Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 19, 2018

The Internet Research Agency and Meddling in the 2016 elections

Filed under: Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 9:25 pm

(Another Alexander Reid Ross article Max Blumenthal’s lawyer forced the SPLC to delete.)

In an editorial published on Monday, January 15, Russia Insider, one of the most important pro-Russia news and analysis hubs in the West, declared, “hostility to Putin’s Russia is largely a Jewish phenomenon.”

Penned by founding editor, Charles Bausman, the 5,000-word editorial drew positive responses from a number of important sources. Alt-Right.com announced “Russia Insider Decides to Go Alt-Right,” while Unz.com proclaimed that Bausman had “named the Jews” and far-right Congressional hopeful Paul Nehlen called it an “excellent article” and “a useful jumping off point for the ‘discussion’ we must have[.] The ensuing attention and compliments indicate the prevalence of far-right politics amid pro-Kremlin media and political networks.

Bausman’s antisemitic screed first lists well-worn euphemisms used by antisemites in lieu of naming Jews, including ‘Zionists’, ‘elites’, ‘global elites’, ‘globalists’, ‘neocons’, ‘liberal interventionists’, ‘the war party’, ‘the Israel lobby’, ‘the deep state’, ‘bankers’ and ‘new world order’

Indulging his theory, Bausman blames Jews for the Bolshevik terror, remarking that “much of the Bolshevik leadership was Jewish, in particular, Trotsky,” along with members of the secret police. He claims “cursory evidence” supports this theory, adding that “Henry Ford was heavily influenced by this view,” and “the German National Socialist movement became radically more antisemitic in reaction to this interpretation.”

The antisemitic conspiracy theory alleging that Jews used the Soviet Union to undermine the Russian “ethnos” is prominent among so-called “National Bolsheviks” — fascists who insist that an ultranationalist version of the Soviet Union would restore ethnic Russianness through a return to traditional society. Leading “National Bolshevik,” Aleksandr Dugin, has spearheaded influential initiatives to support Kremlin-centered “geopolitics” oriented toward a “Eurasian” spiritual empire stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Dugin has featured as a prominent figure among the pro-Kremlin far-right, including the alt-right, as well as news sites like Fort-Russ, RT, and Russia Insider.

Continuing in this vein, the editor of Russia Insider declares, “We follow the Alt-Right media and republish the occasional article, and they are invariably very popular on Russia Insider — largely, I think, because they are offering a fresh point of view, and talking about vitally important issues others refuse to address.” Bausman praises, in particular, racist alt-right podcasts like “Fash the Nation” and Richard Spencer’s “Alt Right Politics.”

Bausman’s editorial prompted a cautiously complimentary letter-to-the-editor from Gilbert Doctorow, a retired Brussels-based businessman who writes for Consortium News and cofounded the revived American Committee for East-West Accord (ACEWA).

Doctorow has been featured as a writer for Russia Insider since the site’s early days in 2014, penning such articles as “Twilight of the Gods: George Soros in Brussels,” and Bausman’s antisemitic editorial clearly reflected on Doctorow’s own career. In response, Doctorow wrote to Russia Insider, “for the sake of argument I will concede to you [Bausman] the point that Jewish controlled media have been a big factor in the hate-Russia mania that sweeps America today.”

“The overriding point that I wish to make here is that the anti-Russian rant from Jewish politicians and media moguls are only one of several contributing factors to the Russia-bashing that is going on,” Doctorow continued.

Arguing that Jews abandoning the Soviet Union in the late-19th Century and again in the 1970s held a grudge against Russia for their own inability to climb the financial ladder in the U.S., Doctorow’s letter proceeds, “In the big picture, the Jews are only one of several ethnic-religious groups or nationalities who left what was the Russian Empire or the Soviet Empire, and have been making trouble for Russia ever since. Therein lies the problem.” Doctorow’s letter concludes, “I stress that the issues raised in your [Bausman’s] editorial essay are serious and demand multi-disciplinary and multi-sided examination.”

The American committee

In 2014, Doctorow agreed to help jump-start the long-dormant American Committee for East-West Accord (ACEWA) with original member, NYU and Princeton University professor emeritus and contributing editor of The Nation, Stephen F. Cohen. Originally a group of academics, leftists, politicians and business leaders supporting Nixon’s policies of détente with Russia, the ACEWA’s new manifestation currently includes on its board such prestigious figures as Chuck Hagel, former ambassadors Jack Matlock and William vanden Heuvel, and Senator Bill Bradley.

From the start, the ACEWA afforded Doctorow the pretext to bring far-right and left-wing politicians together for public gatherings. On December 2, 2014, Doctorow launched the European branch of the ACEWA at the Brussels Press Club with a Round Table that included two left-wing members of the European Parliament and far-right Front National MEP Aymeric Chauprade.

Then Marine Le Pen’s advisor on international relations, Chauprade had recently returned from Crimea where he served as an election “observer” for the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections led by Belgian fascist Luc Michel and joined by fascists Enrique Ravello and Valerio Cignetti. Far-right monitoring group Berliner Osteuropa-Experten called the ACEWA’s European launch, “a little Querfront.”

Registering as an ACEWA lobbyist in the European Union on March 1, 2015, Doctorow hosted another Brussels Round Table the next day featuring co-author of the controversial text, The Israel Lobby, John Mearsheimer, as well as editor and publisher of The Nation, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and her husband Dr. Cohen.

The YouTube video of Mearsheimer’s speech appeared with a bullet-point summary on Russia Insider, which declared, “We owe a special thanks to Gilbert Doctorow, our invaluable RI [Russia Insider] contributor and moderator of this round table, for providing us with the video material.”

