Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 10, 2016

Jill Stein, the South Front and the lesser evil

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 3:58 pm

For the past month or so, I have seen vitriolic attacks on Jill Stein from people I am close to on the question of Syria. I have already dealt with the question of whether Syria should be a litmus test for the Green Party but want to look at the question from a different angle now, namely how it is that she came to embrace a position that my pro-Syrian revolution friends label as “pro-fascist”. Like the friends of the Hillary Clinton campaign pouring over every Jill Stein speech looking for “anti-science” pandering, there is now a concerted effort by Syrian solidarity activists to discover evidence of this “pro-fascism” in her every utterance. The latest discoveries are that she attended an RT.com conference in Moscow in December, had dinner with Putin when she was there, and that her VP candidate has been writing some truly awful stuff about Syria.

With respect to RT.com, it has published 105 articles in praise of Jill Stein so naturally she might have accepted an invitation to their conference. Since she has given no evidence that she has a mastery of the Syrian struggle and only reflects the left consensus, it is probably unrealistic to think that she would have turned down the invitation.

As for Ajamu Baraka, my guess is that he will be speaking mostly about domestic politics rather than Syria in his various speaking engagements but that can’t be guaranteed. However, it is quite likely that if he says anything about “regime change” and the jihadist threat, he will be preaching to the choir. Is there any reason to think that there will be people in the audience who have somehow learned to think outside the box when it comes to Syria, especially when their understanding of the country is likely drawn from The Nation, ZNet, Salon, CounterPunch, Consortium News, WBAI news, and countless other zines and print publications that have been making the same points as Baraka for the past five years? It baffles me that anybody could think otherwise.

I was reminded of how left opinion is shaped when I stumbled across a website called South Front this morning when trying to find out the latest news about the battle for Aleppo.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 10.42.39 AM

In a nutshell, this is just one more website that is pushing the Kremlin/Baathist agenda. The first thing I did was look up the domain. Unsurprisingly, it is registered in Russia.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 10.44.32 AM

But what is somewhat surprising is how a website based in Russia can put out a product that is so professional looking and whose articles are obviously written by people whose first language is English. And if it is not the case, it written by Russians who have been trained to write exactly like they were.

For most people unfamiliar with the logistics and economics of websites, it might be easy to take South Front for granted but I can tell you that this is an expensive proposition both in financial and human resources terms. The website would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain, if not more. Meanwhile, pro-Syrian revolution websites are run on a shoestring and count on people like me to supply content. If some rich bastard in the USA had given me that kind of money back in 2011, I could have put together a website that might have not only competed with the Baathist amen corner but crushed it. But what is the likelihood that a hedge fund billionaire would have funded a website that took up the cause of scruffy, bearded, Quran-citing, poverty-stricken rural folk who fight alongside al-Qaeda militias when it suits them? This is not to speak of the American government whose main goal was to keep the rebels on a tight leash so that a neoliberal government sans Assad could be cobbled together in Syria as Michael Karadjis pointed out in an essential article in the New Arab.

I am afraid that those who are so ready to dismiss Jill Stein as “pro-fascist” have delusions that Hillary Clinton would step into the breach and come to the aid of the Syrian rebels. People somehow have forgotten that Clinton is a cynical politician who counts Henry Kissinger as a major source of wisdom on foreign policy. She does not act on principle but on the dictates of the billionaires who run the country who paid her handsomely for her tawdry speaking engagements. She will say and do things for their benefits, not for those of the Syrian people. To get an idea of how “flexible” she is, all you need to do is pay attention to what she said in a February 26, 2012 interview with CBS’s Wyatt Andrews:

WYATT ANDREWS, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the violence continuing in Syria and Assad refusing to allow medicine to reach the injured, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview with CBS News argues the United States is doing what it can, but within limits.

CLINTON: I am incredibly sympathetic to the calls that somebody do something, but it is also important to stop and ask what that is and who`s going to do it.

ANDREWS: What to do about Assad was supposed to be answered last Friday when a global conference called “Friends of Syria” again demanded that Assad step aside. But several Arab countries starting with the Saudis argued for action to arm the Syrian resistance. The Obama administration is resisting that.

ANDREWS: The U.S. has repeatedly said that it`s reluctant to support the direct army of the dissidents, why?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, we really don`t know who it is that would be armed.

