Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 21, 2019

Putin, Trump, the Christian Right, Austrian fascists, and the schizoid left

He paved the way for Max Blumenthal and Roger Waters

I came across articles this week that demonstrate how both Christian evangelists in the USA and the alt-right Freedom Party in Austria have been building ties to the Kremlin. An Open Democracy article titled “Revealed: Trump-linked US Christian ‘fundamentalists’ pour millions of ‘dark money’ into Europe, boosting the far right” was written by Claire Provost on March 27, 2019. It demonstrates how US Christian right ‘fundamentalists’ linked to the Trump administration and Steve Bannon are key players that have poured at least $50 million of ‘dark money’ into Europe.

Meanwhile, the same kind of affinities have been shared by the Kremlin and the same alt-right parties, including Austria’s Freedom Party that has been undone by a sting carried out by unidentified parties which showed the party’s Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache meeting with a woman in Ibiza who represented herself as the niece of a Russian oligarch. The party’s first leader was Anton Reinthaller, a former Nazi functionary and SS member. It became the first far right party since the end of WWII to become part of a government when Jörg Haider entered a coalition with the conservative People’s Party in 2000.

In exchange for supporting Russian interests, Strache would be expected to receive secret and illegal donations from the oligarch to the tune of millions of Euros. In the same week that I noticed any number of articles on my FB timeline calling attention to the valiant role of the USSR in defeating Nazism, I wondered how many people posting links to them were aware that the Freedom Party is trying to recreate the Third Reich. An Atlantic Monthly article on the scandal reported:

A state senator for the Freedom Party, reporters revealed, once belonged to a fraternity that openly glorified the Third Reich. (“At that point, the Jew Ben Gurion came into their midst,” go the lyrics for one of the fraternity’s songs, “and said: ‘Step on the gas, ye old Teutons, we’ll manage the seventh million.’”)

People on the left who try to debunk the notion that Trump is pro-Russia will always bring up matters such as how the Ukrainians are receiving heavy weapons from the Pentagon or how sanctions have been maintained and even beefed up. They take Trump at his word when he says that he is the most anti-Russian president the country has ever seen.

However, they don’t bother to address the question of how the Kremlin colludes—dare I use the word?with Christian evangelicals. To a large extent, this simply reflects the tendency of some on the left with a particularly Manichean brand of geopolitics to act as if the Cold War had never ended. During the Cold War, the Christian right was a mainstay of the anti-Communist crusade. Billy Graham, For example, in the summer of 1954, spoke to 25,000 West Germans gathered in Düsseldorf’s Rheinstadium about how Berlin was “a battleground, a continent for conquest”. During the Vietnam War, Graham agreed with Nixon that bombing the dikes in the North would be necessary even if it cost the lives of a million Vietnamese.

But his son Franklin had a different take on Russia. In March 2014, Decision Magazine, a publication of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, featured a cover article on Vladimir Putin. Inside, a Franklin Graham op-ed praised Putin’s signing a law barring the dissemination of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to children. He wrote: “It’s obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God’s teaching,” Graham wrote. In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

Mother Jones took note of the ties between Russia and the Christian right just around the time that Decision Magazine article appeared. The World Congress of Families decided to hold its annual meeting in Russia that year. The WCF is one of the most powerful voices of the Christian right. Showing its continuing ties to the European far right, it held its annual conference this year in Verona, Italy where Matteo Salvini, the fascist Interior Minister of Italy, spoke on the need “to defend the family that consists of a mother and a father”. Other participants included Dimitri Smirnov, a Russian Orthodox priest who says abortion is  “scarier than the Holocaust” and Forza Nuova, an Italian neofascist party.

Does the sting of the Freedom Party leader in Ibiza mean that he was like some poor soul in the USA who was entrapped to take part in some illegal act, like bombing a synagogue? While I am opposed to stings of this sort as a matter of principle, there is little doubt that Putin is for the rightwing coalition government in Austria until the scandal forced the withdrawal of Strache and other party members.

Russia has naturally denied any ties to Strache’s party but at least one journalist noticed disturbing contacts not only between Putin and these fascists but with Trump as well. In a December 20, 2016 Progress Pond article titled “Trump, Austrian Neo-Nazis, and Putin”, Martin Longman reported that Strache came to New York just after Trump’s election to meet with Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor who subsequently stepped down after he was charged with unauthorized communications with Russian officials. Oh, did I mention that he sat at the same table with Max Blumenthal and Vladimir Putin for the RT.com 10th anniversary banquet in 2015?

A day before the Progress Pond article was published, the NY Times described the fallout from the Strache-Flynn meeting. A cooperation agreement outlined plans for regular meetings to hammer out economic, business and political projects. It was signed by Sergei Zheleznyak, a member of Putin’s United Russia Party. In welcoming the fascists to his party headquarters, Zheleznyak cited Europe’s “migration crisis” as a field for cooperation. I can’t say I am surprised that this is a field of cooperation since the European fascist movement prioritizes nativism as well as homophobia and anti-abortion laws just as does the Trump administration.

In the 1950s, schizophrenia was often mislabeled as an illness entailing a “split personality”. In fact, the word “schizo” is Greek for split. It was confused with dissociative identity disorder that was dramatized in the 1957 film “Three Faces of Eve” that was based on a true story of a woman manifesting 3 different personalities. In 2016, M. Night Shyamalan upped the ante with “Split”, a film whose main character had 23 different personalities.

Perhaps the first popular culture expression of this phenomenon was Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde”, in which the transformation to the evil Mr. Hyde was triggered by chemicals produced in a laboratory rather than in the brain.

It occurs to me that the Doctor Jekyll/Mister Hyde duality is rampant on the left today with many people saying all sorts of good things about the Palestinians but evil things about the Syrians because of their embrace of Manichean geopolitics that sees support for every Kremlin initiative as incumbent on “anti-imperialists”. Max Blumenthal is a prime example although one has to wonder if his being paid in rubles rather than ideology or chemical imbalances explains his evil writings on Syria. You get the same thing with Roger Waters and Susan Sarandon who would likely martyr themselves on behalf of the Palestinians when their “good” half takes over but when the “evil” half kicks in, they have no trouble defaming the half-million or so martyred Syrians as jihadists who deserved what they got.

