Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 20, 2010

Weimar Germany and contemporary America: any parallels?

Filed under: Fascism — louisproyect @ 5:43 pm

Although my admiration for Noam Chomsky is unbounded, as well as his interlocutor Chris Hedges, I am afraid that the interview Hedges conducted with Chomsky on Truthdig making parallels between contemporary America and Weimar Germany is nonsense. Here are the most relevant paragraphs:

“It is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. “The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”

“The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen,” Chomsky went on. “Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election.”

To start with, the economic situation during the late Weimar Republic was far worse than today in the U.S. In 1932, there were 5 million unemployed German workers out of a total population of 66 million, an unemployment rate of 30 percent–twice what we are suffering in the U.S. today. Also, keep in mind that unemployment insurance, which had been introduced in Germany in 1927, was the victim of fiscal austerity after the 1929 market crash. All public funding was suspended, which resulted in higher contributions by the workers and fewer benefits for the unemployed.

A brief article from the June 19, 1932 New York Times should give you a feel for the desperate situation in Germany:

In the Bischofshem forest hikers found the corpses of a family of five—father, mother, and three children from 3 to 7—a brief note in the man’s pocket stating that economic misery had determined him and his wife to commit suicide, and take their children with them. “The courageous don’t grow old,” the note concluded. Its writer was 35 years old, a World War veteran, out of work, trying to eke out a living selling newspapers. He had shot his wife and children, and then himself.

Eighteen thousand people killed themselves in Germany last year, according to the provisional figures. Berlin alone had nearly seven hundred suicides the first four months of this year. The suicide curve seems to be rising steeply, and common sense interprets this as the reflection of constantly increasing economic pressure.

The other economic fact that should never be forgotten was the heavy burden imposed on Germany through the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI. For example, France took over the coal-rich Saar region and Germany was forced to provide France, Belgium, and Italy with millions of tons of coal for ten years.

The other thing missing entirely from Chomsky’s assessment is the differences between the German working class in the Weimar Republic and our own situation. To put it bluntly, there is no fascist threat in the U.S. today because there is no Communist threat. The two movements are dialectically related.  Despite all the hysteria about “socialism” on Fox News and at Tea Party rallies, there is not the slightest sign that American workers are thinking in class terms, let alone radicalizing. In fact the overall response of workers to economic crisis now is pretty much the same as it has been since every downturn since the early 1970s, namely to seek personal solutions. Back in 1989 Michael Moore made his first documentary “Roger and Me” that examined the impact of unemployment in Flint, Michigan—his home town. One worker was raising rabbits to sell as food; another had decided to move to Texas where there were jobs aplenty—at least that is what he heard. What you didn’t see was organized resistance.

By comparison, Germany had been the scene of massive and organized resistance ever since the end of WWI. Massive Socialist and Communist Parties were involved in one revolutionary struggle after another starting with Rosa Luxemburg’s ill-fated Spartacist uprising. In 1921 and 1923, there were Communist-led insurrectionary struggles that were doomed to fail because of ultraleft sectarian mistakes largely inspired by Bela Kun, the Comintern emissary to Germany. For example, in Saxony coal miners often used dynamite against the army and cops just as Bolivian tin miners did in their revolution in 1952. By comparison, the Massey Energy company has the blood of 29 dead miners on its hands and the trade unions in West Virginia do nothing but issue press releases. This is not to speak of the utter lack of a radical movement embedded within the coal mines. If anything the radical movement had more of a presence in the 1970s but as is the case across the board it declined into nothingness. If fascism is meant to stave off working class revolution, then it would serve no purpose at all in the U.S. today.

Since Chomsky’s parameters include Blacks and “illegal immigrants” (his words, unfortunately—nobody is illegal) rather than workers, it is worth taking a look at how much of a threat they pose to the existing system as well. To start with, the sad truth is that the Black community has not been mobilized for nearly a quarter-century and if anything is even more demobilized today under Obama. Illusions in a “Black president” have been widespread on the left except among the vanguard like Glen Ford’s Black Agenda website. 25 years ago there were still stirrings of Black Power that occasionally led to conferences for a Black political party, demands for reparation, as well as other signs that the sixties were still alive. Today there is virtually nothing like this going on.

Now it is true that undocumented workers are facing more and more repression and have begun to play the role of scapegoats reminiscent of Jews in the 1930s. An article in today’s New York Times even connects the dotted lines between racist legislation in Arizona and the fascist ties of the man who drafted it:

The state senator who wrote the law, Russell Pearce, had long been considered a politically incorrect embarrassment by more moderate members of his party — often to the delight of his supporters. There was the time in 2007 when he appeared in a widely circulated photograph with a man who was a featured speaker at a neo-Nazi conference. (Mr. Pearce said later he did not know of the man’s affiliation with the group.)

In 2006, he came under fire for speaking admirably of a 1950s federal deportation program called Operation Wetback, and for sending an e-mail message to supporters that included an attachment — inadvertently, he said — from a white supremacist group.

That being said, it is important to acknowledge that the repression in Arizona is being carried out by the cops and not the Minutemen, a paramilitary formation that never gained much traction. In a period of deepening polarization, such as during the late Weimar period, you will see the working class and its allies in combat with such militias as the official bodies of repression become overburdened. During the 1930s in the U.S. you found many such paramilitaries, most notably the Silver Shirts in Minnesota who functioned as a kind of auxiliary to the bosses who were fighting against the CIO. The Trotskyists confronted the Silver Shirts successfully as recounted by Farrell Dobbs in Teamster Politics. In an article I wrote about fascism in 1992 prompted by worries among the left (including the sect I used to belong to that should have known better) that Pat Buchanan represented some kind of fascist threat, I tried to remind readers what was going on in the 1930s:

Local 544 took serious measures to defend itself. It formed a union defense guard in August 1938 open to any active union member. Many of the people who joined had military experience, including Ray Rainbolt the elected commander of the guard. Rank-and-filers were former sharpshooters, machine gunners and tank operators in the US Army. The guard also included one former German officer with WWI experience. While the guard itself did not purchase arms except for target practice, nearly every member had hunting rifles at home that they could use in the circumstance of a Silver Shirt attack.