ANDREWS: Specifically, the administration fears that arms will wind up in the hands of terrorists including al Qaeda.

CLINTON: We know al Qaeda, Zawahiri is supporting the opposition in Syria. Are we supporting al Qaeda in Syria? Hamas is now supporting the opposition, are we supporting Hamas in Syria?

So I think, Wyatt, you know despite the great pleas that we hear from those people who are being ruthlessly assaulted by Assad. If you are a military planner or if you are a secretary of state and you`re trying to figure out do you have the elements of an opposition that is actually viable, we don`t see that.

In contrast to Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein stakes out positions on the basis of principle even if unfortunately the position is based on an incomplete understanding of history and politics. If you spent five years reading Salon, Counterpunch and The Nation and had never heard of Robin Yassin-Kassab or Idrees Ahmad let alone read them, what are the chances that you would have developed an analysis that favored a rebel victory over Assad?

Back in 1965, when I first faced the draft, my thinking on the Vietnam war was foggy at best. I hated Communism, or at least what I had been told about it, but never considered the possibility that the NLF’s cause was just. It took a full year of debate and discussion with an SWP member at the New School in New York to convince me that the USA had violated the Vietnamese right to self-determination and that the NLF were patriots fighting an occupying power.

And then it took another year for him to convince me that socialism was a more rational and just system than capitalism. What if I had not run into him? There was a good chance that my ideas about Vietnam and socialism would have remained as they were, even if my mind would have never been changed on the existential question of staying out of the army. My main goal in life was to read novels, smoke marijuana and listen to jazz. Politics? No thanks.

I really wonder whether most of my pro-Syrian revolution comrades have given much thought to how their thinking evolved about Syria. It is obvious that someone like Robin Yassin-Kassab, who is Syrian, would have come to the right outlook since he knows people from his homeland who were being brutalized by the dictatorship and could read authoritative analyses in the original Arabic.

Speaking for myself, it took a while to wrap my head around this question since I had, like most CounterPunch readers, seen American intervention in the Middle East after 2011 in the same way I saw Iraq in 2003—just another case of meddling that had to be resisted. I should add that I remain anti-intervention but along a different axis, namely opposed to CIA efforts to keep MANPAD’s out of the hands of the rebels.

Accepting the self-evident bankruptcy of the Green Party’s official position on Syria raises the question of its relevancy to the ongoing struggle to create a party of the left in the USA. For some of the British comrades who are outspokenly against Jill Stein, there seems to be little interest in the key question facing the left in the USA, namely how to build a party of the left. If Syria is a litmus test, then we have to wait until the Greens adopt a new position that is unlikely to happen given the ideological balance of forces in the USA, to a large extent one that has the Kremlin’s fingers on the scale. For all of the uproar over a “new McCarthyism” about Trump and Putin, there is plenty of evidence that the Kremlin does use RT.com, South Front, and other outlets to shape American public opinion.

In the long run, the only way to combat these ideas is to build a left that is predicated on the idea of working class internationalism and solidarity with the oppressed. Unfortunately, the left has been afflicted by a tendency to consider the nation-state as an instrument of struggle rather than the working class and its allies. Someone like Jill Stein’s vision of peace and global progress is based on the idea that Russia is a lesser evil to the USA. How ironic that a politician who has so effectively rebutted the idea that we need to choose a lesser evil on election day can turn around and apply in effect the same discredited logic to vote for Vladimir Putin.


