Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 18, 2017

The ex-member of LaRouche’s fascist cult who writes for Robert Parry’s Consortium News

Filed under: Fascism,LaRouche — louisproyect @ 6:29 pm

Andrew Spannaus

If there is anything that gets my dander up, it is being threatened with legal action. The last time I ran into such threats is when Joyce Brabner said she would sue me if I began serializing the memoir I did with her late husband Harvey Pekar. Since she lacks the money to hire a lawyer on contingency, I probably would have had no problems but I generally shy away from unstable and unpredictable people.

Today I was warned by Andrew Spannaus that unless I removed a post about his article on Consortium News titled “The Agony of ‘Regime Change’ Refugees”, he would have his lawyer look into suing me for libel. Since Spannaus is a former member of the LaRouche fascist cult, I decided not to look for trouble. If you’ve followed LaRouche over the years, you’ll know that he launched nuisance suits at his perceived enemies all the time, including a $60 million libel suit against NBC in 1984.

In this article I will be choosing my words very carefully. It will be based on the facts acknowledged by Spannaus himself, namely that he is a former member. I have been writing for years about what a toxic dump Consortium News is and feel an obligation to point out that Spannaus is a regular contributor to Robert Parry’s website with 13 articles to his credit.

In the remainder of this article, I will be referring to some of Spannaus’s articles on Executive Intelligence Review, the flagship journal of LaRouche’s cult, between 2000 and 2015 since they reflect an evolution that I think my readers should be aware of, namely the bid by these fascists to adopt a less insane identity. In the 1980s, they would publish stark raving mad articles about Queen Elizabeth being the head of an international drug cartel but over the past 15 years at least, they have worked hard to appear about the same as Consortium News, 21st Century Wire, Information Clearing House, DissidentVoice and other websites in the Putin/Assad/Islamic Republic orbit. I will conclude with a brief look at Spannaus and his former comrade Paul Goldstein’s professional consultancies today that are obvious bids to supply the kind of high-level advice to the bourgeoisie that LaRouche hoped to serve in EIR.

1) The earliest Spannaus article is dated June 30, 1995 and is titled “Italian party debates LaRouchean economics”. In it, Spannaus brags about how members of the Popular Party are openly supporting LaRouche’s economic policies. He advocated that Italy transform the bank of Italy into a national bank, adding that “The national bank concept, going back to the first U. S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, is a key aspect of LaRouche’s policy for economic recovery.”

As I mentioned in my first post on LaRouche, his cult has such a thing about Alexander Hamilton that they are now passing out broadsheets in NYC called the Hamiltonian. It even makes you wonder if they financed the execrable Broadway musical. Is it just a coincidence that 22 years after writing this article, Spannaus was still tooting Hamilton’s horn in Consortium News?

Trump then went on to use the term “American System”, associated with the current of economic nationalism promoted by figures such as Alexander Hamilton, Clay and Henry Carey, champions of investment in industry and infrastructure, and protection against the free market claims of European empires, which sought to undermine American economic independence in order to defend their own pre-eminence.

Inquiring minds want to know.

2) Two years later Spannaus wrote a diatribe against Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni as a genocidal dictator “used by the British Privy Council in its raw materials grab in Central Africa.” Most of the article stayed within the boundaries of normal reporting but I was struck by how Spannaus described Frantz Fanon:

The second ideological string is the existential philosophy of Frantz Fanon, who advocated “revolutionary violence” for economic development for Africans, and claimed that such violence even has purifying power. All of the “new leaders” in Central Africa studied this murderous ideology at Dar Es Salaam University in the 1960s.

Supposedly the British exploited Fanon’s ideas in order to commit genocide on a scale not seen since the Nazis. Oh, well. I had a different take on “The Wretched of the Earth” but that’s what happens when you were educated in a Marxist cult rather than one run by a would be Hitler.

3) Fast-forwarding to 2007, Spannaus wrote about LaRouche’s speech to the Italian Senate Labor and Social Security Commission. The fascist nut was now 84 and just as capable of predicting a cataclysmic end of the world as ever. He was invited to speak about his legislative proposals that could save Italy from imminent doom. Apparently, the politicians were a bit skeptical as Spannaus reported:

As often happens in official circles, some of the politicians involved in the discussions expressed surprise at LaRouche’s forecast of the short-term death of the current system. Despite agreeing with his overall approach on rebuilding the productive economy, they claimed that his warning of a systemic crash is a “catastrophic” view that can only be seen as “pessimistic.” In response to the nervous protests of one Senator, LaRouche repeated that it would be absolutely foolish to assume that the present system will last beyond Christmas of this year, and at the same time, he explained why it is essential that such a premise be established at this time.

Did the fact that the world continued after Christmas Day, 2007 help to undermine Spannaus’s belief in the cult leader? Well, he was writing for EIR for another 8 years so I guess he was in no rush to break his ties.

4) One of the most interesting things to me is how in the past 20 years the group has sought respectability. You can search in vain for anything in EIR that will make your hair stand on end unless you are one of those people who views Vladimir Putin as an unmitigated pig.

By 2011, one of Spannaus’s articles could have easily been published in Salon or Alternet. Titled “In Italy, Reich Calls For Glass-Steagall”, it is plain vanilla Democratic Party propaganda.

The response from the audience was enthusiastic, with numerous local entrepreneurs and opinion leaders posing questions to Reich on the prospects for future industrial growth and the reform of the international financial system. On this point, this author, who moderated the event, mentioned the bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (DOhio) to restore Glass-Steagall, and also the fact that motions calling for a Glass-Steagall system in Italy and Europe have been presented in the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Senate.

So funny. In 2007, Spannaus was stenographer to the lunatic LaRouche who insisted the world would collapse by Christmas day and only four years later, we have pap that might have been written by an Alternet stringer. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, this is the way the cult ends—not with a bang but a whimper.

With the skills Spannaus learned writing for EIR, he leveraged that into a consultancy/newsletter service called Transatlantico. I honestly can’t understand how he makes any money as a consultant since there is nothing there that appears to be a bid for business, such as a list of his past clients. You can buy a subscription to his newsletter for 250 Euros per year. What some CEO expects to get out of it is anybody’s guess.

In addition to his own business, Spannaus works for Pacific Tech Bridge, which was founded and still led by Paul Goldstein, LaRouche’s former chief security aide. Has he dropped out of the fascist cult? The last article by Goldstein to appear in EIR was dated 25 years ago so that seems plausible.

Pacific Tech Bridge reads a lot like those consulting companies that offer high-level strategies to corporations, especially about risk management. Spannaus is on the advisory board along with people like Joshua Mitchell, a Georgetown University professor, and Phil Midland, the co-founder of IHS International, another strategic management type consultancy.

Looking at Goldstein’s CV on the “leadership” page, I got a chuckle out of one of his past enterprises:

Strategic Renaissance 21

Co-founder & Executive Vice President established in 2011. Chairman of SR 21 is Admiral (retired) Bob Inman, former head of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  Mr. James Hackett, former Chief Executive Officer of Anadarko Oil Company is Vice Chairman. Phil Midland, former naval intelligence officer is President.

SR 21 is presently engaged in building a special relationship with the Communist Party of China’s elite cadre school called the Central Committee of the CPC Central Party School (CCPS). SR 21 and CCPS have had a three year memorandum of understanding (MOU) from 2012-2015 that is being renewed in July 2016.

Wow! Bobby Inman, the former head of the NSA and Deputy Director of the CIA. Hot shit! And building a special relationship with the CP’s elite cadre school in China. Hoo-boy, who wouldn’t want to hire these movers and shakers?

