should have just stuck to his main target, Counterpunch. These days it is an increasingly weird exhibition of the effects of suddenly changing reality upon ideology. Rather in the manner of a petri dish.

    Comment by Matt — February 19, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  11. @David: h8rs always gonna h8.

    @Hank and Matt

    Outside of the parasitic world in which folks like Hedges, Jensen, The Nation, etc. inhabit, children are maced, beaten, arrested, and sometimes sent to jail and raped, or else shot on sight, for such harmless acts of minor rebellion.

    We could just as easily say “my, how capitlaism and the state are falling!” in regards to the actions of the self-appointed Occupy leadership (GAs, finance committees, security work-groups, etc.) in regards to promoting “local businesses”, making absurd demands which cannot even be met within the framework of capitalist economics, using “consensus” to enforce their informal hierarchies, using their informal hierarchies to promote the political leadership of the petit-bourgeoisie, (ie: support local businesses and credit unions, reform the fed, reform campaign finance, demand stricter finance regulations, end corporate person-hood, etc. all demands designed to ease the yoke of the petit-bourgeoisie, which is not an issue unless it excludes the struggles of the working-class, such as struggles against the brutality and discrimination of the police, as in Oakland) creating a feel-good image when schmoozing with their friends in the bourgeois press, collaborating with police, and liquidating and censoring discussions of revolutionary strategy with sensationalist scare-mongering and snitch-jacketting about “blac bloc hooligans” and “agent provocateurs” along with white supremacist historical disinformation about “the Civil Rights era” which promotes false-consciousness, controlling the funds donated to Occupy camps without financial transparency, etc.

    And these are the scoundrels you compare to Lenin, one of the most brilliant and principled revolutionaries of the 20th centuries? (Also, when did Lenin say “the most important aspect of building a revolutionary party is lining up with the bourgeois state to punish and expose street youths who commit acts of petty vandalism against the property of the bourgeoisie?” Never. Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen, AlterNet, Nation Magazine have said it, and the Unrepentant Revisionist agrees with them)

    Comment by return of the trotskyist ultraleft — February 20, 2012 @ 12:46 am

  12. Chris Hedges is not someone to ally with. His attacks on atheism are reactionary.

    He would be right at home with Tolstoy.

    Comment by purple — February 20, 2012 @ 4:30 am

  13. I do actually believe that Hedges’ true target is the left more generally, and not just those who practice Bloc tactics. But the response to that is an insistence upon a more radical inclusiveness, a racial and class based inclusiveness, instead of a defense of the Bloc. In this, I agree with purple, he is no ally. Hedges would be “right at home with Tolstoy”, and would find himself at odds with more recent Christian radicals like the Quakers who participated in the creation the Movement for a New Society and the Catholics who developed liberation theology. He is appalled when people verbally abuse the police during protests, but is morally conflicted over whether people should throw tear gas canisters back over police lines. Good luck with recruiting working class people and people of color with that approach. Or, just about anyone else, for that matter.

    Comment by Richard Estes — February 20, 2012 @ 6:53 am

  14. Whatever one thinks of his politics, Jensen is himself a rape/incest victim, and if I recall correctly from reading “A Language Older Than Words,” he also watched his father sadistically beat his brother. Why not look him up, Ultra? I am sure he would find your insights about violence that happens “outside” of his world fascinating.

    Comment by David — February 20, 2012 @ 7:37 am

  15. Speaking of Weathermen worship in black bloc
    http://www.portlandoccupier.org/2012/02/18/black-bloc-occupy-the-black-bloc/
    Occupy is told to ally itself with the older, wiser “Weathermen black bloc”, since they’ll keep the younger “Lord of the Flies black bloc” in line. Paraphrased, the overall message is “you can’t get rid of us, so lay back and enjoy the ride”.

    Comment by affinis — February 20, 2012 @ 8:29 am

  16. re: Purple’s statement that “Hedges’ attacks on atheism are reactionary,” that seems to me a fraudulent oversimplification. His take on atheism is dialectical, with respect for its’ intellectual lineage and appropriate scorn for the anti-arab racism of such modern practitioners as Hitchens, Dawkins, etc. Listen to: http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=14588 for more. -MB

    Comment by MB — February 20, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  17. It appears from many of the comments here that a broad left coalition to take on the the two ruling political institutions is not in the offing.