  1. Seriously, Louis, we are speaking of a strong, intellectually competent radical if not revolutionary politician in Jill Stein. I have never read Robin Yassin-Kassab, Idrees Ahmad and only recently decided to follow Michael Karadjis’ blog (though I have read his excellent posts on Marxmail since the inception of the Syrian Spring). It didn’t take me ANY time to “wrap my head around” why I should engage in solidarity with the Arab Spring, the Libyan revolution against Qadaffi, or the Syrian democratic revolution, not because I have skepticism of any radical politicians or somehow hold my anti-war stand against any U.S. imperialist interventions as as precious commodity that I should use as a test to support democratic revolutions around the globe. I do not need to know anything more than a) there is a dictator, b) people began a struggle against that dictator inspired by the Arab revolution, and c) in the struggle against imperialism WE ALWAYS stand with the oppressed against the current, local, and proxy oppressor standing in for their imperialist masters–any imperialist masters. When you are a slave and the master is in power, you learn to recognize the slave master’s stooges because such people always help the master to remain the master. It is not really a difficult call to make. I don’t believe I am really that more adept at these observation from Jill Stein or YOU. If you are going to run a campaign in a bourgeois election against the capitalist class, if you engage that campaign as an ACTIVIST willing to stand up to police and get arrested for your protests, you have demonstrated the capacity to see beyond the veil.
    Jill Stein is smart enough to see what is taking place and your apologizing for her reading the wrong sources is not only insufficient an explanation, it reads like a much more timid attempt to “educate” all us revolutionaries about what Stein represents rather than trying educate Stein and her more blinded followers.
    Let me be clear. I support Stein against ALL imperialist representatives in this bourgeois elections. I will not paper over Stein’s treachery simply because voting for her remains the most legitimate choice forward for independent political action–in the elections–and the need to build a united movement toward a political solution to the problems we have with no mass anti-capitalist movement never mind anti-capitalist party.

    I suggest that rather than trying convince people who have the very healthy skepticism about Stein’s treachery of the Syrian people that Stein remains the best choice–today in these elections–that you spend your time bringing the writing of Robin, Idrees, Michael–AND YOU–to activists supporting Stein.

    I have no difficulty understanding the point of critical support Stein. I actually don’t even have difficulty with the analysis in this post when directed to your readers, those on Marxmail, or, even on such sites as MIA discussion groups. It is a good analysis for the most part, which is to say I understand that some revolutionaries might be tempted to withhold their support to Stein despite their healthy opposition to her treachery of the Syrian people’s revolution. What I find inherently counterproductive is your (and I might add, Mark Lause’s) propensity to use these posts as a tacit message to Stein and her supporters by posting these “analyses” on Green Party sites seemingly for the sake of showing how you support her–and her supporters–regardless this base treachery. Such an approach seems to indicate that the principle of where revolutionaries should stand in BOURGEOIS ELECTIONS is somehow on equal par or, even, subservient to revolutionary internationalism. That a politician who has decided to challenge the capitalist class in those elections should somehow remain unchallenged for actual TREACHERY by undermining a veritable struggle against imperialism all the while marching with workers in the U.S., standing for universal healthcare, or opposing U.S. interventions and endless war. Such treachery is not “no big deal” (as some on Marxmail seem to believe). It IS an acid test. Such a test MUST NOT go unchallenged and WE must not appear like so many bourgeois apologists touting a “lesser-evil” when it comes to an otherwise truly independent political action. Your revolutionary internationalism becomes tarnished by using your otherwise well-developed arguments as some sort of “olive branch” to the neo-liberal attitudes and perspectives inherent in Stein’s undermining of the Syrian revolution.

    Finally, you make particularly flippant allusion that “the left has been afflicted by a tendency to consider the nation-state as an instrument of struggle rather than the working class and its allies.” You make this point in contrast to the idea of “working class internationalism and solidarity”. That because Stein’s, on the whole, “vision of peace and global progress” is undermined by her willingness to “vote for Vladimir Putin”. It seems unclear at best what you intend here, but one could argue that the nationalism of the Syrian people to oppose the imperialist-supported dictator are using the “nation state” and its democratic aspirations as their “instrument of struggle” against not only the Despot, not only Russian and U.S. imperialist designs, but against the awaiting despots of IS and their friends in the bourgeois nation-states of the Middle East. Such revolutionary-minded “nationalists” are a far cry from the geopolitical machinations of the “Baathist amen corner” that you often speak of. Why Are You So Unwilling to Challenge Stein’s and her supporters’ ignorance EXCEPT to “explain” to all us internationalists why we should vote for her anyway? Most of “us” already understand that and those who don’t would likely be much more convinced of your thoughts on this matter if you would take Stein to task instead of “educating” the rest of us on independent political action.
    What exactly is you timidity here? Do you think Stein will somehow “break” or just go further to the right? Why would you care in either case? As you often say, the stakes are too high and we are not playing games here. If you were “just” a new voice on these issues perhaps you might be excused for naiveté. But that is certainly not the case. We–I–expect much more from you.