There is nothing—I repeat, nothing—going on like this today.

I am afraid that Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges are succumbing to the kind of fascists under the bed hysteria that I have seen on the left going back to the Nixon administration, a politician widely accused at the time of being a new Adolph Hitler. One can only wish that the current occupant of the White House was only half as progressive as Nixon whose Keynesian economics and pro-environment policies put Obama to shame.

Perhaps the only analogy with the Weimar Republic that makes sense is the “lesser evil” politics that sections of the left promoted then and now. The Socialist Party in Germany kept backing bourgeois politicians as an alternative to Hitler, even as their anti-working class policies were creating the resentment among backward layers that helped feed the Nazi movement. The main alternative to the SP, the Communists, were just as bankrupt having developed the “third period” insanity that failed to make any distinctions between the SP and the Nazis.

While a real fascist threat is nowhere near on the agenda in the U.S., it is still incumbent upon us to break with the “lesser evil” mentality that allowed one of the big working class parties in Germany to help Hitler rise to power. By exaggerating the threat of fascism today, segments of the left—particularly the Communist Party—try to stampede people into voting for whichever Democrat is running in a presidential election.

In October 20, 2008 Noam Chomsky urged a vote for Obama in swing states in order to “stop McCain”. In 2012, I am sure that we will hear arguments for backing Obama against whichever slug the Republicans nominate. And all the while, the political landscape keeps shifting to the right. Ultimately there will be such disgust with the existing two-party system that millions of people will begin to struggle in the streets and through electoral means to oppose the system that is killing them. When that begins to happen, you can be sure that a genuine fascist movement will take shape. After all, we are living in country that has arguably had a more savage history than the Nazis during their relatively short reign. Let’s never forget that Hitler understood the need from learning from American democrats when he was getting his act together:

Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa And for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination-by starvation and uneven combat-of the ‘Red Savages’ who could not be tamed by captivity.

(John Toland, “Adolf Hitler” Vol II, p 802, Doubleday & Co, 1976)

79 Comments »

  1. Just saw a typo which you should probably correct:

    “By comparison, Germany had been the scene of massive and organized resistance ever since the end of WWII.”

    Should read, WWI, not WWII.

    Other than that, great post.

    Comment by Greg McDonald — April 20, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  2. chip berlet will have something to say about this i imagine….

    Comment by Bebe — April 20, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  3. From this side of the pond it always seems the US is on the verge of fascism. Maybe as the power of the US declines relatively to the rest of the world then some force could emerge that could be called fascistic. Though you have provided compelling arguments that nothing of this sort could emerge in the short term.

    Comment by James — April 20, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

  4. Who’s Chip Berlet?

    Comment by Greg McDonald — April 20, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

  5. Excellent article…the following, pretty much, says it all:

    “By exaggerating the threat of fascism today, segments of the left—particularly the Communist Party—try to stampede people into voting for whichever Democrat is running in a presidential election.”

    Only not just in a “presidential election;” just wait til’ the Congressional ones this fall.

    Comment by MN Roy — April 20, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

  6. “The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen,” Chomsky went on. “Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers.

    ^^^^^^^
    CB: Surely he is not saying that Hitler was honest.

    Comment by charles — April 20, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  7. Excellent article…the following, pretty much, says it all:

    “By exaggerating the threat of fascism today, segments of the left—particularly the Communist Party—try to stampede people into voting for whichever Democrat is running in a presidential election.”

    Only not just in a “presidential election;” just wait til’ the Congressional ones this fall.

    ^^^^^
    CB: Naw. It’s tired old ultra-leftism

    Comment by charles — April 20, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

  8. In 2012, I am sure that we will hear arguments for backing Obama against whichever slug the Republicans nominate. And all the while, the political landscape keeps shifting to the right.

    ^^^^^
    CB: And the arguments will be correct.

    Comment by charles — April 20, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

  9. Good piece. I am always reminded when there’s talk about fascism – something that seems to happen in the USA rather than Australia- of a 1970s pamphlet I read in my earlier days (one of those I kept) by Peter Camejo ‘Liberalism, ultraleftism and mass action’ which makes, in generic terms, the same sort of point.

    Comment by Shane H — April 20, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

  10. Well authoratative is the word I would use for this piece. Good wine and Old Trots seem to age very well:)

    The crucial point is that we are all going to be scared into voting for Obama by the nomination of some extremist loony by the Republican Party. It’s been done successfully before and it will be done successfully again, unless the working class become clear about the need to smash the duopoly of Republicans and Democrats. And there is little hope of that if the left are not clear on the question.

    regards

    Gary

    Comment by Gary MacLennan — April 20, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

  11. is there no realistic danger of say ten or twenty Timothy McVeigh-events ? Would a majority Black city government be a potential you know what for the most racist sects ?

    As to the federal government and Presidency, if there were ( and I hesitate to say it) another 9/11-type event might the Tea Party win ? Today a big lurch to the right might not be based on mass communist movement , but in reaction to whatever political label you want to put on those who did 9/11

    I’ll drop the term “fascist” because so many here object to its use for several different reasons. But might such a Tea Party in power be more “authoritarian” than the Bush administration ? What might we expect from a Palin administration ?

    This is worse case scenario-talk, but please make the argument that it’s totally out of the realm of possibility.

    Hey, don’t vote for Obama or Democrats because of the notion. However, the radical left I’ve been part of took it as a point of honor or whatever to counter-demonstrate and make vigorous public struggles against militant white supremacist groups. It was a badge of left authenticity for White radicals, old and new left, to lead these struggles. I don’t see how the old CP “trick” of “exaggerating” racism or fascism “to get” people to vote Democrat ( according to LouPro and those who promote his line) is a reason not to continue the left radical tradition of leading confrontation against militant white supremacists.

    By the way, as I think about it, the CPUSA has not for many decades claimed there is a _fascist_ threat in the US. The term used is “ultra-right” danger. The warnings about the Reaganite ultra-right ( which includes pulling the Clintonian _Democrats_ to the right) seem fairly accurate looking back over the last 30 years.