    Comment by Pablo — February 20, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

  18. The Counter Punch view of jihadism has found a sympathetic reception in Syria:

    http://www.syriaonline.sy/?f=det&pageid=1531&catid=24

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — February 20, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

  19. David – Yes, I have read “A Language Older Than Worlds”, and the one thing I do admire about Jensen is that he speaks out against patriarchal physical and sexual abuse in a way that concretely links the phenomenon to systemic exploitation, in that respect, “A Language Older Than Worlds” a breath of fresh air in a milieu where publications like “Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed” were decrying the alleged “sexual oppression” of pedophiles

    However what I was specifically referring to was the daily physical attacks on youth by police, corrections officials, etc. which someone of Jensen’s class-status does not incur. Thus when he speaks of “breaking boundaries” in regards to youth protesters attacking police, he speaks to his own privileged class status in which those “boundaries” aren’t “broken” on a regular basis.

    It should be noted that Jensen is not explicitly communist, in fact he specifically condemns and criticizes communists, even anarchist communists. Jensen is a self-described conservative revolutionary, his critique of “civilization” does not include a Marxist criticism of commodity form, value, wage labor, etc. He opposes in principle a global communist civilization that employs modern technology to provide for basic human needs.

    Comment by the phantom menace of trotskyist ultra-leftism — February 20, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

  20. I had the chance to visit one of my friends in San Francisco yesterday, someone who ustreams a lot of OccupySF and Occupy Oakland events, someone who definitely isn’t Black Bloc.

    He just barely escaped arrest while ustreaming much of 1/28, and his response to the Hedges’ piece was pretty basic: The violence of the Bloc is minor compared to the violence of the police. Now, he wasn’t defending the Bloc, far from it, but he is frustrated by the use of the Hedges’ attack on the Bloc to justify disinterest in the ongoing police repression of Occupy.

    I mention this, because if people are going to legitimately condemn those who adopt Bloc tactics, there is also an urgency for simultaneously confronting the police. So, in relation to 1/28, this should have meant immediate support for the arrestees. But, by and large, they were wrongly treated as being responsible for what happened to them. If you want to push people involved in Occupy towards the Bloc, this is a good way to do it.

    Comment by Richard Estes — February 20, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

  21. I read the Peter Lee piece and that was not what I got from it at all. Far from it even. He wasn’t advocating backing the regime in any way, and it’s strange that one would come to that conclusion. Besides, he’s right about the SNC/FSA : They are Sunni Salafists who are far from representative of both the Syrian opposition and people, and don’t enjoy broad support with either of them; the West and its media have a weird and unhealthy but understandable obsession with them and they are the GCC’s proxies. These are all reasons to oppose the SNC/FSA just as much as the Asad-regime. The Syrian people do not gain anything from Islamist flunkies upping the ante just so the West/GCC has an excuse to intervene militarily or “manage” the revolution as they see fit.

    Comment by Deimos — February 20, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

  22. I read the Peter Lee piece and that was not what I got from it at all.

    You are right. Lee is not an outright al-Assad supporter. But the net result of all the articles on Counterpunch, except for the occasional piece by Patrick Cockburn, is to demonize the opposition and give backhanded support to the dictatorship.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 20, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

  23. You say Lee is not an outright Asad supporter. Do you mean to imply that he is supportive of the regime nonetheless? How? By offering up factoids about how lousy the SNC/FSA is? When you say “demonize the opposition”, do you mean just the SNC/FSA or all of the Syrian opposition lumped together? I freely admit that I don’t read every piece on Syria that Counterpunch puts up (almost exclusively the ones by Patrick Cockburn and few others actually) so I can’t comment on their contents, but I wouldn’t say criticism of the SNC/FSA is a bad thing unless the (il)logical conclusion of such criticism is that the crappy regime is the way to go. Is that what the majority of those articles do?