    Comment by mtomas3 — August 10, 2016 @ 5:10 pm

  2. Do you think Stein will somehow “break” or just go further to the right?

    I have very little interest in Stein except that she is attracting young people to the Green Party. She is 66 years old and they are in their teens and twenties. Such young people have very little interest in or attraction to Assadist/Kremlin politics. Ironically it is old farts like her, Baraka, Patrick Cockburn, Seymour Hersh et al who carry Assad’s water. My main interest is in seeing the GP grow. It has been and will continue to be a very fluid formation in which notions of the “party line” are not applicable.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 10, 2016 @ 5:16 pm

  3. Then those young people would likely be attracted to a political perspective that doesn’t coddle all those “old farts” overly attracted to Assadist/Kremlin politics. Such young people deserve even LESS to be coddled about the trajectory of the “amen corner”. They have much more “fluid” intelligence and the best of them will learn revolutionary lessons from their experience. I do not speak from the abstract. I saw such education occur in Spain in 2011 right at the time of the Syrian spring. We MUST learn to have more faith in the revolutionary will of emerging radicalized youth.

    Comment by mtomas3 — August 10, 2016 @ 5:32 pm

  4. Then those young people would likely be attracted to a political perspective that doesn’t coddle all those “old farts” overly attracted to Assadist/Kremlin politics.

    If only it existed….

    Comment by louisproyect — August 10, 2016 @ 5:33 pm

  5. I agree that Syria should not be a litmus test, but there still seems to be too much emphasis in this article on the need for having the “correct line” on everything under the sun as a prerequisite for successful socialist politics. If only the left could appropriately apply theory – “working-class internationalism” in this case – then we would have the roadmap to revolutionary success. In my view, theoretical debates about distant lands have all-to-often translated into inaction and division, not organization. I’m inclined to think that mobilization behind tangible, winnable demands for working-class people like fight for 15 is the way to build socialist politics in the U.S., not convincing fellow socialists that Assad is worse than ISIS.

    Socialist Alternative doesn’t support BDS but ISO does – depending on your view, one of these groups is failing to correctly apply “working-class internationalism” (I support BDS). It would be a mistake for socialists to write off activists from one or the other of these organizations because it doesn’t have the “correct analysis”. Maybe this comes from the fact that I came age after the Cold War, but I’m sick of the need for socialists to act like they have all the answers for everything while viewing uncertainty as weakness and disagreement as the product of sinister forces.

    Comment by Michael Nau — August 10, 2016 @ 5:35 pm

  6. ….earlier this year, Stein’s running mate Ajamu Baraka contributed an essay to a volume edited by Holocaust denier and 9/11 truther Kevin Barrett. The anthology’s title? Another False Flag? Bloody Tracks from Paris to San Bernadino. A veritable who’s who of bigots and conspiracy theorists, the book posits that the Charlie Hebdo attacks and many others were perpetrated by the CIA and Mossad….

    Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Jill Stein – Tablet Magazine

    Comment by Jay Rothermel — August 10, 2016 @ 6:30 pm

  7. Tablet Magazine? The Zionist rag? Good lord…

    Comment by louisproyect — August 10, 2016 @ 6:54 pm

  8. Of course, the problem here is that Stein and others are influenced by people who believe that we should support a purportedly “anti-imperialist” bloc of countries, such as the Russian Republic, Iran, Turkey (sometimes), Brazil and China, among others, against the predations of US imperialism. It’s an essentially right wing, libertarian kind of politics designed to obscure the fact that the US and all of these countries are capitalist, and that, while they engage in capitalist competition, with the US preeminent, they are all ultimately on the same side of the class divide. I know that you’ve posted about this before, but it is worth repeating. There’s really nothing left about this geopolitical perspective at all, especially as it lacks any social perspective about the people within places like Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere and their potential for resistance. It completely erases them as a subject of importance. I’ve said this before, but I think some thought should be given as to what might happen when the same perspectives are applied in a domestic context. Along these lines, Stein strikes me as a liberal candidate that emphasizes non-violence and the redistribution of income, which is admirable, but not necessarily an approach that will radicalize US politics.

