Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 30, 2017

Peter Camejo on fascism and ultraleftism

Filed under: Fascism,ultraleftism — louisproyect @ 1:05 am

Then you started hearing them all talk about imminent fascism. The underground papers discovered that there were concentration camp sites in this country, and that some of them were being cleaned up and gotten ready. They would say to each other, “See you next year in the concentration camps.” This was a very common attitude, because they couldn’t see any force around that was protecting their civil liberties.

Then what they began to develop was the thesis that civil liberties, elections, courts, all bourgeois democratic forms, are a gigantic put-on, a fantastic manipulation. That it is all a ruling class trick. So, these people concluded that the elections and civil liberties are unreal, and the people who run the country could call them off tomorrow. Elections and civil liberties, they said, “have nothing to do with reality”.

Then came the instant fascism theory. We are about to have fascism any moment now. But this is a very confusing theory. Somehow the rallies and demonstrations continue year after year. They don’t put us in the concentration camps.

This theory is actually a mixture of deep cynicism, thinking that the ruling class is all-powerful, but it always is combined with a last hope that maybe they aren’t completely bad. Maybe there is still someone who will listen.

Sometimes a liberal becomes frustrated not getting the ear of the ruling class, and he concludes that he’ has been using the wrong tactics. So he adopts a lot of radical rhetoric. He says this ruling class is apparently so thickheaded that what we’ve got to do is really let loose a temper tantrum to get its attention. The politicians won’t listen to peaceful things, but if we go out and break windows then Kennedy will say, “Oh, I guess there is a problem in this society. I didn’t realize it when they were just demonstrating peacefully. I thought everything was OK because they were in the system, but now they’re going outside the system, they’re breaking windows, so we’ve got to hold back.”

These liberal-ultraleftists think that’s what moves the ruling class. Actually they come close to a correct theory when they say that if people start leaving the system the ruling class will respond. But they don’t believe that the masses can be won. They think it is enough for them to leave the system themselves, small groups of people carrying out direct confrontations.

For example, let me quote a thing from the New York Times that illustrates how this type of idea develops. A girl from Kent, after the killings there, was asked what she thought could be done about Cambodia and what she thought about the use of violence. This was a person who is just radicalizing, a liberal, just beginning to oppose the war.

She says, “I’m really dead set against violence. That’s also a copout. But it’s the only way to get the government’s attention. What you’re doing is drawing their attention to you, by using the same methods they use. I’m really against that. It’s horrible that the only way you can get people to listen is to have four kids killed. There was really no blow-up over Cambodia until four kids were killed. You can have all the peace marches that were peaceful and quiet, and everyone would pat you on the back and say ‘good little kids’, but nobody would do anything.”

Now, what’s in her mind? She doesn’t see any independent, mass force that’s standing in the way of the ruling class. She’s looking at the ruling class and asking, “Are we affecting them or not? Are they being responsive?” And if not, maybe the way to get them to pay attention is to go out and break some windows and use violence. It’s a very natural conclusion when you don’t understand that there’s a class struggle, a class relationship of forces.

Having given up on the masses, the ultraleft super-revolutionaries are really trying to influence the ruling class. A classical example of this unity between the liberal and the ultraleft approach was the Chicago demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Party convention. The leaders of the demonstration came from the National Mobilization Committee. They were revolutionary. Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, Dave Dellinger and Rennie Davis were on hand, and their rhetoric was as radical as you can get.

But while the “militant” demonstrations were in process, Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis were apparently closeted with McCarthy’s supporters working out an agreement to help McCarthy.

According to an article in the Jan. 22, 1970 Washington Post, “[Sam] Brown [Vietnam Moratorium Coordinator] said [Tom] Hayden suggested … that if McCarthy appeared to have a good chance by Monday or Tuesday — and if that chance might be hampered by public activity [demonstrations] — then we could meet to decide whether to go ahead with the public activity.” Hayden has never denied this account.

Another example of this type of ultraleftism was a full-page ad which appeared in the New York Times on June 7. It was placed by the New Mobe and signed by guess who? Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, et al. This ad announces in big letters at the top of the page: “It’s 11:59.” 11:59 to what? It’s 11:59 to 1984. Fascism is due in one minute.

This is another thing that these ultraleft-upside-down-liberals have: the panic button. Since they don’t see any countervailing force, they think at any moment the whole country could just go BANG! At any moment the ruling class can make a move to the right, and they don’t see any way to stop it, so they throw in the towel, they just panic. The ad says: “If you’re reading this — don’t kid yourself any longer. Big Brother is making his list. And you’re on it. Can we stop 1984? It’s 11:59 p.m. now. The clock is ticking loudly. What in hell are we going to do about it?”

Well, what solution do these ultralefts have? What do they project should be done to stop imminent fascism? In this ad they have a five-point program.

full: https://www.marxists.org/archive/camejo/1970/ultraleftismormassaction.htm

August 25, 2017

White Supremacist Support for Assad in Charlottesville (and Beyond)

Filed under: Fascism,Syria — louisproyect @ 4:34 pm

It was impossible not to miss the support for Bashar al-Assad that was on display in the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville. The press drew attention to the picture of Assad with the word “Undefeated” emblazoned beneath it on the Facebook page of James Alex Fields, the man who plowed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protestors killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. There is also the video clip  of a couple of fascists saying that “Assad did nothing wrong” and calling for “dropping barrel bombs on those motherfuckers”, a reference to the counter-protestors.

Washington Post article dated August 14 concluded that there was always an underlying affinity between the Baathists and fascism: 

The far right’s love affair with Assad might not be entirely unpredictable. His Baath Party is fiercely nationalist and ethnocentric, focused on the promotion of Arab identity. One of the few political parties permitted by his regime and one of his staunchest supporters in the war is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which drew the inspiration for its logo from the swastika.

In my view, this analysis—while not entirely wrong—is inadequate to explaining the underlying reasons for racist and fascist support for Assad. Nor does it come to terms with the much broader appeal that Assad has had for many on the left who regard him not as a fascist but as a fearless anti-imperialist warrior who is being attacked by American and Saudi proxies because of his resistance to IMF-imposed austerity. This analysis is encapsulated in Canadian blogger Stephen Gowans’s new book Washington’s Long War on Syria:

Juxtapose U.S. prescriptions for how the Washington-led global economy would be structured against the economic program espoused in the founding document of the Ba’ath Party: Industry “will be protected together with the national production from the competition of foreign production.” Natural “resources, and means of transportation ” “shall be directly administered by the State,” in the public interest. Workers “shall take part in managing the factories and they will be given, [on top of] their wages, a share of profits to be determined by the State.” The Interim 1990 constitution of secular Arab nationalist Iraq declared that the “State assumes the responsibility for planning, directing, and steering the national economy.” These views were inimical to the economic policies Washington promoted as the world’s self-appointed leader. They did not fit with the global economic order Washington insisted on creating.

Like a Rorschach test, the Syrian dictatorship is open to multiple interpretations. To really get to the bottom of this complex and dialectically contradictory phenomenon of Baathist rule, it is necessary to place it into the context of two historical sea changes that have marked this epoch.

Continue reading

August 20, 2017

Boston and Vancouver, models for the anti-fascist struggle

Filed under: anarchism,Fascism,ultraleftism — louisproyect @ 8:03 pm

One of the difficulties I faced in writing about antifa adventurism was the lack of a positive example. Someone derided me for referring to the struggle with the KKK that I and other socialists were involved with in Houston in the early 70s. What a moldy fig I was. Didn’t I know that punching Richard Spencer in the face was the way to stop fascism?

Fortunately for me and fortunately for the need of the movement, two demonstrations epitomize exactly the approach I have been advocating. I consider them enormous successes and hope that a national movement can emerge that adopts their strategy and tactics.

Yesterday 40,000 protestors converged on Boston Commons to show their opposition to a “Free Speech” rally at the same location. As you probably know, people like Milo Yiannopoulos and his ultraright supporters have cynically been trying to get sympathy because of the bans on his appearances or attempts by small groups of antifa activists to shut them down. His freedoms are being denied, you see. Poor thing gets his chance to make his case before millions on the Bill Maher show after the antifa idiots throw a tantrum at Berkeley.

I don’t have much use for the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League but they have a useful report about the people who organized the event that they characterize as “alt-lite”, meaning people who do not use white supremacy language but vilify feminists, immigrants and Muslims.

They like to straddle the fence. For example, there’s an outfit called The Proud Boys that is led by Gavin McInnes, which calls for “Reinstating a Spirit of Western chauvinism” but dubbed the Charlottesville event as “racist”, plus the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler is a member.

Last Monday, McInnes announced that he was dropping out of the event, as would Cassandra Fairbanks, a former reporter for Sputnik. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, some of these types were getting cold feet. Angelus Invictus, a member of the military wing of the Proud Boys, announced that he was no longer going to speak.

