Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 10, 2021

No, America has not entered the Weimar era

Filed under: Fascism,Germany,Trump — louisproyect @ 7:22 pm

Long before Trump became President, I noticed that some on the left were confusing contemporary America with the Weimar Republic in 1920s Germany. In 2010, I commented on an interview that Chris Hedges did with Noam Chomsky that encapsulated this misreading of history. Hedges starts off:

“It is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. “The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”

As I have always tried to do when encountering a blinkered take on Weimar, I introduced some economic data:

To start with, the economic situation during the late Weimar Republic was far worse than today in the U.S. In 1932, there were 5 million unemployed German workers out of a total population of 66 million, an unemployment rate of 30 percent–twice what we are suffering in the U.S. today. Also, keep in mind that unemployment insurance, which had been introduced in Germany in 1927, was the victim of fiscal austerity after the 1929 market crash. All public funding was suspended, which resulted in higher contributions by the workers and fewer benefits for the unemployed.

After Trump was elected in 2016, the Weimar analogies increased dramatically for obvious reasons. Trump was widely perceived as the second coming of Adolf Hitler (or Mussolini) and as such it was incumbent on the left to study what happened in Germany in order to prevent another 1932. Both Ted Glick and Harold Meyerson tried to scare voters into pulling the lever for Hillary Clinton by bringing up the Weimar bogeyman. In my reply, I took exception to their notion that Jill Stein’s Green Party candidacy had anything to do with the German Communist Party’s insane ultraleft policy that equated the Socialist Party with the Nazis. I added that if there was any analogy, it was with the SP’s centrist politics that lost the votes of workers in the same way that Hillary Clinton’s continuation of Obama’s pro-Wall Street presidency made it possible for Trump to demagogically attack her Goldman-Sachs speeches. It was doubtful that either Glick or Meyerson had given much thought to SP policies in the 1920s:

Like the Democratic Party, the German Socialists cut deals with the opposition rightwing parties to stay in power. In effect, they were the Clinton and Obamas of their day. In 1928, the Socialists were part of a coalition government that allowed the SP Chancellor Hermann Müller to carry out what amounted to the same kind of sell-out policies that characterized Tony Blair and Bernard Hollande’s nominally working-class governments.

To give just one example, the SP’s campaign program included free school meals but when Müller’s rightwing coalition partners demanded that the free meals be abandoned in order to fund rearmament, Müller caved in.

My last reference to the Weimar Republic was a CounterPunch article last October that recapitulated previous articles and added:

Attempts to liken the Proud Boys or the Boogaloos to Hitler’s Brownshirts fall apart when examined under a historical spotlight. By 1932, it had 400,000 men that had years of experience attacking working-class demonstrations and rallies. By contrast, antifa confrontations with Trump supporters are skirmishes that generally do not involve casualties. When one happens, as was the case with Kyle Rittenhouse, the left must express outrage while it puts his actions into perspective. Like the driver who plowed his car into Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, this was an exception to the rule. America’s would-be fascists are primarily looking for fist-fights, not to commit homicide—at least for the time being.

For obvious reasons, the Weimar card is being played again after Trump supporters swarmed into the Capitol. Walden Bello has an article in Foreign Policy in Focus titled “America Has Entered the Weimar Era” that warns:

Future electoral contests for power may well end up being decided by a strong dose of street warfare, as the U.S. goes the way of Germany’s ill-fated Weimar Republic. The violent storming of the Capitol by a Trumpian mob underlined the face of crises to come.

You get the same thing from blogger Kenn Orphan whose post “Warnings from Weimar” is long on rhetoric but sketchy on the historical details:

There are many similarities of current day American politics to the final years of the Weimar Republic of the early 20th century: a bureaucratic plutocracy governed by out of touch liberal capitalists, incapable of understanding, let alone meeting, the needs of ordinary working people, in a nation where factions of the left foolishly downplayed the looming threat of the far right. This terrible recipe created the conditions that led many Germans to feel increasingly alienated from public life, and thus easily manipulated by nationalism, racism and the scapegoating of all of their problems.