    Comment by Richard Estes — August 10, 2016 @ 8:09 pm

  9. Someone might want to draw Jill Stein’s attention to this:


    Comment by Richard Estes — August 10, 2016 @ 11:27 pm

  10. The U.S. Green Party is well-known to be a home for antisemites and conspiracy theorists. In fact, this seems to be such an accepted fact in the party that it has nominated Amaju Baraka for vice president, even tho he has a very public history of working with Holocaust Denier Kevin Barrett. This includes being in an anthology Barrett edited, and appearing on his radio show.

    Baraka appears in Barrett’s “false flag” anthology Another French False Flag? Bloody Tracks from Paris to San Bernadino. The book includes well-known antisemitic contributors like Gilad Atzmon, neofascist Alain Soral, David Dees, and Ken O’Keefe.
    Barrett on Holocaust Denial.
    Baraka on Barrett’s Truth Jihad radio show: here and here.
    A Green Party national co-coordinator replied by smearing those who pointed this out as an attempt to “run interference for apartheid in Israel” — despite the fact that the discussion was in reference to Holocaust Denial, and had no references to Israel….

    U.S. Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka Linked to Holocaust Denier | radicalarchives

    Comment by Jay Rothermel — August 11, 2016 @ 12:49 am

  11. Everybody on the left is anti-Semitic if you take the SWP seriously, as Jay does. They call BDS anti-Semitic and characterize Israel as a necessary haven for world Jewry against “Jew-hatred” as they put it. You have to be mentally ill to take such positions.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 11, 2016 @ 1:01 am

  12. Andrew Coates on FB today:

    The US Green leader is linked to Gilad Atzmon.

    If that were not bad enough he has ties to the French far-right Frédéric Koshka.

    One of the hooks of this article today is that the racist teacher was broadcasting the ideas of Alain Soral. For French readers, and many others the *mention* of his name is enough

    Soral is one of the contributors to the book *Another French False Flag* for which the US Green Party Vice-Presidential Candidate Ajamu Baraka also produced an chapter.

    “Elle relaie par ailleurs les publications d’Alain Soral, l’essayiste fondateur du mouvement Egalité et Réconciliation (condamné à de multiples reprises pour incitation à la haine raciale et à l’antisémitisme),”

    “She reproduced the publications of Alain Soral, the essayist and founder of Egalité et Réconciliation, prosecuted many times for incitement to race hatred and anti-semitism”.

    She would no doubt feel at home in the US Green Party!US

    Comment by Jay Rothermel — August 11, 2016 @ 1:36 am

  13. I see that Jay is ignoring my references to the party his blog is devoted to, that among its batty beliefs is that opposing BDS or supporting Hamas is tantamount to anti-Semitism. I can’t blame the SWP’ers who are lost souls without their cult membership. How someone who is not a member can post their talking points is simply beyond me. It makes you wonder if he is more disturbed than the 75 or so SWP members who are forced to defend these indefensible ideas.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 11, 2016 @ 2:15 am

  14. You may be surprised to learn of South Front’s direct ties to Putin’s United Russia Party. This site profiled it http://aktivnyye.com/t/20160120-southfront.html

    Comment by Drew (@nolifeneet) — August 11, 2016 @ 3:02 am

  15. Richard Estes provides an excellent link to Yassin al-Haj Saleh interview. Excellent stuff. Thank you, Sir!

    Iranian activists have known in some detail about the extent of Iranian regime’s control of things in Syria. This is great information for American comrades to read. Great stuff particularly on the specific Iranian colonial strategies in Syria. The bit about how the Syrians are made to collateralize their protection with real estate is fantastic.

    Here is an interesting connection that Richard (and others I’m sure) would find amusing: the reflection of this ‘real estate acquisition’ mentality in our TV dramas. My mom loves to watch Iranian TV dramas. One of the things I’ve noticed about (most of the episodes of) a particular series she watches is this: the most frequent point of conflict (and a conflict is of course an elementary part of any story) centers around ‘real estate’. The dramas are kind of like a cross between a generic soap opera structure and Iranian social motifs. A lot of times the plot revolves around somebody tricking somebody into some real estate deal, or somebody seducing somebody with eyes on a real estate deal, or some family member cheating another family member out of a real estate deal, and so on. It’s hilarious.

