Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 2, 2018

Did Julian Assange help Trump get elected? Does it matter?

Filed under: Red-Brown alliance,Trump,Wikileaks — louisproyect @ 9:23 pm

While it is likely that the Guardian article about Paul Manafort meeting with Julian Assange will turn out to be bogus, there is still the question of Assange’s role in the ongoing geopolitical squabble between American imperialism and its adversaries in Russia, China and elsewhere.

The main bone of contention is whether Wikileaks served as a conduit for emails purloined from campaign manager John Podesta’s account in March 2016. One of the emails contained excerpts from the speeches Clinton gave at Goldman-Sachs that betrayed her disconnect from most voters. She jokes, for example, at a Goldman Sachs conference in June 2013 about bankers being “the smartest people.” Trump demagogically pointed to her speeches as proof that Goldman “owned her”.

There is little question as to the role of Russian hackers in breaking into Podesta’s email account. Known as Fancy Bear, the group sent Podesta an email urging him to click a link that would protect his emails, when it had the opposite effect. The tendency of most of the left would be to regard this interference with a shrug of the shoulders, considering the widespread use of cybernetic espionage by the USA—especially in Iran. As Jesus said, “Those without sin, cast the first stone”.

Zeynep Tukfeci is a NY Times op-ed columnist specializing in computer security, social media abuses, etc. Now you’d expect anybody working for the Times to express outrage at Russian interference and Wikileaks serving as an accessory after the fact. Keep in mind, however, that Tukfeci was once “one of us”, serving as a co-moderator of the Marxism list that spawned Marxmail when she was a dissertation student. In a November 4, 2016 column, she wrote:

The victims here are not just Mr. Podesta and the people in his contacts list who are embarrassed or compromised. The victim of leaks of private communication is the ability of dissidents to function in a democracy.

Demanding transparency from the powerful is not a right to see every single private email anyone in a position of power ever sent or received. WikiLeaks, for example, gleefully tweeted to its millions of followers that a Clinton Foundation employee had attempted suicide; news outlets repeated the report.

Wanton destruction of the personal privacy of any person who has ever come near a political organization is a vicious but effective means to smother dissent. This method is so common in Russia and the former Soviet states that it has a name: “kompromat,” releasing compromising material against political opponents. Emails of dissidents are hacked, their houses bugged, the activities in their bedrooms videotaped, and the material made public to embarrass and intimidate people whose politics displeases the powerful. Kompromat does not have to go after every single dissident to work: If you know that getting near politics means that your personal privacy may be destroyed, you will understandably stay away.

Another figure I regard as “one of us” also changed her mind about Assange in the aftermath of his role in helping to tip the scales in favor of Donald Trump. Laurie Poitras, who made a documentary about Edward Snowden in collaboration with Glenn Greenwald, made one on Julian Assange in 2017 titled “Risk”. It reflects her disenchantment with Assange over his take on the sex assault cases, which he described as a “tawdry, radical feminist” plot instigated by a woman who launched a lesbian nightclub. And, also like Tukfeci, Poitras questions the timing of the Wikileaks release.

In my review of “Risk”, I wrote “Unlike Poitras, I have no problems with the Russians hacking Democratic Party emails and using Wikileaks as a cutout. If American politicians don’t want to be embarrassed by things they say privately, they’d better think about what they were saying in the first place.” I no longer would write such a thing. It is best to draw a line against the sort of intervention the Russians mounted, as well as Wikileaks role in amplifying its impact.

In the latest developments in the Mueller investigation, there are bread crumbs connecting various Trump operatives to their counterparts in England who might have had foreknowledge of the Podesta hack. On November 28th, the Guardian identified an American living in England named Ted Malloch as a key figure closely connected to Nigel Farage, who might be described as the English Donald Trump. Wikipedia provides some detail:

Malloch has appeared several times as a guest in productions of the conspiracy site InfoWars. In the video “Davos Group Insider Exposes The Globalist Luciferian Agenda”, he says:

The EU is part of, of course, the globalist Empire, the New World Order. I think many of its origins are in fact quite evil …

It’s basically a German takeover of Europe making Europe into its own puppet state with its crony capitalism and its fake currency of the Euro. … Luciferianism is a belief system that venerates the essential characteristics that are affixed to Lucifer. That tradition has been informed by Gnosticism by Satanism and it usually refers to Lucifer not as the devil per se but as some kind of liberator, some kind of guardian, some kind of guiding spirit, in fact is the true God as opposed to Jehovah. … of course we know who Lucifer is and he’s seen as one of the morning stars, as a symbol of enlightenment, as a kind of independence, and of true human progress, turning away from God and turning to Lucifer in order to enlighten yourself.