Governed by out of touch liberal capitalists? Well, not exactly. More to the point, unless you get into the nitty-gritty realities of 1920s Germany, you might as well just say nothing since spouting glittering generalities does not help the left prepare for the possible emergence of a genuine fascist threat. In this post, I want to dig deeper into the concrete realities of Weimar that should make it obvious how different our situation is today. We have plenty to deal with but mostly it involves trying to build a socialist movement that in the final analysis is the best defense against fascism as opposed to voting for someone like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden.

To start with, the conditions facing Germans immediately after WWI were disastrous. Forced to sign an onerous treaty imposed by the allies, the country suffered a precipitous drop in economic well-being. On one hand, it led to revolutionary struggles that failed to take power as I have outlined elsewhere. On the other, it spawned a far-right movement led by the Freikorps that had no parallels with today’s Proud Boys or any other white supremacist militia.

Between 1918 and 1922, 354 German politicians of the left had been murdered by the Freikorps or other rightwing militias that predated the Nazi Party. To give you an idea of the social weight of the Freikorps, over 1.5 million men joined for the sole purpose of beating up or, less frequently, killing leftists. Given the precarious position of the Socialist Party government in the immediate postwar period, it is not surprising that it relied on the ultraright militia to maintain “law and order”. It was SP President Friedrich Ebert’s decision to give the Freikorps the green light to murder Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919.

By 1925, conditions had stabilized in Germany to the point where the Freikorps had outlived its usefulness. Another rightwing terrorist group called the Organization Consul continued assassinating leftists but less frequently and with less mass support.

But in only four years, conditions reverted to the early 20s as a consequence of the Great Depression. Millions of Germans were plunged into poverty to the point that they’d rally behind any group on the right or the left that could “make Germany great again”. Unlike the largely middle-class MAGA cap wearing louts that invaded the Capitol, the Germans susceptible to Hitler’s demagogy were driven by economic misery rather than nationalism for the most part.

A brief article from the June 19, 1932 New York Times should give you a feel for the desperate situation in Germany:

In the Bischofshem forest hikers found the corpses of a family of five—father, mother, and three children from 3 to 7—a brief note in the man’s pocket stating that economic misery had determined him and his wife to commit suicide, and take their children with them. “The courageous don’t grow old,” the note concluded. Its writer was 35 years old, a World War veteran, out of work, trying to eke out a living selling newspapers. He had shot his wife and children, and then himself.

Eighteen thousand people killed themselves in Germany last year, according to the provisional figures. Berlin alone had nearly seven hundred suicides the first four months of this year. The suicide curve seems to be rising steeply, and common sense interprets this as the reflection of constantly increasing economic pressure.

This time, however, it was Adolf Hitler’s Nazi stormtroopers that were targeting the left, Jews and Roma rather than the Freikorps. His party grew but so did the Communist Party. The Nazis had 107 seats in the Reichstag but the CP had 77. More importantly, the SP had 143. Added together, the two nominally socialist parties had twice as much political clout than the Nazis but their failure to unite against the fascists led to a tragic defeat. As stated above, the SP urged a vote for capitalist politicians like Bruning and von Hindenburg while the CP carried out a sectarian “united front from below” that went so far as to back a Nazi referendum that would result in the unseating of an SP governor in Saxony. How does this compare to the USA with zero socialists in Congress except the squad that has little influence over national or international affairs.

Having almost zero resemblance to the street fights between antifa and the Proud Boys, et al, the battle for control over the streets between Nazis and Reds after 1929 were bloody battles that took the lives of 155 and injured another 426 in Prussia. Most of the casualties, of course, were Reds who had to face the combined forces of cops and fascists.

On January 2nd, I posted a link to an article by Jairus Banaji titled “The Political Odyssey of Arthur Rosenberg, Germany’s Forgotten Marxist” that appeared in Jacobin. It refers to his most important work, “A History of the German Republic” that fortunately can be read on Marxists.org.

The final paragraphs of the concluding chapter titled “Chapter IX: The End, 1928-1930” will put Hitler’s rise into context. You had a Socialist Party with millions of members that makes the American left today look like a flea next to an elephant. While not quite as large as the SP, the CP was far more militant and far more willing to battle the Nazis in the street. It is our misfortune that the self-styled antifa has little understanding of why punching Nazis, or even killing them, would do little to block Hitler’s rise to power. Let Arthur Rosenberg explain why:

A united front SPD – KPD that ruthlessly waged war upon Brüning’s dictatorship and capitalism might still have decided the destiny of the German republic by compelling the new Nazi electorate to decide between capitalism and socialism. The necessity for any such decision would have broken up Hitler’s following and deprived the counter-revolution of its popular basis. Since, however, the KPD leaders did not want a revolution, but only wished to follow the easy road of making propaganda against the SPD, and since the right-wing Socialist leaders mistrusted the power of the proletariat and preferred the ‘lesser evil’, no such united socialist fighting front came into existence. Moreover, left-wing Socialists were hemmed in between the majority in their own party and the official KPD, and therefore rendered incapable of action.