    The funniest thing (and the cruelest for those who get the shitty end of this, of course) is that this shit shows up even in the form of colonialism they practice! Fucking unbelievable. After all, colonialism is nothing but international real estate acquisitions. German banks know a thing or two about that: they own Greece. Iranians go about it their own way, Germans theirs.

    Comment by Reza — August 11, 2016 @ 3:08 am

  16. I was staunch opponent of the invasion in Iraq in 2003, but wrapping my head around Arab Spring was surprisingly easy for me initially. I know what revolutionary wave is, and there were people resisting dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria – a two years earlier in Iran – so of course you support the people. Simplest Leftist maxim is “stand with the oppressed”. When NATO intervention in Libya came, my intuition was to support it, and I argued it is different than Iraq 2003, that there is crucial difference in supporting ongoing revolution and trying to overthrow a regime (no matter how fascist it is) in the period of calm. The revolution had popular base, but dictator would be able to prevail because of technological superiority – NATO intervention would level the field in terms of technology, so it made sense to support the intervention.

    I then had a period of scepticism as situation became more complicated, but I have decided that the way out of confusion is to read more, to learn as much as I can about the situation of the revolution on the ground – only at that point I discovered people like Robin Yassin-Kassab, Idrees Ahmad, Michael Karadjis (although I have known him for his work on the Srebrenica and Yugoslavian wars), Sam Charles Hamad, Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Julian Roepcke or Louis Proyect, obviously. Learning more confirmed that my initial intuition was correct.

    I think Stein had enough time to wrap her head around this, and if she cannot I’m afraid it’s too friendly to her to call that ignorance caused by wrong sources. It seems to me that the problem is ideological, that what she displays is basically a campist worldview. Such worldview stands by some of the oppressed and slanders the others depending on which camp they belong to. And I’m afraid that this kind of toxic worldview will be emboldened by victory of Stein team, and it is a worldview which can be divisive and backfire at home, too. Clinton is amoebic, she can tilt to left (as she does now in response to Sanders’ campaign) or right as circumstances require. She may not even make any material difference in Syria as for example Kenan Rahmani hopes for. But she will at least cancel the greater danger of Trump, and I also don’t see how the option to build a popular left-wing party will be precluded by her victory – but it has to be something better that is now on offer.

    Comment by Michal Lipták — August 11, 2016 @ 11:17 am

  17. I agree with what is written above so much. When Reza mentions Greece’s troubles it reminds me I watched a part of a discussion on Youtube recently given by Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Finance Minister; he said he was in New York Public Library and saw a collection of maps of Alabama. Said they showed ‘the precise depiction of the theft of land from native Americans, the way in which it was parcelled up’.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — August 11, 2016 @ 12:14 pm

  18. It’s common knowledge Louis that you are not favorably inclined to the U.S. SWP, to say the least, but put aside your dislike for a moment and address the issue Jay raises. Is it not a glaring indication that there is in fact a problem with antisemitism within sections of the left when a comparatively large left of center party selects and nominates a candidate for Vice President who has collaborated with Holocaust deniers and other far-rightists and fascists? Not once, but numerous times. What would the reaction be if Clinton, Trump or Gary Johnson did something like this? Tell me with a straight face that such a thing would have been tolerated in times past, during the era of the mass movements for example. Or even more recently. In the past three or four days I have seen at least three dozen people and organizations raise this disturbing development in public posts of one kind or another and not one of them comes from the SWP or a source close to the SWP. The summation Jay linked above was provided by a well respected activist in the anti-racist and anarchist movement. This has been accompanied by many hundreds of shares and comments by young Green members who are both shocked and disgusted. I hope the leadership of the two socialist organizations in the United States that have endorsed Stein, the ISO and Socialist Alternative, will take this up without becoming defensive. In doing so they could make a real contribution to the ongoing struggle for clarity and social justice here and abroad.

    Comment by Dave — August 11, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

  19. In Jill Stein’s latest interviews I’ve noticed she identifies the Israeli and Saudi crimes of late, that the best aim for peace is to deprive the region of arms, that the US strikes only create terrorism. I don’t see her arguing that Assad had a right to wage war nor that Russia and Iran should continue delvering wrapons. The truth is we don’t know where she’s going to go yet; I agree that she very well may be influenced by the traditional and infantile left as opposed to the vitriolic charges going around (pro-fascism). I think to demand that she’s “had enough time” is to neglect just how insulated the American left is and just how powerful is the knee jerk against regime change wars following Iraq. Her VP pick is concerning (with respect to Syria policy) but we likely won’t have to wait long before getting a closer look at Stein oh the Syria question. I’m patiently hopeful.

