Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 6, 2019

Is Tucker Carlson becoming woke?

Filed under: National Bolshevism,Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 5:53 pm

On May 1, Grayzone reporter Anya Parampil appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show to denounce American intervention in Venezuela. Since Fox News is widely considered to have the same relationship to the Trump regime that RT.com has to the Kremlin, this appeared to be an astonishing anomaly.

Earlier in the same show, he sounded like he could have become an honorary member of Grayzone himself: “We’ve heard it before. But before the bombers take off, let’s just answer a few quick questions starting with the most obvious, when was the last time we successfully meddled in the political life of another country? Has it ever worked? How are the democracies we set up in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria, and Afghanistan tonight? How would Venezuela be different? Please explain and take your time.”

Another example of Carlson’s leftist tilt is this commentary on student debt:

A search for “Tucker Carlson” and “capitalism” on Nexis-Uni turns up 294 articles. On November 15, 2018, he interviewed Eric Schiffer, the CEO of the private equity Patriarch Group and a typical rightwing entrepreneur, about Amazon’s backing out of a deal to build a HQ in New York.

Carlson told Schiffer he had big problems with tax breaks for Amazon:

Why is New York, which is crumbling, I’m there a lot, you may be there now, the city’s falling apart. It smells. The subways break. It’s disgusting. Why would the city be spending $3 billion to the richest man in the world?

Why wouldn’t that money go to, I don’t know, fixing the subways, just throwing out there, cleaning up the streets or plowing the snow or helping the people who already live there? I’m just confused.

I am not the only person who has taken note of Carlson’s lurch to the left. Blogger Captain Kudzu, who describes himself as a “common-sense conservative” posted What Do Tucker Carlson, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandra Ocasio Cortez Have In Common? on January 29th:

Elizabeth Warren and Alexandra Ocasio Cortez have made the news recently with their attacks on billionaires and capitalism. As proof that politics makes strange bedfellows, however, Tucker Carlson, the conservative, Trump-supporting Fox News commentator is sounding more and more like the two Democratic congresswomen.

To make the point, look at the three quotes below and try to determine which came from Carlson and which came from Warren and Ocasio Cortez:

“I’m definitely against a system where really the only success stories are like 27 billionaires who hate America, which is where we are now.”

“Our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule.”

Uber is “not a sustainable business model. The only reason it continues is because of your generosity. Because you’re paying the welfare benefits for Uber’s impoverished drivers.”

If you suspected that this was a trick, you’re right. All three quotes are from Tucker Carlson. The first was from the 2018 Student Action Summit, the second from Carlson’s January 3, 2019 monologue in response to a Mitt Romney op-ed, and the third from an August 30, 2018 segment on his Fox News show. Without context, the lines could just as easily have come from Alexandra Ocasio Cortez or Elizabeth Warren, however.

In an attempt once again to build bridges to the left, Carlson invited Dutch economist Rutger Bregman to talk about his challenge to the billionaires gathered at the World Economic Forum. Fully expecting Bregman to allow himself to be stroked on the neck like the Grayzone guests, he was mortified to discover that his guest viewed him as a total hypocrite:

It is pretty obvious that Carlson is staking out a position close to that held by others advocating a Red-Brown alliance. One of the more striking commentaries on his left turn appeared on UNZ.com, a website that features both Patrick Cockburn articles (against the permission of the newspaper he writes for) and those of open neo-Nazis. Titled “Tucker Carlson Takes On Venezuela Intervention” and written by Brad Griffin, it has a graphic that affirms Carlson’s wokeness:

Griffin writes:

Venezuela illustrates why a 3.0 movement is necessary.

The funny thing is, the Alt-Right or the 2.0 movement is united to a man on opposing the Trump administration’s military interventions in Syria, Iran and Venezuela, but has failed at articulating its own ardent opposition to imperialism and its commitment to humanity and international peace. No one in American politics is more opposed to destructive regime change wars.

The Trump administration’s interventions in Syria and Venezuela are victimizing mainly poor brown people in Third World countries. And yet, the Alt-Right or the 2.0 movement is extremely animated and stirred up in a rage at the neocons who are currently running Blompf’s foreign policy. Similarly, it has cheered on the peace talks between North Korea and South Korea.

