Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 27, 2016

Guess what, neo-Nazi group attacked in Sacramento is pro-Assad and pro-Putin

Filed under: Fascism,right-left convergence,Russia,Syria — louisproyect @ 2:46 pm

It is old news by now that virtually every neo-Nazi or ultraright outfit in Europe is solidly behind Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, from Golden Dawn to Marine Le Pen’s National Front. As you are also probably aware, the Brexit campaign was pushed heavily by Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party, a rabidly anti-immigrant group that advocates working with Bashar al-Assad.

The first sign of a similar development in the USA was obviously the Donald Trump campaign that is first cousin to the UKIP. Trump stated that the Brexit vote was a great thing and hoped that its goals could be replicated in the USA. As it happens, the neo-Nazi group that was attacked in Sacramento yesterday by anti-fascists falls squarely within the global Red-Brown alliance. You almost have to wonder whether a pro-Assad group like the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) might be tempted to come to their aid the next time the neo-Nazi group is threatened.

The neo-Nazis are constituted as the Traditional Worker Party and led by a character named Matthew Heimbach who first came to attention as the Donald Trump supporter who roughed up a Black female protester at his rally in Louisville in early March. That’s him in the red baseball cap.

Before he launched the Traditional Worker Party, Heimbach operated as the top man of the Traditionalist Youth Network. From early on, he backed Assad because he saw him as a pillar of resistance to Muslims who were falsely accused of threatening the Christians in Syria. In 2013 Heimbach organized a protest in Michigan that sounds very much like the sort of thing that would be embraced by the Baathist left as an exercise in Red-Brown politics.

CORUNNA, MI — An organization accused of having ties to the white supremacist movement is planning a protest in support of embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad during a Sept. 11 event in Corunna.

The event, organized by the Traditionalist Youth Network, was initially billed as a “Koran BBQ,” a protest geared toward showing “Islamic immigrants and citizens alike that they are not welcome here in Michigan” that included burning copies the Quran and images of the Prophet Muhammad, but changed direction after President Barack Obama asked Congress for authorization to use military force in Syria.

Matthew Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Youth Network, said the event was changed to focus on Syria to protest what he claims is the Obama administration’s offer of support to al-Qaida and Islamist militants working with rebels to topple Assad’s regime.

Heimbach said the protest will be “anti-jihadist,” which he says is an appropriate message on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Protestors are expected to meet in McCurdy park around 5:30 p.m.

With respect to Putin, you can listen to Matthew Heimbach interviewing Dr Matthew ‘Raphael’ Johnson, a self-described Christian Orthodox Medievalist, on his Ayran Radio show about the huge breakthrough for neo-Nazi groups by the Kremlin’s strong leadership against the West.

Finally, some snapshots from Matthew Heimbach’s Faith-Family-Folk Twitter account (https://twitter.com/MatthewHeimbach):

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.39.46 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.39.31 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.39.13 AM

 

September 3, 2014

American White Nationalists To Hold Conference With Russian And European Far Right

Filed under: right-left convergence,Russia — louisproyect @ 4:35 pm
http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/american-white-nationalists-to-hold-conference-with-russian

American White Nationalists To Hold Conference With Russian And European Far Right

The fringes of the U.S. conservative movement build bridges with their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic.

posted on Aug. 29, 2014, at 4:34 p.m.

National Policy Institute / Via npiamerica.org

WASHINGTON — The white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute is holding a conference in October in Hungary that will feature Alexander Dugin, a Russian nationalist thinker who is increasingly popular in Kremlin circles.

Richard Spencer, the president of NPI and a former writer at the American Conservative, said the conference, which will also feature figures from the ascendant European far right, would be the first of its kind for NPI outside the United States. It’s part of an effort to reach out to “European traditionalists” all over the world, he said, and the relationship with Dugin is just beginning: a publishing arm attached to NPI will publish a book this fall by Dugin, who this week called for Ukraine to be“cleansed” of the Ukrainian “race of bastards.”