What kind of world are we living in politically when there is one degree of separation between anti-imperialist Julian Assange and someone like this? Whenever I read this sort of crap from a Malloch or a David Icke, I am reminded of what Leon Trotsky said about the rise of fascism in Germany:

Fascism has opened up the depths of society for politics. Today, not only in peasant homes but also in city skyscrapers, there lives alongside of the twentieth century the tenth or the thirteenth. A hundred million people use electricity and still believe in the magic power of signs and exorcisms. The Pope of Rome broadcasts over the radio about the miraculous transformation of water into wine. Movie stars go to mediums. Aviators who pilot miraculous mechanisms created by man’s genius wear amulets on their sweaters. What inexhaustible reserves they possess of darkness, ignorance, and savagery! Despair has raised them to their feet fascism has given them a banner. Everything that should have been eliminated from the national organism in the form of cultural excrement in the course of the normal development of society has now come gushing out from the throat; capitalist society is puking up the undigested barbarism. Such is the physiology of National Socialism.

Finally, we come to Randy Credico, the erstwhile NYC comedian who used to do benefits for Central American solidarity causes in the 1980s and who was a brilliant impressionist and a canny political commentator—at least back then.

Now, like Assange, his purpose in life is to function as just another cheap conspiracy theorist on NYC’s terminally ill Pacifica station. On November 14th, NBC News reported on the communications between Roger Stone and his “pal”:

Six days before WikiLeaks began releasing Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, Roger Stone had a text message conversation with a friend about WikiLeaks, according to copies of phone records obtained exclusively by NBC News.

“Big news Wednesday,” the Stone pal, radio host Randy Credico, wrote on Oct. 1, 2016, according to the text messages provided by Stone. “Now pretend u don’t know me.”

“U died 5 years ago,” Stone replied.

“Great,” Credico wrote back. “Hillary’s campaign will die this week.”

What has happened in the past 30 years to turn Credico into someone capable of being “pals” with Roger Stone, a man who is on record calling a CNN host a “fat negro”? His tweets also referred to others as a “disgusting lesbian dwarf,” “horse-faced liberal bitch,” “mandingo,” and “house negro.” He has also relied on the fascist Proud Boys to defend his appearances.

Here’s the explanation. People like Assange, Credico, and Max Blumenthal never developed a class perspective. While it is easy to understand why the USA is regarded as the world’s most evil and most dangerous imperialist power, this is not a sufficient guide to developing a radical analysis on Syria, Ukraine or any other place that does not fit neatly into a cookie cutter version of world politics. Part of the problem is the sorry growth of theories based on “globalization”, which in the demimonde of Global Research, Infowars, UNZ Review, 21st Century Wire and most programming on WBAI gets reduced to “globalism”, George Soros, becoming “pals” with Roger Stone and all the rest. These are parts of the Augean Stables that a reborn revolutionary left will have to clean at some point if for no other reason than to sharpen the class lines that people like Credico have blunted.

 

31 Comments »

  1. Hi Louis, Very interesting piece. Just a note: Randy Credico was removed from WBAI’s airwaves A YEAR AGO in November 2017 by arch conspiracy-theorist Program Director Tony Bates. Go figure! Now, both are gone from WBAI.

    It would be good if you ended the piece with some examples of what you mean by “class analysis” so that we can see how it would play out.

    Thanks.

