Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 25, 2019

Russiagate and the left

Filed under: Russiagate,Trump — louisproyect @ 6:56 pm

Dialectically related

Those hoping to see Russiagate finally disappearing from MSNBC and CNN will be disappointed. The talking heads (David Corn, Jeffrey Toobin, et al) will pivot now to discussing obstruction of justice. If the real purpose of these nominally liberal cable channels was to torpedo the Trump administration, they’d begin to cover the Midwestern floods that have devastated the farm belt. Most of the farmers are Republicans who voted for Trump but need to be educated about the relationship between the flooding and climate change. Although Trump has approved flood relief for Iowa and Nebraska, it will certainly not prove adequate for the farmers’ needs. They should also be reminded that in January, Trump was considering the possibility of robbing the disaster relief piggy-bank to pay for his filthy wall.

But why would these networks want to lose money by becoming a real news outlet when there’s money to be made focusing on Donald Trump? Only three months ago, the head of CNN said that the station would lose money if it didn’t revolve around Trump. In a Vanity Fair article, Jeff Zucker admitted as much:

“People say all the time, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about Trump. I’ve had too much Trump,’ ” he told me. “And yet at the end of the day, all they want to do is talk about Trump. We’ve seen that, anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away. So we know that, right now, Donald Trump dominates.”

According to a 2017 Forbes article, “total primetime viewership was up 50% from last year across CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, and viewership in the lucrative 25-54 demographic was up 55%.”)

Politics probably doesn’t matter very much to the liberal networks when it comes to ratings. A little over a month ago, CNN hired Sarah Isgur Flores, who was Jeff Sessions spokeswoman, as a “political editor.” Before taking CNN’s offer, she interviewed at MSNBC for the same kind of gig. Like the networks, Flores is a mercenary. When she made an appearance on Chris Hayes MSNBC show on May 16, 2016, she told him: “Donald Trump has again and again shown himself to be an authoritarian, a tyrant and a bully who’s corrupt and doesn’t deserve to be in the White House.” Seven months later she took a job with the tyrant.

You get the same thing at Fox News. They just hired Donna Brazile, the erstwhile interim chairwoman of the Democratic Party, as an on-air commentator. She’ll obviously play the same kind of role that Alan Colmes played on Sean Hannity.

Why would any leftist want to make an appearance on Fox News? Brazile and Colmes were obviously in it for the money but there are people like Stephen F. Cohen and Max Blumenthal who go on the Tucker Carlson show out of an ideological calling (like Mueller’s refusal to charge Trump with conspiracy, I cannot say for sure that Blumenthal is actually on the take from Putin.) Like Jimmy Dore, Glenn Greenwald, and Aaron Maté, they make useful points about the bankruptcy of the Clinton campaign being responsible for her loss but the overarching interest is in siding with Russian foreign policy goals. Every one of these jerks have spent the last 8 years pimping for Assad and Putin on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

I do believe that the Kremlin is messing around in American politics but the impact on elections is probably negligible. If Hillary Clinton had not been acting so underhandedly against Bernie Sanders and had taken even a few baby steps further to the left, she probably would have won the electoral college votes as well as the popular vote. The real damage, as far as I am concerned, is the ability of a foreign power to drive a wedge between its own interests and that of the American people as a whole. The best example of how it is done is obvious. The Israel lobby spends millions buying votes for its ongoing apartheid policies.

The Putin lobby has a different dynamic. It exploits the understandably progressive attitudes of the American people against war in order to make sure that opposition to its war crimes in Syria and its Great Russian domination of Ukraine is drowned out by louder voices. I am sure that Tulsi Gabbard never got a penny from Russia but she is as devoted to its cause as someone would be if on its payroll. As it happens, she is just as devoted to the Israeli state. In 2015, she was a keynote speaker at Christians United for Israel conference. This is an organization led by John Hagee, who is on record as believing that Adolf Hitler hastened God’s plan by forcing Jews back to Israel.

You might say that Stephen F. Cohen, Max Blumenthal, Jimmy Dore, Glenn Greenwald, and Aaron Maté are dialectically related to Rachel Maddow, David Corn, and Debby Wasserman-Schultz. Once the latter group pivots to blathering on about obstruction of justice rather than collusion with Russia, the first group will make money writing articles or appearing on RT.com and Tucker Carlson debunking their claims. It’s a business, when you get right down to it.

What should the left be doing about this con game? If the networks don’t pay attention to the plight of farmers or the continuing assault on working people epitomized by the shutdown of the Lordstown GM plant, then it should be the job of the left to take these issues to the people. If the DSA was truly committed to winning Red State voters to its “democratic socialist” cause, it would send brigades out to Nebraska and Iowa with literature on climate change and the flooding.

The Lordstown plant is in the Mahoning Valley region of Ohio that traditionally votes Democratic but decided to back Trump after he made his demagogic appeal about making sure such plants stay open. John Russo, the former co-director of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University, was told by union officials that about 40 percent of UAW members at Lordstown voted for Trump.