Today, the left is mobilized around the threat to abortion rights in places like Alabama, Georgia and Ohio that is being pushed by the Christian right. It is this very Christian right that Steve Bannon is aligned with as it hopes to transform Europe into something resembling Alabama on a continent-wide basis. Dennis Bernstein can write an article for Consortium News about the ongoing struggle for abortion rights in 2016 and then turn around in 2018 conduct a softball interview with the late Robert Parry, who founded Consortium News, about The Rush to a New Cold War, which repeats the same talking points you hear continuously there, on Grayzone, WSWS.org, The Nation and elsewhere. Parry tells Bernstein:

The Russians have taken a very different perspective, which is that the United States is encroaching on its borders and threatening them in a strategic manner. They also look at what happened in Ukraine very differently. They see a U.S.-backed coup d’etat in February 2014 that ousted an elected president and put in a regime that is very supportive of free market, neoliberal policies, but also includes very strong right-wing elements, including neo-Nazis and far-right nationalists. A crisis was created and tensions continue to spiral out of control.

A search for “Freedom Party” and Austria on Consortium News returned zero hits.

Perhaps the only explanation for this part of the left’s split personality is its failure to understand world politics from a class perspective. If your unit of analysis is the nation-state and if you somehow think that the Cold War, that had at its roots a conflict between two different modes of production that were as irreconcilable as capitalism and feudalism, has never ended, you can easily end up waking up in the morning writing benign articles or Tweets about the need for solidarity with the Palestinians and closer to midnight writing crap about how Syrians gassed their own families with chlorine as a “false flag”, with blood dripping from your fangs. Is there any hope for such people reintegrating their personalities by reading Marxists? If so, I’d recommend that they start with Leon Trotsky’s 1938 “Learn to Think”:

Let us assume that rebellion breaks out tomorrow in the French colony of Algeria under the banner of national independence and that the Italian government, motivated by its own imperialist interests, prepares to send weapons to the rebels. What should the attitude of the Italian workers be in this case? I have purposely taken an example of rebellion against a democratic imperialism with intervention on the side of the rebels from a fascist imperialism. Should the Italian workers prevent the shipping of arms to the Algerians? Let any ultra-leftists dare answer this question in the affirmative. Every revolutionist, together with the Italian workers and the rebellious Algerians, would spurn such an answer with indignation. Even if a general maritime strike broke out in fascist Italy at the same time, even in this case the strikers should make an exception in favor of those ships carrying aid to the colonial slaves in revolt; otherwise they would be no more than wretched trade unionists – not proletarian revolutionists.

 

 

May 6, 2019

Is Tucker Carlson becoming woke?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Griffin writes:

Venezuela illustrates why a 3.0 movement is necessary.

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

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

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

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

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

So what is going on here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

February 16, 2019

The Militant newspaper quotes a neo-Nazi favorably

Filed under: racism,Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 9:30 pm
Steve Sailer

Large tech companies like Amazon are notorious for hiring new college graduates at crappy wages and pushing them to get places in gaggles. Describing how this leads to what he calls “unaffordable family formation,” Steve Sailer says in an Unz Review blog, “It helps them squeeze more out of workers: The firms like being in places too expensive to raise a family — families are distractions, at least in the short-run.”

https://themilitant.com/2019/02/16/capitalist-crisis-blocks-affordable-family-formation/


UNZ Review is a neo-Nazi website as I have pointed out on my blog. As for Sailer, he is a typical contributor to UNZ Review. From Wikipedia:

Steven Ernest Sailer (born December 20, 1958) is an American journalist, movie critic, and columnist. He is a former correspondent for UPI and a columnist for Taki’s Magazine and VDARE.com. He writes about race relations, gender issues, politics, immigration, IQ, genetics, movies, and sports. As of 2014, Sailer stopped publishing his personal blog on his own website and shifted it to the Unz Review, an online publication by Ron Unz that described itself as an “alternative media selection”.[1]

VDARE.com has been associated with white supremacy,[2][3] white nationalism,[4][5][6] and the alt-right.[7][8][9] Sailer’s writing for VDARE has described black people as inherently lacking judgment,[10] and claimed that Jews control the media to demoralize and divide other groups.[11]

His writing for both VDARE and Unz Review have endorsed eugenics and scientific racism.[12] Sailer has been credited with coining the term “human biodiversity” in the 1990s, with the term later becoming popular among the alt-right as a euphemism for scientific racism.[13][14][15]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Sailer


From a Sailer article on UNZ Review:

White Flight After the Greater Migration
The growth of black gang violence in far-off Australia raises an interesting question that I can barely find discussed anywhere online: white flight in other countries. The Great Migration of 6 or 7 million African-Americans from the South to Northern cities in the 1940s-1970s contributed heavily to white flight to the suburbs. With sub-Saharan Africa forecast to quadruple in population to 4 billion over the rest of the century, first world countries need to be thinking seriously about what would be the impact of a Greater Migration of blacks out of Africa of one or two orders of magnitude greater than the Great Migration that caused so much havoc in 20th Century urban America.  So what do other countries think about this prospect? I can’t find much in English on the topic of white flight in Europe.


I suspect that lots of European elites think that It Can’t Happen Here because:

– They don’t really grasp that it ever happened in America. After all, it’s not a subject for respectable discourse in the American press.

– Unlike us, white Americans are racist, so they deserved whatever it was that happened to them.

– We’ll send the migrants to the boring suburbs instead, and keep the lovely downtowns for ourselves.

– We have gun control, so how bad can things get?

December 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“U died 5 years ago,” Stone replied.