The contacts that Goldstein, LaRouche’s chief security aide, likely made with Inman in the early 80s must have paid off. Let’s turn to Dennis King’s “Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism” for the goods:

Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, former chief of the code-breaking National Security Agency and a consummate intelligence professional, received a steady flow of reports from the LaRouche organization while serving as CIA deputy director in 1981-83, He met personally with Lyn and Helga LaRouche in a little house on F Street in Washington to discuss West Germany’s peace movement. After leaving the CIA to head an electronics firm, he talked frequently on the phone with LaRouche security staffers, who regarded him as their “rabbi” and hoped that someday he would become CIA director. Former LaRouche security aide Charles Tate, in his testimony as a prosecution witness in Boston, described taking the incoming calls from Inman to security chief Jeff Steinberg. Tate also claims to have chatted with Inman personally. (Inman’s version is that he was merely the victim of a constant bombardment of phone calls from Steinberg, whom he did his best to evade. He believes the LaRouchians were attempting to use him to “establish their importance.”)

The big joke is that Consortium News is a platform for Ray McGovern, the Assadist ex-CIA agent. You have to wonder what he would make of his fellow contributor to Parry’s sinkhole being on the advisory board of a consultancy whose CEO crows about co-founding a company with Bobby Inman. Actually, it probably wouldn’t matter at all to Parry, McGovern or Spannaus from what I’ve seen of them.

Me, personally, I wouldn’t go near a dirt-bag like LaRouche with a ten foot pole but I have no doubt that he and Inman had a mutually beneficial relationship. As I will point out in a subsequent post, the ties between this fascist cult leader, his henchmen like Paul Goldstein, and the most powerful spook in the USA is something that is simply beyond the capability of a Richard Spencer to pull off. That is why it is important to review the evolution of LaRouchism even if by some accounts it is on its deathbed.


The Fetishization of Violence: Reflections on Charlottesville, WWII and Activism

Filed under: anarchism,Counterpunch — louisproyect @ 12:44 pm

The Fetishization of Violence: Reflections on Charlottesville, WWII and Activism

“The experience that we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is fundamentally a lie – the truth lies outside, in what we do.”

― Slavoj Žižek

A Most Violent Nation

In the United States of America, violence remains one of our greatest pastimes. From slaughtering Native Americans and enslaving, torturing and killing African Americans, to conquering Filipinos and incinerating the Vietnamese, the history of the U.S. reads like a horror story. Without question, this is a nation built and maintained by violence.

Today, Americans shoot and kill each other and themselves at unprecedented levels, and disproportionately when compared to our industrialized counterparts. Uncle Sam, as Chris Hedges routinely mentions, speaks in the “language of violence.” When children grow up watching their presidents and civic leaders threaten to use violence, it should come as no surprise when those same children resort to violence to solve their problems.

Growing up, I was immersed in violence, both personally and socially. My father’s friends spent their time on the streets. They understood how violence works in the real world. They also understood the utility of violence. But they paid the price for their devotion to violence. Many of them turned into alcoholics. Some died from drugs. Others are in jail. Their families and victims pay the ultimate price.

I was born in 1984. I grew up on COPS, Rambo and Navy Seals. I played with toy guns, and eventually, real ones. I grew up shooting. I grew up with cops and military veterans visiting our childhood homes. They spoke in the language of violence. They drank, and smoked, and cursed. They were angry. They remain angry.

Violence, when employed correctly, is extremely effective. That’s why it’s so tempting to use violence as a means to an end. People who argue that violence solves nothing have never encountered much violence. Unfortunately, violence is horrifically powerful and quite useful in many contexts. That said, the long-term social, ecological and cultural consequences of violent behavior are equally destructive.

From the perspective of a nation-state, violence can solve short-term issues, but it cannot solve complex long-term challenges such as climate change, institutional racism, militarism, etc. Right now, U.S. Empire is quickly learning the limitations of protracted violence. The U.S. Empire is collapsing under its own weight, as the historian Alfred McCoy routinely notes.

Any empire, republic, political movement or individual who bases their movement on violence will ultimately succumb to extreme violence. The more the state apparatus lashes out in violent ways, and the more rightwing extremists engage in terrorism, the more likely the Left will respond with violence (a point we’ll return to later in the essay). The cycle of violence must end, and soon.

Breaking from 400 years of colonial history and violence will not be easy, but it can be done. There is no law or rule that says we must continue down this violent and destructive path. However, much like a life-long alcoholic, it will take great efforts to change the mindset and culture that encourages people to think and behave violently. More importantly, we must dismantle the economic, cultural, social and psychological institutions and mechanisms that create the conditions for violence.

The Charlottesville—Military Connection

James Alex Fields Jr., the rightwing terrorist who drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing Heather D. Heyer and injuring another 20 people, is an Army veteran. According to media reports, Fields was a loner and a confused teenager who became interested in WWII and Nazis during his high school years. Since the attack, pictures have surfaced showing Fields participating in Vanguard America rallies.

While Fields represents the sort of misguided and irrational terrorists he likely despises, the more interesting character in this tragedy is Dylan Ulysses Hopper, the CEO of Vanguard America, and one of the primary organizers for rightwing groups who descended on Charlottesville.

Hopper, a former Marine Corps sergeant, officially became a white supremacist in 2012, around the same time he became a Marine Corps recruiter in Ohio. Quickly, Hopper ascended the ranks of Vanguard America, using his recruitment skills and military training to boost the ranks of the white supremacist organization. Hopper, a veteran of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, represents a growing trend in the U.S. military. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, citing an FBI study:

White supremacist leaders are making a concerted effort to recruit active-duty soldiers and recent combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new FBI report. The unclassified FBI Intelligence Assessment, titled ‘White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel Since 9/11,’ bolsters the findings of a 2006 Intelligence Report exposé that revealed that alarming numbers of racist extremists were taking advantage of lowered wartime recruiting standards to enlist in the armed services.

‘Military experience is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement as a result of recruitment campaigns by extremist groups and self-recruitment by veterans sympathetic to white supremacist causes,’ the FBI report states. ‘Extremist leaders seek to recruit members with military experience in order to exploit their discipline, knowledge of firearms, explosives and tactical skills as well as [in the case of active duty soldiers] their access to weapons and intelligence.’

Of course, none of this should come as a great surprise. An institution that’s built on racism, genocide, xenophobia, dehumanization, extreme violence and toxic masculinity should be expected to create such monsters. From the Hells Angels to the Oklahoma City bombing, white supremacists have always found comfort within the ranks of the U.S. military.

During my time in the Marine Corps, it was routine to hear my fellow jarheads refer to black marines as ‘dark green,’ or worse, ‘niggers.’ Iraqis and Afghans were referred to as ‘Hajis,’ ‘towel heads’ or ‘sand-niggers.’ Female marines were called ‘WM’s,’ which stands for ‘Walking Mattresses.’ Hispanic marines were labeled ‘wetbacks’ or ‘spics.’ And Asian marines were routinely called ‘gooks’ or ‘rice patties.’

This sort of behavior and regressive ideology is prevalent in many institutions that are dominated by white men, including sports teams, fire departments and police departments. Remember Officer Jason Lai of the San Francisco Police Department? He was the cop who got busted sending texts to fellow officers that read, “I hate that beaner but the Nig is worse!” “Indian ppl are disgusting!” And, “Burn down Walgreens and kill the bums!”