    Comment by Deimos — February 21, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  24. My suggestion to Delmos and everybody else is to read what the Arab left is writing about Syria, not the almost exclusively non-Arab voices at Counterpunch and MRZine, starting with this:

    http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/4415/syrias-islamic-movement-and-the-current-uprising_p

    Comment by louisproyect — February 21, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  25. Surely the argument against Hedges has far less to do with supporting the Black Blocs, whoever they really are, than with the benefits to the fascist Right of demonizing these Spring Break self-indulgers. This exaggerates both their numbers and their importance and lends the State a huge great stick with which to beat the whole Occupy movement–and by extension the burgeoning, though chaotic and still very weak, popular movement toward socialism.

    “Spring Break” silliness, Q.E.D., does not equal “a cancer on OWS.”

    What does equal cancer is the installation of fixed authority structures within the movement that constitute themselves as a permanent “Peace Police” with the right to take forcible action against anybody who seems either to be advocating or participating in the unthinkable, i.e. “Violence.”

    Don’t yell “fuck” or the Peace Police will beat you up. Don’t throw a stone at the Police Worker who has just shot a teargas canister at you, or the Peace Police will deliver you up to the authorities for your due punishment.

    Does it take a genius to see that the same authorities who have been infiltrating OWS in black hoodies and face masks can also perfectly well infiltrate the Peace Police? Subversion works as well as provocation, though it might take a cleverer agent–perhaps more of a federal agent than an undercover local cop or tame snitch–to make the magic work. (Has anyone here heard, btw, of OTPOR?)

    I have vivid memories of at least one protest in the late Sixties in which a lot of pacifist loons dressed themselves up in white lab coats and appointed themselves Protest Marshals–negotiating agreements with the police that nobody had empowered them to make. Talk about enraging the authorities! You can’t imaging their anger when these unauthorized agreements were violated by the mass of demonstrators who had not only not voted for them but in fact had no idea that agreements had been made.

    This was fine with the rest of us–we called vile names and threw stones, and in the long run the police and the Peace Police both gave up and fled. This was because no General Assembly had stood up and blessed their holy mission.

    Don’t see my point? What would have happened at Stonewall if the rioters–because that’s what they were–had been well-behaved, respectful pacifists–or had been, so to speak, under the baton of a Peace Police from the Mobilization?

    These “Peace” pretenders are as endemic to American protest as the juvenile delinquents who live only to break big, expensive windows. Both can be dangerous. But of the two, in my opinion, the Peace Fakers are by far the more dangerous in the long run, if for no other reason than the fact that their kind, through the Democratic Party, have been successfully co-opting protest for more than forty years. Beware.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — February 21, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

  26. I am all for marshaling protest marches. It is not “policing”. It is the left managing its own affairs. In the 1970s, up in Boston, we were having big problems with the Maoist wing of SDS that felt threatened by mass demonstrations led by a coalition that the SWP was part of. They saw Boston as their turf. At one point, they decided to bum rush a speaker’s platform because a Democrat was speaking. We knocked them on their asses and allowed the speaker to finish. I absolutely advocate this kind of self-defense against goons.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 21, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

  27. The point is, it takes no less courage to non-violently occupy Zuccotti Park, Tahrir Square, Oscar Grant Plaza or a Woolworth’s lunch counter than it does to violently provoke police with verbal abuse or the molotov. The former examples of civil disobedience will no less provoke the Jean Quans, Bloombergs, Mubaraks and Bull Connors into exposing themselves as autocratic to the public. Acts of violence at this stage only muddle the intentions of a mass movement rather than making it clear to those who would be sympathetic. Violence as self-defense becomes a corollary when the ruling class decides to raise the stakes.

    Blaming Chris Hedges’s criticism of the black bloc for the lack of national outcry to the Oakland Police riot is probably giving him too much credit. He waited a dozen days after the 1/28 event to publish his article.

    Is Hedges a political liability? Potentially. At this point he’s looking a lot less of a liability than the black bloc.