The new Reichstag was composed of 150 supporters of the Hitler – Hugenberg block, 220 Marxists and about 200 supporters of Brüning’s government. The Conservatives did not fear either the SPD or the KPD, but the competition of the Hitler – Hugenberg block, which had scored such a notable success at the polls. The struggle between the Conservatives and Hugenberg’s supporters was, however, a domestic concern of the great capitalists and their friends among the territorial magnates. The SPD regarded the Conservative government as the lesser evil, and therefore gave its support to Brüning in his struggle with the Hitler – Hugenberg block and the KPD.

On 18 October 1930 the majority in the Reichstag composed of Brüning’s supporters and the Social Democrats resolved to refer the question of the emergency decrees to a special commission of the Reichstag and to pass to the order of the day without discussing the proposed vote of no confidence that lay upon the table. The Reichstag thus abandoned the struggle with the unconstitutional dictatorship of Brüning and his friends by a majority vote. The same hour saw the death of the Weimar Republic. Since then one dictatorship has succeeded to another in Germany.

The leading Social Democrats, who were convinced that the socialist proletariat was too weak to embark upon open warfare, indulged themselves in hopes that the existing crisis would run the same course that had been followed by the crisis of 1923. They were prepared to ‘tolerate’ the emergency decrees in a similar fashion to that in which they had formerly ‘tolerated’ the enabling act. If Brüning in his struggle with Hitler and Hugenberg only contrived to avoid making any really serious mistake, it was possible – so they argued – that some fortunate concatenation of circumstances would permit of the resuscitation of the Weimar Republic. These men forgot that in 1924 democracy in Germany was not rescued by their endeavours, but by the intervention of the New York Stock Exchange. In 1930-31, American financiers were neither willing nor able to rescue the Weimar Republic for a second time.

The middle-class republic established in 1918 in Germany was the creation of the working classes. The middle classes themselves had either fought against it or only half-heartedly supported it. The middle-class republic collapsed in 1930 because its destiny had been entrusted to the middle classes, and because the working classes were no longer strong enough to save it. Although the working classes comprised three-quarters of the entire nation, they were unable to unite either upon their political ideals or their political tactics. The counter-revolution triumphed because the working classes squandered their immense forces in internecine warfare.

October 9, 2020

Fascism, Trumpism, and the left

Filed under: Counterpunch,Fascism,Trump — louisproyect @ 2:32 pm

COUNTERPUNCH, OCTOBER 9, 2020

Ever since the 1964 election, liberals and many radicals have referred to the Republican presidential candidate as a fascist threat. When Goldwater accepted the Republican nomination, Democratic California Gov. Pat Brown said, “The stench of fascism is in the air.” Those worries continued through the Nixon years, abated somewhat under Bush ’41, then waxed again under Bush ’43. Today, they loom larger than ever, with Donald Trump’s outside chance of being re-elected in November.

Invoking the 1932 election in Germany, some leftists urge a vote for Joe Biden to keep Trump from consolidating the fascist regime he began constructing in 2016. While not mentioning the word fascism, a letter  signed by Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West and 52 other notable leftists insists that we vote for Biden, especially in swing states. Chomsky probably spoke for the entire group when he told The Intercept:

“Failure to vote for Biden in this election in a swing state amounts to voting for Trump. Takes one vote away from the opposition, same as adding one vote to Trump. So, if you decide you want to vote for the destruction of organized human life on Earth. . . then do it openly. . . . But that’s the meaning of ‘Never Biden’”.