Another featured speaker was Based Stickman, who was charged with a felony at a protest in California carrying his eponymous weapon of choice at a fascist protest. He was to be followed by Shiva Ayyadurai, an Indian-born American scientist who claims that he invented e-mail. Just by coincidence I heard him being interviewed this morning on the radio. Mostly he was defending himself from critics who consider him a fraud rather than expressing any political views. Ayyadural is running as a Republican to unseat Elizabeth Warren, making nativism a key plank. Naturally, he has been a guest on Infowars.

Apparently, the Free Speech rally fell apart a short time after it began. Scheduled from noon to 2pm, it was all over by 12:50. Probably a combination of the toxic fumes left over from Charlottesville plus the immense build-up to the counter-protest a few days before Saturday aborted the event.

Even if there wasn’t much to protest, the appearance of 40,000 disciplined and serious protestors was a major shot in the arm to a burgeoning movement. For background on the organizers on this event, who shared a socialist rather than an anarchist background, I recommend an article on The Uptake (http://theuptake.org/2017/08/19/how-boston-counter-protesters-organized-against-free-speech-rally/). It was a coalition of ANSWER Coalition and the DSA, plus a group called The Coalition To Organize And Mobilize Boston Against Trump (COMBAT) that I know nothing about. I have no way of proving this but I suspect that the DSA’s high profile helped to turn out the numbers. Good for them.

Apparently some antifa idiots tried to stage a melee as the event was winding down but they were largely ignored, thank goodness.

The same thing happened in Vancouver. An anti-Muslim rally called at City Hall drew a couple of dozen people while 4,000 counter-protestors ringed the building. As was the case in Boston, ultraleftists were marginalized.

For a full report on the action, see http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/anti-immigration-rally-at-vancouver-city-hall. As was the case in Boston as well, the fascist rally was stillborn:

At the peak of the counter-protest at around 2 p.m., when organizers from the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam Canada and the Cultural Action Party of Canada had been expected to speak out against federal immigration policy, about 4,000 people surrounded city hall, according to a police estimate.

The anti-Islam rally organizers were nowhere to be found.

This week Noam Chomsky denounced antifa activists in an interview with the rightwing Washington Examiner, a sign once again of declining judgment. If you wanted to criticize ultraleftism, it would have been much better to do it on ZNet or any of the other publications that worship at his feet. Chomsky told them, “”As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were. It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.”

Stung by Chomsky’s criticism, there was the customary anonymous answer to him on Libcom, an anarchist website that along with the It’s Going Down website constitute the “punch a Nazi in the face” faction of the left.

Titled “6 reasons why Chomsky is wrong about antifa” (http://libcom.org/blog/6-reasons-why-chomsky-wrong-about-antifa-18082017), the first reason struck my eye since it referred to antifa’s predecessors being more significant that Chomsky believed and as well a party I once belonged to, I wondered how in the world they could equate their adventurism with how Trotskyists dealt with the Silver Shirt fascist movement in Minneapolis. Libcom wrote:

In Europe, they are the Red Warriors of Paris or the Revolutionary Front in Sweden. And in North America they were the Teamsters who formed a defense guard against the Silver Shirts in the 1930s, or Anti-Racist Action who took on Klansmen and the National Socialist Movement from the 1980s until very recently.

They link to an excerpt from Farrell Dobbs’s book “Teamster Politics” that is very useful in understanding how fascism was resisted in the 1930s. As even the anarchists are forced to admit, Dobbs took Leon Trotsky’s advice and formed a defense guard. As the name implied, this was an armed detachment made up of working class veterans of WWI who were charged with defending union headquarters from attack. Dobbs is quoted:

It became known immediately that Zachary’s main theme had been to call for a vigilante attack on the headquarters of Local 544….This situation called for prompt countermeasures. So Local 544, acting with its customary decisiveness, answered the threat by organizing a union defense guard during August 1938….

In the 1930s, the CIO organized defense guards during strikes all across the USA. Mostly, they used clubs or tire irons but were not above using guns if the occasion called for it. This is a far cry from today when groups like Redneck Revolt fetishize weapons as if groups led by Richard Spencer or his co-thinkers were being backed by the big bourgeoisie as was the case in the Little Steel strike when the CEO of Bethlehem Steel et al hired and armed thugs with machine guns and hand grenades.

When the leader of the Silver Shirts was scheduled to speak in St. Paul, the Teamsters sent 300 members of the defense guard to confront him. The sight of this contingent was enough to call off the meeting. Would the Teamsters have used their weapons on the people at the meeting? Of course not. That would have allowed the cops to arrest them all and break the union.

It is important to understand the context for all this. Four years before the confrontation, there was a general strike in the Twin Cities. In an article for Jacobin, Canadian historian Bryan Palmer described the assault on working people there:

The mayor backed a vindictive police force led by a chief determined to crush the workers and willing to execute strikers and strike supporters in the street if necessary. “You have shotguns, and you know how to use them,” Police Chief Johannes instructed his officers in July 1934.

A picket captain described the police carnage in one infamous battle, memorialized as “Bloody Friday”: “They just went wild. Actually they shot at anybody that moved. … they kept on shooting until all the pickets had either hid or got shelter somewhere. Oh, they meant business.” Novelist Meredel Le Sueur’s account was more gruesomely lyrical: “[T]he cops opened fire.. . . men were lying crying in the street with blood spurting from the myriad wounds buckshots make. Turning instinctively for cover they were shot in the back.. . . Not a picket was armed with so much as a toothpick.”

Two workers died on “Bloody Friday”: Henry Ness, a striker, riddled with buckshot, succumbed to his wounds almost immediately. John Bellor, an unemployed strike supporter also critically injured in the battle died, days later. Forty thousand lined the streets and marched in Ness’s funeral procession.

Many years ago when I was in the SWP, comrades used to speak about the ultraleftists of those days. They said that if you mistake the first month of a pregnancy with the ninth, you are likely to end up with a abortion. With the raw youth of the antifa movement making the same kinds of mistakes as the Weathermen in 1971, you might even say that they are mistaking the first week of the pregnancy with the last.

There are no class battles taking place today that have the slightest resemblance to those of the 1930s. Back then, combat between the workers and the class enemy was a deadly serious business. And also back then, men assigned to work in defense guards or flying battalions in militant strikes were democratically elected by trade unions and were usually members of the Communist Party or other radical groups well known to those whose class interests they were defending.

Today, we have antifa people who are only known to each other. Nobody votes to have them turn a peaceful march into a battleground. Libcom and It’s Going Down feature articles written by people cloaked in anonymity. Many of their members show up at protests with their faces covered. This is not the kind of movement we need. I hope that some of them will learn from the success of the Boston and Vancouver protests since they foreshadow the kind of movement that we need. It is hard for people to reverse themselves politically but when you are as young as them, there is hope.

August 18, 2017

The ex-member of LaRouche’s fascist cult who writes for Robert Parry’s Consortium News

Filed under: Fascism,LaRouche — louisproyect @ 6:29 pm

Andrew Spannaus

If there is anything that gets my dander up, it is being threatened with legal action. The last time I ran into such threats is when Joyce Brabner said she would sue me if I began serializing the memoir I did with her late husband Harvey Pekar. Since she lacks the money to hire a lawyer on contingency, I probably would have had no problems but I generally shy away from unstable and unpredictable people.

Today I was warned by Andrew Spannaus that unless I removed a post about his article on Consortium News titled “The Agony of ‘Regime Change’ Refugees”, he would have his lawyer look into suing me for libel. Since Spannaus is a former member of the LaRouche fascist cult, I decided not to look for trouble. If you’ve followed LaRouche over the years, you’ll know that he launched nuisance suits at his perceived enemies all the time, including a $60 million libel suit against NBC in 1984.

In this article I will be choosing my words very carefully. It will be based on the facts acknowledged by Spannaus himself, namely that he is a former member. I have been writing for years about what a toxic dump Consortium News is and feel an obligation to point out that Spannaus is a regular contributor to Robert Parry’s website with 13 articles to his credit.

In the remainder of this article, I will be referring to some of Spannaus’s articles on Executive Intelligence Review, the flagship journal of LaRouche’s cult, between 2000 and 2015 since they reflect an evolution that I think my readers should be aware of, namely the bid by these fascists to adopt a less insane identity. In the 1980s, they would publish stark raving mad articles about Queen Elizabeth being the head of an international drug cartel but over the past 15 years at least, they have worked hard to appear about the same as Consortium News, 21st Century Wire, Information Clearing House, DissidentVoice and other websites in the Putin/Assad/Islamic Republic orbit. I will conclude with a brief look at Spannaus and his former comrade Paul Goldstein’s professional consultancies today that are obvious bids to supply the kind of high-level advice to the bourgeoisie that LaRouche hoped to serve in EIR.

1) The earliest Spannaus article is dated June 30, 1995 and is titled “Italian party debates LaRouchean economics”. In it, Spannaus brags about how members of the Popular Party are openly supporting LaRouche’s economic policies. He advocated that Italy transform the bank of Italy into a national bank, adding that “The national bank concept, going back to the first U. S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, is a key aspect of LaRouche’s policy for economic recovery.”

