Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 13, 2021

Matt Taibbi descends deeper into the abyss: the CJ Hopkins interview

Filed under: Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 11:15 pm
Matt Taibbi

Recently I discovered that Matt Taibbi had interviewed CJ Hopkins on May 13, 2021. My own encounter with CJ Hopkins should prepare you for how questionable it was for Taibbi to give Hopkins a platform. The interview was a schmooze-fest like the ones that Charlie Rose used to conduct with figures like Bill Gates or Henry Kissinger and make you wonder how far Taibbi can go until he hits rock-bottom.

Back in 2017, I discovered that a number of well-known leftists had their articles cross-posted on Ron Unz’s website called the Unz Review. I can’t use the URL since that would prevent my article from appearing on FB where Unz is banned. Unz’s website is openly neo-Nazi with Unz, a Jew by birth, writing long holocaust revisionist essays. Among the more frequent contributors to the Unz Review are Andrew Anglin, the editor of neo-Nazi message board Daily Stormer, and Jared Taylor, founder of the New Century Foundation that promotes pseudo-scientific research that tries to prove the inferiority of blacks to whites.

I made an effort to contact the leftists who Unz was using as window-dressing to ask them to demand their articles not being reproduced on his website.. Ultimately, they were not successful but at least they made an effort, such as Patrick Cockburn’s editor at The Independent making a futile demand.

Among those who insisted that he had no problem with Unz Review was CJ Hopkins who went so far as to submit them voluntarily. I found this troublesome since Hopkins submitted the same “satirical” articles to CounterPunch and Unz Review simultaneously. Hopkins’s ties with CounterPunch ended rather abruptly after he got on Jeffrey St. Clair’s wrong side. On September 11, 2018 Anthony Dimaggio wrote an article that warned about the emergence of a red-brown tendency. He linked to an article I had written calling attention to Unz’s use of left authors as a left cover, which did not even mention Hopkins. He assumed that when one of his “satires” did not show up later on at CounterPunch, it was because he had been dropped. He went public with his complaint without even consulting Jeffrey St. Clair, who cleared the air: “We didn’t publish a single piece, out of the dozens we’ve published, because it slipped past me while I was trying to take a little time off to enjoy the arrival of our first grandkid. It’s a simple as that.”

Now, I am allowing the possibility that Taibbi knew nothing about the Unz Review connection but even if he didn’t, he failed miserably by endorsing Hopkins in his Substack piece. After Hopkins’s ties to CounterPunch were severed, he took a sharp turn to the right that can only be characterized as a mixture of COVID-19 denialism, racism and a growing identification with the Trumpist right—one that makes Taibbi and Greenwald look like MSNBC hosts by comparison.

Let’s look at the introduction to the Q&A first, which deals mostly with the pandemic. Taibbi hailed him as  “taking aim at overwrought official rhetoric, interpreting a lot of the coronavirus response as an opportunistic, authoritarian power grab by the global neoliberal project.” This hardly conveys what Hopkins has been writing. Instead, his articles have been an unending stream of articles claiming that the pandemic was a “false flag” like the chlorine attack in Douma. Instead of being used to justify “regime change” in Syria, the manufactured pandemic would now be used to create a world-wide dictatorship fomented by Bill Gates and the Democratic Party. The madman writes:

You could experimentally “vaccinate” millions of people whose risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from your apocalyptic virus was minuscule or non-existent, and kill tens or hundreds of thousands in the process, and the people whose brains you had methodically broken would thank you for murdering their friends and neighbors, and then rush out to their local discount drugstore to experimentally “vaccinate” their own kids and post pictures of it on the Internet.

For Hopkins, the coronavirus is a “common-flu-like” illness that is hardly worth caring about since most of the deaths occur among old folks, anyway. You get the picture. It is the same talking points you’ll hear on Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham nearly every night.

Turning now to the Q&A, you get Hopkins making his talking points about the pandemic but with a careful attempt to sound less insane. Whether Taibbi made an attempt to go through some of Hopkins’s more hysterical articles is open to question.

It is toward the end of the interview that the two mavericks begin to discuss broader political questions. Taibbi asks, “You were one of the first people to express skepticism about Russiagate. Do you see a connection between that story and this one?”

