The Huffington Post, known for its great journalism (sarcasm), has been publishing total bullshit lately (not sarcasm) on Russia.
Let’s break this down though, because it’s mostly been just two journalists: Nick Robins-Early and David Wood.
They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, but they’re certainly determined to make sure that everyone hears their ignorant opinions.
Nick Robins-Early wrote this piece, where he said that the photo is banned, which isn’t true, but rather the photo with the homophobic comment is banned. In this situation, I actually support the Russian government.
I’d like the Russian government to do more to ban homophobic language on the internet. I don’t think it does enough.
Then there’s this:
Which asks the important (sarcasm) question, why does Russia support the government of Syria? It fails to ask the important question, why doesn’t everybody? Why the fuck is Trump bombing Shayrat Airbase and groups fighting alongside the Syrian government?
Robins-Early also wrote this.
Which is all about poor Navalny (sarcasm) who was sentenced to jail for his bullshit. Navalny is considered to be an oppositionist in Russia, so he receives infinite support from the West. The thing that no one tells you is that Putin is to the left of Navalny, who was fond of describing Georgians as sub-human during the Russian-Georgian War in 2008.
And the Huffington Post saw fit to publish this little number by David Wood that argues that Russia is trying to start a war with the U.S. (and not the other way around)! What reality are these people living in where Russia is the aggressor when the U.S. is bombing an airbase that Russia uses? Can we imagine if the opposite had occurred?
Finally, after Tillerson’s meeting with Lavrov, Putin said that the relationship with the U.S. has deteriorated – is this not significant?
And the Huffington Post was there to report it (or at least steal it from Reuters).
This is insanity.
Meanwhile, this is the same outlet that was practically screaming that Trump was a Russian agent, personally placed (or blackmailed) into the position of president by Putin himself.
The current spat between the U$ media apparatus and the new regime demonstrates the silver lining in the ascendancy of Trump. The rupture between prototypical American institutions opens a space for exploitation. In other words, because Donald Trump is a huge idiot, he won’t be able to totally consolidate his power if he continues to attack corporate media. This means that here, for the first time, we may see the U$ population begin to genuinely question the functioning of the Amerikkkan state.
If this dumbass can be president, then clearly there’s a problem!
This is exactly what I wrote about on the day after Trump was announced the winner of the election. This is the silver lining. This is the benefit of Trump. If we use this as an opportunity to radicalize liberals and to use theory as a weapon, we can utterly transform the empire.
Trump’s open mocking of the apparently “timeless” values and mainstays of the U$ government have created a space in which everything is up for grabs. NATO, the border, and even liberal democracy itself are all under scrutiny by everyone on the political spectrum (finally) and if we take control of the narrative, we can present reality as it is.
Why do we have NATO? Why do we need a border? What is liberal democracy, anyway?
In other ways, it seems to me like Trump might be able to successfully delegitimize the whole system. My job is much easier in arguing that the state is racist, imperialist, and patriarchal with that 70-year-old walking lobotomy in charge of things. Capitalism in its most exploitative and destructive form is running around, unmasked.
Politicians are the best at making me want to punch old people.
If Trump refuses to go along with the general program, there’s also a chance that the media won’t immediately fall into line on all future policies.
In 2002, when Bush wanted to hype up for the invasion of Iraq, every media outlet in the U$ was unbelievably fast at falling in line. The same thing happened with Obama in Libya and Syria after that. When media conglomerates and the government play footsie, there’s no method to challenging the dominant narrative.
Back to Trump.
If Trump was a Russian puppet, we could at least guarantee a few things: there would be a de-escalation of war between the U$ and Russia, which would ease tensions between the U$ and Syria, the U$ and North Korea, the U$ and China…
Listen, I absolutely hate Vladimir Vladimirovich. He’s a terrible reactionary capitalist, but he’s certainly not pulling the strings.
If Trump was a Russian puppet, things would undoubtedly be better. This is particularly obvious when you consider the fact that Putin isn’t a total fucking moron.
Caveat: Any liberal criticism of Trump will dissipate in the event of a terrorist attack. Well, any terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims. If any terrorist attack by white people occurs, it’ll barely get coverage.