    Comment by charles — April 20, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

  12. The crucial point is that we are all going to be scared into voting for Obama by the nomination of some extremist loony by the Republican Party. It’s been done successfully before and it will be done successfully again, unless the working class become clear about the need to smash the duopoly of Republicans and Democrats. And there is little hope of that if the left are not clear on the question.

    ^^^^^^^
    Suppose the extremist loony wins the Presidency before the working class smashes the duopoly of Reps and Dems. Are you alright with that ?

    Comment by charles — April 21, 2010 @ 12:32 am

  13. And all the while, the political landscape keeps shifting to the right.

    A recent interview with Stevens of the Supreme Court was interesting; he more or less says that he is same conservative Republican he was in Ford’s day, it’s the country and those around him that have swung to the right Thus making him the Court’s ‘liberal’.

    Comment by purple — April 21, 2010 @ 12:48 am

  14. I don’t think you can accuse either Noam Chomsky or especially Chris Hedges for stampeding people into voting lesser of two evils. Chris Hedges has been the most adamant voice against the treachery of liberalism out there, and Noam hardly ever suffers delusions about the Democratic Party.

    While history never repeats literally, we do have some parallels where the crisis of late financial capitalism is being met with the same astroturf fascism of an earlier era (corporate-sponsored mass mobilizations of the ultra-right based on conspiracism completely at odds with reality to preemptively derail any real movements for social change). In some ways, the current moment is even more frightening. While there may be no real thinly veiled corporate militias out there, the corporate media has also done everything in its power to marginalize the left. And while we are living in far more atomized times where ideology can only motivate mass movements with great difficulty (as in Weimar Germany where mass movements were in conflict, producing extreme politics), all the cards and levers are in the hands of ultra-reactionary forces.

    What Chomsky had said before is that even marginal swings to the right in the US have massive repercussions in the rest of the world in terms of genocidal imperial foreign policy. The US being the world’s sole hyperpower, any swing to even soft fascism will bring about catastrophic outcomes. Sadly, this is at the heart of America political dilemma.

    Comment by ceti — April 21, 2010 @ 4:04 am

  15. `The other thing missing entirely from Chomsky’s assessment is the differences between the German working class in the Weimar Republic and our own situation. To put it bluntly, there is no fascist threat in the U.S. today because there is no Communist threat.’

    Way to dismiss the decades of struggle for civil rights that resulted in the election of Obama. However inadequate he is that was a political revolution. His election has allowed the far right to create the feeling of an `existential’ crisis amongst the priveleged, and those who think they should be priveleged, white population. In addition the bank bailout has created a Versailles type situation meaning that paying off the deficit is likely to become more and more expensive. With no hope of `growing’ out of it late capitalism is nearing the end game.

    Comment by David Ellis — April 21, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  16. What Chomsky has said again and again is, “Think five minutes about whom to vote for in the rigged election, vote, and then return to real politics.”

    Louis’s point about the dialectical relationship between fascism and a strong working-class movement is very interesting and worth keeping in mind. But I’m not quite sure where his final paragraph tends: we should boycott all votes, accelerate the collapse in the political system, and move on quickly to the anti-fascist struggle in the the streets?

    I think there really is something new here. I can’t remember EVER hearing a major political figure wander into Turner Diaries territory, as when lovely Sarah says “Reload!” I think we all know whom she just shot.

    Last week, at a Tea Party in Buffalo, I asked a participant “Who got shot?” He responded, “Oh, that’s just a metaphor!” I asked then, “OK, who just got METAPHORICALLY shot?”

    In the meantime, I think I should probably found “The Marxist Gun Club” at my university: “Dedicated to firearms safety, marksmanship, and the fundamental principles of historical materialism.”

    Comment by Jim Holstun — April 21, 2010 @ 11:29 am

  17. “the decades of struggle for civil rights”.. “resulted in the election of Obama”? Are you kidding? Obama did not fulfill, but negated the civil rights struggle. Follow Charles down the road to the right, pretending it’s left.

    Comment by jp — April 21, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  18. Yes. Charles writes as though the “democrats” have made themselves available for some struggle against the right, but as is always the case with people who apologize for the “democrats”, he sees only what he wants to see. The “democrats” cave on every point of practical struggle, they cave on every democratic standard, they reinforce institutionalized racism in law enforcement and overseas adventure, and they break unions. They used to be good for slowing the right wing down, but it’s been a long time since they even displayed that much spine. Anyone who has been witness to the changes of leadership accessibility within the “democratic” party since the years following the McGovern nomination knows this is true. My first go round with the “democrats” was in 1972, I’ve been watching the “party” degenerate inch by inch for going on forty years now. For 16 of those years, I was an active if critical participant in its caucuses and doorbelling, until the professionals began cleaning house with their destruction of the feeble grassroots momentum of the Rainbow Coalition in 1988 and 1989, following the second Jackson presidential campaign. For the last twenty years, I’ve watched the national character of the party become more corporate, more removed from the lives of anyone other than professionals and their fellow hacks in the community and labor movements. The Clinton years saw the total domination of the Woodrow Wilson faction within the party, better known as the Democratic Leadership Council, with its blatant corporatism and unapologetic defense of the U.S. imiperium. And Obamaism is just the new wave of the Wilsonian faction, with a little bit of sepia added for flavor. The truth is that even the barest whisper of grassroots democracy within its circles is quickly coopted or driven out of town.

    I became a marxist because of my experience of political life inside the “democratic” party. I didn’t become a “democrat” because of the isolation of the left, I became a marxist because I became convinced through hard experience that the democratic party, as has been said elsewhere, is the graveyard of any “left” movement in the United States. And I became a marxist, because the behavior of those “left” trends that perenially gravitate towards the “democrats” has never, ever, with a minor exception here and there among the Greens and a few other “social democratic tendencies”- never have most of these tendencies that rethink marxism step anywhere away from the games that the old school marxists analyzed so well in their own day.