These are the kinds of people who will become our Yellow Vests once they learn they have been sold out by both capitalist parties. The left has to find a way to reach them and get out of its Brooklyn hipster cocoon once and for all.


  1. I agree. Let’s at least unite to hold the neoliberal Establishment’s feet to the fire around issues that really matter to the American people, like flood relief, national health, student debt relief, etc. Russiagate was always a distraction from the real issues…

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

    Comment by Kurt Hill — March 25, 2019 @ 7:11 pm

  2. The hot mess that is current U.S. politics terrifies me. Absent a big recession–possible, but I’ll be goddamned if I’ll wish for it–Trump’s re-election is a certain as anything can be this far out–and even with the big R it’s likely.

    I just can’t believe it’s not fascism!!

    What the Democrats will do to screw things up even more defies belief–only just be sure they will; they always do–even if they win, and the likelihood is that they will lose bigger than ever.

    All the limousine liberals have yearned for over the past couple of years is to fuck handsome FBI Bob Mueller (OHH!! the Intelligent Conservative!!! let’s have UHHH!! a conversation!!!!), and now look–he’s spurned them!! Spurned them!! Oh boo hoo! But who cares–they have friends at the Chase Manhattan … .

    I have relatives who are right on the edge of homelessness. I’m 71; I cant keep working forever. If they lose their Disability and Medicaid, they’re dead.

    This is no joke. Where can the 99% turn for protection? By the time the election rolls around, the DSA will be deader than the Hula Hoop … .

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — March 25, 2019 @ 7:23 pm

  3. You accuse Russia of “war crimes in Syria and its Great Russian domination of Ukraine”. With this sleight of hand, you ignore the fact that without legal Russian support for Syrian sovereignty, the illegal U.S.-backed intervention would have prevailed and war crimes would have defined the entire operation. You thus reverse historical reality.by accusing the known perpetrators of war crimes with the Russian liberators who helped oppose them. Moreover, the fact that the Russians are combatting the U.S. sponsored Ukrainian coup that led to a Ukrainian fascist state is something to be grateful for rather than implying it’s a form of mini-imperialism. When writing in this manner about Russia, you write as if you were exposing the crimes of the Stalinist Soviet Union by projecting the most sordid motives onto Russia without in this case providing any evidence whatsoever.

    Comment by Harold Jacobs — March 25, 2019 @ 7:33 pm

  4. Reblogged this on James' Ramblings.

    Comment by jamesbradfordpate — March 25, 2019 @ 7:49 pm

  5. With this sleight of hand, you ignore the fact that without legal Russian support for Syrian sovereignty, the illegal U.S.-backed intervention would have prevailed and war crimes would have defined the entire operation.

    Does the word “sovereignty” apply to any nation, no matter how the state came into being? Was Nazi Germany a sovereign state? Or Pinochet’s Chile? Or do you use this word in the same way that Humpty-Dumpty defined it in “Alice in Wonderland”?

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

    Comment by louisproyect — March 25, 2019 @ 8:14 pm

  6. Good points overall. You say, though: “If the DSA was truly committed to winning Red State voters to its “democratic socialist” cause, it would send brigades out to Nebraska and Iowa with literature on climate change and the flooding.” I am skeptical of that. I live near the Red River of the North, and every spring for decades we get daily TV updates of how high the flooding will go in the flood plain where people never should have moved in in the first place without a plan to prevent flooding after they drove the Natives out. We’re talking of mostly supporters of Humpty Trumpty here, in North Dakota but also in northwestern Minnesota (a “blue” state that went for Trump in the last presidential election except for two or three urban areas). This used to be Farmer-Labor territory, and right-wing Republican North Dakota is the only state with a state bank, part of the legacy of that prairie radicalism, which has completely vanished except for energy cooperatives that nobody identifies with socialism. The DSA would be laughed out of town, I am sure, if it followed your suggestion. Flooding of the Missouri and Red Rivers is a natural part of the ecosystem, not a result of “climate change.” And flooding is not going to make the inhabitants more open to socialist ideas, or preaching about “climate change,” seen as a Big City and East and West Coast preoccupation. Sad to say, perhaps, but reality on the ground. And don’t hold your breath for anything like a Yellow Vest movement among farmers (most of whom are no longer the old “family farmer” but rather, part of agribusiness, itself part of the bigger problem) as a result of flooding, climate change, or even Trump’s awful policies. Just a reality check from flyover country.

    Comment by David Thorstad — March 25, 2019 @ 8:15 pm

  7. The salient word, David, may be “brigades.” We need “brigades” (IMO) at least as much as political candidates, if not more–and currently there aren’t any. Someone needs to be organizing them.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — March 25, 2019 @ 8:58 pm

  8. Good essay.

    Comment by Wayne Collins — March 25, 2019 @ 10:31 pm

  9. Well said Louis! I wrote this one for you all:


    Comment by O Society — March 26, 2019 @ 11:19 am

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