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

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

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

 

October 2, 2018

Russia and the Western Far-right: Tango Noir

Filed under: Counterpunch,Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 1:03 pm

COUNTERPUNCH, OCTOBER 2, 2018

On September 20, 2013, Vladimir Putin gave a speech at a Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in the Novgorod region that announced his new orientation to the far-right internationally:

Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.

The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.

I discovered this hair-raising speech in Anton Shekhovtsov’s “Russia and the Western Far-right: Tango Noir”, a carefully researched book that was published in August 2017 and that is must-reading for anybody trying to make sense of the deep divisions on the left about Russia’s role in world politics. Information about the book can be found on Shekhovtsov’s website alongside a blog that keeps up with the same kind of research. For example, a June 2018 post reveals that ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky hosted a conference in Moscow intended to connect like-minded Russians with groups like the National-Democratic Party (NDP) in Germany that is regarded as the country’s most significant neo-Nazi party since 1945.

Continue reading

September 4, 2018

Meet the leftwing writers identified as columnists on a neo-Nazi website

Filed under: Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 7:01 pm

Norman Finkelstein: prefers neo-Nazis to the NY Times

Just about a year ago I discussed The Unz Review in the context of a controversy over Valerie Plame tweeting a link to an article that appeared there written by columnist Philip Giraldi titled “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars”. Oh, did I mention that other people identified as columnists include: Patrick Cockburn, Peter Lee, Tom Engelhardt, Norman Finkelstein, and Michael Hudson?

The website is named after its founder Ron Unz, two of whose most recent posts has prompted me to revisit this website that encapsulates the sordid connections between the alt-right and the radical movement. Like Michael Albert of ZNet, Ron Unz aggregates articles that might have appeared originally on leftist websites. Such articles offer solidarity for the Palestinians, Assad’s war on terrorism, the Eastern Ukraine separatists as well as opposition to trade deals like The Trans-Pacific Partnership, warmongers like John McCain, Mueller’s investigation and NATO.

For every one of these leftist articles (leaving aside the merits of Assad and the Donetsk militias) you will find just as many promoting bans on immigration of the sort found in VDARE (Ron Unz has donated 10s of thousands of dollars to VDARE) along with “scholarly” articles making the case that people of color are genetically inferior to Caucasians. One regular there, a deeply racist woman named Ilana Mercer who is listed as a columnist right next to CounterPunch regular Peter Lee, has written a number of pieces arguing that the ANC is promoting “white genocide” against South African farmers just like Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump. Plus, tons of anti-Semitic tripe of the sort Giraldi wrote.

But none of this prepared me for Ron Unz’s recent turn that effectively puts The Unz Review in the same category as the Daily Stormer and DavidDuke.com.

Unz, who happens to be of Jewish origin, wrote an article titled “Oddities of the Jewish Religion” on July 16th that effectively turns anti-Zionist Israel Shahak into an anti-Semite. Using Israel Shahak’s scholarly review of how the state of Israel used backward Talmudic passages to justify all sorts of brutality, Unz essentializes such writings as proof that the Jews have been viciously predatory for their entire history.

Like the fascists of the 1930s, Unz dwells on the Jewish-Bolshevik plot that led to the Czar being overthrown, using none other than Alexander Solzhenitsyn as an expert. Using a thoroughly racialist narrative, Unz saw Putin as delivering the Russians from the oppressive Jewish-Communist legacy: “After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, reborn Russia soon fell under the overwhelming domination of a small group of Oligarchs, almost entirely of Jewish background, and a decade of total misery and impoverishment for the general Russian population soon followed. But once an actual Russian named Vladimir Putin regained control, these trends reversed and the lives of Russians have enormously improved since that time.”

Given that that the Bolshevik leaders were overwhelmingly Jewish, according to Unz, he concludes that when you also acknowledge the small numbers of Jews worldwide, you end up with the Jews as “the greatest mass-murderers of the twentieth century, holding that unfortunate distinction by an enormous margin and with no other nationality coming even remotely close.” Obviously, this balances out the millions of Jews who died in Nazi death camps. Hitler killed millions of Jews; so did the Bolshevik Jews kill millions of Christians.

Not only did the Jews wreak havoc in Russia, they also got their dirty mitts on the entertainment industry. Even if good Christians were responsible for the invention of film, radio, and television technologies, they all came under the control of “ruthless Jewish businessmen, who sometimes destroyed the lives and careers of those creators.” Furthermore, “By the 1950s, nearly all of America’s leading concentrations of electronic media power—with the sole major exception of Disney Studios—were solidly in Jewish hands.” I guess Unz didn’t realize that Michael Eisner was a yid.

As bad as this was, Unz escalated his neo-Nazi attack on Jews in a August 27th article titled “Holocaust Denial” that begins by defending a 1976 special issue of Reason Magazine from Mark Ames in PandoDaily accusing it of Ernst Zundel type “revisionism”. To get an idea of the contents, you can find something by Austin App, the author of a 1973 book titled “The Six Million Swindle: Blackmailing the German People for Hard Marks and Fabricated Corpses”. Unz found App to be a very convincing debunker of the myth that six million died.

Unz was predisposed to take Reason at its word since Murray Rothbard, a Jew just like him, was not only on the magazine’s masthead but a fellow holocaust denier. That Rothbard is also the patron saint of Antiwar.com’s webmaster Justin Raimondo should give you pause to think about these right-left romances that have emerged since 2011.

The crux of Unz’s willingness to believe people like David Irving was the widespread holocaust denialism that could be found in the USA after WWII. How could so many good Christians be wrong? Gosh, you might as well believe that there was a Communist conspiracy to take over the government based on widespread public opinion in the late 40s until the early 60s. Who are you going to believe? Joe McCarthy or a crank like I.F. Stone, after all? As a matter of fact, Unz kills two birds with one stone, the Jew scare and the Red scare:

Some years ago, I came across a totally obscure 1951 book entitled Iron Curtain Over America by John Beaty, a well-regarded university professor. Beaty had spent his wartime years in Military Intelligence, being tasked with preparing the daily briefing reports distributed to all top American officials summarizing available intelligence information acquired during the previous 24 hours, which was obviously a position of considerable responsibility.