    The democrats aren’t about anything, and I will never buy into the “it’s them or fascism” creepshow again. In my experience, what “progressive democrats” call fascism is nothing more than the pain that the worker poltically disenfranchised feels all the time, even when the democrats are in power.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — April 21, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

  19. Finally, I don’t think its any coincidence that the corporte capitulation of the democratic party began to really assert itself right after the year 1972. Beyond the inroads the “left” made into the party that year, 1972 was also the year of the Gary conference, which was the last time there was a national conference of any bearing in Black America that contained within itself the possibilities of an independent black political leadership. the complete cooptation of black leadership by the “democrats” began to gather real steam with the cooptation led by the Carteresque democrats (as some of them called themselves back then) in the early to mid 1970s, a wave that was largely supported by some of the most reactionary elements on both sides of the political aisle.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — April 21, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  20. Well I’m glad Micheal found some avenue to become a marxist, and appreciate Lou’s analysis which is always timely, but I wonder if we should be so quick to throw Charles and the others under this marxist bus.

    “Suppose the extremist loony wins the Presidency before the working class smashes the duopoly of Reps and Dems. Are you alright with that ?”

    is a question that still needs to be addressed….

    Comment by Bob Allen — April 21, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

  21. And just why isn’t Obama, to the right of the hated Nixon, an “extremist loony”? Because he sounds so reasonable as he slaughters our sisters and brothers overseas, and consigns his domestic supporters in perpetuity to wage/debt slavery?

    If the ‘left’ can’t oppose these things, is it ‘left’ at all? Or is it ok to just say you oppose it, while encouraging support for it?

    Haven’t you noticed the steady shift of that ‘left’ to the right; chronologically since the Carter years, as M. Hureaux noted? It is a direct result of this begging for crumbs from the D’s.

    Comment by jp — April 21, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  22. Mr. Proyect,

    If you don’t mind me asking, what party do you generally vote for? Or do you not vote?

    I live in NY state, which is by no means a swing state. If you were here, for which party would you cast your vote? The Greens? The Working Families? Some infinitely small socialist sect I’ve never heard of?

    Comment by Jon — April 21, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  23. A good question. I voted Green until the Demogreens took over. I honestly wouldn’t feel right voting for a small socialist group although I don’t begrudge anybody for doing so.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 21, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  24. …and, Bob Allen, the real question is ‘does the left have a breaking point with the D’s?’ as Nader frequently asked, and which remains, by the Charles’s of the world, unanswered.

    To follow Charles’ line, it is only necessary for the R’s to nominate someone worse on a couple of issues than the D’s and the ‘left’ will spend any effort it makes defending the D’s from the evil R’s. The left then says it’s left, but… walks like a D, talks like a D, etc. Are these our shared goals?

    Comment by jp — April 21, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  25. Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled. The progress which the proletarian party will make by operating independently in this way is infinitely more important than the disadvantages resulting from the presence of a few reactionaries in the representative body. if the forces of democracy take decisive, terroristic action against the reaction from the very beginning, the reactionary influence in the election will already have been destroyed.

    Karl Marx, Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League London, March 1850

    full: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/communist-league/1850-ad1.htm

    Comment by louisproyect — April 21, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

  26. Mr. Proyect,

    I feel like you almost dodged my question! Who do you vote for now?

    I don’t really follow Green Party politics. I’m guessing by the term “Demogreens” you’re suggesting they’ve sold out to the mainstream Democratic Party?

    Comment by Jon — April 21, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

  27. I haven’t voted in recent elections. I voted for Nader in 2008 and that was the last time I voted. I skipped Congressional and local elections.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 21, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

  28. ” “Suppose the extremist loony wins the Presidency before the working class smashes the duopoly of Reps and Dems. Are you alright with that ?”

    is a question that still needs to be addressed….”

    I guess you weren’t around when Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes were running because the same lesser evil argument by liberals was raised then.

    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

    And someone once said if voting changed anything the ruling class would abolish it.

    Comment by meltrc — April 21, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

  29. I have to really disagree with most of you here.

    The left achieves virtually nothing whether it votes for itself or abstains. The elections go on, and there are winners and losers. Yes the Democrats are a rightward drifting party of big business interests; the murderous party of American imperialism just degrees left of the Republicans. But if you think it doesn’t matter if the Republicans or Democrats win elections, you’re a) hopelessly deluded and b) completely out of touch with what it means to be an actual working person in America. If you are a gay person or an African-American you can feel and taste what the right-wingers have in store for us. Look as a socialist I know that the Democratic Party is not a progressive institution. But, yes, it is incrementally better that Obama was elected than if McCain/Palin was. It doesn’t have to dilute the socialist message that Capitalism is unreformable to say that, when a choice is being made, abstention is is a foolish alternative.

    Quoting Marx from 1847 makes you feel great, I’m sure. But really, there is nothing like a proletarian party in the US. It’s a hopelessly abstract and irrelevent to couch what an imaginary mass movement might do.

    On another blog I actually read a leftist gleefully wishing for Sarah Palin and her ilk to come to power because that would make the working class rise in self awareness. They suggested that the development of a fascist party would be good news because it would mean the workers would be next. This strategy worked out truly wonderfully for the KPD I might add.

    This may not be Weimar Germany, but that doesn’t mean the right-wing is not a real threat. The right-wing already believes that the Democrats are socialist. That racist horde of well-off resentful white people with guns is out there mobilizing. Voting for Democrats is an imperfect way to fight off this horde; but it’s better than doing nothing. And Louis your facile argument that the current liberal vs. teabagger conflict is so much folderol beause Hitler admired the Democrats’ skill at genocide is beneath you.

    Leftists have been shouting from the sidelines about the two-party system ever since the mass left in this country disappeared after World War 2. What’s that line about the definition of crazy: doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to turn out differently?

    Like many of you I did the Leninist Party thing. Where did it get you…where did it get us? Life goes on while we make up our minds. You might think sticking your ostrich head in the sand of vintage 1847 or vintage 1917 or hell vintage 1968 vintage marxist-leninist purity will protect you, but you’d be wrong.

