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.
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.
No matter what people are saying, the economic crisis in Venezuela is clearly rooted in capitalism, not socialism. Anyone who wants to say that this crisis is strictly a result of the social-democratic policies of the Venezuelan government is manipulating the facts.
The most obvious fact dispelling this is the other left social-democratic economy: Bolivia. At the moment, Bolivia’s economy is thriving, due to a boom in the demand for minerals.
As the price of minerals has shot up, the price of oil has plummeted. Oil, of course, has been the primary mover in making the social programs in Venezuela possible. The collapse of oil prices was not because of Venezuela’s social system, but rather because of the world market and geopolitics.
The policy crystallizes when we take a look at the words of Ali al-Naimi, who was the Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia: “As a policy for Opec – and I convinced Opec of this, even Mr al-Badri [Opec secretary general] is now convinced – it is not in the interest of Opec producers to cut their production, whatever the price is.”
If you refer to the above links (both of which are BBC, hardly a leftist news outlet), we can see that the levels of production maintained by OPEC are entirely intentional. Oil prices are artificial, as OPEC countries over-produce. The rationale for such a move is, according to the BBC, the Gulf states’ attempt to keep their market-share.
However, that article also clearly demonstrates who the losers are when over-production happens: Russia, Iran, and Venezuela are at the top of the list.
Where does that leave us? Is it reasonable to assume that the drop in oil prices is entirely manufactured in order to not only maintain Gulf states’ market-share but also to destabilize countries that don’t nicely fit into U.S. global hegemony?
We shouldn’t take the right-wing baiting that Hugo Chavez’s mistake was nationalizing industries – Chavez’s mistake was rather assuming that the global powers weren’t intent on destroying his gains.
Chavez’s mistake was that he didn’t completely do away with capitalism in Venezuela.
Since the beginning of the social programs instituted by the Bolivarian government under Chavez, the West sought to undermine ever step of progress – even to the point of attempting to overthrow him in 2002.
Remember that throughout all of this:
The U.$. doesn’t hate Venezuela for the bad things it has done, but for the good things it has done.
In the past week alone, countless acts of terror have taken place against Muslims. In Quebec, a white terrorist opened fire on worshipers and murdered six people. In Victoria, Texas, the mosque was destroyed in a clear act of arson, where the Jews of Victoria have offered their synagogue to the Muslim community in an act of generosity. And on Sunday, one of the U$ assassination squads (SEAL team 6) slaughtered multiple children in Yemen (including an 8-year-old American girl, if you happen to care about Americans more than people from Yemen).
Needless to say, we are facing an emboldened and renewed campaign of terrorism against Muslims around the world. And, of course, the encouraged (actually, insisted) response by general society is that we should not defend ourselves. Of course, I agree with Malcolm on this point. If we say that people of color, women, trans/queer people, and Muslims should defend themselves, there is an uproar that we’re “calling for violence”. I have yet to hear anyone call for violence – we’re calling for self-defense.
If we’re living in a society where Nazis can walk right into mosques and start shooting at people in prayer, then we ought to have the right to defend ourselves. As Malcolm put it: “I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self-defense; I call it intelligence.”
This applies globally as well. Saudi Arabia (along with the U$ and England) has launched one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of the century by invading and destroying one of the poorest countries in the world – Yemen. Bombs rain from the skies over Sanaa, but any attempt to arm the people of Yemen is rejected. Why? Because apparently everyone in Yemen is an agent of Iran (and, therefore, worthy of death).
This justifies assassination of all the men, women, and children of the country.
Who is to blame? Well, the obvious answer would be the bloated clown running the U$ (voted in by 62,985,105 Amerikkkans). But it isn’t that easy, of course, because we know that Obama was the one who started the assault on Yemen. While he was feeding everyone bullshit about the Arab Spring, he saw fit to murder innocent people in Yemen the “most extraordinary global terrorism campaign in history” for doing nothing more than being apart of the Arab Spring. The line can be drawn pretty clearly back to European colonialism.
In all times and places, the violence is supposed to flow down the hierarchy. The enormous empires try to dominate tiny countries in order to maintain hegemony. Anyone who tries to resist is exterminated and anyone who silently goes along with the program is kept in treachery, unless bribery is the only way to extract resources.
The Saudis go along with the program and are handsomely rewarded, whereas when Iran tried to stand up and reclaim its dignity, the West responded with terror and destruction. All the while, the media is the West has adeptly avoided talking about the invasion of Yemen. Coverage of the war might lead to pesky questions, such as the obvious: why shouldn’t the Houthis have arms?
Back in the West, terror continues mostly in the shadows.
The terrorism that takes place against Muslims is often ignored, because it doesn’t play into xenophobic, racist portrayals of groups at risk in Western society.
The first mosque I ever visited was in 2011. Almost immediately when I went downstairs I noticed black marks on the walls under the windows. When I asked people what had happened, they responded (very calmly) that someone had thrown two Molotov cocktails through the windows. This is the reality that Muslims are living with in the U$.
And the expectation is that we’re supposed to allow this reality to continue?
This is where we ought to make it clear that we will defend ourselves. There are those who call for full gun control and want to make it impossible for anyone to own guns (except the government, of course). This seems like an odd way of confronting the world as it is. Guns exist already and people have access to them already. No matter your position on gun control, it would be insanity for vulnerable people to remain unarmed as Nazis and fascists are arming themselves to the teeth.
There is a Youtube channel run by a Sikh man named Gursant Singh. He is an American convert to Sikhism and often talks about the conditions faced by Sikhs in the U$. Let’s not forget the massacre five years ago at a gurdwara in Wisconsin, when a Alt-Right Nazi walked into the Sikh Temple and shot ten people, killing six.
Obama never even visited, despite being sure to visit other sites of mass shootings.
Gursant Singh called for all Sikhs to arm themselves and be prepared at all times. He pointed out, correctly, that Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims (due to their turbans and beards) and that they were, therefore, walking targets. This demonstrates the successful demonization of Muslims and the general ignorance of Amerikans.
Si vis pacem, para bellum. – “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
This is an old Latin adage that I endorse wholeheartedly.