    Comment by James Rodney — August 11, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

  20. The point is that the SWP and its boneheaded supporters like you and Jay do not have the moral capital to criticize the Green Party. Furthermore, since you are totally in line with the cult, you have some really strange ideas about “Jew hatred”. For example, I am guilty of Jew hatred because I support BDS. Furthermore, I solidarize with the students who protested an Israeli spokesman but the Militant took his side, calling the protesters anti-Semitic. You people are out of your fucking mind.


    On Nov. 3 two dozen protesters at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis shouted down guest lecturer Moshe Halbertal, a law professor from Israel, delaying the program by more than half an hour. The disruption was organized by Students for a Democratic Society, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Anti-War Committee. They claimed that Halbertal is a “war criminal” because he helped write the Israeli army code of ethics.

    Halbertal has often criticized Hamas, the reactionary Islamist group that rules Gaza, for using civilians as human shields when attacking Israel. He has also criticized the Israeli government for military attacks he considers “immoral and illegal instruments of deterrence.”

    “Professional combatants should err on the side of protecting noncombatants from casualties,” even if that means increasing “risks to themselves or to their cause,” Halbertal told the crowd after the lecture finally began.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 11, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

  21. ‘Syrian and Russian military attacks on hospitals in recent weeks during the government air campaign in the Aleppo region are causing deaths and injuries and shutting down medical facilities, Human Rights Watch said today.’

    If she is better on other issues, and I believe you, she should say , ‘I am ignorant on Syria, I haven’t read widely about it, or followed the conflict and struggle there’ , but she says ‘On Syria I agree with Putins plans for peace’. That is squalid.

    ‘The Question of Palestine’ by Said just got delivered by the postman. As soon as I finish ‘Eminent Hipsters’ by Donald Fagen, (a quick-read book I think you would enjoy btw), I will read Said’s book.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — August 11, 2016 @ 2:07 pm

  22. “I think Stein had enough time to wrap her head around this, and if she cannot I’m afraid it’s too friendly to her to call that ignorance caused by wrong sources. It seems to me that the problem is ideological, that what she displays is basically a campist worldview. Such worldview stands by some of the oppressed and slanders the others depending on which camp they belong to. And I’m afraid that this kind of toxic worldview will be emboldened by victory of Stein team, and it is a worldview which can be divisive and backfire at home, too.”

    An abandonment of this approach requires that Stein and other Greens relinquish their sense of paternal superiority which entitles them to make such judgments. It is a difficult thing for them to do.

    Comment by Richard Estes — August 11, 2016 @ 5:37 pm

  23. “Here is an interesting connection that Richard (and others I’m sure) would find amusing: the reflection of this ‘real estate acquisition’ mentality in our TV dramas. My mom loves to watch Iranian TV dramas. One of the things I’ve noticed about (most of the episodes of) a particular series she watches is this: the most frequent point of conflict (and a conflict is of course an elementary part of any story) centers around ‘real estate’. The dramas are kind of like a cross between a generic soap opera structure and Iranian social motifs. A lot of times the plot revolves around somebody tricking somebody into some real estate deal, or somebody seducing somebody with eyes on a real estate deal, or some family member cheating another family member out of a real estate deal, and so on. It’s hilarious.”

    I had never given this a lot of thought, probably because my TV time is limited to watching San Francisco Giants games and Doctor Who, but real estate acquisition as a metaphor for capitalist competition must have a long history in TV and film. Someone will probably rip off these Iranian programs and produce a US version with a SF, NYC or Boston setting centered around the obsessive property acquisition efforts of young social media millionaires. Struggles over how to deviously kick out long term residents with rent control protections would be a recurrent theme.

    Comment by Richard Estes — August 12, 2016 @ 1:01 am

  24. What happened in Libya wax as I predicted. A plot where the Western imperialist powers used radical Islamists to do their dirty work , turned Libya into a utter basket case. I predicted that the puppet regime would then mercilessly put down the Islamists and with the help of those same Western imperialists who used the Islamists. Arab spring, do me a favour.