As a zealous anti-Communist, he regarded much of America’s Jewish population as deeply implicated in subversive activity, therefore constituting a serious threat to traditional American freedoms. In particular, the growing Jewish stranglehold over publishing and the media was making it increasingly difficult for discordant views to reach the American people, with this regime of censorship constituting the “Iron Curtain” described in his title. He blamed Jewish interests for the totally unnecessary war with Hitler’s Germany, which had long sought good relations with America, but instead had suffered total destruction for its strong opposition to Europe’s Jewish-backed Communist menace.

Unz was impressed with the fact that Beaty’s book was the second most popular conservative text of the 1950s, ranking only behind Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind”. Most people outside of Unz’s fascist cocoon would regard this as a strike against Kirk as well, of course.

Another source recommended by Unz is Joseph Bendersky’s 2000 book “The Jewish Threat.” We are told that “His work chronicles the extremely widespread anti-Semitism found within the U.S. Army and Military Intelligence throughout the first half of the twentieth century, with Jews being widely regarded as posing a serious security risk.” So Bendersky wrote the book as a leftist investigative report and Unz ends up siding with the vermin the author was exposing. Quelle surprise.

Using impeccable logic, Unz cites neo-Nazi Robert Faurisson who observed that in their memoirs, Eisenhower, Churchill, and De Gaulle never mention the death camps. This means that they too were holocaust deniers like David Irving. Perfect.

Getting both feet planted in David Irving/Ernst Zundel territory, Unz cites a Chicago Tribune article from 1992 making the case that only a million Jews were killed in Auschwitz but fails to mention that the article also states that the downward revision actually strengthens the case that 5.5 million to six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

A major part of Unz’s article consists of a defense of some of the major holocaust deniers such as Arthur Butz and Willis Carto who launched a publishing house dedicated to their literature named the Institute for Historical Review (IHR). He recommends an IHR book titled “The Dissolution of Eastern Europe Jewry” by the pseudonymous Walter N. Sanning that raises the possibility that a million Jews or more simply moved to the USSR rather than died in concentration camps. You can read a six-part dismantling of Sanning’s book here but that’s hardly worth it considering the implausibility of Sanning’s case. It is equivalent to reading a book refuting flat-earth advocacy.

There are more than 1,600 comments on Unz’s article, most of them reading like this:

Once again a well written and researched essay. Ron it will be hard to ever get the truth out because the Jewish Gangbanging of Society is in full force. They invented the Social Mob Government that now runs the opinions of the Main Stream Media which as you said is in total control of the Jews. What we are seeing is Tribalistic Control of Society. As soon as anyone disagrees with anything the Social Mob of Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the clowns kick into gear. This is especially appealing to Blacks and other minorities who wish to riot, take down statues, and burn things. This isn’t much different to the way things work in Africa where for instance there are over 100 different Tribes fighting for control in places like Uganda. There is no time for reason or discussion. The Jews just kick these people into action. In Ferguson Michael Brown never had his hands up and tried to take the gun of the police officer. It doesn’t matter. These actors aren’t interested in truth or facts they demand some Cosmic Justice. The MSM during these riots just kept pouring more gasoline on the fire with lies and fake reports. When the Justice Dept. investigation by Obama’s Eric Holder was released no one cared about the truth the MSM went on to their next plan of attack. You cannot have a civilization with this type of mentality and that’s why we are doomed.

Much of the Social Mob Movement in the US is funded by Soros and friends. Of course he is never criticized in the MSM because he is Jewish and that would be antisemitic. On the other side the so called Repubs have been bought out by Sheldon Anderson, the Zionist Jew who is a big supporter of the Holocaust Hoax and Israel’s wars with the US funding most of them. It seems hopeless because they have control of everything world wide and the view of everything is first filtered through a Jewish Lens before anyone sees it.

So the question is why someone like Norman Finkelstein or Michael Hudson would allow themselves to be listed as a columnist to a website that is for all practical purposes the Daily Stormer, plus some leftist articles to make it palatable to the kind of leftist who has Consortium News or Max Blumenthal’s GrayZone bookmarked. It is clear that Unz has a sizable readership. According to Alexa, Unz.com is ranked 9,783 in the USA and 27,006 globally as compared to CounterPunch’s numbers—18,225 and 40,052 respectively.

Of the leftwing columnists at Unz I emailed, asking why they would lend their good names to a white supremacist website, only two responded: Michael Hudson and Norman Finkelstein. Hudson hasn’t spend much time investigating the contents of Unz.com but assured me that in light of what I told him, he would now consider severing his ties.

Finkelstein, on the other hand, told me that “So long as my name is attached to only to my work, it’s fine. I would even write for the … New York Times.” Obviously, this demonstrates the kind of affinity that I alluded to early on in this article. The bourgeois press is the main enemy because it demonizes the Palestinians, so close to Finkelstein’s heart. This justifies being a columnist at Unz.com since it is “pro-Palestinian”?. The neo-Nazi stuff? The VDARE type articles? Denouncing the ANC as responsible for White Genocide? Yeah, regrettable, but they are still “for the Palestinians” and against no-fly zones, etc.