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 12:20 am

  30. But if you think it doesn’t matter if the Republicans or Democrats win elections, you’re a) hopelessly deluded

    That’s not my position at all. The Republicans are worse than the Democrats. In fact, unless this was the case the system would blow sky-high. Imagine, if you will, a Democrat ran in 2012 who was opposed to a woman’s right to choose, expelling undocumented workers, etc. That would cause an enormous crisis in the DP. There has to be measurable differences for the 2-party system to function.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2010 @ 12:35 am

  31. “This may not be Weimar Germany, but that doesn’t mean the right-wing is not a real threat,” says ish. does this mean that the d’s are not right wing?

    who, exactly, is blowing up the children of their imaginary ‘afpac’? who is enslaving working people to trillion dolar payout to financiers? who has declared the issues of black americans to be non-issues? who are the ‘loonies’ actually running the show?

    Do you have a breaking point with the d’s? Just what is it? an extra trillion for war, an extra trillion for the insurance industry? a hundred thousand more blown up sisters and brothers?

    you can’t do anything more that say you are of the left, as long as the r’s put up somebody even crazier than the deranged ‘progressives’ now running the show. if you think being a ‘leninist’ didn’t change anything, imagine how your support of imperial slaughter and wage/debt slavery has improved the outlook for working people.

    Comment by jp — April 22, 2010 @ 1:19 am

  32. JP, if you LIVE in the United States you are complicit in all these things, whether or not you approve of them.

    I don’t support imperial slaughter or wage/debt slavery. I do however, being like everybody else in the US short of those environmentalists living strapped to the tops of trees in California, participate in wage slavery and the taxes I pay kill innocent Afghans and Iraqis. I am happy about neither of these things. But that’s reality. I don’t need to excuse a thing the Democrats or the government does.

    In England will it matter if the conservatives or the libdems or, hell, the BNP defeats labor? You bet it will, and everyone who has ever claimed the labour party was somehow part of the workers movement has to deal with the fact that it was labour not the conservatives who rushed to war with Bush.

    Are the dems right-wing? Most of them, I suppose, depending on where you place your center mark. Would it matter if there was a republican president appointing supreme court justices to overthrow, oh let’s see, roe v wade? You bet it would matter. I’ll grant that’s not impossible under a democrat, but it’s less likely, but it would surely happen under a republican.

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 3:22 am

  33. Democrats are worse than Republicans.

    The Republicans are ruthless enemies of the people in that they are radical in their goals of exercising total US and world domination without concern for cost. Bush invaded Iraq without cause and with public support garnered with the subtlety of a high school prankster who pulls a fire alarm and watches the little people scatter like cockroaches. He spoke publicly of nuclear “bunker busters” to be used on a defenseless people. This is criminal on so many levels.

    For all of the retreat of civilization that has occurred under radical Republican domination, it is the Democratic Party that consolidates and conserves these retreats by its artful conversion of euphoric hope for relief into apathy. The Democrats ensure that no change will occur under their administration but the conservation and normalization of the Republican incursions on the inalienable rights of the people. One need only follow the lead of Democrats to bring change to an intolerable situation; that change will be for the worse, and to the right.

    Support for the Democratic Party will lead only toward Republican domination, in spirit if not in name. Republicans are now in the minority and yet their ideology dominates the legislative process. Republicans continue to rule from the sidelines, and in their absence, by force of their ideology. Today’s Republican is the proto-typical Democrat of tomorrow; the Democrats continue moving inexorably to the right. Vote for Democrats today and watch them morph into Republicans tomorrow in all but name.

    Democrats are worse than Republicans because they co-opt and immobilize the only force that can possibly offer resistance to Republican domination: the people.

    Elections are fraudulent in the USA because the two viable parties write the laws of party viability. The two headed monster occupies all three branches of government and assures that “checks and balances” among them are reserved for patriotic campaign speeches.

    Comment by Glenn — April 22, 2010 @ 4:24 am

  34. ish, you are COERCED into paying your taxes, but you are absolutely free not to support or encourage support for what you claim to oppose.

    If it were your children, or the kids in your neighborhood who were targeted for slaughter by your Democrats, would you be calibrating the effects of a slightly better supreme court justice vs. their bloody deaths? If not, why is it ok when it’s strewn body parts of children living in Obama’s mental construct, the colonial outpost of ‘afpac’? I’ll await your reply.

    Comment by jp — April 22, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

  35. Quick question, does the marxist call for socialization of the means of production and distribution include the press/media? If so, what are some good examples of state owned press agencies which have remained independent of and critical of the government?

    Comment by Michael — April 22, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

  36. JP, you are sounding shrill. Just because I want our next President to be an African-American lesbian trade unionist representing an egalitarian independent working class party dedicated to the struggle for social justice and committed to dismantling the legacy of imperialism and neocolonialism doesn’t mean that I am anything but living in a rose-colored fantasy world, a place where the teeny tiny utterly irrelevant left has been living for some decades now. It’s a pretty place, for sure.

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that I approve or defend in any way American foreign policy. It’s repugnant. By design. By nature. I’m only advocating living some of our time in the real world. Is your hyperventilation about children’s body parts actually doing anything to change what happens in the world or does it just make you feel better?

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

  37. Ish, you are sounding willfully thick. if your politics prevents you from entertaining the question, just say so.

    Comment by jp — April 22, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  38. JP, I’m not avoiding answering any question.

    would you be calibrating the effects of a slightly better supreme court justice vs. their bloody deaths?

    This is a false choice. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in the street–including me–to attempt to stop Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Net effect, zero. There is no excusing what the US is doing in Afghanistan. There is also no stopping it. Of course protesting it, organizing against it, denouncing it, is the right thing to do. Hell, go buy a rocket launcher and start a leftist guerrilla war if you want.

    Meanwhile, you’ve abstained from the real struggle that is going on in this country: a struggle with bad choices and terrible allies.

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

  39. you’ve judged that these kids are going to die under either the r’s or d’s, but you get a better court pick with the r’s.

    if the targeted kids were yours, or from your neighborhood, would your position be the same?