As I mentioned in my first post on LaRouche, his cult has such a thing about Alexander Hamilton that they are now passing out broadsheets in NYC called the Hamiltonian. It even makes you wonder if they financed the execrable Broadway musical. Is it just a coincidence that 22 years after writing this article, Spannaus was still tooting Hamilton’s horn in Consortium News?

Trump then went on to use the term “American System”, associated with the current of economic nationalism promoted by figures such as Alexander Hamilton, Clay and Henry Carey, champions of investment in industry and infrastructure, and protection against the free market claims of European empires, which sought to undermine American economic independence in order to defend their own pre-eminence.

Inquiring minds want to know.

2) Two years later Spannaus wrote a diatribe against Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni as a genocidal dictator “used by the British Privy Council in its raw materials grab in Central Africa.” Most of the article stayed within the boundaries of normal reporting but I was struck by how Spannaus described Frantz Fanon:

The second ideological string is the existential philosophy of Frantz Fanon, who advocated “revolutionary violence” for economic development for Africans, and claimed that such violence even has purifying power. All of the “new leaders” in Central Africa studied this murderous ideology at Dar Es Salaam University in the 1960s.

Supposedly the British exploited Fanon’s ideas in order to commit genocide on a scale not seen since the Nazis. Oh, well. I had a different take on “The Wretched of the Earth” but that’s what happens when you were educated in a Marxist cult rather than one run by a would be Hitler.

3) Fast-forwarding to 2007, Spannaus wrote about LaRouche’s speech to the Italian Senate Labor and Social Security Commission. The fascist nut was now 84 and just as capable of predicting a cataclysmic end of the world as ever. He was invited to speak about his legislative proposals that could save Italy from imminent doom. Apparently, the politicians were a bit skeptical as Spannaus reported:

As often happens in official circles, some of the politicians involved in the discussions expressed surprise at LaRouche’s forecast of the short-term death of the current system. Despite agreeing with his overall approach on rebuilding the productive economy, they claimed that his warning of a systemic crash is a “catastrophic” view that can only be seen as “pessimistic.” In response to the nervous protests of one Senator, LaRouche repeated that it would be absolutely foolish to assume that the present system will last beyond Christmas of this year, and at the same time, he explained why it is essential that such a premise be established at this time.

Did the fact that the world continued after Christmas Day, 2007 help to undermine Spannaus’s belief in the cult leader? Well, he was writing for EIR for another 8 years so I guess he was in no rush to break his ties.

4) One of the most interesting things to me is how in the past 20 years the group has sought respectability. You can search in vain for anything in EIR that will make your hair stand on end unless you are one of those people who views Vladimir Putin as an unmitigated pig.

By 2011, one of Spannaus’s articles could have easily been published in Salon or Alternet. Titled “In Italy, Reich Calls For Glass-Steagall”, it is plain vanilla Democratic Party propaganda.

The response from the audience was enthusiastic, with numerous local entrepreneurs and opinion leaders posing questions to Reich on the prospects for future industrial growth and the reform of the international financial system. On this point, this author, who moderated the event, mentioned the bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (DOhio) to restore Glass-Steagall, and also the fact that motions calling for a Glass-Steagall system in Italy and Europe have been presented in the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Senate.

So funny. In 2007, Spannaus was stenographer to the lunatic LaRouche who insisted the world would collapse by Christmas day and only four years later, we have pap that might have been written by an Alternet stringer. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, this is the way the cult ends—not with a bang but a whimper.

With the skills Spannaus learned writing for EIR, he leveraged that into a consultancy/newsletter service called Transatlantico. I honestly can’t understand how he makes any money as a consultant since there is nothing there that appears to be a bid for business, such as a list of his past clients. You can buy a subscription to his newsletter for 250 Euros per year. What some CEO expects to get out of it is anybody’s guess.

In addition to his own business, Spannaus works for Pacific Tech Bridge, which was founded and still led by Paul Goldstein, LaRouche’s former chief security aide. Has he dropped out of the fascist cult? The last article by Goldstein to appear in EIR was dated 25 years ago so that seems plausible.

Pacific Tech Bridge reads a lot like those consulting companies that offer high-level strategies to corporations, especially about risk management. Spannaus is on the advisory board along with people like Joshua Mitchell, a Georgetown University professor, and Phil Midland, the co-founder of IHS International, another strategic management type consultancy.

Looking at Goldstein’s CV on the “leadership” page, I got a chuckle out of one of his past enterprises:

Strategic Renaissance 21

Co-founder & Executive Vice President established in 2011. Chairman of SR 21 is Admiral (retired) Bob Inman, former head of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  Mr. James Hackett, former Chief Executive Officer of Anadarko Oil Company is Vice Chairman. Phil Midland, former naval intelligence officer is President.

SR 21 is presently engaged in building a special relationship with the Communist Party of China’s elite cadre school called the Central Committee of the CPC Central Party School (CCPS). SR 21 and CCPS have had a three year memorandum of understanding (MOU) from 2012-2015 that is being renewed in July 2016.

Wow! Bobby Inman, the former head of the NSA and Deputy Director of the CIA. Hot shit! And building a special relationship with the CP’s elite cadre school in China. Hoo-boy, who wouldn’t want to hire these movers and shakers?

The contacts that Goldstein, LaRouche’s chief security aide, likely made with Inman in the early 80s must have paid off. Let’s turn to Dennis King’s “Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism” for the goods:

Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, former chief of the code-breaking National Security Agency and a consummate intelligence professional, received a steady flow of reports from the LaRouche organization while serving as CIA deputy director in 1981-83, He met personally with Lyn and Helga LaRouche in a little house on F Street in Washington to discuss West Germany’s peace movement. After leaving the CIA to head an electronics firm, he talked frequently on the phone with LaRouche security staffers, who regarded him as their “rabbi” and hoped that someday he would become CIA director. Former LaRouche security aide Charles Tate, in his testimony as a prosecution witness in Boston, described taking the incoming calls from Inman to security chief Jeff Steinberg. Tate also claims to have chatted with Inman personally. (Inman’s version is that he was merely the victim of a constant bombardment of phone calls from Steinberg, whom he did his best to evade. He believes the LaRouchians were attempting to use him to “establish their importance.”)

The big joke is that Consortium News is a platform for Ray McGovern, the Assadist ex-CIA agent. You have to wonder what he would make of his fellow contributor to Parry’s sinkhole being on the advisory board of a consultancy whose CEO crows about co-founding a company with Bobby Inman. Actually, it probably wouldn’t matter at all to Parry, McGovern or Spannaus from what I’ve seen of them.

Me, personally, I wouldn’t go near a dirt-bag like LaRouche with a ten foot pole but I have no doubt that he and Inman had a mutually beneficial relationship. As I will point out in a subsequent post, the ties between this fascist cult leader, his henchmen like Paul Goldstein, and the most powerful spook in the USA is something that is simply beyond the capability of a Richard Spencer to pull off. That is why it is important to review the evolution of LaRouchism even if by some accounts it is on its deathbed.

 

August 14, 2017

This is what American fascism looks like: the Lyndon LaRouche story (part two)

Filed under: Fascism,LaRouche — louisproyect @ 5:59 pm

Lyndon LaRouche carries out the fascist turn

(part one)

Roy Frankhouser, KKK leader who LaRouche bonded with in 1975

When I was a young activist in the 1960s and 70s, there was no “anti-fa” movement in the USA. For that matter, there was not much in the way of an anarchist movement and the one that existed identified much more with the Kropotkin-type philosophy of Paul Goodman rather than trying to smash fascist gatherings on campus or elsewhere.

In a curious role reversal, it was mostly the left that had to fend off assaults from the ultraright. On May 22, 1970 the Jewish Defense League, a fascist-Zionist group led by Rabbi Meier Kahane, stormed into the offices of two pro-Palestinian groups in New York and beat staff members with wooden clubs, leaving three victims hospitalized.

We also had to watch out for Cuban exiles who were trying to intimidate anybody involved with Cuban solidarity. The month after the JDL attack, gusanos set fire to the SWP headquarters in Los Angeles as the LA Free Press reported:

A Citizen’s Committee has been formed in Los Angeles in response to the arson attack on the Socialist Workers Party Headquarters. Named the Citizens’ Committee for the Right of Free Expression, the organization is asking for a full-scale investigation into the fire-bombing and the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack.

The Committee was formed in response to a series of terrorist attacks in the Los Angeles area. The most recent attack occurred May 27 at the campaign headquarters of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). On that day, at approximately 12;40 P.M., a band of heavily armed men entered the building. Four campaign workers, Peter Seidman, Sally Whicker, Carole Seidman and Tiby Alvin, were in the office at the time. Armed with M-1 semi-automatics and submachine guns, the terrorists forced those present into one room and made them lie face down on the floor. According to Carole Seidman, the invaders continually shouted, “You will die for Fidel!” and “We are going to kill you commies.”