Isn’t it the supreme irony that the “racists” in American politics are the real humanitarians while the so-called “humanitarians” like Sen. Marco Rubio and Bill Kristol are less adverse to bloodshed and destructive wars in which hundreds of thousands of people die than the “racists”?

So, who is this Brad Griffin anyhow? He blogs at Occidental Dissent that describes itself in favor of “Peace, Populism, Progress, and Prosperity”. In addition to articles like Tulsi Gabbard Slams Regime Change in Venezuela, you’ll find Griffin commenting on another contributor’s article: “Personally, I want to create a Jew-free, White ethnostate in North America. That’s why I call myself a White Nationalist.”

Griffin offers a hat tip to Daily Stormer at the top of his article. I won’t provide a link for fear that it will get me banned from FB but can tell you that the Daily Stormer’s article is titled “Venezuela is What’s Going to Get Tucker Fired” and concludes “When the US invades, they can’t have him [Carlson] on there speaking out against it. Especially not when they’ve done such a great job since the Iraq War of cleansing any and all media of anyone who questions the foreign policy agenda from the left.” The article was written by Andrew Anglin, who is probably the best-known neo-Nazi in the USA along with Richard Spencer.

So what is going on here?

To get straight to the point, you are dealing with a revival of National Bolshevism. In Weimar Germany, there was a section of the Communist Party that sought to build ties with the nationalist right before it became clear that the Nazi Party was not interested in such an alliance.

The German party was then thrown into a new crisis over the Treaty of Rapallo, a peace agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union concluded at the end of April in 1922. This treaty raised the same sort of contradictions as the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of 1939. How could Communists call for the overthrow of a regime that the Russian party had just pledged to maintain peaceful relations with? Stalin resolved this contradiction in a straightforward manner. He declared that anti-fascist agitation should immediate stop. The Communist Parties of 1922 had not become degenerated and still tried to maintain a revolutionary outlook, no matter the difficulties.

Karl Radek interpreted the Treaty of Rapallo as a go-ahead to support the German bourgeoisie against the dominant European capitalisms, especially France. Germany was forced to sign a punitive reparations agreement after WWI and was not able to satisfy the Entente powers. France then marched into the Ruhr in order to seize control of the mines and steel mills. The German capitalist class screamed bloody murder and proto-fascist armed detachments marched into the Ruhr to confront the French troops.

Radek interpreted these German right-wing counter-measures as a sign of progressive nationalism and argued that a bloc of all classes was necessary to confront Anglo-French imperialism. At the height of the anti-French armed struggle in the Ruhr, the German Communist Party took Radek’s cue and began to issue feelers to the right-wing nationalists.

On June 20, 1922 Radek went completely overboard and made a speech proposing a de facto alliance between the Communists and the Fascists. This, needless to say, was in his capacity as official Comintern representative to the German party. It was at a time when Trotsky was still in good graces in the Soviet Union. Nobody seemed to raise an eyebrow when Radek urged that the Communists commemorate the death of Albert Schlageter, a freecorps figher who died in the Ruhr and was regarded as a martyr of the right-wing, a German Timothy McVeigh so to speak. Radek’s stated that “…we believe that the great majority of nationalist minded masses belong not to the camp of the capitalists but to the camp of the Workers.”

Radek’s lunacy struck a chord with the German Communist ultraleftists who went even further in their enthusiasm for the right-wing fighters. Ruth Fischer gave a speech at a gathering of right-wing students where she echoed fascist themes:

Whoever cries out against Jewish capital…is already a fighter for his class, even though he may not know it. You are against the stock market jobbers. Fine. Trample the Jewish capitalists down, hang them from the lampposts…But…how do you feel about the big capitalists, the Stinnes, Klockner?…Only in alliance with Russia, Gentlemen of the “folkish” side, can the German people expel French capitalism from the Ruhr region.

I don’t think that there is any imminent danger of a fascist takeover in the USA but in the event of a stock market crash like 2007, a major terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11, and finally a rapid growth and radicalization of the DSA that leads to it reaching 200,000 members or so and breaking from the Democratic Party (the most unlikely event of all three), all bets are off.