Officer Lai, of Asian American descent, fully identified with and espoused the sort of rightwing-reactionary views of his white supremacist colleagues in the SFPD. And to think, we’re talking about San Francisco, not Miami, Birmingham, St. Louis or Chicago. One can only assume that the majority of Lai’s fellow police officers in the SFPD hold similar views. One can only imagine what police officers in various departments across the U.S. think about people of color, the poor, Muslims or protesters.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have to guess as we have more than enough evidence to prove that these sort of racist and violent outbursts are not isolated incidents. Ongoing and past tragedies, from Charlottesville to Oklahoma City, are nauseatingly predictable. Institutions such as the military inherently feeds the white supremacy that plagues American society and culture.

The Myth of World War II & The Power of Propaganda

In light of recent events, online activists and others have taken to posting pictures of troops storming the beaches of Normandy as a way to tie current anti-Fascist struggles to the defeat of Italian Fascism and German Nazism during World War II. The problem with this sort of reactionary protest is that it feeds the ongoing myths surrounding WWII: namely, the notion that the U.S. got involved in the war to defeat Fascism and Nazism.

The U.S. Empire, like all previous empires, does not engage in wars because it’s the right or moral thing to do. The U.S. Empire has interests. And its interests are not our interests. If within the scope of U.S. imperial interests something positive takes place, such as the defeat of Nazism, it’s a mere coincidence, not a calculated objective. The primary objective of nation-states are not moral crusades (though moral crusades under the guise of enlightened Christianity were commonly used to dominate people around the globe), the primary objective of nation-states is to consolidate and wield power.

Without doubt, the momentary defeat of Nazism and Fascism should be hailed, but not in the way in which it’s currently being lauded. Remember, the Communists defeated Fascism, not the Americans. Some estimates suggest that the Soviet Union lost close to 27 million people during WWII. The Communists bore the brunt of Fascism and Nazism. Yet, Americans revel in the myth that our 500,000+ deaths were the deciding factor in the war effort. Let’s also remember the hundreds of thousands of anarchists, communists, socialists, Jews, Gypsies and others who valiantly fought against Fascism.

Today, the myths surrounding WWII continue to haunt the American psyche, crippling our ability to critically examine U.S. history, ideology and nationalism. Most Americans have concluded that our war against Japan was just, and our efforts against the Germans and Italians righteous. Yet, as the late-great historian Howard Zinn notes in his classic work, A People’s History of the United States:

When Mussolini’s Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, the U.S. declared an embargo on munitions but let American businesses send oil to Italy in huge quantities, which was essential to Italy’s carrying on the war. When a Fascist rebellion took place in Spain in 1936 against the elected socialist-liberal government, the Roosevelt administration sponsored a neutrality act that had the effect of shutting off help to the Spanish government while Hitler and Mussolini gave critical aid to Franco. Offner says:

“… the United States went beyond even the legal requirements of its neutrality legislation. Had aid been forthcoming from the United States and from England and France, considering that Hitler’s position on aid to France was not firm at least until November 1936, the Spanish Republicans could well have triumphed. Instead, Germany gained every advantage from the Spanish civil war.”

Was this simply poor judgment, an unfortunate error? Or was it the logical policy of a government whose main interest was not stopping Fascism but advancing the imperial interests of the United States? For those interests, in the thirties, an anti-Soviet policy seemed best. Later, when Japan and Germany threatened U.S. world interests, a pro-Soviet, anti-Nazi policy became preferable. Roosevelt was as much concerned to end the oppression of Jews as Lincoln was to end slavery during the Civil War; their priority in policy (whatever their personal compassion for victims of persecution) was not minority rights, but national power.

It was not Hitler’s attacks on the Jews that brought the United States into World War II, any more than the enslavement of 4 million blacks brought Civil War in 1861. Italy’s attack on Ethiopia, Hitler’s invasion of Austria, his takeover of Czechoslovakia, his attack on Poland-none of those events caused the United States to enter the war, although Roosevelt did begin to give important aid to England. What brought the United States fully into the war was the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Surely it was not the humane concern for Japan’s bombing of civilians that led to Roosevelt’s outraged call for war-Japan’s attack on China in 1937, her bombing of civilians at Nan king, had not provoked the United States to war. It was the Japanese attack on a link in the American Pacific Empire that did it.

So long as Japan remained a well-behaved member of that imperial club of Great Powers who-in keeping with the Open Door Policy- were sharing the exploitation of China, the United States did not object. It had exchanged notes with Japan in 1917 saying ‘the Government of the United States recognizes that Japan has special interests in China.’ In 1928, according to Akira Iriye (After Imperialism), American consuls in China supported the coming of Japanese troops. It was when Japan threatened potential U.S. markets by its attempted takeover of China, but especially as it moved toward the tin, rubber, and oil of Southeast Asia, that the United States became alarmed and took those measures which led to the Japanese attack: a total embargo on scrap iron, a total embargo on oil in the summer of 1941.

Leaving aside the justification for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, it’s important to remember that prior to WWII, the U.S. had an atrocious track-record of defending struggles for freedom and democracy.

Ask the Libyans (1801-1805), Haitians (1791-1804. 1888, 1891, 1914, 1915-1934), Cubans (1814-1825, 1906-1909, 1912, 1917-1922, 1933) Filipinos (1899-1913), Mexicans (1806-1810, 1842, 1846-1848, 1859, 1866, 1873-1896), Puerto Ricans (1814-1825), Chinese (1843, 1854, 1855, 1866, 1894-1895, 1899, 1900, 1911-1941), Russians (1918-1920), Nicaraguans (1853-1857, 1867, 1894-1899, 1910-1925), Panamanians (1856, 1865, 1885, 1912-1925), Algerians (1815), Hawaiians (1870, 1874, 1889-1893),  or Guatemalans (1920) — just to name a few occasions when the U.S. military was used to protect U.S. interests and repress struggles for freedom and democracy.

Instead of glorifying state-sanctioned violence, activists in the U.S. would be wise to highlight the real heroes of WWII, people such as Gunnar Eilifsen, those who participated in the Warsaw Uprising, Irena Sandler, Lepa Radic, and countless unnamed others who defending their families and communities from Nazism and Fascism. They weren’t drafted. And they weren’t backed by the most powerful military empire in the world. They were true resistance fighters, and we should remember their sacrifices.

Meanwhile, we should do our best to challenge U.S. nationalism, historical myths and the fetishization of violence, which has reared its ugly head in light of recent white supremacist attacks on leftwing protesters. In the end, WWII was the single-greatest tragedy in the history of the human species. And that’s exactly how it should be remembered.

Antifa, Redneck Revolt, Black Bloc and The Left

Recently, I posted an article written by Louis Proyect entitled, “Antifa and the Perils of Adventurism,” on social media and received some limited backlash, but also some interesting reflections. Unfortunately, it’s clear that many people in the U.S., including seasoned activists and organizers, are having a very difficult time processing recent events in a way that’s not overly emotional or irrational in nature.

One person wrote, “Bottom line: Either you’re with Antifa or you’re with the Fascists!” This lack of nuance is symbolic of a Left that doesn’t look in the mirror, a Left that refuses to ask serious questions about its movements, organizations and members, and a Left that lacks discipline, vision and strategy. Remember, vision should dictate strategy, which in turn dictates tactics. Today, many leftists in the U.S. have the equation backward: they focus on tactics first, fail to discuss strategy, and a lack a long-term vision.

Existing anti-Fascist groups such as Antifa and the more militant organization Redneck Revolt, have filled a vacuum at protests, but their tactics are sloppy and their strategy and vision is non-existent. The overwhelming majority of Antifa activists are white, male, middle-class and disconnected from the ongoing day-to-day efforts of organizers and activists. To be fair, some do all of the above, but that’s a rare breed.

Proyect’s point about ‘adventurism’ is well understood: I’ve encountered many ‘adventurists’ over the years, especially during the Occupy Wall Street protests. I also experienced similar phenomena at antiwar protests during the Bush Era. In Charlottesville, the evidence is clear that leftwing protesters weren’t prepared for the Right’s violence, nor were they prepared to provide security for their marches.