While the victims were being held at gunpoint, other members of the invasion force began smashing kitchen utensils, pulling down bookshelves and overturning desks. They then poured gasoline all over the floors and walls and ignited the office.

As the terrorists fled the scene, Peter Seidman began trying to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher. When Seidman realized this was futile, the magnitude of the flames being too great, the occupants fled down the fire escape.

When I arrived in Houston in 1974 on assignment with the SWP, our bookstore had already been badly damaged by a KKK pipe bomb. In addition, the Klan had blown up the Pacifica radio station transmitter twice and fired a machine gun through the kitchen window of our comrade Fred Brode who was a leader of the antiwar movement in Houston. Fred had fled Nazi Germany to escape persecution as a revolutionary socialist just before Hitler took power. As a young man he had fought the Nazis on the streets of Berlin during the Weimar Republic.

(Parenthetically, I should mention that the JDL, the gusanos and KKK would be beaten back by the sort of broad-based civil liberties campaign the SWP organized and not by street-fighting. Our philosophy was to avoid being perceived as taking the law into our own hands, something that would cut across our efforts to gain public support. This meant insisting that the police arrest the lawbreakers, a tactic that was frowned upon in ultraleft circles.)

In addition to the ultraright, we always had to deal with violent attempts by sections of the left to break up meetings or protests. In 1970, the PLP wing of SDS was trying to destroy the Vietnam antiwar movement through physical attacks on rallies and meetings. Reporting for the SWP’s newspaper, Tony Thomas referred to one of the incidents:

On May 24, a national steering committee meeting of the SMC held in Boston was attacked by over 50 PLP and SDS members led by SDS National Secretary John Pennington. John McCann, an SWP member who was coordinator of the fight that led to the successful Massachusetts 1970 antiwar referendum, was savagely beaten at this meeting.

John, who is deceased, lost the sight in one eye as a result of this attack.

Like PLP/SDS, another group that emerged out of SDS seemed to be on the same warpath. As I indicated in my first post on LaRouche, he formed the National Caucus of Labor Committees in January 1969 out of the implosion of SDS with a 600 member cadre made up of many Columbia University students and graduates, some of whom have remained with him after nearly 50 years.

In 1973, LaRouche launched Operation Mop-Up that targeted the CPUSA in the same way that the Maoist PLP had targeted us in the SWP. It began as a war of words as NCLC members went to CP public meetings to harangue the speakers while the CP denounced them as government agents. Par for the course in the left back then. Dennis King reports on the build-up and deployment of Mop-Up:

Months prior to Mop Up, LaRouche had ordered the most physically agile NCLC members to undergo training for street fighting. This training was now stepped up. Members were organized into flying squads armed with metal pipes, clubs, and nunchukas (Okinawan martial arts devices consisting of two sticks attached by a chain). The idea was to go into action as mini-phalanxes with the nunchuka wielders in the center.

Mop Up began in New York, and spread to Philadelphia, Buffalo, Detroit, and other cities. Attackers were sometimes brought from out of town so their faces wouldn’t be recognized. In several cities they broke up public meetings and invaded leftist bookstores, beating anyone who tried to bar their way. In New York they ambushed individual CP leaders on the street. In Detroit they administered a savage beating to a partially paralyzed left-wing activist on crutches. In Philadelphia, twenty-five to thirty NCLC members raided a meeting of the Public Workers Action Caucus. “The steps were a mass of blood,” said a PWAC activist. “As soon as I walked out I was hit by a pole,” Although no one was critically injured in any of the attacks, several were hospitalized with broken bones and many required medical treatment for cuts and bruises.

The biggest attack on the CP took place on April 23, 1973 when 60 NCLC members stormed a meeting at Columbia University being held for CP mayoral candidate Rasheed Storey. Armed with nunchakus and brass knuckles, they charged the platform that included Joanna Misnik who was representing the SWP candidate. A joint CP-SWP defense guard broke off chair legs to beat back the assault, leaving many NCLC members badly injured. This was pretty much the end of such assaults on the left.

Defending the attacks, LaRouche, using his pseudonym Lyn Marcus, wrote an article titled “Their Morals and Ours” that used language that seemingly rested on his Trotskyist background:

However, the article also pointed forward to his evolving fascist ideology. Dennis King compared the bravado of his language to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. While LaRouche wrote that “All those mighty ‘Communists’ can do is hide behind the nightsticks of the local police, while publishing tear-jerking accounts of their own casualties”, Hitler used a similar formulation in “Mein Kampf”: “Any meeting which is protected exclusively by the police discredits its organizers in the eyes of the broad masses. . . . [A] heroic movement will sooner win the heart of a people than a cowardly one which is kept alive only by police protection.”

If LaRouche had backed off from attacking Marxist groups like the CP or the SWP, he still targeted African-American leaders who he also considered his enemies, using a mixture of ultraleft jargon and racist epithets. They singled out Amiri Baraka, the poet and Black nationalist, for special attention since they had talked themselves into believing that he was a CIA agent. They distributed a pamphlet called “Papa Doc Baraka: Fascism in Newark” that referred to him as a “gutter dweller,” an “animal,” a “mad dog,” “Aunt Jemima,” and “Superfly.” A cartoon on the pamphlet’s cover portrayed him as a hyena with thick lips drooling over a baby’s corpse.

The mixture of racism and ultraleftism cropped up during the struggle for busing in Boston, where the NAACP and its supporters in the SWP backed a plan to desegregate the public schools. In 1974, they had meetings with the white racist anti-busing group known as ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights) and ran an anti-busing congressional candidate justified on the basis that busing was a CIA plot to divide the working class.

By 1975, the transition to fascism was complete. The proof was their willingness to begin working with the KKK at the very time when its chapter in Houston was terrorizing the left.

In Michigan, they met with followers of KKK Grand Dragon Robert Miles, who was serving time for bombing school buses in Pontiac, Michigan to protest busing. They nominated his chief aide Vernon Higgins to be their 1974 candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives. Even though Higgins turned out to be an FBI informant, the NCLC continued to coalesce with Klansmen such as Roy Frankhouser, the Pennsylvania Grand Dragon and Miles’s close friend. When Frankhouser was tried that year in Philadelphia on charges of transporting stolen explosives to Miles’s associates, they sponsored a press conference to support him.

In the next installment in this series, I will discuss Lyndon LaRouche’s use of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in his continuing fascist assault on the left. Unlike today’s alt-right, he was able to gain the kind of access to the power elite that will remain out of reach to people like Richard Spencer for the foreseeable future.

August 12, 2017

Left and Right agreement on Syria?

Filed under: Fascism,Syria — louisproyect @ 11:53 pm

The only thing keeping westerners from seeing through the lies that they’ve been told about Syria is the unquestioned assumption that their own government could not possibly be that evil. They have no trouble believing that a foreigner from a Muslim-majority country could be gratuitously using chemical weapons on children at the most strategically disastrous time possible and bombing his own civilians for no discernible reason other than perhaps sheer sexual sadism, but the possibility that their government is making those things up in order to manufacture consent for regime change is ruled out before any critical analysis of the situation even begins.

 

The Facebook page of James Alex Fields Jr., the man who drove a car into anti-racist protestors, killing one and injuring dozens of others:

August 11, 2017

Writer Beat — BEWARE!!!

Filed under: anti-Semitism,Fascism — louisproyect @ 3:41 pm

In May someone named Autumn Cote (autumncote@writerbeat.com) asked my permission to crosspost an article I had written about whether George Soros was promoting a color revolution against Donald Trump on her website. Frankly, I don’t care who crossposts my articles but after discovering today that she published neo-Nazi shit, I told her to remove my articles and not contact me again.

I discovered this from a chance look at a discussion about Venezuela on Michael Roberts’s blog that I had participated in a few days ago. She showed up asking Michael if she could crosspost his article and like me he gave her the green light. That immediately prompted someone to post a comment about how she had published this:

This article “explains” the use of Zyklon-B as an innocent attempt to kill lice rather than Jews, a staple of the Zundel/Leuchter/Irving neo-Nazi repertory.

(I’ve been told that the article has been deleted from Writer Beat. I didn’t want to provide a link to it because it didn’t deserve one but you can see the cached version here.)

Out of curiosity, I did a little more checking on Cote after this nasty bit of business. For those with a strong stomach, I suggest this interview she gave to Whiteout Press, another website that has the same initially innocent-looking appearance as hers. Out of curiosity, I did a search on “Jews” on Whiteout Press and this was the first article that cropped up:

Is the Media Controlled by Jews?

It referred readers to National Vanguard Books, a subsidiary of the National Alliance, a now defunct alt-right outfit based in West Virginia founded by William Luther Pierce III, the author of “The Turner Diaries”, a book that people like Timothy McVeigh swore by.