 

12 Comments »

  1. Louis, I think trying to read this through the prism of European events during the interwar period is mistaken.

    Instead, one needs to look back to the America First Committee movement of the American isolationist period. While Europe was falling apart, there was a bipartisan movement that attracted celebrities of every political stripe. Gore Vidal, John Kennedy, Charles Lindbergh, HL Mencken, William H. Regnery, Robert E. Wood, Lillian Gish Robert R. McCormick, Sargent Shriver, Potter Stewart, Ruth Sarles Benedict, Gerald Ford, Democratic Senators Burton K. Wheeler of Montana and David I. Walsh of Massachusetts, Republican Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota, H. Smith Richardson of the Vick Chemical Company, General Robert E. Wood of Sears-Roebuck, publisher Joseph M. Patterson (New York Daily News) and his cousin, publisher Robert R. McCormick (Chicago Tribune), and Frank Lloyd Wright were members. Contra Lenin’s notion that there is a definite and constant link between capital and war, this was a serious bloc of the capitalist class that was pushing for neutrality. Some of the members were doing so out of pro-German sympathies, some were doing so for genuinely pacifist motivations. Hell, Robert M. La Follette Jr. was a cofounder of America First as well as the Progressive Party that ran the 1948 Wallace campaign! FDR is documented to have told confidantes that he was forced to run as an isolationist prior to 1941 because of the sway the isolationists had in Congress and the voting public. Even the CPUSA ham-handedly jumped onto late in the game following the German-Soviet Non-Aggression pact.

    White nationalism and isolationist ideology have never been mutually exclusive in America because of our settler-colonial ideology and how it functions to privilege white lives. The America Firsters were not putting forward an anti-imperial program because they were not uniform on the issue of European colonial subjects. The Left wing of the America First movement had a bit of a liberal anti-colonial leaning while the right was made up of outright racists. There’s a huge difference between “I don’t want lily-white Johnny to die in battle” and “I don’t want the people living under colonialism to die in a war either.”

    Comment by stew312856 — May 6, 2019 @ 6:23 pm

  2. Carlson is staking out a position close to that held by others advocating a Red-Brown alliance

    Bingo, Louis. I think Fucker Snarlson is a potential candidate to replace Ronald Rump as a demagogue if that asshole ever falls off his perch. Maybe more dangerous.

    I don’t know what keeps the likes of Blumenthal and Norton falling for this crap–they may be assholes but they are supposed to be intelligent. Russian money and (in Blumenthal’s case) book sales I suppose.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — May 6, 2019 @ 6:32 pm

  3. “So what is going on here?

    To get straight to the point, you are dealing with a revival of National Bolshevism.”

    Yes, and the liberals and leftists that I encounter praising Carlson whenever he goes left like this from time to time are almost uniformly white males. Black people and POC remain his targets, and they are well aware of it.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 6, 2019 @ 8:12 pm

  4. Louis, I think your greatest asset for your writing is your historical consciousness. This is otherwise largely absent in American commentary.

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — May 6, 2019 @ 11:42 pm

  5. Trump may not have tucker carlson’ s support when it comes to Venezuela but he’s can count on AOC’s.

    As a good democrat, she defers to Nancy Pelosi on this. And Nancy of course defers to Bolton, Pompey, abrams and guano.

    Of course, AOC is behaving like DSA’s other hero Karl kautsky when he deferred to Ebert and schiedemann on supporting WWI.

    Comment by Roy rollin — May 7, 2019 @ 1:05 pm

  6. Don’t know what Carlson’s motives are (more viewers? more salary? a defined audience toward which to target advertising?), but it’s good that he’s providing a public platform audience for such anti-war voices at these. His was a friendly interview, not a hostile one. Imagine what a nasty interview hatched-job interview would have been on NPR?

    Most peoples’ memories are short. And the time to try block a US invasion of Venezuela at a time like this is urgent. For now, at THIS moment, good for Carlson.

    Fox knows there’s a clearly defined audience thy want to reach, and they’re catering to it. This includes using modern technology to learn about US, “us”, people in the demographic which posts in such forum and gets some of its news from TeleUR.

    Thanks.