As I watched video clips of Fields’ grey Dodge Charger ramming into a crowd of protesters, killing one, I immediately thought to myself: “Why was no one watching their six?” — military terminology for, “Who’s covering the perimeter and our backs?” Undoubtedly, it’s easy to make such critiques from the sidelines, but I’ve been in similar situations, notably in Iraq.

If leftwing activists are serious about security, especially at protests, they would enlist the help of antiwar veterans who have the knowledge and skills to provide the sort of security that’s required at such events. We know how to set up perimeter security. We know how to conduct vehicle check-points. And we know how to stand post. We know how to march in unison, follow direct orders and give direct orders. We know how to patrol city streets, and we know how to operate in teams of 4o (platoon), 12 (squad team) and 4 (fireteam).

Each person has a specific task. Each person’s task operates in tandem with other members’ tasks and skills. Everyone is trained in these skills and tasks for months and years at a time. The training process never ends. Indeed, even in the most disciplined and strict units, grave mistakes were made. People were killed during training exercises. And plenty of folks were injured.

You see, I have no moral qualms about violence or militant resistance. In fact, in many contexts, it’s absolutely required for survival. Here, in the U.S., however, I worry that my leftwing friends are getting ahead of themselves. Should communities be able to defend themselves? Absolutely. But what does that actually look like in the real world?

I would like to break down our security dilemma into three sections:

Internal Security: Are the activists who seek to provide protection at rallies (Antifa, for instance) operating in affinity groups? If not, they should. And to be clear, there are many different forms of affinity groups. What mechanisms are they using for communication? Person-to-person is the best, but there are also supposedly secure electronic applications available. Are activists talking about their challenges and plans on social media, via email or on the web? If so, they’re breaking some of the fundamental rules of security culture. Existing leftwing organizations should be having difficult discussions about the sort of security culture they wish to see in their respective organizations. Over the past 11 years, I’ve seen very little to convince me that this sort of sophisticated organizing is taking place on a broad scale. On the other hand, leftwing activists must be careful not to over-exaggerate our security threat. I’ve seen plenty of folks fall prey to unjustified paranoia. And most of the time this happens because groups don’t have a proper security culture in place. If they did, it would be much easier to operate in a rational manner, and to easily determine who/what is a threat, and who/what is not.

Security for Events: Here, I would highly suggest that leftwing activists seek out military veterans who’ve been active in the peace and justice movement. Make sure they’re vetted. Talk to their friends. Talk to people they’ve worked with. Are they accountable to a community or organization? If not, don’t work with them. It’s that simple. Only the most seasoned activists should be allowed to work in a security capacity at events where Fascists and white supremacists are expected to show up, or in a counterdemonstration against such groups. Newer activists can be trained in the proper methods of security at smaller-scale events: local protests, speaking engagements, workshops, fundraisers, etc. Operating as a team requires strict discipline and adherence to a set of values and rules. Without strict rules, people cannot survive in a combat zone. The same is true for rallies that descend into chaos. All of this is contrary to the typical anarchist-leftwing view that any form of authority is bad and must be rejected. In certain circumstances, extreme authoritarianism is required. Combat zones and riots are two examples.

External/Ongoing Security: Here, I’m thinking of the police and various other governmental entities that wield great power and violence. Going head-to-head with the police is usually a losing strategy. Leftwing activists don’t have the numbers or collective coherence required to overwhelm them, and we don’t have the weapons to stop them. This is true both at single events, and on a day-to-day basis in our local and regional communities. Dismantling the structures that produce violence and fear should always be our primary goal. In the meantime, however, people still require security. Poor communities are scared of both the cops and street gangs. Women are scared of their male partners. Domestic violence is a huge issue. Are leftwing groups prepared to respond to incidents of domestic violence? How can we expect people, particularly those who are vulnerable, to not call the police under those circumstances? Are neighborhoods and communities organized enough to do regular patrols, not so much to keep an eye on their neighbors, but to thwart the influence and power of street gangs and the police? Defending ourselves against rightwing militias or political organizations requires the same level of discipline and organization. Right now, there is no evidence that leftwing groups are prepared to engage in this level of security. That must change if we’re serious about providing alternatives to the state.

On a side note, I should mention a few things about weapons. First, I don’t trust anyone with a gun. I grew up with guns. I own guns. And unlike 99.99% of the leftwing activists, I’ve used guns to kill people. As a child, we spent hours upon hours learning how to clean, safely handle, and shoot our weapons. In the Marine Corps, that training was taken to its most extreme. In short, your individual liberties and rights go out the window once you start carrying a weapon.

One of the reasons the military is such a hyper-disciplined and authoritarian entity is because that’s the only way to survive when operating in groups of hundreds and thousands, with everyone carrying their own weapon. There must be a chain of command. Orders must be followed. If not, expect negligent discharges and unwanted deaths. In case you’re wondering, weapons are no joke.

The fetishization of guns isn’t new. The U.S. was built on the fetishization of guns and violence. Hence, it comes as no surprise that a bunch of folks who can’t even hold regular meetings or conduct effective campaigns are all of the sudden interested in picking up weapons and pretending to be revolutionaries.

From my perspective, maybe less than 1% of the activists and organizers I’ve encountered over the years are prepared for ‘militant resistance.’ They’re prepared to punch Nazis in the face, which is fine, but they’re not prepared to actually do battle with those same Nazis. In Charlottesville, leftwing activists would’ve been killed without the protection of the state. The same was true two years ago when I found myself attending an anti-Fascist rally in Coburg, a small suburb outside the city of Melbourne.

Currently, we can’t ‘outfight’ the Fascists, but we can out-organize them. Going toe-to-toe with people who are more than happy to employ violence is a losing strategy for the American Left. We lack the numbers, training, discipline, vision, coherence and seriousness to properly wage militant battles.

If you want to know what a revolutionary struggle looks like in the real world, talk to a Zapatista. Learn about their day-to-day struggles. Then, and only then, tell me that they’re ready to wage a revolutionary struggle. As my friend Sean says, and he’s right, “If you’re not ready to rats, sleep on the ground, kill people and pick up your dead friends, don’t talk to me about revolution or militant struggle.” I agree.

Dismantling White Supremacy

White Supremacy isn’t a series of attitudes or opinions, it’s a structural-systemic-institutional problem. Indeed, most of the activists and writers on the Left treat racism as if it’s a personal fault. It’s not. It’s a structural issue. The difference between individual racism and structural racism is important.

Since the Civil Rights Movement, one could argue that individual racism is much lower. Yes, there are White Supremacists who feel comfortable espousing their reactionary views online, but nowhere near the number of whites who felt comfortable doing so several decades ago. Yet, structurally, with regard to the prison industrial complex, housing, wealth and education, we’ve made little gains, and in many cases, have taken several steps back.

As a result, leftwing activists are confused. They lash out at racists on an individual level, but have no serious plans to deal with racism on a structural level. Dismantling White Supremacy requires dismantling or significantly altering existing institutions, including the corporate media (TV, Radio, Internet, Hollywood), the prison-industrial-complex and criminal justice system (Courts, Jails, Private Prisons, Police), the U.S. Empire (Bases, Weapons Contractors, Private Security Firms), global capitalism (Private Banks, Property Rights, Corporations, Trade Agreements) and a series of relationships, mechanisms, and institutions that uphold White Supremacy.