“I think there are a lot of things happening in Europe that I think would excite people like me and people who want to go to the conference, and would excite Americans who care about their European identity,” Spencer said.

Apart from Dugin, the conference will also host Márton Gyöngyösi, a leader of Jobbik, Hungary’s extremist far right political party.

This is not the first time that figures from the fringes of the American conservative movement have built bridges with the right in Europe and Russia. Pat Buchanan has publicly expressed support for Vladimir Putin’s policies, as have others. But this is the first time that Spencer’s crowd of white nationalists, who are no longer welcome in the mainstream U.S. conservative movement, have so publicly joined themselves to their Russian and European counterparts.

Spencer’s thoughts on the Ukraine crisis hew closely to Moscow’s.

“I think to a large degree the Maidan revolution was organized and funded by outside powers, I don’t think that’s a controversial statement,” he said. “I certainly understand the position of Ukrainian separatists and nationalists. I think that to a very large degree they are supporting a geopolitical policy of Washington and I myself am more sympathetic towards Russia as a major power entering the world stage. Russia has the opportunity, to put it bluntly, to make the world a better place.”

“I’m sympathetic toward Putin in many ways,” he said.

Spencer is a great admirer of Dugin’s, whom he says he knows personally, and will be publishing a Dugin volume about the German philosopher Martin Heidegger this fall titled Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning under the Radix Journal imprint, which is part of NPI.

“We’re certainly honored to have him at our conference,” Spencer said.

“I think the fact that we’re inviting Dugin is expressive of the fact that we want to have a real healthy dialogue with the major currents of Russian conservatism,” Spencer said.

h/t Adam Holland

June 30, 2014

John V. Walsh, Ralph Nader and the right-left alliance — no thanks

Filed under: right-left convergence — louisproyect @ 5:39 pm

john walshDr. John V. Walsh

On June 16th John V. Walsh declared his support for Ralph Nader’s urging the left to learn from Tea Party leader David Brat’s victory over Eric Cantor in Virginia. These two characters are on the front lines calling for a right-left alliance.

Walsh, a Professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has been around the left for well over a decade, showing up at Left Forums and writing for leftist websites like CounterPunch and DissidentVoice. Although he describes himself as a “man of the left”, most of his energy is devoted to the cause of the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party. In an article for a New Hampshire newspaper titled “Thoughts of a doctor driving for Dr. Paul”, Walsh puts it this way:

I am certainly a man of the Left. My support for Dr. Paul has had surprising effects in my personal life, with some friends no longer eager to talk with me. And yes, I have my differences with Dr. Paul. For example, I would like to have Medicare for all — national health insurance. But Dr. Paul’s commitment to civil liberties means that I can quarrel with him over this. I will be able to make my case and he his in open discussion and vote. What more can one ask in a democracy?

So I will work for Ron Paul, a man of principle and consistency. I hope that others of my conviction will do likewise. War and empire threaten our existence more than any possible environmental catastrophe. If we continue on our present path, sooner or later we will stumble into a world war trying to “save the world.” If we turn away from this path, we can create a paradise on earth. Let’s take the right path and bring America home.

What utter stupidity.

Walsh says that he can “quarrel” with Ron Paul over Medicare for all as if public policy in the United States is a fucking debate club event at an Ivy League school. Does this guy have any idea of the power of corporations over such decisions? Does he have an analysis of capitalism? Maybe the fact that he is a professor at a medical school earning a $150K a year makes him less sensitive to class distinctions than someone in Ron Paul’s district who made $15K a year.

This is Ron Paul on raising the minimum wage:

Raising minimum wages by government decree appeals to those who do not understand economics. This appeal is especially strong during times of stagnant wages and increased economic inequality. But raising the minimum wage actually harms those at the bottom of the income ladder. Basic economic theory teaches that when the price of a good increases, demand for that good decreases. Raising the minimum wage increases the price of labor, thus decreasing the demand for labor. So an increased minimum wage will lead to hiring freezes and layoffs. Unskilled and inexperienced workers are the ones most often deprived of employment opportunities by increases in the minimum wage.