    Mitchel

    Comment by TakeForwardWBAI — December 2, 2018 @ 9:51 pm

  2. That last paragraph is so important it cannot be driven home often or hard enough. At least back in Trotsky’s day & up through the Vietnam War there were mass proletarian organizations that left minded intellectuals could imerse themselves in to get a class based orientation. Today there’s little like that and the political culture definitely suffers with such whack job bullshit conclusions so devoid of any historical class analysis it’s insufferable. I suppose it’s just another way to put Trotsky’s succinct truism that “the biggest dilemma facing the world today is it’s profound lack of proletarian leadership”.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — December 2, 2018 @ 11:22 pm

  3. Great point that Assange’s lack of a class perspective is a gaping and ultimately fatal political flaw.

    The same thing, however, could be said of others less obnoxious than e.g. Max Blumenthal–for example Glenn Greenwald, that AFAIK still-unregenerate idolater of the despicable Ron Paul. I imagine this applies to Laura Poitras as well, though it’s harder to get a handle on her ideology than it is on Greenwald’s.

    The whole broadly “libertarian” current on what passes for the left in this country–as incarnate in much of the Third Way horseshit (Pat Buchanan or Paul Craig Roberts anyone?) that has appeared for example in Counterpunch over many years–is dangerously misleading to say the least when it is not outright poison.

    I think that the era of Wikileaks is over. So too may finally be the too-long-lingering era of the kind of broad coalition movement including e.g. libertarians (and liberal Democrats?) that (arguably) successfully opposed the Vietnam War but has proved useless since–and has rendered formerly intelligent Left-leaning voices (e.g. Hersh) incapable of seeing or talking sense about things that don’t fit the old Manichean antiwar, “anti–imperialist” paradigm–Libya, Syria, or the Ukraine. For such people, it will always be 1968.

    But does that justify the terrifying intensity of forces in Great Britain and the United States–most particularly of late the Democratic Party–in seeking to completely destroy Assange personally, not for the numberless things he has done wrong or fails to understand, but for the important things he did understand and got right?

    These people want to burn this man right down to the ground and then sow the ground with salt. Assange has been for all intents and purposes imprisoned without a trial for many years, and now his enemies apparently will settle for nothing less than death and damnatio memoriae–or a life sentence in solitary confinement in the USA for espionage, which amounts to much the same thing. That’s a high price to pay for being a creep.

    To really indict Assange and make the case for killing him as all good FBI-and-CIA-loving Democrats now piously wish to do, while pining for the wonderful Bush Senior now that the fucking bastard is safely dead, wouldn’t you have to show that he knowingly published Russian lies or at least was a patsy for the same? But hasn’t Wikileaks pretty much stuck to actual documents, however excessive in quantity?

    My fear of the current unholy witch hunt greatly exceeds any indignation I might feel at the violation of John Podesta’s right to privacy.

    This, as it shouldn’t be necessary to say, in no way reflects any temptation to fall for all the BS about Putin and BRICS as an “anti-imperialist’ axis, etc. etc.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 3, 2018 @ 12:38 am

  4. I agree completely with the explanation – that these types don’t have a “class analysis”. Another way of putting it is that they don’t see the role of the working class in history. And since they don’t see the role of the working class, they also don’t see the experiences that workers (and others) are going through. All they see is the various “great powers”. Isn’t this the essence of how Stalinism viewed the world? In other words, they have adopted the world view of Stalinism even though that particular force is long gone.

    Comment by oaklandsocialist — December 3, 2018 @ 7:17 pm

  5. Reblogged this on oaklandsocialist and commented:
    From Trotsky, as quoted in this article: “Fascism has opened up the depths of society for politics. Today, not only in peasant homes but also in city skyscrapers, there lives alongside of the twentieth century the tenth or the thirteenth. A hundred million people use electricity and still believe in the magic power of signs and exorcisms. The Pope of Rome broadcasts over the radio about the miraculous transformation of water into wine. Movie stars go to mediums. Aviators who pilot miraculous mechanisms created by man’s genius wear amulets on their sweaters. What inexhaustible reserves they possess of darkness, ignorance, and savagery! Despair has raised them to their feet fascism has given them a banner. Everything that should have been eliminated from the national organism in the form of cultural excrement in the course of the normal development of society has now come gushing out from the throat; capitalist society is puking up the undigested barbarism. Such is the physiology of National Socialism.” What could be more appropriate today?