    Can’t answer? Intellectually dishonest? burned out? ‘sophisticated’?

    Comment by jp — April 22, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

  40. JP, there is no difference between the kids in Afghanistan and the kids in my neighborhood. They’re all humans. They’re all innocent. I mourn each one.

    Your self-righteous posturing isn’t saving their lives either.

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  41. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is akin to the difference between butter and margarine.

    This difference amounts to which condiment makes the feces of government propaganda easier to swallow. Never forget what you are being fed while deciding which tastes better.

    The difference between Democrats and Republicans is the choice between paying for right wing extremism with cash or on the installment plan.

    If the the dead innocents in the Middle East were Israelis rather than Iraqis, would the word fascist then become acceptable? Would the racist component of US fascism then become apparent?

    Comment by Glenn — April 22, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

  42. thanks for the response. I salute your internationalism on the (lack of) value of the children in both your neighborhood and elsewhere, when considered vs. supreme court appointments.

    for your peace of mind, I’m glad you have found a road from ‘former revolutionary’ to your current servile posture, in which the choices put to you by those in power are your only choices.

    you may return to your spiritual quest, knowing that nothing you do makes any difference.

    Comment by jp — April 22, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  43. of course #43 is for our comrade ish.

    Comment by jp — April 22, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  44. JP, how can you sit at your keyboard typing when CHILDREN ARE BEING KILLED!

    Get out there, man, grab a rocket launcher!

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  45. As someone said recently, voting in a national election is like voting on the outcome of a baseball game. It’s a purely personal (non-political) act, without consequences, like confession for a Catholic.

    Louis is right, but maybe a little disingenuous in criticizing Chomsky’s use of fascism. Do we feel more comfortable about our lives because we don’t yet literally have political parties espousing racist ideologies, and armed thugs running around intimidating us? What DO you call a political society in which corporations control government and the populace is quiescent, powerless and intimidated?
    The point that German fascism was called into existence by strong socialist parties is interesting, but suggests to me not that we are not there yet, but that we have simply sped up the process, and reached the same point of sheepish docility without any resistance.

    Comment by senecal — April 22, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  46. Michael said,

    “Quick question, does the marxist call for socialization of the means of production and distribution include the press/media? If so, what are some good examples of state owned press agencies which have remained independent of and critical of the government?”

    Marx would be spinning in his grave over this question. He would have hated to be associated with state ownership of the press. What he would argue for is workers taking control of their own media and breaking its ruling class domination. Michael obviously is very ignorant of Marx but maybe not Marxists! And he must also be content with the dictatorship of the Bourgeois!

    Comment by James — April 22, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

  47. lucky for ish, his concerns are so small-minded (Sarah Palin!)that he can effectively address them by encouraging support for the ‘reasonable right,’ i.e. the D’s, whose inevitable slaughter of innocents he mourns, but must accept as a matured, former revolutionary. “sheepish docility” alright.

    what is to be done? become a good Democrat, and fondly remember John Brown when nostalgia overtakes you.

    Comment by jp — April 22, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

  48. Well JP I’m not suite sure everyone on this thread is as fascinated by me as you are; thanks for reading my blog I guess.

    So by all means, what’s your program and solution then?

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  49. “JP, how can you sit at your keyboard typing when CHILDREN ARE BEING KILLED!

    Get out there, man, grab a rocket launcher!

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 4:34 pm”

    Good Sheep Dogging, Ish. You are an Unrepentant Democrat. Moral outrage is so uncool from the Democratic perspective.

    Someone has to keep all those stray Yellow Dogs in line with the Blue Dogs. Kudos on the nice little nips delivered to the heels of ideological strays to divert them from seeing beyond the well crafted illusions that absorb most of their thought processes.

    Chomsky does not call for attacks such as that by Joseph Stack. But he does suggest those sentiments are reality based and not deserving of the ridicule they have received. You obviously perceive moral outrage at the murder of innocents both deserving of ridicule and an acceptable price to pay in support of empire.

    Comment by Glenn — April 22, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

  50. Isn’t this discussion getting repetitive? I suggest that folks have one more thing to say and that’s a wrap.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  51. Sorry for dragging this down, Louis. I note JP has not offered any suggestions. Anyway, my last word is that I’m not excusing a thing the Democrats or the United States do. I’m merely saying that sometiems it’s smarter to vote for them than abstain. That’s all. Any other words are your own.

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  52. My last word is to note ish’s position: he’d vote Democratic even if the bombs were dropping on the people of his neighborhood, just to savor that slightly better supreme court nomination.

    That’s the end result of the downward spiral in political thought when the D’s are accepted as your only ‘realistic’ alternative – that’s ‘realism,’ by the way, of the crackpot type. One more parade!

    Comment by jp — April 22, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

  53. “What DO you call a political society in which corporations control government and the populace is quiescent, powerless and intimidated?” – The democratic dictatorship of the bourgoisie. Which I prefer to the open terroristic dictatorship of the bourgoisie.

    Comment by Chuckie K — April 22, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

  54. Louis, thank you for a very intelligent post. I think the problem with Chomsky’s brief analysis is that he identifies a social movement with the desperate actions of someone like Joe Stack. In my opinion the significance of Stack’s suicide was that he felt betrayed, that he had been brought up with a view of what U.S. democracy was meant to be, and his life experiences taught him that it was a lie. So it was an ideological issue for him. Stack was a symptom of an underlying condition rather than the actual movement. Right now, as you say, the reaction of most members of society is individualistic. There is, it seems to me, a huge populist movement in opposition to bank bailouts and CEO golden parachutes which Obama successfully articulated for the election and then dropped.

    I think it more useful to try to connect with people’s real issues rather than deciding who “I” or “we” should vote for, or talking about what should happen rather than what is happening.

    Comment by mart — April 22, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

  55. @ Michael.

    I think the BBC is government owned. Could be wrong.