The difference between calling out and/or confronting individual racists and addressing structural racism is the difference between Neoliberal Activism (hyper-individualism) and Leftwing Activism (hyper-collectivity). Neoliberal activists have no ties to a collective body of people. They only address racism on an individual/subjective level, and fail to engage in the sort of collective work that it takes to actually dismantle the systems that produce the sort of racism they find so abhorrent.

In the end, the only response to large-scale collective challenges are large-scale collective political projects. In our context, that means creating new economic, political and cultural institutions aimed at radically changing society. And radically change society we must, at least according to the living world. Today, the concept of a new society is no longer an ideological pipe-dream, it’s a basic requirement for planetary survival.

As organizers, educators, activists and artists, it is our primary duty in the context of Neoliberalism to constantly remind people that our challenges are collective in nature. It’s also our responsibility to think critically and constantly improve upon our existing programs, campaigns, and so forth. The Right is playing to win. Are we?

Vincent Emanuele is a writer and community organizer who lives and works in Michigan City, Indiana. He is the co-founder of P.A.R.C. (Politics, Art, Roots, Culture), and a member of the National Writers Union – UAW 1981, and Veterans for Peace. He can be reached at vincent.emanuele333@gmail.com


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Vincent Emanuele writes for teleSUR English and lives in Michigan City, Indiana. He can be reached at vincent.emanuele333@gmail.com

California Typewriter; The Shopkeeper

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 12:22 pm

Two documentaries have come my way that raise important questions about the digital revolution as well as providing much more entertainment than Dunkirk and Detroit put together, even if this might be a case of setting the bar too low.

“California Typewriter” is a beautiful homage to the antiquated machine that people my age used long before personal computers took over while “The Shopkeeper” is a nostalgic look at the recording industry in its prime and how streaming services like Spotify and Pandora threaten to pauperize performing artists to the point of making them as antiquated as a typewriter. The shopkeeper in question is Mark Hallman, the founder of the Congress House, the longest continually operating recording studio in Austin, Texas.

However, both films hold out the possibility of keeping such “relics” alive since as Camus once said, “Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.”

Continue reading

August 15, 2017

Antifa and the perils of adventurism

Filed under: black bloc idiots,ultraleftism — louisproyect @ 5:47 pm

Antifascist demonstrators (one apparently wearing a “Fly Emirates” shirt) waiting outside Emancipation Park in Charlottesville on Saturday. GETTY IMAGES

Ever since the Seattle WTO protests of 1999, I have observed a dynamic at work that can best be described as “adventurism”. It accepts that peaceful protests might be of some use but the real action involves physical confrontations with the police or ultraright that is far more dramatic and likely to make the front pages of the bourgeois media. During the Vietnam antiwar movement, it was not uncommon for TV networks to make skirmishes between ultraleftists and American-flag toting “patriots” on the perimeter of massive demonstrations the lead story on the evening news. Back then, the demonstrations were highly disciplined affairs with parade marshals from the UAW and other major trade unions keeping things moving in an orderly fashion. Ultraleftists feeling constrained by the marshals would refer to them as “peace police”.

Since 1999, “diversity of tactics” has prevailed. Nonviolent protestors can do their thing while the black bloc or antifa—the latest manifestation of adventurism—can do theirs. If tear gas and billy clubs cannot discriminate between the two groups, so what? All you need to do is retreat from the fray, suffering nothing more than irritated eyes or some bruises.

However, there are alarming signs that the stakes are becoming much higher. On May Day this year, Puerto Ricans took to the streets massively in order to show their opposition to the austerity forced upon the country that made it effectively the Greece of the Caribbean. As reported by Ed Morales in The Nation, “worker and student groups, faculty members, a feminist contingent, street artists, and an increasingly politicized middle class—coming from different points around the city converged at the Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) in the Hato Rey business district.” He described the protest as “massive and peaceful…an almost festive atmosphere”. But as the event was coming to an end, black bloc types began throwing rocks at the main headquarters of Banco Popular, the island’s largest bank, breaking windows in a time-dishonored stunt.

The police used this as an excuse to begin wading into peaceful protestors, firing tear gas and using billy clubs on the crowd. TV news that night led, of course, with footage of the black bloc running amok as tear gas dispersed the crowds. Ricardo Rosselló, the rightwing Governor of Puerto Rico, held a press conference to denounce the May Day action, lumping the adventurists in with the peaceful protestors.

That set the agenda for Banco Popular to punish the movement as a whole. It filed a lawsuit claiming damages against 42 plaintiffs, including community organizations and labor unions. Were the masked rock-throwing adventurists agent provocateurs working for the cops? While some probably were, the more likely explanation is a deep-seated belief by politically raw youth that breaking windows and fighting the cops is revolutionary.

Taking advantage of a movement put on the defensive, Rosselló signed legislation that will increase criminal penalties against demonstrators who wear masks. He also made it a crime to obstruct construction sites (up to three years in prison), a measure designed to curtail union protests, as well as approving fines of up to $30,000 for interfering with tourist activities. Interference would likely include the closure of an access road to the airport that occurred on May Day, as well as obstructing access to or functions in health or government offices or learning institutions.

Nice work, adventurists.

As bad as the outcome was in Puerto Rico, it looked like the damage could be even much greater in the mother country for people caught up in the chaos that took place on Inauguration Day, once again sparked by black bloc adventurism.

On the morning of January 20th, when Donald Trump was set to be inaugurated, a large group of protesters dressed in black and faces covered ran wild through Washington, smashing windows just like their pals in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Once again, the cops threw out a very broad net that included more than two hundred people being arrested, most of whom apparently had nothing to do with property destruction. They were charged with felony rioting, facing 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Reporters Alexi Wood and Aaron Cantu, who were also swept up in the mass arrests, face even harsher punishments. Wood was charged with five felony property destruction charges and three felony rioting charges. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to 70 years in prison as would Cantu who was faced with similar charges.

Nice work, adventurists.

Turning now to Charlottesville, it is obvious to me that if the protests had been disciplined and under the control of marshals such as was the norm during the Vietnam antiwar movement, there would have been much less of a chance that James Fields would have been able to drive his Dodge Challenger into a crowd, killing a young woman and injuring 19 others.

The antifa contingent came to the city with the intent of turning it into a battle between the fascists and their own street fighters in the same way that it “intervened” at the Berkeley protest against Milo Yiannopoulos. Fortunately, nobody was killed or injured at Berkeley but the protest lacked political clarity.

The same cannot be said about his appearance at the University of Washington in Seattle on Inauguration Day. During a melee between the black bloc and cops outside the hall where Yiannopolous was speaking, IWW member Josh Dukes was shot by Elizabeth Hokoana, a Trump supporter. Her husband Marc was arrested with her as an accomplice. Dukes has lost his gall bladder, half his colon and is left with a severely damaged liver.

If you want to keep tabs of the adventurists who are unaccountable to anybody outside of their ranks, you need to consult the “It’s Going Down” website. There you can read an assessment of the Charlottesville events by an anonymous author, which is typical of the lack of accountability that exists in this milieu. Titled “Charlottesville and the Rise of Fascism in the USA: What We Need to Do”, it is certainly not what one would call an exercise in false modesty.

They credit their window-breaking adventures with inspiring judges to block Muslim bans and motivating government officials to leak information to the press. Gosh, where would we be without them? The boys refer dismissively to nonviolent protestors: “Likewise, it won’t help to gather in churches, as some did in Charlottesville last night, congratulating ourselves on how nonviolent we are while fascists patrol the streets. Last night, when the church locked its doors, many were trapped outside, dramatically outnumbered. This kind of behavior is also complicity.” What ingrates. Cornel West credits them (rather hyperbolically) as saving his life while they charge him as being complicit with white supremacy. It is no wonder that the antifa cult has no concept of broad unity that is so urgently needed today. If you are not ready to get your teeth knocked out by a KKK member in a Rugby-like confrontation, then get lost.