    Comment by oaklandsocialist — December 3, 2018 @ 7:19 pm

  6. I think that Blumenthal/Norton need to be hashed through in a way that is different from Assange, who always was a Libertarian and never made any bones about it.

    In terms of the former group, that’s stemming back to a very rudimentary and also very fraught conversation, should internationalism with the postcolonial world embrace Samir Amin’s proposition of de-linking, which in practical terms means having as a standard the maintenance of international law and notions around the nation-state as a vehicle for political struggle, or are we going to embrace the notion of the working class having no country and the state as a purely reactionary vehicle? I don’t know the answer but I do know two rejoinders:

    a) It’s not reassuring to have the Left replicating the discourse of the anti-state Right; and

    b) There’s a very substantial and viable argument that the Left has to engage about the Soviet Union and neoliberalism, namely the idea that the hegemony of neoliberalism only was truly possible after the collapse of the USSR, both in America and internationally. Say what you want about Stalinism (and there is much to be said), the fact is that there were major progressive advances for humanity worldwide and in America because of how the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc would behave both in terms of diplomacy and arming postcolonial struggles against US imperialism. The Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc used the bully pulpit to brow-beat the Americans about Jim Crow in the face of complaints about human rights abuses. The Soviets and Chinese supported the ANC and other formations fighting apartheid. And they also fucked up royally with regards to the Sino-Soviet split, which was a fiasco whose negative outcomes were multitude.

    Comment by stew312856 — December 3, 2018 @ 9:32 pm

  7. “… puking up the undigested barbarism.”

    The Intercept has been publishing pieces on Assange allegedly supporting Trump for more than a year now, but assuming the truthfulness of the shadowy email exchanges with Trump, Jr. and Assange’s well-publicized description of Clinton as a “sadistic sociopath” (as if she had that much imagination), the case still can’t be made that Assange–an outsider with a foreigner’s simplistic view of the U.S.–is a fascist or even an actual Trump supporter.

    On the contrary, his view–at most–seems to have been very much the standard old chestnut of the “anti-imperialist” non-Marxist (or crypto-Stalinist) “left”–that Clinton wanted to start a war with Russia and had to be stopped.

    Assange is reported to have said that Clinton “has greater freedom to start wars than the GOP and has the will to do so.”

    To call anyone professing such views a “fascist” merely on the strength of those commonplace sentiments is close to insane.

    Assange at his worst has apparently a scrupulous regard for the authenticity of the things he publishes–what Trotsky was reviling were the worst excesses of the Nazis, a farrago of genocidal lies that were (and may still be) without parallel in the annals of history. What has Assange lied about?

    Lack of a class perspective, absolutely. Failure to see the real character of Trump, probably. But letting the U.S. government have their way with Assange is very bad news for the left if you ask me. It’s important to resist this even if “David North” and Chris Hedges also say so–the precedent is just too damned dangerous.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 3, 2018 @ 9:44 pm

  8. Now we have the so called “Marxist” view of the great Russia-gate scandal. The Guardian tries to falsely tie Manafort/Assange together and there’s no question of “why?” it’s just written off with a sentence because it doesn’t fit your paradigm. Hillary Clinton gives speeches to Goldman at 200 grand a pop, hides what she said, and you don’t see a problem with it? You just call Trump “demagogue” for stating the obvious, “that they own Clinton”. One wonders how much your content would change if you were being paid 200 grand for each piece you write. The fact that the U.S. under Bill Clinton interfered in Russian politics and elected Yeltsin in 1996 is completely ignored. You ponder on the threat to dissidents to function under a democracy. Are you serious? Democracy? Give us a break and save that nonsense for the simpletons. This is almost like a report the “Official Marxist” would write if the CIA or NBC employed someone with such a title. I’m not going to waste my time with the rest of this garbage because there is just too much crap in this piece. Hersh and Greenwald are two of the worlds great investigative reporters. Blumenthal at least reports from the scene and shows empathy for the powerless. Assange has essentially been forced into a cave year after year and will likely enter prison because of his deeply held beliefs. You heroically report from your armchair (probably in your den on your state pension) and cherry pick information to support your hairbrained preconceived theories. Such sacrifice. It’s hard to believe a so called Marxist is this ignorant about how government and politics really works. I don’t use the word stupid because I’ve noticed that is one of your favorite responses. You should stick to writing about things you understand and please stay away from American politics.