    Syria is similar, in that the West have turned this conflict into a fight for their own grubby interests and they don’t care how many die in the process. Once the US have their puppet regime in place they will make Assad look like a boy scout. The only difference is that Protect will not be there to report on the carnage. He will have moved onto Imperialisms next theatre of interest. Hilary Clinton is of course helping the rebels, the corpse strewn streets are testament to this!

    Andrew Coates is the worst type of leftist, a running dog for imperialism and someone whose extreme chauvinism took hold in France over the last 15 years or so with the predictable consequences we see today. An emboldened far right, aggressive and numerous French imperialism and lots of inner turmoil. Andrew Coates and his ilk take the blame for all this as far as I am concerned.

    Comment by Simon Provertier — August 13, 2016 @ 6:28 am

  25. I don’t think I ever had a problem supporting the NLF in Vietnam. Long before I had anything like a Marxist understanding of imperialism I was educated in racism and I think I always understood that they were fighting the same system black people in the US were fighting.

    For me it also come down to gut instinct. Do you care about people, even non-white people? Do you tend to side with the underdog? Can you watch a half-million people get slaughtered and not bother to investigate enough to change your mind?

    All those who campaigned against Obama striking Assad after 21/8/13 have a lot of responsibility for the current mess.

    Also these terrible politics aren’t limited to Syria. A position that endorses Assad’s last election as legit is first and foremost, a position on democracy – a very bad one. Is this the leadership progressives want to support.

    Also you think Amaju Baraka is just bad on Syria. His politics is terrible up and down the line. You think BAR is the leadership black people need? I’ll save that critique for another day – Greens always put up a black candidate because they patronize black people.

    If I had a magic button and I could put either Clinton or Stein in the White House, it wouldn’t be Stein. I think we would be much better off with another neo-liberal who will likely continue Obama’s policies. [ I think Louis was a little unfair citing her obligatory restatement oif Obama’s policy as SecState as her own. We will see. At least I hope we do.] Clinton is at least in touch with the realities of the world. She sees the same situation in Syria we do. She just has a different take on it.

    Jill Stein is delusional. Simply put, she just doesn’t understand how the world really works. It doesn’t much matter to me whether she is a fool or a Putin tool, I think it would be world class disaster to put her in charge or reducing US military spending now in the face of increasing Russian aggression.

    I have made other critiques of other aspects of her politics in other placed but the short story is that I’m not at all sure she is the lesser evil.

    But that’s not important because there is zero chance – our next president will be Clinton or Trump – 99% certainty on that.

    But that’s not what I want to talk about in this comment. What I really need to explore is the idea I’m wrong about white supremacy and the rise of a new and virulent white supremacist movement forming up under Donald Trump and threatening to take the White House, and ALL of you are right, that its not a question worthy of serious consideration when discussing election strategies. That’s one way to understand why this question wasn’t addressed in the proceeding 24 comments or Louis piece.

    The other possibility is that ALL of you are wrong, the struggle against this developing white supremacist movement is the main aspect of this election, and the most important out come is that executive power be denied these much more open white chauvinists.

    Most colored people are scared to death of Trump in the White House, as am I. Haven’t you already noticed an up-tick in racists slights from Trump supporters who now feel more embolden? You haven’t? Then you must be white.

    If white leftists go with Amaju Baraka idea’s that we will have to fight Trump’s racism anyway, whether he wins of loses, and so we should all vote Green and not worry now about whether the fight against Trump’s racism will be more difficult once he’s in command of the most powerful executive on Earth, white leftists will only further alienate the colored masses and further set back the cause of revolution in this country.

    Comment by Clay Claiborne — August 19, 2016 @ 3:12 am

  26. At present, Trump does not appear to be winning this thing. While the fear he and his racist followers inspire is, IMHO, certainly realistic, there is some possibility that they will lose and lose big. What will the left do then?

    The case can certainly be made that with Clinton people of color (and working people in general) will suffer incomparably less than with Trump. But can a case be made for Clinton’s winning in a landslide if an even halfway credible left alternative is available?

    It’s a bit early to tell, but that may be the actual choice with which we are confronted in November.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — August 19, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

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