    Comment by walterlx — May 7, 2019 @ 3:46 pm

  7. It is hard to say what Carlson’s motives are but he has been friendly for the longest time to people on the left who have crypto-Stalinist politics like your own, Walter. The world is seen as divided between a warmongering America and the good guys who line up with Russian and Chinese foreign policy. In addition to Max Blumenthal, Stephen F. Cohen has also been a frequent guest. In my view, people on the left should not go on the Tucker Carlson show because they turn into an idiotic food-fight. This is the norm when he has on someone from Black Lives Matter or an environmentalist. People who are for Assad and for the Donetsk militias, on the other hand, get the red carpet treatment.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 7, 2019 @ 6:20 pm

  8. Besides spreading ideological confusion by speaking some left wing talking points as pertains to Venezuela, Carlson also helps to make it appear that not everybody on Fox News is goose-stepping to the marching orders of Trump, his admin officials, or other Republican political leaders. This buys him credibility.

    Fox News has others who also take the same ‘out of synch’ steps: Judge Andrew Napolitano, e.g., has said that, based on Mueller report, Trump did obstruct justice. Chris Wallace also frequently speaks up against Trump admin on some issues.

    The media outlets that are pro-Dems also do the same and criticize some Dems on particular issues. They all have to do so in order to look ‘independent’ and ‘objective’ in the eyes of their audience.

    The people who run Fox News and similar outlets know what they’re doing. The clueless and complicit ‘leftist’ assholes who show up on their programs are the shameful ones: they’re either enjoying the money they get to appear (most likely reason), or they have illusions that by appearing on Fox News they’ll persuade their viewers to join socialists or something (very unlikely that they believe this).

    Comment by Reza — May 7, 2019 @ 9:01 pm

  9. Listen to the first 20 minutes or so of Steve Bannon’s Oxford Union speech. He sounds almost like a leftist of yore and talks about the plight of the working class at the hand of their exploiters in the City, on Wall Street and in capital cities across the west who sold them out by financializing the economy and outsourcing the manufacturing sector. It sounds ludicrous coming from billionaire Goldman Sachs alumni Bannon until you remember that he is a propagandist and, as he openly admits, a bullshitter who tells stories in the name of advancing his cause. While what’s left of the left tears itself apart in sectarian squabbles, engages in endless academic analysis that has barely any relevance to the lives of the actual present-day working class/precariat and convinces itself that Bernie, Corbyn or some other “socialist” milquetoast will usher in a progressive post-neoliberal era, the right is busy fine tuning it’s propaganda messages and targetting the disenfranchised working class with it, hoping to recruit new converts to their cause. Bannon, Carlson, Ron Unz and others are quite blatantly working to undermine and subvert the left. You can see regular commentators from Unz’s site posting on left-leaning forums on Medium, and here on WordPress, slowly introducing far-right talking points into the mix.

    It’s rather depressing. The left really own-goaled itself by dropping that passé class politics stuff and letting “third way” liberals like Clinton, Blair and Schroeder, who enthusiastically supported the new and improved capitalism we have today, take over and remake the old left in their image. This abandonment of the left’s bread and butter issues, of course, paved the way for the re-emergence of the near-fascist right in Europe and the rise of the demagogue Trump in America. I know it is not fashionable to say so, but identity politics, the “liberal/left’s” replacement for class analysis, has proved to an utter disaster. It does not all reduce incidents of racist or misogynistic abuse, berating and scolding racists, bigots and assholes for being mean, inconsiderate people and expecting them to change is beyond idiotic. Worst of all, it takes identity politics, which is a right-wing ideology that essentializes race and gender differences, and flips it 180 thereby validating the right’s twisted methodology. White supremacists say the white “race” is inherently genetically superior to all other “races” and white men are the natural rulers of all humanity. Well, the “liberal/left” version of identity politics effectively inverts this…so the right can now say “cool, we both agree that some races and genders are superior to others…we just disagree on the specifics.”

    But, wait, there’s more! Have you talked to people who have “converted” from holding alt.right and neo-fascist sympathies to a liberal or leftist stance? Well I have and one thing they _all_ say is that the “liberal/left’s” constantly shouting people down as racist and misogynist entrenches whatever animosity they already have and often makes them even more extreme. Kind of like mocking a religious person’s faith and telling them they shouldn’t believe in fairy stories generally does not swell the ranks of atheists.I can already hear the earnest, outraged leftist retorting with “but, but these people ARE racists and misogynists and you’re saying we can’t call them out on it? Fuck you buddy!” I would say to that what is more important to you, ritual condemnation of bigotry for its own sake, or actually having an impact and planting the seeds of doubt in the minds of those on the racist right who are still reachable and offering a comeback that is more nuanced, subtle and effective than emotional bellowing. Pick your battles and learn some basic social psychology and propaganda techniques. Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson are doing just that…and half the left plays their useful idiots, the other half condemns them for being fools, but almost nobody on the left pushes back or tries to undermine the right at its own game.