    Comment by Mike — December 4, 2018 @ 5:19 pm

  9. “Hillary Clinton gives speeches to Goldman at 200 grand a pop, hides what she said, and you don’t see a problem with it?”

    Um, I guess you have no problem with one-time radical Randy Credico being a pal of Roger Stone, a racist piece of shit who uses the Proud Boys as his defense guard. As for the Clintons, I was denouncing them probably when you were in kindergarten.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 4, 2018 @ 5:59 pm

  10. “…. the hegemony of neoliberalism only was truly possible after the collapse of the USSR.”

    And so? What on earth could anyone have done to prevent this–send more tanks into Hungary in ’56 or Czechoslovakia in ’68? Prevent Mao from breaking with the USSR? Put on a coup to keep Gorbachev in power? Kill Trotsky earlier? What is this even supposed to mean?

    There’s a maddening circularity in arguments like this. You might as well say “the hegemony of capitalism only was truly possible after the victory of capitalism.”

    Are we all supposed to fall into line and take out lifetime subscriptions to Stalin’s Moustache?

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 4, 2018 @ 9:44 pm

  11. RE: Farans Kalosar

    There’s actually a tangible argument, made by Gerald Horne (cf. Who Lost the Cold War? Africans and African Americans ), that the lot in life for POC got worse after the collapse of the USSR. Flaws and all, the USSR played a role in ending apartheid in South Africa, Rhodesia, and America. The point is that states in the postcolonial world have the capacity to serve as progressive forces. Samir Amin, Prabhat Patnaik, and Vijay Prashad have previously articulated this point in their work.

    Assange is a Libertarian (or as the parlance goes, a Classical Liberal). Blumenthal is…opaque and unreadable. But Norton is someone who knows his anti-imperialist and socialist history, case and point this hyper-partisan polemic against Jacobin .

    If you disagree with the former two, fine, they have shady enough backgrounds that I wouldn’t want to mix with them. But in Norton’s case, he actually has a class analysis and an analysis of imperialism that leads him to conclusions that you don’t agree with. That’s fine, there’s healthy debate to be had about de-linking and the nation-state to be had. What I don’t buy is this hyperbolic essentialism that disregards the totality of the Soviet experience and throws funding the ANC into the same dustbin of history labelled Stalinism as the Hungarian affairs in 1956. It turns the conversation into a tired rant while disregarding the lessons that are to be learned and sullies the positive legacies of good Communists throughout the world.

    Comment by stew312856 — December 4, 2018 @ 10:08 pm

  12. References for previous comment:
    Gerald Horne:<https(colon)//doi(dot)org/10.1111/j.1467-7709.1996.tb00289.x
    Ben Norton:

    Comment by stew312856 — December 4, 2018 @ 10:10 pm

  13. WordPress won’t let me post the links, here is Norton post title: Jacobin magazine whitewashes SPD, erasing murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
    30 November 2017

    Comment by stew312856 — December 4, 2018 @ 10:11 pm

  14. Stew–RE Norton, any reasonably bright or intellectual person can master enough dialectic and history to sound convincing on paper or over a beer. I knew a guy in graduate school who used Marxist dialectic to pick up women. The bigger question is, what are they actually doing or supporting politically??

    IMHO the “libertarian” Assange did more good with the Manning infodump than Norton will ever do as a “journalist.” But Assange has no class perspecitve and doesn’t want one–result, political error . Both can be true.

    Assange is in some ways about as backward politically as it is possible to get (no, not a “fascist” AFAIK–hold yer fuckin horses!), but I still think his six-years’ detention and likely eventual handover to the U.S. “authorities” is a big threat to the left.

    Again so what if good was done around Stalinist “Marxism-Leninism” formerly? Without the U.S. Communist party, IMHO, there would have been no civil rights movement–many good things happened around the Party in the U.S. alone. not to mention worldwide. But Stalinism was and remains in the final analysis, as Chairman Mao might put it, “a bad thing.” How hard is that, really?