    Comment by Jon — April 22, 2010 @ 8:58 pm

  56. Chomsky said roughly the same thing when I interviewed him: http://www.zcommunications.org/contents/168416/print

    Comment by Jon — April 22, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

  57. If the media is not to be owned publicly, then who should own it? Private individuals? That’s capitalism.

    Comment by Michael — April 23, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

  58. Michael said,

    “If the media is not to be owned publicly, then who should own it?” Private individuals? That’s capitalism

    The advanced sections of the working class should create their own media (which is happening slowly but surely), rather than just saying lets allow the mega capitalists to monoplolize it and pump out their bile, which seems to be a proposition you have no problem with.

    And you seems to have a rather undialectical view of what capitalism is and how it is to be transcended.

    Comment by James — April 23, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  59. @ James

    I’m not quite as well versed in Marxist jargon as you are, so I may very well have a “rather undialectical view of what capitalism is.”

    But I see little problem with publicly owned media, so long as the government which pays the bills is democratically elected and the media is granted editorial independence from it. I mean, nobody thinks of NPR or the BBC as Stalinist mouthpieces, do they?

    I’m curious about this question, so I’d really appreciate it if others might chime in. What’s the traditional marxist position on who should control the media?

    Comment by Jon — April 23, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

  60. “A good question. I voted Green until the Demogreens took over. I honestly wouldn’t feel right voting for a small socialist group although I don’t begrudge anybody for doing so.”

    Why has nobody yet mentioned the Socialist Party USA here?

    Comment by Jacob Richter — April 24, 2010 @ 1:03 am

  61. Jacob, I think there are a number of reasons, both historical and ongoing, why many people are hesitant to bring up the Socialist Party USA when talking about radical left wing challenges to the two party system (not to mention the capitalist system in general). But I think the current SPUSA Senate campaign of Dan La Botz is worth looking into. See: http://www.danlabotz.com/

    Comment by tim — April 24, 2010 @ 7:36 am

  62. “I mean, nobody thinks of NPR or the BBC as Stalinist mouthpieces, do they?”

    No Jon the BBC are unapologetic mouthpieces of the bourgeois! (I don’t know who the NPR are).

    On who should control the media, from my viewpoint the question isn’t who but how. I take it for granted that the monopoly of the media in the hands of a few ultra wealthy individuals is undemocratic and needs to change. However this imo requires a social movement and not some political revolution from above where the media is brought under ‘state’ control. If for the sake of argument a genuine workers party were to gain power in an advanced capitalist economy then they should seek to break this monopoly of wealthy owners but that is a far cry from the ‘state’ owned media we have seen in the national socialist experiments of the last century, where the self serving bureaucracy is effectively made unaccountable.

    Comment by James — April 24, 2010 @ 9:39 am

  63. In a socialist society, where the media is publicly owned, couldn’t people simply vote for the local newspaper editor in the same way they now vote for town clerks, sheriffs, and coroners? That sounds fairly reasonable to me.

    Comment by Jon — April 24, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

  64. “couldn’t people simply vote for the local newspaper editor”

    I have never heard that argument before but my first reaction is no. My second reaction is What the fuck!

    It does get me thinking about what purpose and role the media will have in a socialist society but your answer suggests a structure of newspapers in the same vein as a government structure. So you have local newspapers whose editors are voted by local people, so I presume there will be no room for 2 local newspapers in your scenario and I presume you would imagine national votes for national papers. So would there be one national paper?

    My instinct says this is all wrong.

    Currently I see newspapers as vehicles of ideology and propaganda and a battleground of ideas, the working class needs a piece of that action and for obvious reasons the advanced sections of the working class must take up the challenge (as they are). The internet opens up the possibility of a more independent media, free from bourgeois tyranny.

    Comment by James — April 24, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

  65. NPR is most certainly a corporate mouthpiece – see: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=19&media_outlet_id=21

    Comment by jp — April 24, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  66. I don’t see why there couldn’t be a proliferation of different papers per town and on a national level. Why would you assume that’s what I was suggesting?

    There are a limited number of TV stations, radio stations, and printing presses. The question of who should own them is an important question. So should they be controlled by wealthy private individuals or should they be controlled democratically by the public? To me, the obvious socialist answer is the latter.

    The internet, where there is no scarcity of vehicles of self expression, is an entirely different story.

    Comment by Jon — April 24, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  67. P.S. And the publicly owned BBC might be a “mouthpiece of the bourgeois” as you claim, but I have little doubt its a million times better than the privately owned FOX News.

    Comment by Jon — April 24, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

  68. “I don’t see why there couldn’t be a proliferation of different papers per town and on a national level.”

    So there would be multiple elections for all these editor posts would there? That seems a strange proposition to me, why would they need to be voted for, what in a socialist society would be the reason for this? Having said that the idea of voting for the governors of the BBC does tweek my interest as a possibly progressive move, though I would not extend that to voting for which directors get to make programmes etc etc and I still find the idea of voting for newspaper editors a strange one. More detail and justification would be nice as this is a new idea to me.

    “The question of who should own them is an important question. So should they be controlled by wealthy private individuals or should they be controlled democratically by the public?”

    If your model is the BBC then where is the ‘democratic’ control other than the fact that workers pay to have bourgeios propaganda shoved down their throats. (at least on the news side of the organisation). In the UK guess which stations were home to John Pilger, the commercial stations – I may be wrong but I don’t think the guy has ever had his ass anywhere near the BBC.
    If you imagine that the workers have taken control of the state then I would argue for breaking the bourgeois monopoly of the press but in the here and now the advanced workers should be creating their own media to challenge the corporate media.

    “And the publicly owned BBC might be a “mouthpiece of the bourgeois” as you claim, but I have little doubt its a million times better than the privately owned FOX News.”

    It is a mouthpiece of the bourgeois, no need for quotations. So whether it is a million or 2 times better than Fox news does not make it the model for me.

    Comment by James — April 24, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  69. Socialism is the democratic control of the means of production and distribution. The media falls into that definition.

    I’m surprised I’m getting so much push back on that.

    Comment by Jon — April 24, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  70. P.S. The solution you posit, “breaking the bourgeois monopoly of the press,” is unbelievably vague.