    Comment by aaron — February 21, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

  28. I already read, or try to read, what the Arab left is writing about Syria, Mr Proyect. What made you think I didn’t do that already? And what made you think I’d read MRZine (only ever read about them on this here blog)? Incidentally, the piece you linked to, which was unavailable at the moment of typing, was mocked by As’ad AbuKhalil (don’t know if you’ve heard about him but he’s an Arab leftist) so you might want to link to something else to make whatever point you were trying to make. In response I suggest you read this instead:
    http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=13440
    I’d also appreciate it if you’d get my name right. Just a minor quibble.

    Comment by Deimos — February 21, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

  29. I already read, or try to read, what the Arab left is writing about Syria, Mr Proyect. What made you think I didn’t do that already?

    Because of this kind of crude bleating:

    “The Syrian people do not gain anything from Islamist flunkies upping the ante just so the West/GCC has an excuse to intervene militarily or “manage” the revolution as they see fit.”

    What is an Islamist flunky, I wonder? Not a very precise socio-economic definition. In fact it is just a stupid rant.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 21, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

  30. Aha, I see. Well, excuse my “crude bleating”, it was obviously too much for your sensibilities. An Islamist flunky, then, is a Salafist (or any Islamist really) who acts as a proxy for the GCC or the so-called “Friends of Syria” in bringing about regime change, by calling on NATO to intervene militarily if need be; an Islamist flunky thinks in sectarian terms and this characterizes his actions. Indeed not a very socio-economic definition, I admit (didn’t think I needed to give one), but now you know what I mean by it (I hope). The SNC and FSA fit the description, hence the reason I can’t support them. I’m not at all against armed struggle, mind you, it’s quite clear that it’s become a necessity, but sectarian killings and dividing the people along those lines? I don’t think leftists should condone that. Perhaps I was wrong in including that last sentence to my first post, but I figured if anyone would appreciate a good rant, it would be you, Mr Proyect (I’m basing myself entirey on your previous blog posts, of course).

    Comment by Deimos — February 22, 2012 @ 1:48 am

  31. Ow, I forgot: Could you please answer (some of) my questions, Mr Proyect? I noticed you haven’t actually done that yet. I’m genuinely interested in hearing more of your views/insights on this matter (Syria that is). And may I call you Louis? Or would that be overfamiliar?

    Comment by Deimos — February 22, 2012 @ 1:59 am

  32. Dear Louis P. We all know you’re tough. You never tire of saying so. In constantly reiterating this, you are a lot closer to Cockburn, at 71, than you may realize. None of us is getting any younger.

    I wasn’t in Boston much after the summer of 1970, so I can’t affirm or deny that all subsequent protests revolved around you and the Socialist Workers and your one fist of iron and the other of steel. I defer to your greater activism, but that certainly wasn’t the case earlier.

    The marshals to whom I am referring were liberal pacifists whose entire orientation was objectively anti-revolutionary. They were in league with the police and with various University administrations and had nothing whatever to do with the Socialist Workers or anybody else of a professedly revolutionary stripe. Some of them may have professed to be followers of Sidney Hook or Dwight MacDonald. But that’s as close as any of them came to being what a Marxist would call socialist.

    Surely no socialist in his right mind supports this kind of Peace Police. I am sure you do not. But that psalm-singing, pious, property-worshiping, house-proud, smug, and limitlessly hypocritical tendency, with all its intellectual weakness, convenient religiosity, inconsistency, and metastasized commodity fetishism (Whole Foods!! Apple!!) is precisely what you are leaning on when you place your muscular weight on that weak reed Chris Hedges.

    Talk about cancer! This malignant growth is probably the largest single counter-tendency in OWS. How vividly I recall a conversation with a young camper at the DC site who told me with great fervor that her ambition was to grow up and “lobby Congress.” She is merely one of a great, great many. The Peace Police as constituted at present are nothing in essence but an enforcement arm of the Democrat Party, with its false icons of King and Gandhi and all the rest of their intolerable late-capitalist bullshit and implacable counter-revolutionism. It was the victory of this tendency that paved the way for the current ascencency of neo-conservatism.