In a follow up note, Finkelstein wrote: “I know Ron. He’s very smart, but it appears that Jews with an IQ over 200 end up in strange places, especially if they live in California. First Bobby Fischer, now Ron Unz. Truth be told, even in his pigheaded silliness, and often appalling judgment, Ron always has insightful things to say, which is more than I can for NY Times columnists.” This fixation on the NY Times is remarkable. You might object to Judith Miller, et al, but you can rely on it for factual reporting such as, for example, today’s edition that includes an article about the travails of the Yurok Indians in northern California who are dealing with an opioid epidemic attributable to the genocidal destruction of their traditional life on the Klamath River. Compare that to Unz.com that has run dozens of articles making the case that non-whites are genetically inferior to Caucasians. Where is the insightfulness in an article authored by Ron Unz that states:

Or consider the fascinating historical case of Emmett Till, mentioned earlier, whose murder in 1955 became the archetypal case of an innocent black youngster lynched by murderous Southern whites, perhaps even lending some inspiration to Harper Lee’s public school classic To Kill a Mockingbird. There was enormous national media coverage of the Till murder, which uniformly reported that the black fourteen-year-old child had merely made rude and provocative remarks to the young wife of a white shopkeeper—a “Wolf whistle”—leading to his abduction and brutal killing. Yet oddly enough, only long afterward did it emerge out that his father, a violent criminal, had been executed for multiple rapes and murder, and that Till himself, weighing 150 pounds and quite large and muscular for his age, also had a violent history. Indeed, these facts had remained totally unknown to me until quite recently.

I have no idea how much of Unz.com Norman Finkelstein reads but 15 minutes spent looking at it critically would persuade me to avoid being listed as a columnist. We are living in a period unfortunately that is reprising much of what took place in Weimar Germany when Communists began adapting to the same kind of degenerate nationalism we are plagued by today.

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

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

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

Sad to think of Norman Finkelstein (Mike Whitney, Diana Johnstone, James Petras et al) as the Ruth Fischers of today.

May 25, 2018

Diana Johnstone versus CounterPunch

Filed under: Counterpunch,Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 12:10 am

Diana Johnstone

Following her Consortium News attack on Tony McKenna, Diana Johnstone now directs her polemical pea-shooter at CounterPunch (CP) and once again the article was published by Consortium News. Since she has written about a hundred articles for CP over the years, I wondered what might have ticked her off.

I subsequently learned from CP co-editor Joshua Frank that after he and Jeff St. Clair decided to publish an article that took exception to her kind words on behalf of Marine Le Pen’s brand of nativism, she saw them as the enemy. Among other things, the article stated:

Johnstone’s torrent of unsupported claims takes a dark turn when she focuses her attention against immigration. In effect, she calls for the left to reconsider its pro-immigrant stance, because “a left whose principal cause is open borders will become increasingly unpopular.” This is a nationalist argument, suggesting that political opportunism is of more importance than the lives of refugees and immigrants.

What could make Johnstone think that her opposition to immigration will resonate with the left? It reeks of the xenophobia that we are dealing with in the USA and that most people have taken a firm stand against, whatever their differences on other questions.

She says that in the current fund-drive, CP has teamed up with Russia-bashers like Rachel Maddow, Max Boot, et al because their slogan for the fund-drive is “We Have All the Right Enemies”, which supposedly means that they are on the Kremlin’s shit-list. But there is no indication that the “right enemies” is a reference to Russia. Go to https://store.counterpunch.org/ and try to find something to that effect. And, while you are there, make a donation to the best magazine on the left.

In her blinkered vision, Jeff St. Clair wasn’t like Rachel Maddow and Max Boot back in the day. He was just as much of a Putin-booster as Diana Johnstone, even though Jeff wrote one of the most vicious take-downs of Putin you’ll find anywhere. She refers to an attack on CP that was written by a German blogger that tried to demonstrate that published articles were stacked in favor of the rightwing and white supremacists. Jeff St. Clair answered the blogger effectively but perhaps Johnstone was miffed that he did not come out and say that he was in favor of the red-brown alliance she has been advocating for years.

At the time, I was amused to see that Franklin Lamb was included in the German blogger’s group of rightists in light of the fact that for the past year or so he has written some of the most hard-hitting critiques of the Assad dictatorship found anywhere. Lamb’s ability to change his views based on new information should be lauded. It is too bad that writers like Johnstone remain evidence-averse.

According to the German blogger, the bad guys wrote 674 articles while those penned by the good guys only numbered 245, with me accounting for 59 of them. At the time, I scoffed at the blogger’s bogus statistics:

This is really quite pathetic, a classic example of “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. If you really want to characterize CounterPunch, it would be necessary to conduct an analysis of all of the articles that appear there, not just a sampling. How do I and the other “left/progressives” (god, what an awful term) exhaust the inventory of all those on the left who write for CounterPunch? All you need to do is look at a typical weekend edition, like the one that came out today, to get a handle on what it stands for. There are 40 articles and not a single one has even the slightest whiff of rightwing politics. Speaking of which, one has to wonder what criteria Hendricks used to categorize some of the people as rightwingers. She includes Franklin Lamb and Paul Larudee. Unless I am missing something, they have never written anything I would associate with the Republican Party. For that matter, mostly what they do is circulate pro-Baathist propaganda after the fashion of Tony Greenstein.

The reference to Greenstein was prompted by his own attack on CP that along with Jews Sans Frontieres made the case for it being anti-Semitic. Trust me. If I ever saw evidence on CP of the kind of Jew-baiting that goes on at Russia-Insider, where Johnstone’s article was crossposted, I would stop writing for CP. On January 15th, Russia-Insider’s editor wrote that “hostility to Putin’s Russia is largely a Jewish phenomenon.” Despite this David Duke-type rhetoric, Consortium News accepts tax-deductible donations for Russia-Insider as a fiscal sponsor. Go figure.

Make no mistake about it. Johnstone had high hopes for CP being much more like Consortium News, Russia-Insider, The Saker, The Duran, 21st Century Wire, Global Research or any of the fifty other websites that pass along RT.com talking points to the conspiracy-minded pinheads who lap this stuff up.