But don’t get all hot and bothered by the class war against the poor as long as Ron Paul opposes imperialist war. There is of course a long tradition for this kind of anti-imperialism. If you go back to the original Anti-Imperialist League in the United States, you will discover that Andrew Carnegie was a member, the steel magnate who called in a small army of Pinkerton guards to break a strike at his Homestead plant in 1892.

Another prominent member was former Democratic Party president Grover Cleveland who opposed empire-building moves by Republican presidents. Our kind of guy, right? Well, not exactly. Cleveland pushed for the Dawes Act that divided up Indian land to individual members of the tribes, a piece of legislation that allowed “excess” land to be sold to non-Indians. Now some hair-splitting Marxists like me view such a policy as consistent with an internal colonialism that goes back to the time of Washington and Jefferson but not if you think—as Ron Paul does—that private property is sacrosanct.

Since Walsh is just as enthusiastic over Rand Paul as he is over his father, one imagines that he would have no complaints about junior’s carrying on in the Grover Cleveland tradition as Indian Country reported on February 8, 2011:

But Paul isn’t worried about broken treaties. He’s fretting about broken U.S. piggy banks. Whether he’s doing away with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (which subsidizes tribal reservation home building) or cutting the Department of Agriculture’s food stamp program (which disproportionately aids Indian families), it’s all part of his ruthless plan to shrink the ever-growing federal deficit.

But that’s okay. Since Rand Paul is for free speech, John V. Walsh can persuade him to go easy on the survivors of 500 years of genocide.

Like fellow anti-imperialist Andrew Carnegie, Grover Cleveland showed his mettle in standing up to the unruly workers. In 1894 Eugene V. Debs led workers at Pullman, the manufacturers of railroad passenger cars, out on a militant strike. To protect the interests of his class, Cleveland ordered the army to break the strike, resulting in the death of 30 men and wounding hundreds of others. After he was arrested for his role in the strike, Debs read Karl Marx in prison and became a committed socialist. Those are the sorts of people I identify with, not scum like Grover Cleveland and the Pauls.

Turning now to Ralph Nader’s article, there is a depressing sense that the old man has completely lost his way. My worries began after he came out with a book titled “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us” that was described on Amazon.com as a:

vivid fictional account by political activist and bestselling author Ralph Nader that answers the question, “What if?” What if a cadre of superrich individuals tried to become a driving force in America to organize and institutionalize the interests of the citizens of this troubled nation?

The naiveté incorporated in this blurb staggers the mind. It is based on press conferences by the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and other plutocrats worrying about the state of the nation. Here are the opening words of this ludicrous work of fiction:

In the cozy den of the large but modest house in Omaha where he has lived since he started on his first billion, Warren Buffett watched the horrors of Hurricane Katrina unfold on television in early September 2005. . . . On the fourth day, he beheld in disbelief the paralysis of local, state, and federal authorities unable to commence basic operations of rescue and sustenance, not just in New Orleans, but in towns and villages all along the Gulf Coast. . . He knew exactly what he had to do. . .

In a nutshell, Nader is reprising the “message” of many a Dickens novel with some rich bastard like Ebenezer Scrooge having a change of heart. Maybe it’s too bad that Nader hadn’t been thrown in jail at some point in his life and accidentally stumbling across Karl Marx like Debs did. Then again, the words might have been lost on this man whose ideology seems like the bastard spawn of a marriage between Thomas Jefferson and Frank Capra.

Nader finds himself in an advanced state of intoxication over David Brat’s anti-corporate demagogy:

First, among all the reasons for Cantor’s fall, there were the ones encapsulated in the Nation’s John Nichols’ description of Brat as an “anti-corporate conservative.” Repeatedly, Brat said he was for “free enterprise” but against “crony capitalist programs that benefit the rich and powerful.” David Brat pointed out that Cantor and the Republican establishment have “been paying way too much attention to Wall Street and not enough to Main Street.”