You have to be careful about sneaky little neo-Nazis  like Autumn Cote. So if she contacts you about crossposting your articles, tell her to crawl back into the hole she came from.

 

July 31, 2017

This is what American fascism looks like: the Lyndon LaRouche story (part one)

Filed under: Fascism,LaRouche — louisproyect @ 7:20 pm

The Marxist roots of a fascist leader

(From Dennis King’s website)

The other day I ran into a tall African-American man in his early 30s in front of the Lexington Avenue subway stop on 86th Street wearing a sandwich board with words to the effect of “Stop the attack on Donald Trump”. He was passing out a one-page broadsheet titled “The Hamiltonian” that reeked of Larouche’s fascist cult. As I stopped to take one from him, I informed him that I had just read a book about his movement. “What was that?”, he asked. I responded, “Dennis King’s”. He frowned and told me that he King is crazy and sells drugs.

The lead article in the broadsheet was titled “Russia-Gate Exposed as Total Fraud” and could have been written by Max Blumenthal who made identical points on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. Among Trump’s fiercest defenders against Russia-Gate were ultrarightists like Carlson but also that section of the left that looked to the Kremlin for its talking points: Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, Robert Parry, Stephen F. Cohen, Ray McGovern, et al. If you search the LarouchePAC website for occurrences of “Sarin gas”, you will find the same sorts of articles that appeared on the left describing the Sarin gas attack on East Ghouta  as a “false flag”, including one dated April 7, 2014 that is headlined “Seymour Hersh Exposes Obama’s Red Line And Rat Line”.

Indeed, the article begins by citing the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) leader Ray McGovern, an ex-CIA agent who like Hersh and Theodore Postol was an “expert” that could be relied upon to clear Assad’s name. Ray McGovern has also been interviewed by the LaRouchites to prove that Russia did not interfere with the American elections. Maybe McGovern was in on the meetings that the LaRouchites used to have with CIA agents in the 80s and retains fond memories of these Jew-baiting, racist pigs.

In May, I began reading Dennis King’s Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism after slowly coming to the realization that his movement was the most powerful fascist movement ever seen in the USA, including those that existed in the 1930s. Next to what he had “accomplished”, Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos were inconsequential.

There are obviously theoretical questions about whether the Ku Klux Klan was fascist but it could certainly be said that LaRouche was much closer to “classical” fascism as understood by Leon Trotsky. Of course, the irony is that LaRouche spent 20 years in the Socialist Workers Party, a group that I belonged to as well and one considered by Trotsky to be the flagship of his ill-conceived Fourth International.

My intention originally was to view LaRouchism as a historical movement that was past its prime, especially in light of the time-frame of King’s book that ends nearly 30 years ago. But in the course of posting snippets of King’s book to Facebook and Marxmail, I received an email that put the article referred to above in context:

So I’ve come across the Larouchies several times while covering the Syrian conflict. While the Larouche organization itself is persona non grata in mainstream political circles, there are several Larouchie and ex-Larouchie organizations and individuals who are very active on the “alt right” and the Assadist pro-Putin “alt left.” There is a lot of spillover with Russia Today as well. it’s notable that during the 2011 Tahrir Square protests Russia Today featured Lyndon LaRouche himself as an expert on the events. Many Larouche affiliated organizations seem to enjoy very active relationships with authoritarian regimes, an alliance that has become more useful to these governments after the Arab Spring created the need for a fresh crop of conspiracy theories to justify remaining in power.

Syrian UN ambassador recently spoke at a Schiller Institute event a few months ago and he appeared very familiar with the individuals and the organization. The Virginia State senator Richard Black, who has raised red flags with his repeated contacts with the Assad regime, including a visit during which he posed in the cockpit of a Syrian government fighter Jet, has been a go to commentator on Syria for the LarochePAC YouTube channel. In a shockingly bizarre incident earlier this year, The Schiller Institute Chorus sang the Russian National Anthem after somehow duping local law enforcement into holding a ceremony with Russian diplomats after the crash of a Tu-154 crash that killed the Red Army Choir. It’s very noteworthy that the ceremony treats the incident as a terrorist attack and tries to draw a parallel to the 9-11 attacks even though the official Russian position is that this incident was an accident.

The Larouche organization has been involved in sending solidarity delegations to Damascus as well as El Sisi’s Egypt for some time and they are somehow involved in a project called “the new silk road“. I’m not sure what relationship this has to the Chinese economic initiative that India snubbed a few days ago but as far as I can tell there is a connection. LaRouchie protestors have showed up to events with signs that say things like “please join China and Mr. Xi on the new silk road.” Indeed Larouche delegations have been sent to Egypt and Syria with the explicit purpose of pushing this concept. This YouTube video from LarouchePAC from last week, hypes the Chinese conference. Apparently Larouche has been devoting a ridiculous amount of resources to promoting an obscure Chinese economic initiative for several years now. I think there is really something to this story because the LaRouche organization has been pushing for a “New Silk Road” for at least 3 years. Here is a video from 3 years ago of LaRouche talking about this were he mentions the Chinese leadership.

Trolls and Dupes

Navsteva

Scott Gaulke is a Wisconsin-based LaRouche follower who has developed quite a reputation for trolling and stalking under his online personality “Navsteva.” At one point Gaulke claimed to have visited Damascus but presented images that were taken by Ulf Sandmark, a Swedish LaRouchie who had visited on a solidarity delegation, which incidentally was named “the new silk road.”

Caleb T Maupin

In this image, Caleb T Maupin, the Russia Today journalist who was described by Trump as his “favorite journalist” can be seen with former Larouche candidate Webster Tarpley, who once notoriously claimed that AIDS was an airborne disease and that AIDS patients should be locked up. Tarpley has also been a fixture of Assadist circles for a while, this 2015 video from a bizarre meet up of Assadists features Tarpley and is absolutely hilarious to watch when the crowd turns on the speakers.

I’m sure if you follow the money there is something going on with the “New Silk Road” talk.

I hope this is useful and let’s stay in touch

It is my intention now to post three articles about LaRouchism, with this one leading off the series. It will cover LaRouche’s political evolution up until the point when he abandoned Marxism in the mid-70s, even of the most aberrant variety. Next I will review the heydays of the movement that coincides with Dennis King’s time-line and that will be based to a considerable degree on his exemplary investigative journalism. Finally, I will cover the period from 1990 to the present day with particular attention paid to the affinities between LaRouche’s movement and the Red-Brown movement coalescing around Vladimir Putin, Breitbart News, Infowars, Alexander Dugin, et al.

Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr., was born in Rochester, New Hampshire on September 8, 1922. His father was a French-Canadian immigrant and Quaker. After developing an interest in philosophy in high school, he grew to question his parents’ beliefs.

He was drafted into the army in 1944 and send to India where he came in contact with Communists. When he urged them to lead an uprising in Bengal, where the British had caused a famine, they rejected his proposal. This led him to say in a 1974 memoir to become a Trotskyist. Nine years later, after he had become a full-fledged fascist and a presidential candidate, he told a different story. He said that the love of Indians for American capitalism left him gratified.

In January, 1949 Lyndon LaRouche joined the Boston branch of the SWP during the height of the Cold War witch-hunt. He went to work on the assembly line in the GE plant in Lynn as part of the party’s “colonization” of industry, a strategy that was relaunched nearly 30 years later and with the same degree of success: none.

In 1954, LaRouche moved to New York and married a party member named Janice Neuberger that I met at a get-together at Cynthia Cochran’s apartment in 2005. Janice and Cynthia were long-time friends, bonded by their affiliation with the Murray and Myra Tanner Weiss grouping in the party that LaRouche gravitated to as well. It was around this time that he became interested in cybernetics and began a career as a management consultant with the George S. May Company, “often making a thousand dollars a week or more helping corporations reduce labor costs” as reported by King.

In 1965 LaRouche hooked up with Tim Wolforth, the leader of the tiny sect that supported Gerry Healy’s version of the Fourth International. Apparently LaRouche was impressed with the authoritarian and cultish environment of Healy’s sect in England that exercised the kind of bullying mind control over his own membership. He also valued the violence Healy resorted to against those outside his movement, including my friend Ernie Tate.

By 1966, he decided to reorient to the New Left and particularly its largest and most influential group, the Students for a Democratic Society. And within SDS, he oriented to the Progressive Labor faction that was Maoist at the time. He found a small band of followers within PLP organized as the Worker-Student Alliance. A number of the faction were students at Columbia University at the time and found his arcane interpretations of Marxist economics irrestible.

In 1968, there was a student rebellion at Columbia led by SDS. In addition to Mark Rudd, another key leader was Tony Papert, a PLP/SDS member who was a follower of LaRouche. That summer LaRouche gave classes in Marxism at a fraternity house that had been turned into a “liberation school”. By this time Papert, who had been expelled from PLP and become totally committed to LaRouche, launched the SDS Labor Committee that essentially marked the beginnings of LaRouchism as a movement. Like some other SDS Labor Committee members from that period, Papert remains in the movement’s leadership.