Even before Trump’s 2016 victory, Chomsky fixated on the threat fascism posed. When Chris Hedges interviewed him in 2010, he compared the U.S.A. to Weimar Germany: “It is very similar to late Weimar Germany. The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”

Continue reading

September 28, 2020

Donald Trump, Project 1619, Howard Zinn, and critical race theory

Filed under: Project 1619,Trump — louisproyect @ 7:55 pm

On September 17th, Donald Trump weighed in on Project 1619, Howard Zinn, and critical race theory in a speech surely written for him since this moron never read the articles in Sunday NY Times Magazine section which launched Project 1619, “A People’s History of the United States”, or any critical race theory article. I even admit to being unfamiliar with critical race theory, so it is even more obvious that so is he. I doubt that the only written material he is familiar with appears on the back of a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal.

One wonders if he has been reading the critics of Project 1619, et al. After all, don’t his words sound like they could have written by Sean Wilentz?

Our Constitution was the product of centuries of tradition, wisdom, and experience. No political document has done more to advance the human condition or propel the engine of progress.

Yeah, you can quibble about Blacks being 3/5ths of a human being but nobody’s perfect.

Wilentz doesn’t believe that defending slavery was a factor in the American Revolution. The Constitution identified the goals of that revolution with Enlightenment values, not crass commercial goals such as forcing African slaves to pick cotton. In a September 16, 2015 NYT op-ed, he wrote:

The Constitutional Convention not only deliberately excluded the word “slavery,” but it also quashed the proslavery effort to make slavery a national institution, and so prevented enshrining the racism that justified slavery.

While I am sure that Wilentz would turn down an invitation to eat cheeseburgers with Trump at the White House, I am just as sure that he is closer to Trump on these matters than those rabble-rousers at the NY Times.

Trump is appalled that children are being given the wrong impression of our country by reading Howard Zinn: “Our children are instructed from propaganda tracts, like those of Howard Zinn, that try to make students ashamed of their own history.”

Once again, Wilentz would be closer to Trump than people like me who valued Zinn’s history. After Zinn died, Wilentz summed up his career:

He saw history primarily as a means to motivate people to political action that he found admirable. That’s what he said he did. It’s fine as a form of agitation — agitprop — but it’s not particularly good history.

Wilentz doesn’t seem to understand that his brand of history is also designed to motivate people to political action, namely lining up behind people like Bill Clinton or Joe Biden, two men who were as capable as Trump of demagogic attacks on Black people.

As for critical race theory, Trump regards it as poisoning the minds of children:

Students in our universities are inundated with critical race theory. This is a Marxist doctrine holding that America is a wicked and racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression, and that our entire society must be radically transformed. Critical race theory is being forced into our children’s schools, it’s being imposed into workplace trainings, and it’s being deployed to rip apart friends, neighbors, and families.

Guilty of this insidious is none other than the Smithsonian Institute. You’d think he was talking about the Smolny Institute, the way he goes on. It issued a document alleging that concepts such as hard work, rational thinking, the nuclear family, and belief in God were not values that unite all Americans, but were instead aspects of “whiteness.” All I can say is that if hard work, rational thinking, the nuclear family and belief in God were values identified with whiteness, then Trump is not white. Orange, maybe.

The more worthwhile avenue of investigation is critical race theory itself. Wikipedia identifies its main themes, including the following:

  • White privilege: Belief in the notion of a myriad of social advantages, benefits, and courtesies that come with being a member of the dominant race (i.e. white people). A clerk not following you around in a store or not having people cross the street at night to avoid you, are two examples of white privilege.
  • Microaggression: Belief in the notion that sudden, stunning, or dispiriting transactions have the power to mar the everyday of oppressed individuals. These include small acts of racism consciously or unconsciously perpetrated, whereby an analogy could be that of water dripping on a rock wearing away at it slowly.

So, is critical race theory supposed to be some arcane, pedantic theoretical offspring of postmodernism? I don’t know. To me it sounds like the stuff of daily reports in the media and hundreds, if not thousands, of YouTube videos of Black people getting screwed.

At the end of his speech, Trump introduced Professor Wilfred McClay, who will be part of a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project to support “the development of a pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history”.