    If the left is to have any chance at regaining influence it needs to advance a program that has mass working class appeal. Everybody knows by now that the industrial “white” working class was thrown under the bus by Democrats, and a sizeable portion voted for Trump as a way to protest their predicament. Not a controversial point. The liberals aren’t going to win them back by telling them they are deplorable bigots who deserve all the foul luck that comes their way…and the left can differentiate itself from the libs by appealing to their economic interests and tying these together with the economic interests of non-white working people who are also struggling. You know, what the left used to do. Obsessing over bigotry and letting liberals use identity politics to trip up and divide the left isn’t making America less racist. Sending subtle, or not so subtle, signals to white people that they are guilty of an original sin is beyond idiotic and makes me question the collective sanity of the comfortable upper-middle class, *cough, mainly white, *cough, liberal media types and academics who champion this nonsense (and the leftists who fall for it). Remember, Bannon and Carlson – and the right – generally are running circles around the left on the mass appeal/propaganda front and smug moralizing ain’t gonna cut it against these guys. (It also occurred to me that maybe the headlong flight from reason and rational thinking into a fantasy world, where magical thinking and nonsense reign supreme, that has take hold of people who really ought to know better is the first stage of our society’s coming decline (collapse?) as global warming and the absence of cheap fossil fuels begins to have a more tangible impact. Kind of strange how scientists are warning of imminent apocalyptic scenarios yet as a society we just don’t talk about it and hope it eventually goes away like a bad dream or Donald Trump.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me rant on your blog!

    Comment by Eric Blair — May 8, 2019 @ 3:40 am

  10. Thanks to Eric Blair I came across the following link which I think deseves a closer look.
    https://lorenzoae.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/chomsky-vs-parenti/

    Comment by the spirit of Curt's dead dog channeling through the spirit of Curt Kastens computer. — May 8, 2019 @ 1:07 pm

  11. “I know it is not fashionable to say so, but identity politics, the “liberal/left’s” replacement for class analysis, has proved to an utter disaster. It does not all reduce incidents of racist or misogynistic abuse, berating and scolding racists, bigots and assholes for being mean, inconsiderate people and expecting them to change is beyond idiotic. Worst of all, it takes identity politics, which is a right-wing ideology that essentializes race and gender differences, and flips it 180 thereby validating the right’s twisted methodology. White supremacists say the white “race” is inherently genetically superior to all other “races” and white men are the natural rulers of all humanity. Well, the “liberal/left” version of identity politics effectively inverts this…so the right can now say “cool, we both agree that some races and genders are superior to others…we just disagree on the specifics.””

    It’s not fashionable to say, because it is nonsense.

    “But, wait, there’s more! Have you talked to people who have “converted” from holding alt.right and neo-fascist sympathies to a liberal or leftist stance? Well I have and one thing they _all_ say is that the “liberal/left’s” constantly shouting people down as racist and misogynist entrenches whatever animosity they already have and often makes them even more extreme. Kind of like mocking a religious person’s faith and telling them they shouldn’t believe in fairy stories generally does not swell the ranks of atheists.I can already hear the earnest, outraged leftist retorting with “but, but these people ARE racists and misogynists and you’re saying we can’t call them out on it? Fuck you buddy!” I would say to that what is more important to you, ritual condemnation of bigotry for its own sake, or actually having an impact and planting the seeds of doubt in the minds of those on the racist right who are still reachable and offering a comeback that is more nuanced, subtle and effective than emotional bellowing.”

    Yes, this is nonsense, too, the notion that liberals and the left are responsible for white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and there are people among them that we should try to reach by refusing to call out their racism, misogyny and Islamophobia.

    You can do that. I’m going to spend my time in support of the people they are targeting and brutalizing.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 9, 2019 @ 11:38 pm

  12. At least the original George Orwell was concise..

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — May 10, 2019 @ 4:27 pm


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