She was particularly upset that CP ripped alt-right fan Caitlin Johnstone a new asshole (no, the two are not related except ideologically.) After Green Party misleader David Cobb advocated following Caitlin Johnstone’s advice to bloc with people like Mike Cernovich, CP co-editor Joshua Frank blasted Cobb and Caitlin Johnstone:

Back to the disgusting Mike Cernovich, who hates gender equality and believes that white men are oppressed by big bad feminism. He’s tweeted that, “Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS. If you love black women, slut shame them.” Fuck him. He doesn’t give a shit about women, class issues, climate change or the ugly side of capitalism.  Cernovich even told Andrew Marantz of the The New Yorker, “I believe in strong borders, including keeping out Islamic terrorists. If people think that’s inherently racist, fine—but I’m an American nationalist, not a white nationalist.”

Diana Johnstone didn’t think that this sort of thing should get in the way of a “single-issue antiwar movement” like the one we had in the 1960s. Of course, back then this meant uniting pacifists, CP’ers and Trotskyists on the need to get out of Vietnam. Nobody in their right mind would have asked someone like Cernovich to speak at an antiwar rally. What Johnstone means by “antiwar” is much different than what we were involved with back then. Instead, she wants everybody to get behind Assad’s war on the Syrian population marching along with her, Caitlin Johnstone and Mike Cernovich.

One of the other CP critiques of Caitlin Johnstone was written by Yoal Litvin, who served in the Israeli military before relocating to the USA. If that is a litmus test, what do we make of long-time CP contributor Uri Avnery who during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War fought on the southern front in the Givati Brigade as a squad commander, and later in the Samson’s Foxes commando unit (and also wrote its anthem)? Maybe Litvin and Avnery, like Lamb, changed their views. Too bad that, unlike them, Johnstone’s thinking is so calcified.

Reading Johnstone, you’d think that Alexander Reid Ross sets the tone for CP. She can’t stand that he wrote an article that denounced the red-brown alliances that she and Caitlin Johnstone advocate. To show how off-base Ross is, she refers to how an article he wrote for the Southern Poverty Law Center making such points was subsequently deleted. She does not mention, however, that it was only deleted after Max Blumenthal threatened legal action. Back in the 60s, the left understood that it should settle its differences through debate and not through the bourgeois courts. Maybe Johnstone forgot about this or maybe she never viewed this as a principle. That’s another difference between us.

It is worth noting that Ross has written 11 articles for CP but only a single one was in the vein that Johnstone objected to. Meanwhile she has written 100 articles all saying just about the same kinds of things, namely that Putin is a great guy, that Marine Le Pen is part of the left and that Assad is leading a war on terror. There was a time before her brain became so calcified that Johnstone could write some interesting stuff, even if it was wrong. I can’t stand Seymour Hersh’s politics but I would never dream of ignoring something he wrote. As for Johnstone, I tuned her out about a decade ago unless it was something as egregiously wrong-headed as this that deserved a reply.

The last couple of paragraphs sound like the sort of thing that Stephen F. Cohen tells ultrarightist John Batchelor every time he makes an appearance on his WABC radio show:

Vladimir Putin is clearly in the Westernizing tradition. Not an ignorant buffoon like Yeltsin, ready to give away the shop to get a pat on the back from Bill. But rather someone who, as an intelligence agent (yes, KGB people learn a lot) lived in the West, spoke fluent German, and wanted Russia to have a dignified place in Europe – which was the dream of Gorbachev.

But this aspiration has been rudely rebuffed by the United States. Russians who yearned to be part of Europe have been disappointed, humiliated, and finally, angered. All their efforts at friendship have been met with increasingly outlandish portrayals of Russia as “the enemy”.

What the hell does this pop psychology have to do with radical politics? It almost makes you think that Johnstone was getting paid by the Kremlin to write such drivel. If so, they better ask for their money back since it has about as much impact as a wet noodle.

May 7, 2018

Diana Johnstone’s attack on Tony McKenna

Filed under: Red-Brown alliance,Stalinism,Syria — louisproyect @ 8:24 pm

Beware the dreaded Leon Bronstein

As you might expect, Diana Johnstone starts her Consortium News attack on Tony McKenna’s ISR article about Syria in a way that makes you think she has either not understood what she was reading because of declining intellectual powers or because, having understood it, mischievously misrepresented it.

She objects to Tony’s framing of the term “ideological lynchpin” in the following paragraph:

Much has been made of Western imperial support for the rebels in the early years of the revolution. This has, in fact, been an ideological lynchpin of first the Iranian and then the Russian military interventions as they took the side of the Assad government. Such interventions were framed in the spirit of anticolonial rhetoric in which Iran and Russia purported to come to the aid of a beleaguered state very much at the mercy of a rapacious Western imperialism that was seeking to carve the country up according to the appetites of the US government and the International Monetary Fund.

She tut-tuts Tony for failing to represent the “ideological” justifications of the Iranian and Russian regimes accurately that never said anything about imperialism. Their purpose was merely to defeat Islamic, Wahhabi extremism, not fend off the Rothschild Bank and other greedy Western financiers.

However, if you read Tony’s article as it was intended, it was obvious he was referring to people like John Wight, Mike Whitney and Stephen Gowans who have spent the last seven years trying to make Assad look like Syria’s Fidel Castro, fending off a Bay of Pigs type invasion. You see the words “rapacious Western imperialism” in the paragraph above? It is repeated later in the article and should have been enough to even tip off even the semi-conscious Ms. Johnstone who he was talking about: “Many, on the Communist left in particular, saw these invasions as being part of the last bastion of resistance to the imperial power projected by the United States and the heartlands of global capitalism, and so they failed to recognize that Stalin’s military takeovers represented a form of rapacious imperialism in its own right.” [emphasis added]

For Johnstone, the Saudi/Israeli/American proxy war was all about helping Israel destroy one of its main enemies in the Middle East. As a key player in the “Axis of Resistance”, keeping Assad in power was a sine qua non. She writes, “There are a few alternative hypotheses to Western motives – oil pipelines, imperialist atavism, desire to arouse Islamist extremism to weaken Russia (the Brzezinski gambit) – but none are as coherent as the organic alliance between Israel and the United States, and its NATO sidekicks.”