McClay tried to write a rebuttal to Howard Zinn in a book titled “Land of Hope” that conforms to Donald Trump’s motherhood, apple pie and American flag version of American history. It was reviewed in Dissent by Michael Kazin, who trashed Zinn and might be expected to lean in McClay’s direction, even stating: “Wilfred McClay, a rare conservative historian whose prior work is respected across the political trenches, thinks he can explain what made America wonderful without echoing the nonsense Newt and his ilk hawk to the faithful.” But, he’s even too much for Kazin:

No serious historian could get away with giving the same silent treatment to the long struggle for black freedom, the pivot on which the Civil War and other critical events in the nation’s past have turned. But McClay overlooks the vital role abolitionists played in building opposition in the North to the “Slave Power” of Dixie. And he barely acknowledges the fact that a number of prominent abolitionists were black people who had once been held in bondage themselves. He refers to Harriet Tubman twice briefly—once in the middle of a sentence—Frederick Douglass gets three quick name-checks (one of which is incorrect), and Sojourner Truth is absent altogether.

McClay’s treatment of the post-emancipation black movement is even more careless. W. E. B. Du Bois gets a single mention—not as one of the most influential activists and thinkers in twentieth-century America but as someone who briefly endorsed eugenics. Meanwhile, in the pages of Land of Hope, Ida B. Wells, Marcus Garvey, and A. Philip Randolph never existed. McClay does grace Martin Luther King Jr. with a whole paragraph about his life plus a long quote from his iconic speech at the massive civil rights march in the summer of 1963. But then you really cannot ignore someone with a national holiday to his name and a memorial a few blocks from the Mall.

Trump is determined to wipe out all traces of anti-racist scholarship in the Ivies, as well as any other college or high school willing to use Project 1619, Zinn or critical race theory to educate young people about this country’s horrific past. Unfortunately for him, the tides of history are moving against him. People are determined to find out the truth about American history even if he is using executive power to try to censor it. As someone who grew up in the fifties getting spoon-fed McClay’s version, nothing made me happier than to read Howard Zinn when facing the draft. In a period of deep social crisis, you need the truth not an alt-right Hallmark card.

September 7, 2020

My boat sank in Lake Travis

Filed under: humor,Trump — louisproyect @ 9:25 pm

August 12, 2020

How leftist conspiracy-mongers ended up on the same side of the barricade as the alt-right

Filed under: Black Lives Matter,conspiracism,COVID-19,Donald Trump,Fascism,Trump — louisproyect @ 6:29 pm

Why would anybody in their right mind think that a color revolution conspiracy was targeting him?

That is what totalitarianism is, this desire to establish complete control over everything and everyone, every thought, emotion, and human interaction. The character of its ideology changes (i.e., Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc.), but this desire for complete control over people, over society, and ultimately life itself, is the essence of totalitarianism … and what has taken over the minds of the New Normals.

–CJ Hopkins

This is not the benign, Bernie Sanders, work-within-the-system-type socialism. This is Bolshevism, there’s a big difference. The smoldering downtown corridor and the ruined lives of thousands of merchants attests to that difference. What we’re seeing is the resolute actions of a thoroughly-committed group of violent extremists who want to obliterate the system and impose their own vision of socialism.

–Mike Whitney


These are excerpts from articles that appeared on The Unz Review website, named after its owner Ron Unz. I can’t provide the links since it has been banned on Facebook for promoting white supremacy, we can assume. You will find the articles by concatenating unz and com. Once there, you can do a search on both of the authors above and the articles will show up. Hopkins’s “new normals” is a reference to the people protesting against the cops, whose side he takes. As for Whitney, he is against rioting even though most of the protests against George Floyd have been peaceful. This smear, of course, is straight out of Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.

It is important to understand that Ron Unz’s website is one of the most prominent neo-Nazi websites with a ranking of 15,537 on Alexa. That’s six times as much traffic as Stormfront, which ranks 96,704 as a long-time promoter of holocaust denial, racism and nativism. It’s also almost three times the traffic of CounterPunch, where both Hopkins and Whitney’s articles appeared before it cleaned house.

The question before us is why someone who once wrote for CounterPunch, like I do, would want to be associated with Ron Unz. When I challenged Hopkins for crossposting to Unz’s website while he was writing for CounterPunch, he defended himself by saying that Unz used to be a major contributor to CounterPunch, as well as writing for it occasionally. Of course, if you look up his articles for CP, you’ll see that they’re nothing like the white supremacist propaganda he writes today. Like Hopkins, Whitney had been crossposting to both CP and Unz all along but I never asked him why. Anyhow, the important thing to understand is that both of them have drifted to the far right once their connections to CP were severed. Today, nothing they write has the slightest tinge of leftism and more recently it is unvarnished defense of Donald Trump against BLM protests.