This, of course, is the stock and trade today of ultraright politicians across the planet. The Tea Party is evidently learning from groups like Hungary’s neo-Nazi Jobbik Party that lays down the “anti-capitalist” rhetoric as good as the original Nazis. Straight from the Jobbik website (http://www.jobbik.com/policies):

Across the world a global capitalism based on the free movement of multinational capital has broken down. Billions have been made destitute, and ever widening gulfs have grown in societies. In Hungary the effects of this crisis have been greatly magnified, given an environment made noxious by the workings of a politics that has been both nefarious and corrupt.

As long as the domination of profit does not rob it of the opportunity of doing so, the Hungarian nation is quite capable of thriving on the produce of its own homeland; provided of course that relations between countries are also permitted to be ruled by considerations of cooperation, equality, and solidarity, rather than a rule of acquisition that demands that one subjugates the other.

Since the Tea Party is notoriously anti-immigrant, Brat’s positions might have shown up on Ralph Nader’s radar. Unfortunately, he adapts to them:

He [Brat] chastised Cantor on immigration, taking advantage of the latter’s wavering appeal to voters who believe that large corporations, represented by Cantor, want a never-ending supply of cheap foreign labor to hold wages down. On the other hand, Brat opposes a minimum wage on libertarian grounds.

I don’t see the point of “on the other hand”. The two positions go together. Demagogy about a “never-ending supply of cheap foreign labor” and opposition to a minimum wage go together like bread and butter.

Finally, Nader gets to the point. In the emerging right-left alliance that he and John V. Walsh have been stumping for, the Brat victory is a harbinger of future possibilities:

Brat is a mixed bag for progressives. But in that mix is a clear populist challenge by Main Street against Wall Street and by ordinary people against the corporate government with subsidies and bailouts that the Left calls corporate welfare and the Right calls crony capitalism. Therein lies the potential for a winning majority alliance between Left and Right as my new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, relates in realistic detail.

I wonder what Nader really has in mind when he calls for dismantling the corporate state. Going back to Jefferson’s time and creating an America based on small farmers and mom-and-pop general stores? I understand why Nader would raise such utopia hopes. With a working class that is quiescent and a feeling among the educated elites like Nader and Paul Krugman that something has to be done—as long as it is not socialism—there will be one snake-oil prescription after another. That’s been true of capitalist society going back for centuries. At some point, the workers will step forward to defend their own class interests. I make no prediction as to when this will happen but I am damned sure that objective conditions will force them to struggle against the Andrew Carnegies, Grover Clevelands, and Ron Pauls of this world.

 

June 16, 2014

Blood, spirit, the family, and soil: a response to Israel Shamir

Filed under: Jewish question,right-left convergence,Russia — louisproyect @ 6:53 pm

US Jews are divided on the Ukraine, as they were divided on Palestine. Friends of Palestine, people with a strong anti-imperialist record and sound knowledge of East European history – Noam Chomsky and Stephen F. Cohen — recognised and renounced the US attempt to sustain their hegemony by keeping brazen Russia down. A subset of people, Gilad Atzmon aptly called AZZ (anti-zionist zionists), Trots and other faux-Leftist shills for NATO like Louis Proyect – called for American intervention and brayed for Russian blood.

That was a paragraph in an articled titled “The Fateful Triangle: Russia, Ukraine and the Jews”  from the inimitable Israel Shamir, a frequent contributor to what I would describe as the conspiracist sphere of the Internet. These are websites that see wicked plots everywhere and in Shamir’s case, those spun by Jews.