    I repeat, such a formation is even more subject to infiltration and subversion by State forces than the on-again off-again affinity groupings of Black Bloc self-anointed anarchists. (Reference Tahrir Square, OTPOR, and the many lies told to cover up the actual leadership by the working masses of the Egyptian revolution in its earlier phases, before the world came to worship Wael Ghonim and his sacred iPod.)

    In what may be the liquidation of OWS as we know it, the Demi-craps are the creditor with the largest account. What one might call “dictionary anarchism” (he looked it up in Webster’s and decided to be one after his buddy explained Black Bloc over a spliff) ain’t in it.

    My own opinion is that the Black Blocs, despite their foolishness and the scary European example they are following, are insignificant by comparison, at least in the current situation in this country.

    Finally, to repeat something you have been ignoring, the obscene and violent Stonewall riots resulted in a situation where even macho lefties have to show some grudging respect for the “gay.” (I pass over the devastating consequences for the so-called “gay movement” of the destruction of its more radical [and socialist] tendencies by liberalism in more recent years.)

    Had you and your buddies been around to “knock them on their asses,” either you would have been knocked on your own invulnerable ass or the protest would have failed.

    I am quite sure that this is only one instance of a more general phenomenon. Your Peace Police, if successful, will prevent such an event from ever happening again. Surely, as Chairman Mao might say, “this is not a good thing; rather, it is a bad thing.”

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — February 22, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

  33. “ascencency of neo-conservatism” should be “ascendency etc.”

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — February 22, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

  34. For those of you (such as Deimos) who have expressed some concern over Louis Proyect’s criticisms of Counterpunch and Globalresearch for the respective sites’ exposures of the fact that the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) and the related Syrian National Council (SNC) are right-wing Islamist stooges of imperialism with low-levels of popular backing within Syria itself, you should know that such an “anti-anti-imperialist” line is old hat for the self-proclaimed “Unrepentant Marxist” Proyect.

    He did the same in relation to Libya, accusing everyone who pointed out that the “National Transitional Council” (NTC) was a right-wing Islamist and neoliberal-led puppet of NATO of being Gaddafi supporters.

    He (Proyect) similarly presented the aggressively neoliberal and geopolitically pro-Western (in relative terms, at least) “Green Movement” in Iran as being revolutionary when said movement was fighting in the streets with Ahmadinejad’s security forces on the basis of its unproven claim that Ahmadinejad had committed massive election fraud. That the “Green Movement” was dominated by better off middle-class elements from the urban areas of Iran and that, on the key questions of international relations and economics, its program was even more right-wing than that of Ahmadinejad was passed over in silence by “The Unrepentant Marxist.”

    These three stances of Proyect (pro-Green Movement in Iran, pro-NTC in Libya and pro-SNC/FSA in Syria) have at least one critical element in common; despite Proyect’s pretensions to be not only a Marxist, but an “unrepentant” one at that, his position in relation to these three key situations all happened to dovetail with that of the US State Department, then as now under the control of the Democratic Party.

    Proyect’s ideological trajectory is similar to that of such pseudo-left tendencies like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) (known as the Socialist Workers Party — SWP in Britain,) the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France (with Gilbert Achcar in France,) etc. Such tendencies serve their respective bourgeois states by adopting the same foreign policy line as them — with the necessary cover of “left” phraseology, of course.

    Every attempt to point this out on his blog will result in Proyect accusing you (generally with a number of expletives thrown in for good measure) of being an Ahmadinejad, Gaddafi and/or Assad supporter.

    This blog is useful only insofar as it shows you how far right the comfortable Western petty-bourgeois pseudo-left has actually moved over the last couple of years.

    Comment by Orthodox Trotskyist — February 26, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  35. Speaking of demagogy, isn’t it interesting how you quote the Gelderloos book but leave out the very next sentences, which clearly state that the terrorist attack in Madrid was not “a good thing” and cannot be supported, but it provides an interesting contrast to the lack of results achieved from pacifist actions. Clearly, you are a crass manipulator.

    Comment by Tom Demesne — March 22, 2012 @ 10:56 am


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