Other former writers for CounterPunch have also been moving in this direction. Max Parry only wrote 3 articles for CP but has flooded various leftwing websites for ages now promoting a conspiracist worldview. On off-Guardian, a COVID-19 denialist and 9/11 truther outlet, Parry has an article that makes an amalgam of Assadism and anti-BLM propaganda. Titled “The Battle of Seattle was Fought by the Pro-war ‘Left’ in Northern Syria”, the article sounds like it could have been written by someone on Tucker Carlson’s staff:

What began as protests against police brutality were not only derailed into efforts to set-up communes in major cities but a nationwide debate on statues, after the wave of demonstrations and rioting across the country led to the Taliban-style destruction of historical monuments perceived as glorifying racism.

Taliban-style, really? As if tearing down a Confederate General’s statue has something in common with the Taliban’s horrendous destruction of Buddha statues.

Kurt Nimmo, who had dozens of articles published on CP but none later than 2004, now writes mostly for Global Research, a conspiracist cesspool with a lot in common with off-Guardian. Recently, he wrote something titled “Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the Neoliberal Color Revolution in America” that was a riff on William Engdahl’s “America’s Own Color Revolution” and that also appeared on Global Research. Engdahl was a former member of Larouche’s organization who retains pretty much the same politics he once had. Implicit in writing about a “color revolution” in the USA is the idea that Donald Trump is some kind of post-Soviet nationalist like Milosevic or Shevardnadze. This is a preposterous idea as if “neoliberalism” and the Trump White House were on a collision course. One might understand Engdahl taking this position since Larouche PAC virtually worships Donald Trump.

Conspiracism pollutes much of “radical” journalism on the net. If you see it as concentric circles getting more and more nutty and reactionary as you move toward the hub, Grayzone and Consortium News would be further away from the center, even if they overlap to some extent with Global Research. For Max Blumenthal, everything is simple. Just read what Nicholas Kristof writes and take the opposite tack. If Kristof condemns the Chinese government for putting Uighurs into concentration camps, your task is to write that concentration camps do not exist.

Close to the innermost circle, you get off-Guardian, Global Research and Zero Hedge that share the Trump administration’s hatred for the BLM protests and laissez-faire attitude toward the pandemic. You’ll see article after article about how BLM is violent and why COVID-19 is not that big a deal. You’ll find plenty of anti-corporate rhetoric about how George Soros is funding the BLM and why Bill Gates wants to exploit the pandemic for personal gain, but you’ll also find Hitler railing against big business in “Mein Kampf”.

When I used to read Mike Whitney in CounterPunch, I never had any strong objections except to his support for the “axis of resistance”. As for Hopkins, there wasn’t much to pay attention to since he wrote the same article over and over, which boiled down to his defense of “populism”. Whether it was from the left or right, it didn’t matter since the only real enemy was the “deep state” that was so intent on bringing down Trump. Like Aaron Maté, Hopkins got a lot of mileage exposing “Russiagate” even though it was mixed with Putin worship.

This move toward the right has been gestating ever since Trump became president. You can see signs of it everywhere, with Max Blumenthal’s appearances on the Tucker Carlson show and Stephen F. Cohen’s many guest spots on the John Batchelor show on WABC radio, which is a carriage trade version of Rush Limbaugh. Carlson and Batchelor were determined to clear Trump of all charges of interference in the American elections, which in and of itself is not wrong. It is wrong, however, to amalgamate that with support for the eastern Ukraine secessionists as Cohen did ever since Euromaidan broke out.

No matter how malevolent these tendencies were in the past, they have become even more pronounced this year as the pandemic and the George Floyd protests divided America sharply along ideological lines. Hopkins and Whitney have decided to make common cause with the most reactionary circles, which Ron Unz champions on a daily basis to a large internet following.

On DissidentVoice, a conspiracist website not quite as bad as off-Guardian, you can read Hopkins’s take on the pandemic. He sounds exactly like a guest on the Tucker Carlson show: “Also, ‘we have no immunity against it,’ which is why we all have to remain ‘locked down’ like unruly inmates in a penitentiary until a vaccine can be concocted and forced onto every living person on earth.” Like his business about “Stalinism” controlling our lives above, the emphasis is on personal liberty—the same excuse people give for shopping maskless and punching, or even shooting, an employee who tells them to wear one or leave.