His reply is most revealing:

So, there global capitalism was, happily destabilizing, restructuring, privatizing, and debt-enslaving the entire planet, and cleaning up little pockets of resistance to global capitalist ideology, as it had been doing since the fall of the USSR, which is when global capitalism became the first unopposed globally-hegemonic ideological system in history. The War on Terror was still the primary official narrative. Then Brexit, Trump, and the whole populist backlash against globalization and wokeness that erupted in 2016. So global capitalism (or “GloboCap,” as I’ve taken to calling it) needed to adjust the official narrative to delegitimize Trump, who was (a) an unauthorized president and (b) a symbol of that populist backlash, basically, a big “fuck you” to the global capitalist establishment from the American people.

Instead of throwing soft balls, Taibbi could have honed in on the question of Trump’s “populism”. What was “populistic” about the Trump administration? His tax cuts for the rich? His putting lobbyists for the energy corporations in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency who pushed for drilling in public lands? Making sure that the FDA kowtowed to big pharma? You’d think that Hopkins, who makes big pharma a key part of his conspiracy theories about the pandemic, would have noticed Trump and the drug industry working closely together to make oversight a thing of the past. Science Magazine reports

FDA inspection reports labeled “official action indicated”—typically a trigger for warning letters or similar actions—have fallen by about half under Trump and are continuing to trend downward. Even FDA’s rare injunctions, a more forceful step than warnings to prevent sales or distribution of unsafe or otherwise illegal products, fell from 35 in the last part of the Obama administration to 26 under Trump. (During a comparable period at the start of the Obama years, FDA issued 51 injunctions.) The agency’s “untitled letters”—for concerns that fall short of thresholds for formal warnings—also have dropped sharply under Trump.

It is impossible to figure out what Hopkins means by populism since his “satires” are devoid of economic analysis. Let’s leave it at this. When Trump claimed that “inequality is down,” the next day the U.S. Census Bureau data confirmed that income inequality had hit its highest level since the federal government started tracking it five decades ago. The richest one percent of Americans now take in one-third of the country’s net worth, while the bottom half of the population scrapes by with only 1.2 percent. If that’s “populism”, then I oppose it.

Perhaps the only thing that does tie Hopkins’s to earlier populist movements is racism. Keep in mind that despite a class-struggle orientation, the original Populist movement was weakened by its racism. Tom Watson, the best known Populist, succumbed to it later in his career. After 1900 he no longer viewed the populist movement as being racially inclusive. By 1904, he was engaged in attacks on Blacks, believing them to be little more than pawns of the Democratic Party. By 1908, Watson identified as a white supremacist and ran as such during his presidential bid. He used his highly influential magazine and newspaper to launch vehement diatribes against blacks.

Get that? He saw the Democratic Party as using Blacks as pawns for their nefarious ends. Maybe Hopkins studied Watson’s career to figure out how to make white supremacy palatable. Just as the pandemic was a “false flag” to create a dictatorship controlled by MSNBC, Chase Bank, Bill Gates, and Nancy Pelosi (ie., what he calls the Resistance below), the riots that ensued after George Floyd’s murders were a plot to strengthen the Deep State:

So I have no illusions about racism in America. But I’m not really talking about racism in America. I’m talking about how racism in America has been cynically instrumentalized, not by the Russians, but by the so-called Resistance, in order to delegitimize Trump and, more importantly, everyone who voted for him, as a bunch of white supremacists and racists.

Fomenting racial division has been the Resistance’s strategy from the beginning. A quote attributed to Joseph Goebbels, “accuse the other side of that which you are guilty,” is particularly apropos in this case. From the moment Trump won the Republican nomination, the corporate media and the rest of the Resistance have been telling us the man is literally Hitler, and that his plan is to foment racial hatred among his “white supremacist base,” and eventually stage some “Reichstag” event, declare martial law and pronounce himself dictator.

In fact, this is pure hyperbole. Nobody opposed to Trump believes that he is “literally” Hitler. Instead they tend to warn about the possibility of fascism arising during his administration but this is a “neo-fascism” that looks hardly different from McCarthyism, the Nixon years, etc. Like clockwork, liberals call Republican Party presidents a fascist threat ever since Eisenhower.

By defending Trump against a non-existent “Resistance”, Hopkins moves the conversation away from new Jim Crow-type laws, attacks on the academy’s right to teach about white supremacy and generally the Republican Party’s deeply reactionary attempts on working people as indicated by its attempts to torpedo Biden’s palliative government spending legislation. How Taibbi didn’t figure this out speaks volumes about his sad decline.