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 5, 2018 @ 1:26 pm

  15. It isn’t ‘essentialist’ to say Stalinism was crap, and the Soviet take-over of the countries of eastern Europe, was tyranny. The reality of Stalinist power, the imposition of dogma , ‘slavish adherence to a party line, long established in the Soviet Union, where there was in any case a pre-Soviet heritage of repression and orthodoxy’, (Tony Judt), All this is just plain facts. The fate of Assange is a threat to the Left?? He is just a Putinist tool imo.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — December 5, 2018 @ 8:16 pm

  16. “Essentialist”? WTF? Where did THAT come from? Who brought up Plato?

    Of course Assange is NOT a “Putinite tool”–if that means anything. Mike Whitney (“Way to go Vlad”) is a Putinite tool. World of difference. But I wouldn’t render Mike Whitney to the CIA either if they were after him.

    It amazes me how people can be on the right side of important issues (e.g. Syria) and still only be able to think by putting minuses where they think their enemies are putting pluses.

    Still, where would we be without cheerleaders?

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 6, 2018 @ 12:14 am

  17. “It isn’t ‘essentialist’ to say Stalinism was crap, and the Soviet take-over of the countries of eastern Europe, was tyranny”

    Yes it is. The Soviet Union, flaws and all, did more for South Africa and Rhodesia in battling apartheid than Tony Judt’s pitiful social democrats ever did. They had an entire department of their foreign affairs funding the postcolonial governments and freedom fighters in Africa and Asia while social democrats were doing next to nothing.

    Comment by stew312856 — December 6, 2018 @ 3:01 am

  18. A tool of Russian regime, means I see Assange as latter day Burgess-McLean figure, they end up exiles in one form or another,

    ‘Flaws’ – you mean ‘flaws’ like gulags, mass murder, systematised lies etc. Flawed indeed.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — December 6, 2018 @ 10:32 am

  19. Burgess and McLean were highly placed members of the British ruling elite (elite of Brit. Empire) who committed actual espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union. Assange is an Australian social nobody and outsider who is not a spy. His defective class outlook is irrelevant to the false accusation of espionage. The attempt to destroy Assange personally as a spy is a monstrous injustice–indeed, one worthy of Stalin.

    One does not have to be a “putinite tool” to see this, only someone who has learned to think.

    Interesting footnote: it turns out–per .Newsweek to be sure–that the real tool Manafort in fact tried to broker a deal to throw Assange to the wolves as part of one of his schemes.:

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 6, 2018 @ 12:29 pm

  20. I have no idea how the irrelevant Facebook link got in there instead of the link to Newsweek. Louis–my apologies.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 6, 2018 @ 12:32 pm

  21. ‘the net result of a highly publicized legal campaign against Assange would be to anoint him a free speech martyr all over again, and just as the civilized world was beginning to see him for what he is: a reliable clearinghouse and megaphone for Vladimir Putin’s intelligence operations against the United States.’ (Michael Weiss)

    To agree with that, one doesn’t have to agree with Michael Weiss on everything, only be someone who has learned to think clearly.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — December 6, 2018 @ 6:20 pm

  22. Michael Weiss is a journalistic whore who once worked for the Henry Jackson Foundation and is currently turning tricks in Foreign Affairs. The Daily Beast–now there’s a temple of Marxist enlightenment. Talk about a tool.

    The ritualized, unsubstantiated cowardly nonsense (“megaphone” etc.) in the Weiss quote is a raw and bleeding piece of pure propaganda, nothing more. What is this old slapper talking about? Answer–he’s preaching to Hillary Clinton’s choir.

    Even so, one has to point out that Weiss as quoted is actually arguing against the extreme rendition of Assange–which is unarguably going forward–as opposed to the bloodthirsty Jackson, who seems to be all for it.

    How stupid can you get? But wait, I’m sure we’re about to find out … .