Whitney operates from the same premise: “The Covid-19 Scamdemic is an even more vile component of the 3-pronged offensive. The ‘fairly mild’ infection (that kills between 1 in every 200 to 1 in every 1,000) has been greatly exaggerated by the media to scare the public, undermine normal relations, prevent physical intimacies, and inflict maximum damage of the fragile psyches of millions of people worldwide.”

This blatant denialism goes hand in hand with their hatred of BLM protests, which they see as a “deep state” conspiracy funded by corporate America with the willing support of the Democratic Party. Hopkins writes, “The part where the mayors of major cities stood down and otherwise hamstrung their cops, and let the ‘peaceful protesters’ run amok, was particularly audacious, in my opinion.” Whitney is beside himself with anger over BLM protests, which at the time he wrote an article (July 20), had become overwhelmingly peaceful. He told Unz’s fascist readers “These aren’t protests, this is political warfare the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1960s.” Most people on the left have fond memories of the 60s, either from direct experience like me or from reading memoirs by people like Daniel Ellsberg. I guess that Whitney identifies more with the Silent Majority of the time. Who knows? This landscape company owner might have belonged to it at the time.

Let me conclude with a few words about the Socialist Workers Party, a group I belonged to from 1967 to 1978. At one time, it was the flagship party of Trotsky’s Fourth International with about 2,000 members at its height. Now, it is a tiny cult around Jack Barnes who has managed to expel or drive people to resign to the point that it consists of maybe 90 people as old as me. Their main political activity consists of going door-to-door like the Jehovah’s Witnesses use to, peddling the party newspaper The Militant.

Like the aforementioned people writing for The Unz Review, Barnes became a convert to the Trump cause in 2016. With only minor criticisms of the white supremacist, The Militant concentrates its fire (such as it is) on the Democratic Party and on activists opposed to Trump. Like Hopkins and Whitney, they minimize the pandemic and hate how “mobs” topple monuments to Confederate generals.

In one of the more bizarre offerings, the newspaper defends the “right to worship” in Nevada:

In a serious attack on the constitutional right of freedom to worship, the U.S. Supreme Court voted July 24 to refuse to suspend a public health order imposed by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak limiting attendance at church services. It was part of a series of edicts issued under the guise of stopping the spread of coronavirus.

This goes hand in hand with the SWP’s refusal to wear masks when it goes peddling its tracts and newspapers from door to door. You can never see a mask on a party member. Given their age, you’d think they’d be more careful. But at this stage of the game, anybody who has been a member for forty years or so, as is generally the case, you lost the capacity to think independently long ago.

March 29, 2020

More from JL Cauvin / JL Trump

Filed under: humor,Trump — louisproyect @ 12:06 am

(I love this guy.)

 

March 27, 2020

Exponential Threat

Filed under: coronavirus,Trump — louisproyect @ 12:17 am

March 25, 2020

Donald Trump vs. God on Easter

Filed under: humor,Trump — louisproyect @ 6:05 pm

More videos from J-L Cauvin are here

September 26, 2019

Trump-Zelensky phone conversation re-enacted

Filed under: Biden,Trump — louisproyect @ 1:26 pm

March 25, 2019

Russiagate and the left

Filed under: Russiagate,Trump — louisproyect @ 6:56 pm

Dialectically related

Those hoping to see Russiagate finally disappearing from MSNBC and CNN will be disappointed. The talking heads (David Corn, Jeffrey Toobin, et al) will pivot now to discussing obstruction of justice. If the real purpose of these nominally liberal cable channels was to torpedo the Trump administration, they’d begin to cover the Midwestern floods that have devastated the farm belt. Most of the farmers are Republicans who voted for Trump but need to be educated about the relationship between the flooding and climate change. Although Trump has approved flood relief for Iowa and Nebraska, it will certainly not prove adequate for the farmers’ needs. They should also be reminded that in January, Trump was considering the possibility of robbing the disaster relief piggy-bank to pay for his filthy wall.