The author does manage to call for unity but the words ring as hollow as Trump’s follow-up statement on Charlottesville: “As in our efforts against the Trump administration, we can’t take on fascism alone. We have to make sure that we are part of a much broader movement, yet that our efforts are not diluted or reduced to some lowest common denominator.” And what does he expect of us? “We need people to put up posters; we need people to hand out handbills”. Is this idiot for real? The antifa wants us to do grunt work while we have absolutely no voice in their decision-making? On their worst day, the worst Leninist sect did not have such arrogance.

There is an implicit ideological assumption in the antifa movement that is worth bringing to the surface and critiquing. In a way, they share the Communist Party’s long-standing obsession with “fascism” that surfaces in every election campaign. They called on people to vote for Hubert Humphrey against Nixon in order to “stop fascism” just as antifa calls on people to get their bones broke or worse taking on fascists who look forward to such confrontation since it gets covered in the bourgeois press that otherwise would have little interest in people like Richard Spencer. Reporting about violence increases newspaper sales and TV ratings.

The enemy is not fascism as much as it is capitalism that exploits the working class according to democratic and civilized norms that would never be associated with the swastika or other fascist regalia. How do I know? Just read the NY Times op-ed page that screams bloody murder about Trump but gave Obama and Hillary Clinton a free pass. It was, after all, Democratic Party indifference to the suffering of the majority of Americans that led to the current crisis.

In a way, the American antifa movement suffers the same kind of political myopia as the original movement in postwar Germany, where Socialists and Communists tried to root out the residual Nazism left behind in the German state. This history is detailed in a Jacobin article titled “The Lost History of Antifa” written by contributing editor Loren Balhorn who is a member of Die Linke.

Antifa groups totaled in the thousands, made up of older industrial workers who managed to elude the Gestapo. They were primarily focused on identifying and bringing to justice Nazis in the same way that Jewish Nazi hunters like Simon Wiesenthal did.

They also fought for social change with Stuttgart being a center of working class resistance to postwar austerity. In 1948 there was anger over drastic price rises that triggered a general strike that in which 79 percent of the workforce took part and that spread beyond Stuttgart.

Ultimately, the antifa movement was unable to transform a country that was undergoing massive economic changes orchestrated by the victorious USA. Balhorn cites Albercht Lein throughout his article. Lein was the author of “Antifaschistische Aktion”, a 1978 book that offers an explanation of why the original movement faded from the scene.

Essentially, the movement was focused almost exclusively on tracking down Nazis and failed to develop a strategy for changing German society. In a way, the CP and SP returned to the status quo ante in the new Germany with both parties following its own narrow interests, particularly in the trade unions. The SP was keen on sustaining the alliance with the USA, which promised a return to capitalist normalcy and even prosperity while the CP saw itself—as always—serving the interests of the Soviet Union.

It even reverted back to its sectarian pre-Popular Front period as Balhorn points out:

Following a brief period of participation in postwar provisional governments, however, the Allies sidelined the KPD, and the party soon returned to its ultra-leftist line. It sealed its political irrelevance in 1951 with the passage of “Thesis 37,” a position paper on labor strategy riddled with anti–Social Democratic and anti-trade-union slurs. The motion, passed at the party conference, obligated all KPD members to obey party decisions above and against trade union directives if necessary. This move obliterated Communist support in the factories veritably overnight and relegated the party to society’s fringes. It failed to re-enter parliament in the 1953 elections and was banned by the West German government outright in 1956.

The same kind of divisions between the SP and CP in Germany in the 1920s were responsible for Hitler coming to power, not an unwillingness to engage in punch-ups as I have heard on Facebook. If the SP and the CP had combined forces, they would have been able to elect someone other than Paul von Hindenburg, the rightist who turned over the power to Hitler. And given the right strategy, even making a socialist revolution. They did have the support of the working class unlike the tiny sects of today.

As a small, self-appointed savior of the America people, the antifa milieu has neither the massive support that the German antifa movement had nor little grasp of the tasks that face us. Right now it is the cops, not Richard Spencer, that is killing Black people with impunity. All across the country, fracking and other forms of environmental despoliation will be on the rise under Donald Trump. This requires a powerful mass movement to confront, not small-scale skirmishes. We are dealing with frightening confrontations over North Korea that cry out for a new anti-nuclear movement, not stupid, childish window-breaking.

I doubt that anybody involved with window-breaking, fist-fighting idiocy is capable of rising to the occasion but I urge people who have been seduced by their fake militancy in the same way that they got a kick out of the viral Richard Spencer getting punched video to wise up. We are in for some stormy battles and intelligence is needed much more than empty bravado.

Islamophobia: The New Western Racism

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 12:41 am

The Pluto Press Blog - Independent, radical publishing

Traverso Jewish modIn this essay, written exclusively for the Pluto blog, author of the recently published End of Jewish Modernity and prolific historian of the twentieth-century, Enzo Traverso examines the parallels between two strains of modern xenophobia: anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Looking at politics, the media and cultural output, Traverso reveals significant similarities between today’s Islamophobia and the older anti-Semitism.

‘A new wave of Islamophobia is spreading in the West. President Donald Trump vowed during the election to expel all Muslims from the United States and  across the European Union, conservative currents claim laws against Islam. Islam is perceived as a barbarism and a threat to Western, “Jewish-Christian” civilization, a tendency gaining strength in France following a succession of terrorist attacks  In this culture of extreme xenophobia and prejudice, the notion that Muslim citizens be compelled to wear a yellow star and crescent on their clothes, like Jews during the Second World War, no…

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August 14, 2017

This is what American fascism looks like: the Lyndon LaRouche story (part two)

Filed under: Fascism,LaRouche — louisproyect @ 5:59 pm

(part one)

Roy Frankhouser, KKK leader who LaRouche bonded with in 1975

When I was a young activist in the 1960s and 70s, there was no “anti-fa” movement in the USA. For that matter, there was not much in the way of an anarchist movement and the one that existed identified much more with the Kropotkin-type philosophy of Paul Goodman rather than trying to smash fascist gatherings on campus or elsewhere.

In a curious role reversal, it was mostly the left that had to fend off assaults from the ultraright. On May 22, 1970 the Jewish Defense League, a fascist-Zionist group led by Rabbi Meier Kahane, stormed into the offices of two pro-Palestinian groups in New York and beat staff members with wooden clubs, leaving three victims hospitalized.

We also had to watch out for Cuban exiles who were trying to intimidate anybody involved with Cuban solidarity. The month after the JDL attack, gusanos set fire to the SWP headquarters in Los Angeles as the LA Free Press reported:

A Citizen’s Committee has been formed in Los Angeles in response to the arson attack on the Socialist Workers Party Headquarters. Named the Citizens’ Committee for the Right of Free Expression, the organization is asking for a full-scale investigation into the fire-bombing and the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack.

The Committee was formed in response to a series of terrorist attacks in the Los Angeles area. The most recent attack occurred May 27 at the campaign headquarters of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). On that day, at approximately 12;40 P.M., a band of heavily armed men entered the building. Four campaign workers, Peter Seidman, Sally Whicker, Carole Seidman and Tiby Alvin, were in the office at the time. Armed with M-1 semi-automatics and submachine guns, the terrorists forced those present into one room and made them lie face down on the floor. According to Carole Seidman, the invaders continually shouted, “You will die for Fidel!” and “We are going to kill you commies.”

While the victims were being held at gunpoint, other members of the invasion force began smashing kitchen utensils, pulling down bookshelves and overturning desks. They then poured gasoline all over the floors and walls and ignited the office.