9 Comments »

  1. Louis, I’d love for you to be this rude in person. We all know you got an attitude problem and often make a fool of yourself in public. I’d love to knock some teeth out of you. Fuck you old man

    Comment by Jason — July 14, 2021 @ 4:34 pm

  2. Well, knocking out my teeth would be easy. What’s not easy is understanding class relations in Syria. This might help: https://louisproyect.org/2016/12/14/the-economic-roots-of-the-syrian-revolution/. You might also try reading Karl Marx rather than Max Blumenthal.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 14, 2021 @ 4:45 pm

  3. “From the moment Trump won the Republican nomination, the corporate media and the rest of the Resistance have been telling us the man is literally Hitler, and that his plan is to foment racial hatred among his “white supremacist base,” and eventually stage some “Reichstag” event …”

    One would be excused to think these right wing people all got their PhD in Applied Gaslighting from Trump University, or something.

    First of all, it was not just the corporate media and the so-called “Resistance”; it was also all leftists, socialists, women’s rights activists, minority communities, Black leaders and community organizers, environmentalists, etc.

    Now … Foment racial hatred among his “white supremacist base”? Unless you were sleeping under a rock the entire Trump presidency, you know that he damned well did. He absolutely did. In fact, we can say that his topmost priority for four years was exactly this.

    And the “Reichstag” event? Well … we all saw the storming of the U.S. Capitol, live on TV.

    Aside from that, following the 2020 elections, top military leaders were coming up with contingency plans for such a move by Trump himself:

    “The top US military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, was so shaken that then-President Donald Trump and his allies might attempt a coup or take other dangerous or illegal measures after the November election that Milley and other top officials informally planned for different ways to stop Trump, according to excerpts of an upcoming book obtained by CNN.”
    […]
    ““This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley told aides, according to the book. “The gospel of the Führer.””

    Full article: Top generals reportedly feared Trump coup attempt
    https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/07/14/top-generals-reportedly-feared-trump-coup-attempt/

    Comment by Reza — July 15, 2021 @ 1:14 am

  4. Taibbi and Greenwald both, it’s too bad their egos and lack of class analysis made them vulnerable towards the comforts of punching downward for a living. And Trump as any kind of anticapitalist populist is ridiculous.

    Comment by MB — July 16, 2021 @ 2:49 pm

  5. @Reza:

    And the “Reichstag” event? Well … we all saw the storming of the U.S. Capitol, live on TV.

    Yup. Another false flag, just like the Reichstag fire.

    Aside from that, following the 2020 elections, top military leaders were coming up with contingency plans for such a move by Trump himself.

    That’s probably who was in charge of staging the ‘insurrection’ to begin with.

    Comment by Seamus Padraig — July 16, 2021 @ 5:24 pm

  6. Are you some kind of clown? The top military leaders staged the incursion? What evidence do you have? Mike Lindell’s website?

    Comment by louisproyect — July 16, 2021 @ 5:54 pm

  7. #6 / Seamus Padraig is just trolling here. For others, a simple reminder:

    “Go home in peace. We love you! You’re very special people” Trump to insurrectionists. Is anything about this ambiguous?

    Comment by Reza — July 16, 2021 @ 6:44 pm

  8. Trump does represent a particularly avant-garde “entrepreneurial” section of the capitalist class. Like the far more successful Koch brothers, he expresses the opium dream of privately held wealth as the ultimate expression of so-called “liberty.”

    These vicious, worthless, lying, thieving egoists–antisocial, nonhuman criminals that they all are–oppose the most fundamental principles of governance as an outrageous intrusion on the rights of powerful men. The prospect Trump & Co. offer politically owes far less to Adam Smith than to Tony Soprano “busting out” a sporting goods store owned by some idiot who couldn’t pay his gambling debts to the Mob. Their absolute degeneracy betokens the inner breakdown of capitalism as it tries to divorce itself from human need and leave the planet it has destroyed behind.

    When I saw that shitass Bezos wearing a Stetson as he blithered moronically about his “vision” for Space the Final, I couldn’t help thinking of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.

    But who needs the nuclear apocalypse when you can burn the human race alive without it while spewing platitudes about the beauty of space and those great workers who are paying for the whole godawful show as they suffer fatal heat strokes in your murderous warehouses?

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — July 23, 2021 @ 6:26 am


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