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 6, 2018 @ 9:23 pm

  23. Sorry–think it’s Foreign Policy. Big deal–one streetcorner is as good as another.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 6, 2018 @ 9:28 pm

  24. Actually it’s both. Scoop Jackson must be coming in his shroud.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 6, 2018 @ 9:30 pm

  25. ‘bloodthirsty Jackson’?? What on earth are you talking about. I agree with Weiss that Assange should not be martyred. i also agree 100% with what Louis Proyect writes ;”While it is easy to understand why the USA is regarded as the world’s most evil and most dangerous imperialist power, this is not a sufficient guide to developing a radical analysis on Syria, Ukraine or any other place that does not fit neatly into a cookie cutter version of world politics.” Assange has such a version of world politics. Assange is nothing to the Left. Nothing. I revere a figure like Anna Politkovskaya anyhow to be taken by a grotesque like Assange. (And I don’t dismiss all analysis that come from figures like Weiss who has written much sense on Syria for example imho.)

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — December 6, 2018 @ 10:11 pm

  26. “..Assange should not be martyred”–first indication you’ve given of this. But again, what does this mean, since you don’t regard Assange’s position vis a vis the U.S. state authorities as a problem for the left. Apparently you thing A. Dugin is having Assange icons made up to be mounted in Orthodox churches worldwide. How silly. If they’re coming for Assange, they’ll be coming for someone more relevant next. That’s the problem. Nobody said anything about martyrdom. Very smug and cheap use of terminology on your part.

    Weiss/Syria–so what? There are plenty of legitimate sources on Syria–the likes of Weiss are in excess of requirements. Please note: I will vigorously resist turning Weiss over to the Okhrana.

    Assange doesn’t function as a writer of opinion pieces like the despicable John Wight or the clownish Mike Whitney, although his email chains and various expressions of opinion (like the Dumbo sentiment on Clinton and war with Russia) are public. He publishes dumps of documents revealing criminal wrongdoing by people in power that are in the public interest to know. IN my opinion, this represents a crucial difference from actual publication of Kremlin propaganda. As far as his sources are concerned, if the Pentagon Papers had been turned over to the New York Times by Russian spies, once authenticated, in my opinion, they should still have been published.

    Sermon on Syria etc.–you are changing the subject. Nobody here is suggesting that Assange has a good analysis on Syria or Ukraine. Your attempt to imply that falsehood is disingenuous like your cheap and sarcastic (if predictable and hackneyed) use of the word “martyrdom.”

    Politkovskaya–irrelevant name-dropping and a clear instance of the sort of whataboutery that characterizes too many discussions on the Left. Why haven’t you dragged in the baby seals?

    OK, Louis–no more of this.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 7, 2018 @ 1:26 pm

  27. ‘He publishes dumps of documents revealing criminal wrongdoing by people in power’. Has he ever done that with regard the corrupt people in power in Russia.

    (I wasn’t changing the bleeding subject , I was directly quoting on the bleeding subject of the Proyect piece and agreeing with his point about the uselessness of Assange and his kind, how they lack a radical Left standpoint. Also for someone who characterises my points as stupid, cheap, sarcastic, bloodthirsty, you seem to have an egregious lack of scruple about writing in a cheap way back, all ad hominems and over heated. O.K. Louis Proyect- no more of this. Bloody hell, I didn’t realise Assange was so appreciated by some of yr readers who clearly see him as some kind of even headed truth revealer exposing all the corrupt in power of the world, wherever they are. I just can’t see that. Not at all. )

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — December 7, 2018 @ 1:43 pm

  28. James Ball, writing in the New Statesman, November 28, ‘That is not to say Assange has no sympathy with Russia, nor no connection to it. Assange had a show on Russia Today for one season, through which he met Ecuador’s then-president who later granted him political asylum.

    Still further, one of Assange’s close associates in 2010 was a man called Israel Shamir, a major defender of the Kremlin and Putin, who according to documents published by Associated Press attempted to obtain a Russian visa for Assange in 2010.

    None of the public evidence comes anywhere close to suggesting Assange is a deliberate agent for the Russian state, but it is evident he is at the least an asset: you don’t have to be knowingly conspiring with a state to be useful to it, and Assange has certainly proven useful to Russia.

    The same can be said for Assange and Trump: the sustained publication of the Podesta and DNC emails, and their deliberate timing, helped Trump a great deal.

    The question that remains is how much of that was convenience, and how much was deliberate conspiracy. On the latter, we are still in the dark.’