Israel Shamir

One of the most objectionable parts of Shamir’s paragraph was the reference to me as a “US Jew”. How in the world did I earn that designation? After getting bar mitzvahed in 1958, I stopped attending synagogue. I would have stopped sooner but I was under my observant father’s thumb. I guess that Shamir is referring to my “blood” but if that were the basis for his attribution, then I would claim to be Turkish rather than Jewish since I descend from the Khazars, a Turkic tribe that adopted Judaism in the 8th century AD mostly for economic reasons. But then there’s the question of where the Khazars came from. They were probably Mongols at some point and before that who knows? Not to put too fine a point on it, my “blood” probably can be traced back to the African sub-Saharan regions, where the rest of the human race comes from. For someone who is used to thinking in class terms and hopes for a worldwide socialist system in which national identity becomes as outdated as religion and other mystifications, it is jarring to encounter someone so deep into racial distinctions as Shamir. What an odd duck.

Beside the business about “blood”, Shamir also has a thing about “spirit”: “Communism won in the East – not because the East was backward, but because the East was the most spiritual part of the planet, less ruined by modernity and alienation.”

Gosh, it’s been a long time since I heard anybody blather on about the “spiritual”. Back in 1966, just before I joined the Trotskyist movement, I used to buy LSD from a neighbor in my Hoboken tenement who went on to become a top guy in the Hare Krishna movement. Eventually his old habits returned, as he became a coke addict and a gun nut. In “Monkey on a Stick”, a fine history of the Hare Krishnas, authors John Hubner and Lindsay Gruson describe my old supplier driving around downtown Berkeley blasting out the windows of car dealers with an M-16. And all along, even now, old Hans Dutta describes himself as very “spiritual”. As for me, I am having none of it.

If you can believe the Wikipedia entry on Shamir (much of it sounds like it was describing a character in a Thomas Pynchon novel), you’ll learn that he converted to Orthodox Christianity somewhere along the line. I wonder if this means that he goes to Church on Sunday morning. What a waste of time. Homer Simpson had that right. It is a much better use of your time to be watching football games on Sunday. I suspect his Orthodoxy shapes his views on the burning social questions of the day. Like Maoist cult leader Bob Avakian in the early 70s, Shamir doesn’t want the gays dividing the working class. He concluded that a French bill to legalize gay marriage and adoption bill amounted to a “neoliberal attack on the French family”. Frankly, I would vote for any bill that undermined the nuclear family but then again I am more influenced by Engels than the Holy Bible.

Some on the left are agitated by what they regard as Israel Shamir’s anti-Semitism. I tend not to worry so much about this since the Jews haven’t faced what they call an “existential threat” since the 1930s. For me, Shamir’s crude and stupid musings on world Jewry are much more of a social gaffe, akin to peeing on a toilet seat. I am disappointed to see so many people accepting him into polite society on the leftwing of the Internet, but maybe sitting down in someone’s pee doesn’t bother them so much.

Mostly, the people today who have the most to fear are immigrants not Jews, especially those of color who are being attacked by neo-Nazis throughout Europe. As a socialist, I support open borders. As long as capital is free to cross borders, so are workers. Plus, speaking as a New Yorker, this city would be a lot less interesting without the steady influx of immigrants. Shamir feels otherwise, killing two birds with one stone: “The middle-class Gay International (a term of Joseph Massad) is on the forefront of support for immigration: one can explain it by their compassion, but one can also explain it by their own interests of having a pool of cheap and available sexual partners.” Yes, that makes perfect sense. The Gay International needs more kids from El Salvador–desperately trying to survive–because its hunger for sex partners is insatiable. What amazing social commentary from the 21st century’s De Tocqueville.

So, we see a pattern developing. If anything, Shamir is consistent. First there is blood, and then there is spirit, followed by the sacrosanct family unit, and topped off by soil. Blood, spirit, the holy family, and soil: a potent combination and far preferable to the epicene and deracinated socialist doctrines that are eroding mankind.