You sometimes have to wonder whether Johnstone and people like her read anything out of their comfort zone. To start with, the Baathists collaborated with the Zionists to smash Palestinian resistance during the Lebanese Civil War. Tal al-Zaatar, a refugee camp with over 50,000 Palestinian refugees, was besieged by Lebanese fascist militias backed by Hafez al-Assad over a two-month period. The Syrian military and its Phalangist allies machine-gunned refugee columns during civilian evacuation. Others were killed by grenades and knives, and numerous cases of rape followed the fall of the camp on August 12, 1976.

As the civil war in Lebanon dragged on, Syria finally decided to back a faction in the PLO in 1983 that would oust Yasir Arafat and replace him with someone more compliant to Baathist interests. Guess who backed Hafez al-Assad in this operation? None other than Muammar Gaddafi. In recounting Syria’s machinations, Michael Karadjis cites an Israeli official who was close to Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir:

Direct Syrian control of the PLO will be beneficial to us for a number of reasons. … our experience has shown that Syria can keep a firm hand on the Palestinian terrorists if it is in their interests to do so. Despite the fierce rhetoric from Damascus, there has been no attack against us from the Golan Heights for 10 years (Christopher Walker, ‘Israel welcomes prospect of Syrian-controlled PLO’, The Australian, November 11, 1983).

Obviously, the most “rejectionist” wing of the Palestinian movement would laugh at the notion that Syrian rebels were agents of the West acting on behalf of Israel. In February 2012, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya made clear where he stood. “I salute all people of the Arab Spring, or Islamic winter, and I salute the Syrian people who seek freedom, democracy and reform.” Even when Hamas came under intense pressure from Iran to support Assad, it stubbornly spoke out against the kind of criminality that people like Diana Johnstone defends. When Russian and Syrian jets were bombing hospitals, Hamas issued a statement that said: “We are following with great pain what is happening in Aleppo and the horrific massacres, murders and genocide its people are going through, and condemn it entirely.”

Johnstone’s article concludes with a broadside against Trotskyism in terms that should be familiar. It is identical to the arguments I have heard from Stephen Gowans and even Johnstone’s occasional writing partner, the physicist Jean Bricmont. Basically, it boils down to justifying strongmen like Stalin or the various nationalist politicians that the Kremlin supported during the Cold War, including the Assads, Gaddafi, et al. She writes:

Socialism or communism was above all a rallying cry meaning independence and “modernization” – which is indeed what the Bolshevik revolution turned out to be. If the Bolshevik revolution turned Stalinist, maybe it was in part because a strong repressive leader was the only way to save “the revolution” from its internal and external enemies. There is no evidence that, had he defeated Stalin, Trotsky would have been more tender-hearted.

Countries that are deeply divided ideologically and ethnically, such as Syria, are not likely to be “modernized” without a strong ruler.

Actually, this is the same analysis put forward by Kremlinologist Adam Ulam who analogized the USSR with the bourgeois revolutions that carried out primitive accumulation in order to incubate modern capitalist states. It fetishizes hydroelectric dams, subway systems, superhighways, military prowess, et al as the chief accomplishments of the USSR—barely understanding that this is the same criteria by which you can judge both Adolf Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt as well.

If you are familiar with Lenin’s writings, you’d understand that this was the last thing on his mind just before his death. Nine months he succumbed to a stroke, he wrote an article titled “On Cooperation” that projected the most humane, logical and socialist path forward for the USSR:

At present we have to realize that the cooperatives system is a social system we must now give more than ordinary assistance, and we must actually give that assistance. But it must be it assistance in the real sense of the word, i.e., it will not be enough to interpret it to mean assistance for any kind of cooperative trade; by assistance we must mean aid to cooperative trade in which really large masses of the population actually take part. It is certainly a correct form of assistance to give a bonus to peasants who take part in cooperative trade; but the whole point is to verify the nature of this participation, to verify the awareness behind it, and to verify its quality. Strictly speaking, when a cooperator goes to a village and opens a cooperative store, the people take no part in this whenever; but at the same time guided by their own interests they will hasten to try to take part in it.

Furthermore, he understood that the biggest threat to the development of socialism around this time was Stalin’s bureaucratic tendencies that culminated in the forced collectivization. Written just a couple of months before “On Cooperation”, Lenin called for the removal of Stalin as General Secretary in a letter to the CP Congress. Primarily, this was motivated by Stalin’s treatment of the Georgian Republic that was typical of Great Russian chauvinism even if Stalin was from Georgia himself. Lenin wrote:

I think it is unnecessary to explain this to Bolsheviks, to Communists, in greater detail. And I think that in the present instance, as far as the Georgian nation is concerned, we have a typical case in which a genuinely proletarian attitude makes profound caution, thoughtfulness and a readiness to compromise a matter of necessity for us. The Georgian [Stalin] who is neglectful of this aspect of the question, or who carelessly flings about accusations of “nationalist-socialism” (whereas he himself is a real and true “nationalist-socialist”, and even a vulgar Great-Russian bully), violates, in substance, the interests of proletarian class solidarity, for nothing holds up the development and strengthening of proletarian class solidarity so much as national injustice; “offended” nationals are not sensitive to anything so much as to the feeling of equality and the violation of this equality, if only through negligence or jest- to the violation of that equality by their proletarian comrades.

Like the Cold War liberals, Johnstone views Stalin as the natural outcome of the Russian Revolution. Despite Lenin’s insistence that peasant cooperatives be organized on a voluntary basis and the need to oppose national chauvinism, she champions the very behavior that would have gotten Stalin deposed in 1923.

Johnstone is mesmerized by modernizing industrialization and by the value of strong men carrying it out even though it has zero to do with the original vision of Karl Marx whose 200th birthday we celebrated 2 days ago. She certainly would have backed Stalin against the Georgians in 1923 just as she supports Putin against Ukraine today.