As the terrorists fled the scene, Peter Seidman began trying to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher. When Seidman realized this was futile, the magnitude of the flames being too great, the occupants fled down the fire escape.

When I arrived in Houston in 1974 on assignment with the SWP, our bookstore had already been badly damaged by a KKK pipe bomb. In addition, the Klan had blown up the Pacifica radio station transmitter twice and fired a machine gun through the kitchen window of our comrade Fred Brode who was a leader of the antiwar movement in Houston. Fred had fled Nazi Germany to escape persecution as a revolutionary socialist just before Hitler took power. As a young man he had fought the Nazis on the streets of Berlin during the Weimar Republic.

(Parenthetically, I should mention that the JDL, the gusanos and KKK would be beaten back by the sort of broad-based civil liberties campaign the SWP organized and not by street-fighting. Our philosophy was to avoid being perceived as taking the law into our own hands, something that would cut across our efforts to gain public support. This meant insisting that the police arrest the lawbreakers, a tactic that was frowned upon in ultraleft circles.)

In addition to the ultraright, we always had to deal with violent attempts by sections of the left to break up meetings or protests. In 1970, the PLP wing of SDS was trying to destroy the Vietnam antiwar movement through physical attacks on rallies and meetings. Reporting for the SWP’s newspaper, Tony Thomas referred to one of the incidents:

On May 24, a national steering committee meeting of the SMC held in Boston was attacked by over 50 PLP and SDS members led by SDS National Secretary John Pennington. John McCann, an SWP member who was coordinator of the fight that led to the successful Massachusetts 1970 antiwar referendum, was savagely beaten at this meeting.

John, who is deceased, lost the sight in one eye as a result of this attack.

Like PLP/SDS, another group that emerged out of SDS seemed to be on the same warpath. As I indicated in my first post on LaRouche, he formed the National Caucus of Labor Committees in January 1969 out of the implosion of SDS with a 600 member cadre made up of many Columbia University students and graduates, some of whom have remained with him after nearly 50 years.

In 1973, LaRouche launched Operation Mop-Up that targeted the CPUSA in the same way that the Maoist PLP had targeted us in the SWP. It began as a war of words as NCLC members went to CP public meetings to harangue the speakers while the CP denounced them as government agents. Par for the course in the left back then. Dennis King reports on the build-up and deployment of Mop-Up:

Months prior to Mop Up, LaRouche had ordered the most physically agile NCLC members to undergo training for street fighting. This training was now stepped up. Members were organized into flying squads armed with metal pipes, clubs, and nunchukas (Okinawan martial arts devices consisting of two sticks attached by a chain). The idea was to go into action as mini-phalanxes with the nunchuka wielders in the center.

Mop Up began in New York, and spread to Philadelphia, Buffalo, Detroit, and other cities. Attackers were sometimes brought from out of town so their faces wouldn’t be recognized. In several cities they broke up public meetings and invaded leftist bookstores, beating anyone who tried to bar their way. In New York they ambushed individual CP leaders on the street. In Detroit they administered a savage beating to a partially paralyzed left-wing activist on crutches. In Philadelphia, twenty-five to thirty NCLC members raided a meeting of the Public Workers Action Caucus. “The steps were a mass of blood,” said a PWAC activist. “As soon as I walked out I was hit by a pole,” Although no one was critically injured in any of the attacks, several were hospitalized with broken bones and many required medical treatment for cuts and bruises.

The biggest attack on the CP took place on April 23, 1973 when 60 NCLC members stormed a meeting at Columbia University being held for CP mayoral candidate Rasheed Storey. Armed with nunchakus and brass knuckles, they charged the platform that included Joanna Misnik who was representing the SWP candidate. A joint CP-SWP defense guard broke off chair legs to beat back the assault, leaving many NCLC members badly injured. This was pretty much the end of such assaults on the left.

Defending the attacks, LaRouche, using his pseudonym Lyn Marcus, wrote an article titled “Their Morals and Ours” that used language that seemingly rested on his Trotskyist background:

However, the article also pointed forward to his evolving fascist ideology. Dennis King compared the bravado of his language to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. While LaRouche wrote that “All those mighty ‘Communists’ can do is hide behind the nightsticks of the local police, while publishing tear-jerking accounts of their own casualties”, Hitler used a similar formulation in “Mein Kampf”: “Any meeting which is protected exclusively by the police discredits its organizers in the eyes of the broad masses. . . . [A] heroic movement will sooner win the heart of a people than a cowardly one which is kept alive only by police protection.”

If LaRouche had backed off from attacking Marxist groups like the CP or the SWP, he still targeted African-American leaders who he also considered his enemies, using a mixture of ultraleft jargon and racist epithets. They singled out Amiri Baraka, the poet and Black nationalist, for special attention since they had talked themselves into believing that he was a CIA agent. They distributed a pamphlet called “Papa Doc Baraka: Fascism in Newark” that referred to him as a “gutter dweller,” an “animal,” a “mad dog,” “Aunt Jemima,” and “Superfly.” A cartoon on the pamphlet’s cover portrayed him as a hyena with thick lips drooling over a baby’s corpse.

The mixture of racism and ultraleftism cropped up during the struggle for busing in Boston, where the NAACP and its supporters in the SWP backed a plan to desegregate the public schools. In 1974, they had meetings with the white racist anti-busing group known as ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights) and ran an anti-busing congressional candidate justified on the basis that busing was a CIA plot to divide the working class.

By 1975, the transition to fascism was complete. The proof was their willingness to begin working with the KKK at the very time when its chapter in Houston was terrorizing the left.

In Michigan, they met with followers of KKK Grand Dragon Robert Miles, who was serving time for bombing school buses in Pontiac, Michigan to protest busing. They nominated his chief aide Vernon Higgins to be their 1974 candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives. Even though Higgins turned out to be an FBI informant, the NCLC continued to coalesce with Klansmen such as Roy Frankhouser, the Pennsylvania Grand Dragon and Miles’s close friend. When Frankhouser was tried that year in Philadelphia on charges of transporting stolen explosives to Miles’s associates, they sponsored a press conference to support him.

In the next installment in this series, I will discuss Lyndon LaRouche’s use of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in his continuing fascist assault on the left. Unlike today’s alt-right, he was able to gain the kind of access to the power elite that will remain out of reach to people like Richard Spencer for the foreseeable future.

August 13, 2017

The Nile Hilton Incident; Whose Streets

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 8:57 pm

Regrettably I was not able to write a review two outstanding films that opened in New York on Friday night. If you are looking for worthwhile alternatives to “Dunkirk” or “Detroit”, you cannot do better than to make time for “Nile Hilton Incident”, a narrative film that is playing at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Quad Cinema, or “Whose Streets”, a documentary showing at the Elinor Bunin Munroe theater at Lincoln Center and at Sunshine Cinema. It is quite likely that these will be finalists in my pick for best films of 2017.

As a big fan of film noir, I would have highly recommended “The Nile Hilton Incident” as the sort of work that captures the best of a genre that is woefully underrepresented in popular culture today. Directed by Tarik Saleh, a Swedish filmmaker of Egyptian descent, its closest relatives are the Swedish detective stories written by Marxists such as the Wallander series. In such tales, the enemy is often some powerful capitalist who can rely on his cronies in the police department or the military to look the other way when they are carrying out some crime. It is up to a decent, hard-working detective to set things right. (This is fiction, after all.)

In the opening scene of “The Nile Hilton Incident”, a Sudanese cleaning lady at this Cairo landmark is pushing her cart down the hallway when she hears a woman screaming from inside a room just before the killer makes his escape. She recognizes him from the far end of the hallway as a past visitor to her room and someone to be feared. As such, she beats a hasty retreat in the opposite direction from him.