One can understand the appeal of blood, spirit, the family and the soil to large sectors of the left. We are living in a period when the idea of joining forces between the left and the right is quite seductive. Ralph Nader has organized a conference in Washington that brings together his own brand of anti-globalization activism and those of the Rand Paul flavor. Somehow, this siren song is lost on me. I didn’t even resort to Odysseus’s trick of stuffing my ears with bee’s wax. I must have had some kind of genetic disposition against the siren song of a Rand Paul, a character whose bad hairdo and insistence that shopkeepers have the right to exclude Blacks is reason enough to hate him.

I suppose I should say a few words on the Shamir article itself and his accusation of me as a shill for NATO. In an email exchange with Shamir, he clarified his thinking. It was not as if I ever backed American military intervention but it was more a question of backing the EuroMaidan protests. His logic is that if you are critical of Russia, you automatically become a shill for NATO. This methodology has been around for quite some time. Despite his rather problematic stance on the blood and soil stuff, he also is capable of speaking as a kind of paleo-Stalinist:

By 1933, with the capitalist world deeply mired in a devastating economic crisis, unemployment was declared abolished, and remained so for the next five and a half decades, until socialism, itself, was abolished. The Communists produced social security more robust than provided even by Scandinavian-style social democracy, but achieved with fewer resources and a lower level of development and in spite of the unflagging efforts of the capitalist world to see to it that socialism failed. Soviet socialism was, and remains, a model for humanity – of what can be achieved outside the confines and contradictions of capitalism.

I should add that the mixture of paleo-Stalinism and the blood/soil/family stuff might not be that surprising given that the Communist Party in Russia has straddled Red and Brown positions for a number of years. I doubt that they will ever return to power with such a program but they seem content to campaign around such themes no matter how few Russians buy it. For the Brown crap, the pin-headed Russian can go straight to the rightwing nationalist parties. There will always be nostalgia for “the good old days” of the USSR but I suspect that for those who take their Marxism seriously, it will not be on the basis of describing Stalin’s USSR as a “model for humanity”. The Communist movement collapsed largely because of its investment in such a fiction and like Humpty-Dumpty there is nothing that will put it back together again. I suspect that Shamir writes a lot of outrageous stuff in order to get attention. Howard Stern has the same approach, but unlike Shamir, he is intentionally funny while Shamir is just funny.

To wrap things up, let me say a word or two about the main points in Shamir’s article. He makes the case that Putin is a good friend of the Jews and of Israel, even to the point of being friendly with Masha Gessen, a “Jewish Lesbian Putin-hater”. (Apparently Shamir is as obsessed with peoples’ sexual orientation as he is with their blood quotient.) Somehow, I doubt that Putin is friendly with a woman who wrote a blistering attack on him in “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin” but let’s leave it at that.

After much more smoke-blowing about the Jews, Shamir gets to his main point, namely that global Jewry has a hard core (including me) that is part of a vast conspiracy to undermine Mother Russia and its good-hearted allies:  “Enemies of Putin in Russia, Ukraine, Europe and US do support Israel and are hostile to Palestine, to Syria of Bashar, to Venezuela of Chavez.” Well, I only speak for myself but I am quite capable of being opposed to the Baathists and supportive of the Chavistas at the same time, having written 28 articles over the years on behalf of Hugo Chavez’s movement as opposed to Shamir who has written none. He is more interested in writing about Jewzuela than Venezuela.

In terms of Syria and Palestine being litmus tests, this is a useful reminder of where things really stand. Based on Shamir’s criterion, 83 percent of the Palestinians would be considered “NATO shills” as well. So I am in good company.

Palestinians in Palestine still overwhelmingly against Assad

June 4, 2014 by Talal Alyan

As Assad opts for a modest 88.7% win for his third term, the latest Pew Global Attitudes Survey reaffirms that the self-designated liberator of Palestine continues to be flatly rejected by Palestinian in Palestine. The survey found that 83% of Palestinians under occupation consider Bashar Al Assad “unfavorable”, 65% of which regard him as “very unfavorable”

Read full article http://beyondcompromise.com/2014/06/04/palestinians-in-palestine-still-overwhelmingly-against-assad/

 

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