Like a lot of people who were radicalized in the 60s, Johnstone developed a reverence for Stalinist strong men as a way of overcompensating for LBJ, Nixon, et al. Totally alienated by American society, she became infatuated with men like Assad, Putin, Gaddafi and anybody else who was pilloried in the bourgeois press. Like the fraternity boys who kept posters of Ronald Reagan chopping wood on dorm room walls, her heart flutters for Vladimir Putin and anybody else who embodies her romantic idealization of men and women on horseback.

This would include Marine Le Pen, the ultraright Islamophobe that she described once as “basically on the left”. When people came out to protest Donald Trump’s viciously racist immigration crackdown, Johnstone described them with as much malice as Ann Coulter: “Whatever they think or feel, the largely youthful anti-Trump protesters in the streets create an image of hedonistic consumer society’s spoiled brats who throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want.”

Most people with their head screwed on right understand that Le Pen is a nativist just like all the other scum that are rising to the surface in Europe, from Viktor Orban in Hungary to Nigel Farage in England. In 2017, Johnstone decided that the real issue in the French election was national sovereignty and who better to defend it than Marine Le Pen? After all, Johnstone states that “Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion.” Oh, how nice. This politician said that if she was elected, she’d stop all immigration to France.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that Johnstone’s article appeared in The UNZ Review as well as Consortium News except there it had a most revealing subtitle: “Obsessed with Stalin, the disciples of Leon Bronstein see betrayed revolutions everywhere”. Leon Bronstein? What the fuck? Is Johnstone okay with that? Now, if it was me, I wouldn’t allow UNZ to publish anything I wrote, especially since Ron Unz, the guy who runs it, is a disgusting rightwing pig. In 2016, he wrote an article titled “American Pravda: The KKK and Mass Racial Killings” that posed the question why there was so much attention paid to lynchings when Communism was responsible for the death of millions. He also took exception to a string of racist cop killings by pointing out that the victims were “bad guys”. He describes Trayvon Martin as a “violent young thug” and Michael Brown as “a gigantic, thuggish criminal”.

There is something sad about these journalists who made their reputation in the 60s and 70s and who are now hell-bent on destroying it, even if unintentionally. There is something compulsive about the behavior as if such self-destructiveness stems from some deep psychological need to be connected to vicious criminals like Assad. In the 1930s, much of the left flocked to Stalin like a moth to a flame. Today we see much of the left lining up with Putin and Assad from the same sort of political abnormal psychology. Tony McKenna’s article was a useful corrective to the cesspool of lies these sorts of people bathe in. The fact that Johnstone took the trouble to attack it just confirms its value.

April 13, 2018

Max Blumenthal’s double standards

Filed under: journalism,Red-Brown alliance,Syria — louisproyect @ 2:20 am

Placards from a protest in Istanbul against the killing of Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja.

Days after Israeli troops fatally shot a Palestinian photojournalist covering protests on the Gaza border, Israel’s defense minister alleged the photographer had served as a high-ranking member of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas since 2011.

But State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the photojournalist had passed a U.S. government vetting process for his media company to receive a U.S. aid agency grant. The U.S. does vetting to ensure grant recipients have no ties to militant organizations or activities.

The seemingly conflicting claims by Israeli and U.S. officials about the photographer’s identity are raising new questions over a killing that drew international media coverage and calls for an investigation.

On April 6, photojournalist Yaser Murtaja, 30, was shot by Israeli forces while reporting on Palestinian protests at the Gaza-Israel border, Palestinian officials and witnesses said. Images from the scene show Murtaja wearing a protective vest clearly marked “PRESS.”

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said government vetting of Murtaja began in late 2017. The officials said that last month Murtaja’s Gaza media production company, Ain Media, became a beneficiary of a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told NPR the United States relies on Israeli intelligence to vet Palestinian organizations and individuals for links to militant groups before awarding them USAID grants. Nauert said the U.S. was looking into questions about Murtaja’s alleged Hamas affiliation.



SAMS is not merely a group of Syrian doctors tending to the wounded in war torn areas, nor can it be considered a objective source on chemical attacks and other atrocities. The organization is a USAID-funded lobbying powerhouse that functions with a single-minded determination to stimulate a US-led war of regime change that will place Syrian Islamists in power in Damascus.

April 3, 2018

An Inside Look at How Pro-Russia Trolls Got the SPLC to Censor a Commie

Filed under: Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 9:43 pm

by Charles Davis   April 3, 2018

 “An Orwellian destruction of meaning and words — so many absurdities; absurdities stacked on absurdities,” Alexander Reid Ross told me. Fox News had just declared him the leader of a nasty smear campaign, aided by the “far-left Southern Poverty Law Center,” that aimed to make television personality Tucker Carlson and his guests out to be “fascists.” So far, so normal, but it was the specific charge that shocked and awed the communist author who once lived in Russia: “McCarthyism,” with white nationalists’ favorite host, and those who come on his show to agree with him, the victims.

Ross’s ironic sin, which he spoke to me about in an hour-long phone call, was writing a series of articles about a topic he wrote the book on: fascist entryism, or efforts to normalize far-right politics and infiltrate left-wing discourse. In particular, he noted the shared affinity for the Kremlin and its talking points among the fringe right and a subsection of leftists, and he detailed how Russian state media was facilitating a popular,  “anti-establishment” front against the foreign and domestic enemies of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, platforming right-wing nationalists alongside those who self-identify as progressive internationalists.

Max Blumenthal is a fixture in this, found almost every week defending Russian foreign policy on platforms such as RT and Sputnik, a track record detailed in Ross’ last article. The son of Hillary Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, he has admitted to accepting a free trip to Moscow, where he attended the same RT anniversary party in 2015 as U.S. General Michael Flynn — Trump’s former national security advisor is under investigation, in part, for failing to disclose he was paid $45,000 for his appearance . In Moscow, Blumenthal spoke on a panel, “InfoWar: Will there be a winner?” with Charles Bausman, editor of the website Russia Insider and the author of articles such as, “It’s Time to Drop the Jew Taboo.”

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