Two weeks later, Doctorow flew to Washington, D.C., for the U.S.-Russia Forum as a representative of the ACEWA. There, in the Central Hearing Facility (Room 216) of the Hart Senate Office Building, immediately following a speech from Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Doctorow appeared on a panel with Cohen and Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to decry anti-Putin sentiment.

After a short coffee break, the audience returned to the illustrious room to see Katrina vanden Heuvel moderate a panel on alternative media featuring the late Robert Parry of Consortium News, which is apparently Russia Insider’s fiscal sponsor. In the next time slot, Bausman took to the podium to give a presentation boasting of Russia Insider’s three million views per month during its first six months of existence. Today, both the homepage and the speakers’ page of the Russia Forum’s website feature Basuman’s photo in the banner image.

That September, Doctorow was back in Belgium, where he chaired another ACEWA Round Table featuring contributions from EU politicians and such academics as Richard Sakawa, a participant in Russia’s elite Valdai Discussion Club, and The Israel Lobby’s other co-author Stephen Walt.

As the U.S. presidential campaign of 2016 heated up, the ACEWA argued that Trump proposed a “new détente-like relationship” with Putin’s Russia, while deriding Clinton’s platform. On July 12, Doctorow’s branch of the ACEWA screened a film against the anti-corruption Magnitsky Act at the Brussels Press Club featuring a Q&A with the film’s director, Andrei Nekrasov, as advertised on the ACEWA website.

Following Trump’s election, Doctorow’s signature appeared on a letter published in TheNation with Noam Chomsky, whom he had criticized in a 2014 Nation article for being too slow to embrace Putin’s Russia, and four prestigious members of the European political community calling for a new détente in Europe. Doctorow left the ACEWA around March, 2017 to pursue other interests. He has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Ongoing relationships

Until January 19, 2018, the ACEWA’s website carried some 66 articles by Doctorow crossposted from websites like Consortium News and the Washington Times. The most recent piece from Doctorow was posted at ACEWA less than a month before time of writing. As of January 19, 2018, however, Doctorow’s content appears to have been scrubbed. Nevertheless, the overlap between articles posted by ACEWA and Russia Insider remains significant, and Consortium News remains one of the 14 sites shortlisted under the ACEW’s “additional resources.”

In a phone conversation with Hatewatch, Cohen said that he “kept up a personal correspondence with [Doctorow] about things that interest both of us, mainly Russia,” and that Doctorow resigned from the ACEWA “because he found it constraining,” not due to any “specific policy disagreement” or “anything personal.” According to Cohen, antisemitism never arose as an issue in his experience with Doctorow or in Doctorow’s role regarding the ACEWA.

However, along with his confab with Chauprade at the ACEWA’s launch in Brussels, Doctorow’s writings while representing the ACEWA indicate that his relationship to the far-right remained relatively consistent, insofar as he supported neo-Eurasianist geopolitical strategy against the North Atlantic as a ballast of national interest against the “tyranny” of “universal values.”

Doctorow’s piece published at Consortium News on June 3, 2016, for instance, lauds a former-member of Poland’s fascist Association for Tradition and Culture “Niklot” named Mateusz Piskorski as “an outstanding spokesman of the minority view and founder of the Zmiana (or Change) party.” According to researcher of far-right networks, Anton Shekhovtsov, Zmiana is an attempt to “combine Polish right-wing and left-wing extremists,” and one of its leaders, Bartosz Bekier, also heads up Poland’s fascist Falanga.

Also a veteran of the far-right Self-Defence party, Piskorski’s European Center for Geopolitical Analysis is connected to Dugin’s Eurasian Youth Union, a relationship consummated as early as 2004 during Piskorski’s efforts to “oversee” elections throughout Eastern Europe. More recently, he joined Chauprade in Michel’s fascist-laden, Russia-funded Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections, overseeing the illegal Crimean “referendum.”

James Carden, editor of the ACEWA’s website, stated by email, “The ACEWA, its website, and Stephen F. Cohen have had no direct relationship with Russia Insider and/or with Charles Bausman.” However, Doctorow’s relationship with Russia Insider while operating as ACEWA’s European coordinator belies this denial, as exhibited by the video that appeared on Russia Insider of ACEWA’s Round Table with special thanks to Doctorow.

Far-right and pro-Putin networks

As the diagram below shows, when the site metrics search engine Alexa runs an audience overlap comparison using only Russia Insider, their apparent fiscal sponsor at Consortium News, Bausman’s friend at pro-Russia site, The Saker, and ACEWA-linked magazine, The Nation, three different audience clusters emerge: (1) a largely direct Russian propaganda cluster; (2) a mostly U.S.-based cluster of conspiracist sites and syncretic left-right geopolitics sites; (3) a more mainstream cluster of sites thought to be far more credible than the latter two.

Doctorow’s activity as a writer and political operative indicate a capacity to triangulate a syncretic left-right movement against liberalism based on trans-national connections between media and politics. However, he, Consortium, and Russia Insider intimate the broader problem that the conduits of “geopolitical” ideology from Russian media to pro-Russian sites and the U.S. mainstream can serve as a Trojan horse for fascist tendencies and sympathies.

Pro-Putin networks like RT and Sputnik, which have played host to far-right commentators like Dugin, Richard Spencer and German neo-Eurasianist Manuel Ochsenreiter serve as vehicles for far-right ideologies laundered into US news and commentary sites under the auspices of geopolitical commentary. Unfortunately, the Left has not launched a serious effort to disconnect from collaborations with far-right groups in the context of networks that support and are often supported by Putin’s Russia. This situation has caused influential bodies like the ACEWA to facilitate the growth of transnational, far-right politics and, more specifically, the fascist neo-Eurasianist movement.

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