After the split in SDS precipitated by the clash between Mark Rudd’s Weatherman faction and the PLP-led Worker Student Alliance, the organization began to leak demoralized members, some of whom were willing to join the National Caucus of Labor Committees founded by Tony Papert. By 1973, the NCLC had 600 hard-core members totally devoted to Lyndon LaRouche who would soon exploit a disciplined and politically experienced cadre as a battering ram against the left.

Was there anything in LaRouche’s Marxist economic theories that could explain his evolution into a supporter of the capitalist system based on a fascist state? To understand this, I strongly recommend the pseudonymous Hieronymous’s article titled “Capitalism and productivism in Lyn Marcus’ dialectical economics”, which is an analysis of LaRouche’s “Dialectical economics:  an introduction to Marxist political economy”, a 481 page tome written in 1970 but only published by a vanity press 5 years later. In the lead paragraph, Hieronymous reduces it to a call for capitalism based on planning—a concept that clearly overlaps with the classic definition of fascism as a kind of corporatist state.

While much of “Dialectical Economics” is a fairly conventional presentation of the basic principles of Marxism, including the falling rate of profit, there are signs that LaRouche was veering off into the kind of techno-optimism that runs through his entire ideological edifice. He writes:

[it] is the wildest presumption imaginable to calculate the space and resources available for human existence solely in terms of the earth. Since there is no possibility that human existence will continue beyond this century without the massive conversion of our technology on the basis of thermonuclear fusion, and since that realization means the most ex- plosive scientific advances in the history of mankind, it is the wildest delusion, a literally pathetic delusion in every respect, to doubt that man will soon be populating the moon and Mars. Entering solar space on the rocket of thermonuclear revolutions in technology, man will — as no responsible specialist doubts — instantly begin to bring the massive energy output of the sun under his control. What lies beyond that may be relative speculation for the moment, but it would be the wildest speculation to imagine that anything less than the most explosive and titanic advances in man’s mastery of the universe are not unfolding for our species once we have safely negotiated the difficulties just ahead.

There are also indications that LaRouche’s prior career as a management consultant prompted him to offer suggestions that would make the capitalist system work better. They include forcing capitalist firms to include “externalities” such as water pollution into the costs of production, something that Hieronymus regards as useless under the capitalist system since it is unenforceable as should be obvious from Trump’s naming Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, an agency he has fought for decades.

He also advocates investment in infrastructure, including urban mass transit, railroad systems, and roads. This must explain his website’s breathless endorsement of the Trump presidency: “And now in the United States, a President has emerged who rejects the Imperial divide of the world, who rejects regime change, and who promotes friendship and collaboration with Russia and China, both to defeat terrorism, and to cooperate in the Belt and Road Initiative to meet the common aims of Mankind.” (The Belt and Road Initiative is a reference to China’s Silk Road economic development project that people like Pepe Escobar regard as benign globalization.)

Back in my days in the Trotskyist movement, I used to hear references frequently to one of the main goals of socialism: overcoming the breach between intellectual and physical labor. This was how Marx put it in Critique of the Gotha Program:

In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly — only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

And this is how Lyndon LaRouche, a 20 year veteran of the Trotskyist movement who moved on to a career as a management consultant before morphing into a dangerous fascist leader, considered the relationship between intellectuals and those who do physical labor according to Hieronymus:

From all this,  one gets the following sense which is difficult to doubt: Resting on this unrelenting development of productive forces, Marcus’ [LaRouche’s “party name”] vision necessarily entails a “leadership,” a regime of specialists (political economists, accounts, actuaries, scientists, architects, administrators “and others” not the least of which would be Marcus himself). In their “mediation” as “’experts’ on each category of human need” and in “using concrete professional skills to mediate its [the working class’] comprehension of technology and other phenomena”, they inhabit an institutionally distinct space, that of “centralized planning.” Their activity is crudely that of counting and calculating and on this basis creating a plan and whatever options it affords. We consider these very much bourgeois “activities” in the narrow sense of engaging economic rationality. Meanwhile the mass of workers would discuss this plan which is simply presented to them fully formed. According to Marcus, this means an “interchange” between leaders and workers occurs “within the class as a whole.” It signifies an “extended debate about economic problems” transpires between two groups. But it is only one which “thinks” and in so doing generates (even if only in the bean counting, numerically manipulative fashion of the bourgeoisie) the fabled plan. The other discusses the options or ready-made alternatives presented to it. Marcus calls this discussion about the economic programs” “a kind of organic celebration.” He appears to believe that human creativity does not of necessity immediately and directly involve generating the alternatives. Instead, it is a matter of having it done on workers’ behalf by “experts,” “professionals” and “leaders” who pursue “socialist accumulation” as the “centralized agencies of the class as a whole.”

In my next post, I will address the question of how this repellent but fairly conventional technocratic/elitist formula helped to lead LaRouche and his followers to become allies with the KKK and neo-Nazis, meet with officials of the Reagan administration, build up a treasury of millions of dollars, and run hundreds of campaigns around the country including Lyndon LaRouche’s periodic run for President.

 

July 26, 2017

The Forest Brothers and the holocaust

Filed under: Fascism,genocide,Stalinism,war — louisproyect @ 5:06 pm

For many on the left, the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—are the epitomes of Cold War villainy. Belonging to NATO, they are poised like daggers on the edge of Russia just as they were when it was the USSR. We are constantly being told that they were Adolf Hitler’s allies during WWII and that the CIA continued to back them during the Cold War as counter-revolutionary bastions. Like Ukraine and Poland, they have no redeeming qualities with some leftists probably considering the possibility that they are congenitally reactionary after the fashion of Daniel Goldhagen’s “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”.

Needless to say, those on the left who are either unreconstructed Stalinists or are rapidly moving in that direction like Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton view their role as fighting the good fight against jihadists, Baltic fascists and anybody else who would deter Vladimir Putin from his mission of saving the world from Western imperialism. In a nutshell, they are to journalism what Oliver Stone’s interviews with Putin are to film.

Since there will obviously be a smaller market for their Pamela Geller-style articles denouncing the Wahhabi/Salafi/ISIS/al Qaeda threats to Enlightenment values now that Trump has backed Russian goals to the hilt and cut off all support to Syrian rebels, they will likely swerve in the direction of finding new enemies of the Kremlin to denounce.

Evidence of that is an Alternet Grayzone article by Norton titled In Flashy New Film, NATO Celebrates Nazi Collaborators Who Murdered Jews in the Holocaust that reads as if it were written for Sputnik or RT.com. It is aimed at an 8-minute documentary about the Forest Brothers produced by NATO.

The Forest Brothers were a guerrilla army made up of volunteers from all three Baltic states that fought against the Red Army and even alongside Nazi troops at times. The brunt of Norton’s article is to categorize them as murderers of Jews even though this charge is not based so much on what the guerrillas did but on supposedly the past history of “many” of its members. Citing Dovid Katz, an American professor based in Lithuania endorsed by Norton, you might wonder whether there was anything they could have done to be found innocent of these charges except to join forces with the Red Army:

Many of the members of the Forest Brothers “were fascists, including some recycled killers from the 1941 genocide phase of the Latvian Holocaust,” Katz explained. The group “served to delay the Soviet advance (in alliance with the United States, Great Britain and the Allies) that would liberate the death camps further west.”

Based on Norton’s time-tunnel, it is absolutely impossible to figure out why Baltic men and women would want to deter the Red Army since it destroyed Nazism, something that people like Oliver Stone remind us of every chance they get. Did Baltic youth read Mein Kampf in grade school? What made them so evil? Since for people like Stone and Norton, history begins at the point when the Forest Brothers took up their fight, you really have no idea what made them tick.

As I pointed out in my review of “The Fencer”, a Finnish film that reviews some of this history, Estonia was a piece of real estate ceded to Stalin as part of the secret protocols in the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact as was Lithuania, Latvia and the eastern half of Poland. If you’ve learned from the history of Stalin’s rule—as Norton did before he prostituted himself—you’ll know that millions died in Ukraine and the USSR during the 1930s before a single Jew died in a Nazi concentration camp. Comparing Nazi Germany in the 1930s to Stalin’s Russia in the same period might have even led some people in the Baltic states to see Nazism as a lesser evil especially in light of Stalin’s brutal transformation of these nations into Soviet satellites in 1940. While not genocidal, it had the same character as his rape of the Ukraine. Indeed, in his “Why the Heavens did not Darken”, distinguished historian Arno Mayer described Nazi treatment of the Jews before the Wannsee conference as comparable to the treatment of Blacks in the Deep South.

As I pointed out in my review of “The Fencer”, Estonia lost 8,000 people in the year following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, victimized as “enemies of the people” in the Soviet occupation’s wide net. If this nation had the same population in 1940 as the USA today, that would have represented the loss of 2.4 million of its citizens.