But if any Muslim even hurts a white person (the media doesn’t care about Chican@s and Black people), then the media, along with the other liberals, will immediately goose-step back into line and President Literal-Cartoon-Villain will have all the power in the world.
Negative: 99% WTF?
Occupy Wall Street was most successful in creating the new language of the left-liberal scene: “We are the 99%“. This was their message to the Wall Street bankers: “You are the 1%” and, therefore, the opposition. Of course, not the enemy, because that’s too strong a term.
The only drawback to this language is that it’s incorrect in two ways.
First of all, 99% of the people involved in Occupy Wall Street were not/are not really part of the 99%, because they’re all comparatively well-off compared to most of the world. Let’s be serious, a white 23 year-old with $10,000 of debt from their Ivy League University is not in the same position as anyone in the Third World.
Second of all, the enemy (I’m not afraid of the term) is a lot more than the 1%. The bourgeoisie, petite-bourgeoisie, and other reactionary classes make up significantly more than the 1% on Wall Street. Those who own the means of production make up a more sizeable group than that and those who benefit from the super-exploitation of the Third World make up the entire First World.
We’re talking about imperialism.
Occupy’s sloppy analysis isn’t helpful.
The big problem here is that analysis and language here have a feedback loop – the language is flawed and the more this language is used, the less the analysis reflects reality.
Positive: Reinvigorated some aspects of protest culture
One nice thing that OWS was that it put protests back into the mainstream in a way. Whereas before 2011, there certainly wasn’t a prevalence of protests coming from the Left in the dominant culture, today there seems to be far more of a willingness to protest. I’d be willing to concede that this probably had to do with the prevalence of OWS in the news/popular culture.
Positive: Set the stage for Black Lives Matter
I hesitate to draw this line, because it gives Occupy too much credit in my opinion, and it makes it seem (once again) that black people need white people for inspiration and support (which is obviously not the case), but a lot of people have connected these two protest movements. Objectively, OWS did take place before BLM (in other words, before a white pig murdered an unarmed black teenager in Missouri), so OWS was in the news before BLM was.
Occupy is not some pan-leftist movement, but rather a washed-up intellectually-vacuous garbage. Case and point: this bullshit.
Positive: Opened up the ideological space
Of course, anything posted on Occupy.com in 2017 isn’t getting very wide readership, so we can rest assured that this “Letter to the American Left” won’t be poisoning much dialogue.
OWS had no specific goals, demands, tactics, strategies, analysis, worldview, standards, or ideas about pretty much anything. This led to the conclusion that putting up tents and using unclear language would be a successful (whatever that means) strategy to realizing their goals (whatever those were).
Actually, the major mistake that OWS made was that they said everything, rather than nothing. Different factions articulated different aims and different paths. By saying everything, they effectively said nothing. And, all the while, in this menagerie of ideas, the Occupiers were so frustrated that their “pure” message was being ignored.
Positive: The Left can learn
This broad populist left-liberal space is a minefield.
Left-liberalism is a dead-end.
Capitalism is a losing game.
The lesson here is clear: analyze and radicalize.
It’s May Day, which means that it’s the perfect opportunity to discuss the state of the Left. For the past ten years, I’ve often sought to build bridges between disparate groups in order to encourage organization.
Here, however, I want defend dividing the left for the time being.
There are times and places to build united fronts, of course, but at the moment, we need to have the opportunity and space to continue discussing, debating, pinning down ideological points. With sweeping generalizations being made about every event – Syria, Brexit, Trump – it is the time now to swim in polemics.
Now is the time to divide.
In Germany in the 1990s and early 2000s, there were essentially three factions on the Left who were opposed to one another. There were the anti-nationalists, the anti-imperialists, and the anti-Germans.
The anti-nationalists focused, obviously, on nation-states and treated all of them with equal contempt. Anti-nationalists saw all states as equally repulsive, whether the U.S. or Senegal. Since all states are mere constructions in capitalism, then they should all be fought.
The anti-imperialists argued that imperialism is the dominant force in the world, which therefore meant that different states (or non-state actors) occupy different positions in relation to imperialism. Forces that encourage imperialism (mostly stemming from the United States and Europe) should be fought and forces resisting imperialism (whether nominally leftist or not) should receive at least critical support.