But why would these networks want to lose money by becoming a real news outlet when there’s money to be made focusing on Donald Trump? Only three months ago, the head of CNN said that the station would lose money if it didn’t revolve around Trump. In a Vanity Fair article, Jeff Zucker admitted as much:

“People say all the time, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about Trump. I’ve had too much Trump,’ ” he told me. “And yet at the end of the day, all they want to do is talk about Trump. We’ve seen that, anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away. So we know that, right now, Donald Trump dominates.”

According to a 2017 Forbes article, “total primetime viewership was up 50% from last year across CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, and viewership in the lucrative 25-54 demographic was up 55%.”)

Politics probably doesn’t matter very much to the liberal networks when it comes to ratings. A little over a month ago, CNN hired Sarah Isgur Flores, who was Jeff Sessions spokeswoman, as a “political editor.” Before taking CNN’s offer, she interviewed at MSNBC for the same kind of gig. Like the networks, Flores is a mercenary. When she made an appearance on Chris Hayes MSNBC show on May 16, 2016, she told him: “Donald Trump has again and again shown himself to be an authoritarian, a tyrant and a bully who’s corrupt and doesn’t deserve to be in the White House.” Seven months later she took a job with the tyrant.

You get the same thing at Fox News. They just hired Donna Brazile, the erstwhile interim chairwoman of the Democratic Party, as an on-air commentator. She’ll obviously play the same kind of role that Alan Colmes played on Sean Hannity.

Why would any leftist want to make an appearance on Fox News? Brazile and Colmes were obviously in it for the money but there are people like Stephen F. Cohen and Max Blumenthal who go on the Tucker Carlson show out of an ideological calling (like Mueller’s refusal to charge Trump with conspiracy, I cannot say for sure that Blumenthal is actually on the take from Putin.) Like Jimmy Dore, Glenn Greenwald, and Aaron Maté, they make useful points about the bankruptcy of the Clinton campaign being responsible for her loss but the overarching interest is in siding with Russian foreign policy goals. Every one of these jerks have spent the last 8 years pimping for Assad and Putin on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

I do believe that the Kremlin is messing around in American politics but the impact on elections is probably negligible. If Hillary Clinton had not been acting so underhandedly against Bernie Sanders and had taken even a few baby steps further to the left, she probably would have won the electoral college votes as well as the popular vote. The real damage, as far as I am concerned, is the ability of a foreign power to drive a wedge between its own interests and that of the American people as a whole. The best example of how it is done is obvious. The Israel lobby spends millions buying votes for its ongoing apartheid policies.

The Putin lobby has a different dynamic. It exploits the understandably progressive attitudes of the American people against war in order to make sure that opposition to its war crimes in Syria and its Great Russian domination of Ukraine is drowned out by louder voices. I am sure that Tulsi Gabbard never got a penny from Russia but she is as devoted to its cause as someone would be if on its payroll. As it happens, she is just as devoted to the Israeli state. In 2015, she was a keynote speaker at Christians United for Israel conference. This is an organization led by John Hagee, who is on record as believing that Adolf Hitler hastened God’s plan by forcing Jews back to Israel.

You might say that Stephen F. Cohen, Max Blumenthal, Jimmy Dore, Glenn Greenwald, and Aaron Maté are dialectically related to Rachel Maddow, David Corn, and Debby Wasserman-Schultz. Once the latter group pivots to blathering on about obstruction of justice rather than collusion with Russia, the first group will make money writing articles or appearing on RT.com and Tucker Carlson debunking their claims. It’s a business, when you get right down to it.

What should the left be doing about this con game? If the networks don’t pay attention to the plight of farmers or the continuing assault on working people epitomized by the shutdown of the Lordstown GM plant, then it should be the job of the left to take these issues to the people. If the DSA was truly committed to winning Red State voters to its “democratic socialist” cause, it would send brigades out to Nebraska and Iowa with literature on climate change and the flooding.

The Lordstown plant is in the Mahoning Valley region of Ohio that traditionally votes Democratic but decided to back Trump after he made his demagogic appeal about making sure such plants stay open. John Russo, the former co-director of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University, was told by union officials that about 40 percent of UAW members at Lordstown voted for Trump.

These are the kinds of people who will become our Yellow Vests once they learn they have been sold out by both capitalist parties. The left has to find a way to reach them and get out of its Brooklyn hipster cocoon once and for all.

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