What about Lithuania? On July 1, 1940 the country became a single-party state absorbed into the USSR. The 1,500 member Communist Party was the only one permitted to run in elections. Like Bashar al-Assad, they won a resounding victory. Prior to the election, 2,000 political activists were arrested. Another 12,000 individuals were imprisoned as “enemies of the people” soon afterwards. According to Wikipedia, “between June 14 and June 18, 1941, less than a week before the Nazi invasion, some 17,000 Lithuanians were deported to Siberia, where many perished due to inhumane living conditions”. Around this time, Lithuania had a population of 2.4 million. So once again using today’s population in the USA as a benchmark, this would have meant that the equivalent of 4.5 million people were victimized by Stalinist repression.

Not even Jews were spared. Eliyana Adler, an orthodox Jew who is Associate Professor in History and Jewish Studies at Penn State, wrote an article titled “Exile and Survival: Lithuanian Jewish Deportees in the Soviet Union” that began by describing Lithuania as having “established a unique and relatively tolerant relationship with what had been a fairly small Jewish community of about 150,000 people” in the intra-war period. Although Stalin was anti-Semitic, the main motivation for sending Lithuanian Jews to Siberia was their class origins. Adler writes:

On June 14, 1941, the Soviet security forces (Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del, hereafter NKVD) arrested about 30,000 Lithuanians, including 7,000 Jews, as ‘enemies of the people’. The action was well-planned. Two to three agents arrived at each home simultaneously, leaving no time for friends, neighbors, or relatives to contact and warn one another. Each family was given twenty minutes to pack their luggage and loaded into waiting trucks that brought them to the train station. They were then crammed into cattle cars, unable to say goodbyes, and with no knowledge of what awaited them.

What awaited them was what awaited most people who were exiled to Siberia and it took these Lithuanian Jews living in exile sixteen years to finally get the right to leave the USSR.

Latvia got the same treatment. Nearly 2 percent of the population was sent to Soviet gulags, including thousands of Jews.

Norton has the distinctly odd idea that none of this had any connection to anti-Communist armed struggles. He is so feckless as to make a stink about the Lithuanian organizers of collective farms being killed by anti-Soviet partisans. Is this guy for real? One imagines that at this point in his sorry career, he would endorse the forced collectivization of agriculture in both Ukraine and in Lithuania as the same way as Grover Furr or Roland Boer. In both cases, they were a total disaster. Farmers who resisted collectivization in Lithuania were deported to the USSR. Furthermore, as was the case in the USSR, agriculture suffered setbacks that it never fully recovered from.

Turning now to the question of Lithuania and the holocaust that is the main focus of Norton’s article, it is important to get the facts straight. The murders were carried out by a combined force of the Nazi Einsatzgruppe and Lithuanian auxiliaries who volunteered to be part of the killing machine. You can read Dina Porat’s account of all this in a chapter titled “The Holocaust in Lithuania: some unique aspects” that is included in David Cesarani’s “The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation” and can be read on Dovid Katz’s website.

The Lithuanian killers were organized as the Labour National Guard that was so extreme that even the Nazis sought to differentiate themselves from it. The Labour National Guard consisted of 8,400 men who also worked with the Lithuanian cops to systematically exterminate Jews in areas they policed. Porat cites a Nazi memorandum referring to how “the local population” was appalled by their bloodlust.

She speculates that a lot of the animus directed against the Jews had to do with widespread sympathies for the USSR:

One issue that lies outside the scope of this chapter concerns the explanations for the Lithuanians extreme conduct. In short, it was a combination of a complex of factors such as national traditions and values, religion (Orthodox Catholic, in this case), severe economic problems and tragically opposed political orientations. Lithuanian Jews supported the Soviet regime in Lithuania during 1940-1, being partly of socialist inclination, and in the full knowledge that life imprisonment [Soviet regime] is better than life sentence [Nazi rule], as in the Yiddish saying. By contrast, the Lithuanians fostered hopes of regaining, with German support, the national independence that the Soviets extinguished, as a reward for anti-Jewish and anti-Bolshevik stances. During the Soviet rule of Lithuania these feelings heightened and burst out following the German invasion. One might say that the Germans provided the framework and. the legitimation for the killing of Lithuania’s Jews„ while the national aspirations and the hatred for communism provided the fuel. Still, this is not a full explanation for such brutality, especially as there was no tradition of pogroms in Lithuania. Not all Lithuanians took part in the killings, and one cannot depict all of them as murderers. At least one thousand Lithuanians sheltered Jews, thereby risking their own and their lives. A few tens of thousands took active part in the mass murders while the rest were either apathetic or aggravated the misery of the Jews in lesser ways than actual killing. [emphasis added]

In my view, the blame for such inhumanity was WWII. You might as well ask what motivated well-meaning American citizens in uniform who under ordinary circumstances would not kill a fly to become enthusiastic participants in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the firebombing of Dresden, and other atrocities. Total war is an incubator of atrocities.

Finally, the origins of the Forest Brothers has to be addressed. They had no connection to the Labour National Guard although you can assume that some of its members joined the Forest Brothers at some point. It is, of course, impossible to pin down how many.

But the Forest Brothers in Lithuania emerged from a totally different dynamic. Its members were formerly part of the Territorial Defense Force who had disbanded with their weapons and uniforms and the Lithuanian Freedom Army, established in 1941. (Wikipedia). More importantly, the Forest Brothers did not take up arms against the Red Army until 1944, long after 95 percent of the Lithuanian Jews had been exterminated.

The Territorial Defense Force was hardly the sort of militia the Nazis considered trustworthy. In an article titled “Lithuanian Resistance To German Mobilization Attempts 1941-1944” written for a Lithuanian scholarly journal, Mečislovas Mackevičius describes the clash between Nazi goals and legitimate Lithuanian national aspirations [emphasis added]:

Since the brutality of the Germans was unpredictable, a special Lithuanian conference was convoked May 5, 1943 to ease the tensions. The Germans did not oppose the conference, especially since it was in favor of mobilizing against the eminent communist threat. The Red Army was gaining on the German Eastern front while the Eastern region of Lithuania was routinely harassed by communist partisans, supported and supplied from the Soviet Union. The Germans disagreed only with the conference’s references to Lithuanian independence. November 24, 1943, the first councilor (Pirmasis Tarėjas) convened a meeting of 45 select prominent Lithuanian figures. At the meeting, it was stated that a Lithuanian SS legion or any SS unit would be unacceptable in Lithuania as such groups are contrary to the Lithuanian spirit. Lithuanians can only accept and support a national armed force, the purpose of which would be Lithuanian national defense. The use of the term “Lithuanian Armed Forces” was completely unacceptable to the Germans. After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed that an SS legion would not be formed in Lithuania. Instead, simple armed Lithuanian forces would be established with the name Litauische Streitkrafte (Lithuanian Troops), acceptable to the Germans.

After long discussions and conferences, Gen. Povilas Plechavičius, Jackeln and SS Police Chief for Lithuania Maj. Gen. Harm signed a written agreement February 13,1944 for forming a local Lithuanian detachment (Lietuvos Vietinė Rinktinė).

The stipulations were as follows: Only Lithuanian officers would be in charge of the detachment, thereby preventing any German intervention. Such intervention was also specifically prohibited by the agreement. Lithuanian commands were to be formed all over the country, their work being limited to the territory of Lithuania proper. This ensured the detachment from assignment to foreign locations. Twenty battalions were planned with possible additions later. The soldiers would wear Lithuanian insignia on their uniforms. The detachment was to be formed only from volunteers. Additionally, the Germans agreed not to deport any more Lithuanians to forced labor as soon as the detachment was started.

February 16, 1944, Lithuanian Independence Day, Gen. Plechavičius, commander of the Lithuanian detachment, made a radio appeal to the nation for volunteers. It is noteworthy that all Lithuanian political underground organizations supported this solution. This was achieved through constant communication between Lithuanian commanders and resistance leaders. The February 16th appeal was enormously successful: More volunteers came forward than was expected. The Germans were very surprised and deeply shocked by the number of volunteers since their own appeals went unheeded, as described.

The Germans, worried by the success of the detachment, started to interfere, breaking the signed agreement. March 22, 1944, Jackein called for 70-80 thousand men for the German army as subsidiary assistants. Chief-of-Staff of the Northern Front Field Marshal Model pressed for 15 battalions of men to protect the German military airports. Plechavičius rejected the demand April 5, 1944. Renteln himself demanded workers for Germany proper. Other German officials also voiced their demands.

Finally, April 6, 1944, the Germans ordered Plechavičius to mobilize the country. Plechavičius responded that the mobilization could not take place until the formation of the detachment was complete. This greatly displeased the Germans since it was clear the detachment did not serve their immediate needs and interests.