The following day, the cops survey the crime scene led by chief Noredin Mostafa whose first impression would lead you to believe that he had little in common with the high-minded, incorruptible Wallander. Inspecting her dead body, he finds a billfold filled with money that he pockets. This sort of behavior is par for the course in his department that is led by his uncle Kammal who openly discusses payoffs at headquarters.

Noredin Mostafa is a chain-smoking, sad-eyed man in his forties who lives alone. A widower, he is seeking companionship but like people everywhere in the world is forced to rely on computer dating because social ties have broken down, especially in metropoles like New York or Cairo. When putting together his profile for a dating service with a tech-savvy friend, he seems ready to walk away in disgust.

He is played by Fares Fares, a Swedish actor originally from Lebanon who is outstanding. He moved to Sweden to escape the civil war and soon became a successful actor in Swedish and American films, including Kathryn Bigelow’s awful “Zero Dark Thirty”. Unlike her film, “The Nile Hilton Incident” is very much from an Arab viewpoint and immersed in Egyptian culture. With his basset hound features, Fares will remind you instantly of Victor Mature or Robert Mitchum, two film noir icons who often played the same kind of role: a tarnished, world-weary detective walking a tightrope between the needs of honest citizens who have been wronged and the powerful elements of Egyptian society who use the state to protect their interests—including the cops.

In the course of his investigation, Noredin discovers that the culprit is likely a parliamentarian and real estate developer who is used to getting away with all sorts of crimes, and in this case possibly murder. Just as he begins to uncover clues that make the developer a prime suspect, his uncle tells him that the case is closed. The dead woman slit her own throat in an act of suicide.

At this point, Noredin decides to jump off the tightrope and into the ranks of the downtrodden. The dead woman was kept by the real estate developer and likely killed by him in a crime of passion. As his investigation proceeds, the protests in Tahrir Square are beginning to mount and at this point Tarik Saleh’s film becomes a perfect blend of film noir and social criticism of the fetid core of Egypt’s ruling class.

Highly, highly recommended.

“Whose Streets” is in part a look at the protests that followed in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri but much more than that. It is a sensitive and revealing look at the activists who helped to build the movement and the kind of lives they live. Under economic pressure that would break most people, they have an indomitable thirst for dignity and respect that was so sorely missing in this town ruled by a racist police department.

The film profiles seven subjects and devotes most of its attention to Hands Up United’s cofounder Tory Russell, Brittany Farrell, who is a nurse and young mother, and David Whitt, a recruiter for Cop Watch. These are young, articulate and idealistic people who are part of an emerging civil rights movement that may be more powerful than that of the 1960s for the simple reason that it starts on a higher level. The goal is no longer desegregation but social and economic equality, starting with the expectation that cops don’t have the right to shoot you in cold blood because you are walking down the middle of the street like Michael Brown.

Director Sabaah Folayan was well-equipped to make such a film. She is an African-American who grew up as the daughter of a single mom in South Central Los Angeles, a part of the city that has to deal with the same issues as Ferguson. She attended Columbia University as a premed student and graduated with a degree in biology. But she was drawn to community organizing soon after her graduation but with much more of an emphasis on struggle than another Columbia University graduate who worked as a community organizer, one Barack Obama.

Folayan teamed up with Damon Davis, whose father was a member of the Black Panther Party and mother was a sharecropper. A native of St. Louis, he was able to become part of the struggle from the outset. Wikipedia reports:

In Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, while awaiting the grand jury decision on whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, Davis created a public art project on storefronts boarded up in anticipation of unrest. Working with store owners, he wheatpasted the plywood-covered windows of participating stores with a series of posters developed from his photographs of hands in the “hands up” gesture Brown was allegedly making when Wilson shot him. Davis described the project at aiming to create “something visually appealing, just to give the people hope, and let them know we stand with them.” Mic called the project “the most powerful street art in America.”

In 2016, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego showed the photographs from the project in an exhibit called “Damon Davis: All Hands on Deck.” An original window board from the Ferguson installation is part of the permanent collection at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

As I have stated in the past, I consider documentary filmmakers of the past to be part of an informal vanguard that will ultimately become the party that leads a revolution in the USA. You should consider Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis the vanguard of the vanguard.

A Syrianized World

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 1:39 pm


fascistsAlongside the chants of ‘Blood and Soil’, ‘You Will Not Replace Us’, ‘White Lives Matter’ and ‘Fuck You Faggots’, some of the privileged fascists rallying at Charlottesville, Virginia gave their opinions on the Syrian issue. “Support the Syrian Arab Army,” they said. “Fight the globalists. Assad did nothing wrong. Replacing Qaddafi was a fucking mistake.”

It’s worth noting that these talking points – support for Assad and the conspiracy theories which absolve him of blame for mass murder and ethnic cleansing, the Islamophobia which underpins these theories, the notion that ‘globalists’ staged the Arab Revolutions, and the idea that the Libyan revolution was entirely a foreign plot – are shared to some extent or other by most of what remains of the left.

In 2011 I expected that Syria’s predominantly working-class uprising against a sadistic regime that is both neo-liberal and fascist would receive the staunch support of leftists…

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August 12, 2017

Left and Right agreement on Syria?

Filed under: Fascism,Syria — louisproyect @ 11:53 pm

The only thing keeping westerners from seeing through the lies that they’ve been told about Syria is the unquestioned assumption that their own government could not possibly be that evil. They have no trouble believing that a foreigner from a Muslim-majority country could be gratuitously using chemical weapons on children at the most strategically disastrous time possible and bombing his own civilians for no discernible reason other than perhaps sheer sexual sadism, but the possibility that their government is making those things up in order to manufacture consent for regime change is ruled out before any critical analysis of the situation even begins.


The Facebook page of James Alex Fields Jr., the man who drove a car into anti-racist protestors, killing one and injuring dozens of others:

August 11, 2017

Writer Beat — BEWARE!!!

Filed under: anti-Semitism,Fascism — louisproyect @ 3:41 pm

In May someone named Autumn Cote (autumncote@writerbeat.com) asked my permission to crosspost an article I had written about whether George Soros was promoting a color revolution against Donald Trump on her website. Frankly, I don’t care who crossposts my articles but after discovering today that she published neo-Nazi shit, I told her to remove my articles and not contact me again.

I discovered this from a chance look at a discussion about Venezuela on Michael Roberts’s blog that I had participated in a few days ago. She showed up asking Michael if she could crosspost his article and like me he gave her the green light. That immediately prompted someone to post a comment about how she had published this:

This article “explains” the use of Zyklon-B as an innocent attempt to kill lice rather than Jews, a staple of the Zundel/Leuchter/Irving neo-Nazi repertory.

(I’ve been told that the article has been deleted from Writer Beat. I didn’t want to provide a link to it because it didn’t deserve one but you can see the cached version here.)

Out of curiosity, I did a little more checking on Cote after this nasty bit of business. For those with a strong stomach, I suggest this interview she gave to Whiteout Press, another website that has the same initially innocent-looking appearance as hers. Out of curiosity, I did a search on “Jews” on Whiteout Press and this was the first article that cropped up:

Is the Media Controlled by Jews?

It referred readers to National Vanguard Books, a subsidiary of the National Alliance, a now defunct alt-right outfit based in West Virginia founded by William Luther Pierce III, the author of “The Turner Diaries”, a book that people like Timothy McVeigh swore by.

You have to be careful about sneaky little neo-Nazis  like Autumn Cote. So if she contacts you about crossposting your articles, tell her to crawl back into the hole she came from.


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