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — December 9, 2018 @ 3:09 pm

  29. Wikileaks did not make Donald Trump president. The New York Post and NBC made him a celebrity, CNN gave his campaign nearly unlimited airtime, an increasingly unhinged empire in decline gave him a receptive audience, and the Electoral College awarded him victory despite losing the popular vote. The Trotsky quote is very apt. When the Discovery Channel runs documentaries about mermaids and sea monsters and the History Channel’s most popular show is about how extraterrestrials built the pyramids, it should not come as any surprise that the supposed author of “The Art of the Deal” gets 63 million votes. Louis is right that Assange lacks class analysis, but the idea that Assange and/or Putin are responsible for the election of Trump is equally lacking in class analysis. Putin didn’t create the social basis for Trump’s rise; the past 30 years of U.S. history did that.

    Wilileaks can possibly claim credit for Tom Perez becoming the leader of the Democratic National Committee, since Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as a result of the Wikileaks revelations — but the ultimate importance of this was vanishingly close to zero, since the fundamental nature of the Democratic Party as a bourgeois party did not change by as much as one hair.

    Comment by Dave Palmer — December 10, 2018 @ 2:08 am

  30. Of course Assange and Putin didn’t create the conditions for Trumps rise but that doesn’t mean they aren’t individuals who facilitated Trump , and Arron Banks/Farage in Brexshit Britain. You know that famous poster the revolutionary artist John Heartfield created of Hitler saluting and a wad of cash being planted in his hand? That hand didn’t create the conditions for the rise of Nazism but that hand, what it represents, was part of what facilitated the Nazi Party.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — December 10, 2018 @ 7:33 pm

  31. The audience share of Russian media in the commercial broadcast markets is so insignificant I don’t even think they are even measured by the Nielsen ratings. Does anyone else have a grip on reality that allows them to realize that, in the grand media eco-sphere, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has a wider reach and impact on humanity than anything on RT or Sputnik? Or has everyone lost their minds? The major facilitators of Trump’s ascendancy, leaving aside the moral vacuum created by neoliberal Democrats, are named Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and about half a dozen other shock jocks on AM radio that speak better to workers about their misery than any Left outfit has been able to do in decades. Mike Davis predicted Trump brilliantly in a column from October 2008 called “Can Obama See The Grand Canyon?”:

    Weimar Returns in Limbaughland

    Let me confess that, as an aging socialist, I suddenly find myself like the Jehovah’s Witness who opens his window to see the stars actually falling out of the sky. Although I’ve been studying Marxist crisis theory for decades, I never believed I’d actually live to see financial capitalism commit suicide. Or hear the International Monetary Fund warn of imminent “systemic meltdown.”

    Thus, my initial reaction to Wall Street’s infamous 777.7 point plunge a few weeks ago was a very sixties retro elation. “Right on, Karl!” I shouted. “Eat your derivatives and die, Wall Street swine!” Like the Grand Canyon, the fall of the banks can be a terrifying but sublime spectacle.

    But the real culprits, of course, are not being trundled off to the guillotine; they’re gently floating to earth in golden parachutes. The rest of us may be trapped on the burning plane without a pilot, but the despicable Richard Fuld, who used Lehman Brothers to loot pension funds and retirement accounts, merely sulks on his yacht.

    Out in the stucco deserts of Limbaughland, moreover, fear is already being distilled into a good ol’ boy version of the “stab in the back” myth that rallied the ruined German petite bourgeoisie to the swastika. If you listen to the rage on commute AM, you’ll know that ‘socialism’ has already taken a lien on America, Barack Hussein Obama is terrorism’s Manchurian candidate, the collapse of Wall Street was caused by elderly black people with Fannie Mae loans, and ACORN in its voter registration drives has long been padding the voting rolls with illegal brown hordes.

    In other times, Sarah Palin’s imitation of Father Charles Coughlin — the priest who preached an American Reich in the 1930s — in drag might be hilarious camp, but with the American way of life in sudden freefall, the specter of star-spangled fascism doesn’t seem quite so far-fetched. The Right may lose the election, but it already possesses a sinister, historically-proven blueprint for rapid recovery.

    Comment by stew312856 — December 10, 2018 @ 7:52 pm


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