The Germans decided to end the resistance of the Lithuanians and the formation of the detachment. Provocation seemed to be the best method to escalate the situation. Jackein demanded the detachment troops to take an oath to Hitler, the text of which was provided. Plechavičius rejected the demand. May 9, 1944, Jackein ordered the detachment units in Vilnius to revert to his direct authority. All other units of the detachment were to come under the command of the regional German commissars. Furthermore, the detachment was to don SS uniforms and use the “Heil Hitler” greeting.

The Lithuanian headquarters directed the detachment units in the field to obey only the orders of the Lithuanian detachment. It also ordered the Detachment Officer School in the city of Marijampolė to send the cadets home. May 15, Plechavičius, the commander of the detachment, and Col. Oskaras Urbonas, chief-of-staff of the detachment, were arrested together with the other staff members. They were deported to the Salaspils concentration camp in Latvia. Subsequently, 40 more officers of the detachment were arrested and deported.

The Germans acted ferociously in liquidating the detachment. For example, they publicly executed 12 randomly selected soldiers in a Vilnius line-up which consisted of some 800 men. En route to the city of Kaunas, while transporting some arrested members, one of the prisoners escaped. In retaliation, the Germans then selected non-commissioned officer Ruseckas for execution on the spot. Since the German regular army guards were stalling the execution, a German SS commissioned officer did the actual shooting.

The cities of Vilnius, Panevėžys, Marijampolė, and others were deeply affected by the dismantlement of the Lithuanian detachment. Any resistance resulted only in suffering and greater sacrifice: 3,500 were arrested. A part of those resisting were sent to forced labor camps in Germany. Some of the armed soldiers inevitably reached the forests and undoubtedly joined the newly formed armed Lithuanian underground to fight the second Soviet occupation of Lithuania.

These were kind of men who joined the Forest Brothers, not the cops and thugs who took part in the mass murder of Jews. In its attempt to turn the criminal into the victim and the victim into the criminal, the Russian state press is sweeping this history under the rug. Why someone who was educated in Marxist politics like Ben Norton would pick up a broom on their behalf is a mystery. That is, unless the pay is really, really good.

July 2, 2017

When Seymour Hersh was interviewed on Infowars

Filed under: Fascism,journalism,Syria — louisproyect @ 8:16 pm

This week, when a Facebook friend referred to a Seymour Hersh appearance on Alex Jones’s Infowars, I did a double-take. Could that be possible? I understand that his judgement is poor but nobody with an ounce of sense would agree to be interviewed by arguably the worst rightwing demagogue in the USA. It turns out that he spoke with Jones on December 30, 2015–timed with his LRB article about how American Generals sidestepped Obama to provide critical intelligence that the Russians and Assad used against the opposition. Not only did Hersh consent to the interview, it was about as amiable an encounter as Barack Obama being interviewed by Charlie Rose.

Is it possible that this shows signs of senility? That might be one way of explaining the inexplicable. You saw similar behavior from another elderly celebrity of the left. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Ryan Dawson did a podcast with MIT professor emeritus Theodore Postol on August 25, 2014 in order to blame the rebels rather than Assad for using Sarin gas in East Ghouta a year earlier. Much of the show consisted of Postol crediting the Syrian Girl for help on clearing Assad’s name. Also known as Partisangirl, Maram Susli is a fascist (I use the word advisedly) who has appeared on David Duke’s radio show. It’s a small world when it comes to Assadism, senility and fascism apparently.

In making the case for Bashar al-Assad as a big improvement over the opposition, Hersh says that the mass murderer was responsible for major reforms. One of them is that now “you can bank there”. There are ATM machines everywhere. There were 30 different foreign broadcasts on TV as well.

So you can understand why with all those ATM’s and foreign broadcasts, a revolution in Syria would be unnecessary. Yes, it’s true that back in 2011 there might have been some “moderate” rebels but in no time at all, the rebels became fanatical supporters of Sharia law and determined to oppress Christians and Alawites if they took over. With such an analysis, it makes perfect sense why Hersh would accept an invitation to speak on a podcast hosted by a fanatical Islamophobe.

Hersh admits to Jones that Assad was a dictator but the opposition was worse. Hersh states that ISIS executed 200 of his soldiers in one fell swoop. On the other hand, Amnesty International reported that 13,000 prisoners have been secretly hanged in Assad’s prisons but you can’t believe a word that they say since they are a tool of imperialism (except when they are reporting on rebel war crimes). Same thing with Doctors Without Borders. When they claim that Assad bombs hospitals, they are lying but when they report on Saudi Arabia doing the same thing in Yemen, they are telling the truth. How postmodern.

Hersh understood the value of Alex Jones, at least on his own terms. In the old days, it was the NY Times and the Washington Post that controlled the agenda but now because of the Internet and what guys like Jones do, the word gets out there automatically. In his view, “that’s good” because now we have more and better communications. So let’s applaud Infowars, Breitbart News, Global Research, Al-Masdar News, Duran, 21st Century Wire and SOTT for providing a much needed alternative. Along with WBAI, we can now get an alternative to the mainstream news. As far as I know, Jones does not give away Gary Null tapes.

Just this week Alex Jones made the news by both inviting and appearing to take seriously a guest who charged NASA with operating a child slave colony on Mars. Largely through his connections to the Donald Trump campaign, Jones has become infamous in the last year or so as a close ally of the emerging alt-right. But for those who have been aware of Jones for the past decade or so, the NASA slave colony stuff comes as no big surprise since Jones is a major league conspiracy theorist whose attorney even defended him as a purveyor of entertainment rather than a reporter. Taste, they say, is largely in the mouth.

Would Hersh have had agreed to be interviewed by someone like Jones if he knew in advance that he was obviously so deranged? Maybe Jones hadn’t come up with something so outrageous back in December 2015 but it didn’t take much research to find out that he had already described the Sandy Hook Massacre as “staged”.This is not to speak of Jones’s long-standing affiliation with the 9/11 Truther movement.Why would a “legendary” Pulitzer Prize winning reporter want to even take part in a podcast interview conducted with someone that detached from reality? Would he have gone on the David Duke show? I really have to wonder.

This week I have seen repeated credit given to Hersh by people who should know better. For example, Jeff St. Clair touted his Die Welt article as a “landmark piece of investigative reporting”, while the Monthly Review website has linked to the article as well as one Ray McGovern’s wrote in support of Hersh’s article that also appeared on CounterPunch. Does John Bellamy Foster, who has devoted many hours reading about soil chemistry in conjunction with his research on the “metabolic rift”, believe that it is possible to create a toxic cloud that killed 58 people and wounded 300 by dropping a bomb on fertilizer? What about Fred Magdoff, the son of the late editor that Foster replaced after his death? Magdoff is Emeritus Professor of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont. What if one of his students wrote a paper that made such a claim? What kind of scientific evidence would Magdoff expect from his student? Wouldn’t he be as exacting with a journal edited by his respected father? Would the fact that they must have deemed it a waste of time discomfit him? They must have figured that anything written by Seymour Hersh didn’t have to be read with a critical eye. As Donald Trump would say, how sad..

The other day Paul Street, a guy I have a lot of respect for, posted a link on Facebook to a CounterPunch article by Jonathan Cook along the same lines. When, probably to his surprise, a number of people became indignant over this, he understandably didn’t try to defend Hersh (which would have required defending the idea that a bomb dropped on fertilizer can have the same effect as Sarin gas). Instead, he fretted over how the left can become so divided over “foreign” affairs and urged the need for a united front against the capitalist class in the USA. Surely that will be necessary as I tried to indicate in my defense of a Jill Stein vote in 2016.

However, there is something that Paul probably didn’t quite grasp. In the six years of leftist propaganda for Assad, the truth has become less and less important. I first noticed this on CounterPunch articles about East Ghouta that motivated me to resign in 2013. It was not just disagreeing over how to assess Assad. It was how so many people were willing to argue along the lines that it was “illogical” for Assad to carry out such an attack since he was winning the war and since UN inspectors were in the area.

I always wonder why people who raise such cavils never seem nearly so interested in what was in the minds of the rebels they accuse of mounting a “false flag”. Between the two Sarin gas attacks blamed on the rebels by Seymour Hersh, Theodore Postol, et al, 1800 supporters of the rebels were killed and 5000 wounded. What are we to make of men who are so heartless as to kill their own supporters, including many family members, on a gamble? And if they are so heartless, why haven’t they used such a deadly weapon a single time in 6 years of war on Assad’s military, his government bureaucracy or his wealthy supporters who could be reached by sarin-weaponized artillery in the Damascus suburbs that Postol blamed for the East Ghouta massacre. None of this makes any sense, of course.

There’s a real danger when the left embraces such lies in order to pursue “anti-imperialist” goals. As Leon Trotsky points out in “Their Morals and Ours”, the ends do justify the means but under no conditions would a revolutionary socialist like Trotsky accept telling lies to further justifiable ends. The more we bend the truth to support a political agenda no matter how laudable (giving support for Assad the benefit of the doubt), the greater the danger it will finally break.

 

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