The anti-Germans took the position that Germany was the primary entity that ought to be opposed, as Germany was responsible for the most horrific crimes of the 20th century. Anti-Germans were against German reunification, against NATO bombing Serbia, and against EU economic policies, all the while offering uncritical support to Israel, as the Jews had been the primary victims of Germany’s past. After 9/11, Anti-Germans used Marx’s formulation of the economic stages (feudalism, capitalism, socialism, communism) to support the Amerikkkan invasion of of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Since all of these peoples were lumped into “anti-Semitic feudal Islamists”, then the U.S. was going to force the Middle East into capitalism, which would then open the world up for the next stages – socialism and communism.
As you can probably tell, I’m pretty anti-anti-German.
I’m far more sympathetic to the anti-nationalists and anti-imperialists.
In Germany today, the differences between these groups are disintegrating. One of my friends recently told me that he’s happy about this development, because he thinks it’s more important to build coalitions.
I am not so sure.
It seems to me that these distinctions were never made in the United States leftist scene. Ideologically speaking, it’s more difficult for anarchists and communists to come together than anti-nationalists and anti-imperialists, even if those anarchists and communists aren’t sure why.
The political constellations are different and, in my opinion, much more weakly defined.
As a prime example, the tendency in the United States is the endless question of “uniting the Left”. Personally, I’ve sat through countless brainstorming sessions that reached hair-brained solutions to the “factionalism” and “sectarianism” between leftists.
Differences shouldn’t be articulated and politicized, argue these saviors of leftist in-fighting.
But why not? Through polemics, we have leftist groups engaging one another. Communist parties and organizations vie for correct positions and anarchists clarify their positions as they adopt and adapt their adjectives: Anarcho-Syndicalist-Communist-Primitivists!
However, it’s clear that I’m in the minority. A lot of leftists crave “unity”, because they see that as a way of organizing and thereby succeeding. (Never mind the fact that “success” here means something entirely different to every grouping.)
The main point for them is openness.
This openness is the idea that brings us a magazine like Jacobin.
I should mention here that I often like articles on Jacobin and have cited them numerous times on this blog. However, Jacobin represents this tendency and there are plenty of articles on Jacobin that are absolute nonsense.
In the goal of “unity”, Jacobin, posturing as a broad-leftist, big-tent magazine, is careful not to talk too much about characters that are divisive: Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao go almost totally unmentioned. Even Marx and Engels are barely cited.
The usual cast of characters of leftist debate are mostly left untouched, as this might cause division.
Jacobin articles are particularly philosophically empty.
Rather than offering a structured system of analysis in any way, Jacobin magazine leaves us to dwell in a post-modern, non-polemical space.
We are free to take up contradictory political positions based on feelings. Politics in this world are based on convenience. You can check your brain at the door, as long as you’ve brought your heart along.
The Soviet Union is gone, the PRC is totally capitalist, Castro is dead, we don’t have to defend anything icky!
Although in some ways we can see this ideological vacuity an asset, it seems to me rather often to result in the publishing of some rather absurdly silly arguments.
At the same time, because the differences between positions like anti-nationalism and anti-imperialism were never articulated on the American Left, there is no space for a proper discussion on these points between mainstream leftist tendencies.
But Jacobin still encourages its readers to take hard political positions.
A good example is this article, super critical of Hezbollah for not being “proletarian enough” and this other article that calls for general solidarity with the Rojava, while pointing out criticisms from a left-liberal human rights perspective.
So, we are told, we shouldn’t support Hezbollah, based on a Marxist analysis, and we should critically support Rojava, based on a liberal analysis.
Where does that leave us?
Why one and not the other?
Is the PKK/PYD seriously representative of the Kurdish proletariat? Obviously not.
Jacobin does us no favors here. Due to the lack of ideological clarity, we have a variety of positions on a variety of issues and they can range from left-liberal to Marxist, which, it should be noted, are competing and mutually-exclusive worldviews.
(This hypocritically coming from the Muslim communist.)
Without any ideological rigor and in the constant attempts to “unite the Left”, we’re offered almost nothing. All the “solutions” don’t give use anything concrete.
When we’re divided over polemics, we’re at least negotiating ideological space, when we’re “united”, we’re barely saying anything of substance to each other.
So on this May Day, 100 years after the Russian Revolution, I’d like to say to all my fellow leftists:
Let’s remain divided, at least for now.