    Just be straight with me and stop hiding behind rhetorical gobblety-gook. If you had your way, would the media be privately owned (whether by capitalists or by “advanced sections of the working class”) or publicly owned?

    To me, the socialist’s and (lowercase) democrat’s answer would have to be the latter.

    Comment by Jon — April 24, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

  71. AS to Elections, WE as a republic vote in one direction and as a democracy vote in another . No amount of voting will change the belief system of anyone . That brings you to theocracy , Why is it such a strong moderator ? Why do all fear it? Very few realize were on the brink of a totally different type of government . One in which the Elite are big brothers, out of illusionary camaraderie ,subjugating the meek , with subsidies of food for work and housing for child subscription into the youth corp ! Yes, you can see some semblance’s with the weimar republic but it ends at fascism and enters unknown territory , as was said by one of the above commentators, that germany had bigger foes than they whereas This country does not, especially in terms of leagues of nations , all with the same chip on their shoulder , the same type of population to grind up into chopped liver. Forget left – right idealism ,welcome to the world of one! obligations to the new boss same as the old boss! Only since their is no one bigger than this there will be no saving grace for the suffering downtrodden outcasts from war and famine and disease, blood shed and tears will be all that you will find outside the inner circle of his unholy few who give their power to the one!” WOE to the world on account of offenses ! For offenses must come ;but woe to the MAN, by whom the offense come! Look ! this new world order is coming like it or not ! Some call it the winnowing of the wheat ! What’s coming will have no regard to Chomskey or Marks or Mao, Sagen , Nietzsche, nor communism or socialism or republican nor democrat ! You may even long for the days of uncertainty and ambivalence . A third party that (is no party) with unexpected consequences, misconception is afoot, disinformation is the modus apperendi, selah!

    Comment by Nohomehere — April 25, 2010 @ 12:40 am

  72. “Jacob, I think there are a number of reasons, both historical and ongoing, why many people are hesitant to bring up the Socialist Party USA when talking about radical left wing challenges to the two party system (not to mention the capitalist system in general).”

    I don’t see any historical reasons for not mentioning the Socialist Party USA, which isn’t the same as the old Socialist Party of America.

    As for ongoing, care to elaborate?

    Comment by Jacob Richter — April 25, 2010 @ 12:55 am

  73. Jon said,

    “The solution you posit, “breaking the bourgeois monopoly of the press,” is unbelievably vague”

    It means legislation, it means enforcing anti monopoly rules, think of how Clinton tried to break the Microsoft monopoly. It means not allowing Rupert Murdoch to own the vast media empire than he does. This is as opposed to the state marching into news organisations and forcibly taking the means of production. The experiences of the past show that this leads to the rise of unaccountable massive bureaucracies. In short I am arguing in favour of the social revolution over the political one, or bottom up socialism as opposed to top down socialism.

    As for what socialism means I agree that democracy is at its core but does that really equate to an explosion of elections? What ever happened to the withering away of the state and the mere administration of things.
    Having said all this your idea is new to me and instinctively I see the media as being an exceptional case, more detail may persuade me as to the validity of your position.

    Comment by James — April 25, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  74. This post circles around itself and gets wrapped around the freighted term “fascism” and the very concept of history.
    It is “nonsense” to say “there is no fascist threat today.” We can define “fascism” any way you want to – keep it faithful to its Italian origin, use Bertram Gross’s excellent “Friendly Fascist” application, bend it, twist it- but reactionary centralized violence is here in the good ol’ US, just maybe not in your cubicle. In Weimar, yes, the rate of murders of trade unionists and the suicides of frightened unemployed adults was way off our contemporary charts, but that does not make ours a worker’s paradise.
    There is a terrible cost of unemployment and economic anxiety across this trillion-dollar military empire’s home base, and we have no effective opposition to this marauding supersystem, so where should we look for parallels – of course to Weimar.
    You and Cockburn and your admirers here cover your ears when the Tea Partiers speak on Youtube – I hear them quite well, and understand very well their lineage. The threat is here, the reality is here in quite a number of ways – yet even someone like Chomsky activates his libertarianism to validate a suicide bomber like Joe Stack, murdering a lowly state worker so that the rich can pay less taxes. Perhaps we can ask the religious zealot Chris Hedges to pray for us.
    In the interest of fairness, your review of the Platypus society was damned fine, but here – count me among the unconverted.

    Comment by mj — April 28, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  75. […] is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. “The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous […]

    Pingback by WEIMAR REPUBLIC and the UNCANNY “SECOND SIGHT” | Madame Pickwick Art Blog — November 30, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  76. […] My response to Chomsky focused on the economic differences: […]

    Pingback by Are we threatened by “21st Century Fascism”? « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — May 16, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

  77. First of all, I like your analysis of Weimar. It was the inability of bourgeois liberal parties (this includes liberal/conservative parties) to meet popular demand and expectations. It was also harsh austerity imposed internationally following WW1 that all but eliminated the German middle class, literally. The National socialists did fill a vaccum, but only slightly electorally. They exalted the illusion that communists parties were on the eve on turning Germany into a satellite of the USSR. This, they exploited masterfully with the common consensus among the bourgeois parties being anti-communist.

    Which brings me to a second point. Communists did NOT back the liberal parties with good reason: the capitalist bourgeois and its political institutions found communism to be the bigger threat than fascism. This led Hindenburg (a so called independent, but capitalist friendly) to name Adolf Hitler as successor.

    Finally, I sincerely doubt Chomsky advocates voting, much less for Obama. He might of said Obama was better, but did not necessarily endorse voting as a good move. Chomsky is Anarchist. A self-described communist libertarian. He would never advocate voting for either political party, hes called it the ‘two party dictatorship.’

    Comment by Alfonzo — May 23, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

  78. […] years ago I wrote a critique of an interview that Chris Hedges conducted with Noam Chomsky that put forward the idea that the […]

    Pingback by The Freedom Party in Austria: the vanguard of a global red-brown movement | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — May 11, 2016 @ 8:40 pm


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