On the New Witch Hunt

Sorry, the blog at alternative-right.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.” – Blogger(1)

The braying bad faith of the political alliance which spans the entire spectrum from the mainstream media, corporate elites and GOP establishment to the Revolutionary Communist Party and the black bloc is reaching deafening proportions.

More than anything else, this feels like the early ’50s, with the alt.x movement playing the role of the CPUSA.  Those hard times are here now and there are no doubt worse to come.  Any voice speaking out in even the most moderate way in defense of the interests of the traditional American nation must recognize that the consequences can be real and unpleasant.  (Think job loss, black listing, physical assault, ritual denunciation, silencing, even prosecution when some criminal charges can be trumped up.)

But this too will pass – remember how things changed then over the course of a decade.  Let us hope and, more importantly, work to ensure that our ’60s lie ahead!

Note:

(1) This is what showed up when I tried to access Alternative-Right this morning. It may be that the site is moving elsewhere of its own accord but in the current climate one suspects the worst, especially in light of widespread corporate efforts to silence dissenting voices. (See, for example the announcement at Counter-Currents that their web-hosting service is cancelling its account and that the site may be going off-line, or any of the coverage regarding the purging of offending accounts by Facebook, Paypal, etc. Silicon Valley’s Nazi Purge Kicks Into Overdrive Or: How tech learned to stop worrying and begin policing speech at Vanity Fair is a good place to start.)

Charlottesville – Gimme Shelter?

The story of the events in Charlottesville hardly needs to be re-told. While the “Unite the Right” rally may have been the work of that alt.NS/KKK-lite wing of things that I find particularly alienating (think, Hunter Wallace, et al for example) make no mistake – the violence came from the antifa left, aided and abetted by the action and inaction of the powers-that-be and the “moderate” left. Further, while some of the more objectionable views expressed by certain “Unite the Right” participants played into the hands of our enemies (See Colin Lidell’s Charlottesville: You Know I’m Right) experience shows that even the most tepid sort of alt.lite civic nationalist gathering would have drawn (qualitatively at least) the same sort of violent, thuggish response.

Given the lessons of the past few years, none of this, of course, should be a surprise(1).  But, without a doubt, difficult times are ahead.  Clearly every effort will be made by the system and its flunkies on the left to use the Charlottesville events to intimidate and silence all anti-system voices.  In this regard today’s piece by Greg Johnson (with whom I usually disagree) The Altamont of the Alt Right? is a must-read, especially in its conclusion:

This is a call to arms. In the coming days and weeks, I want every one of my readers to both speak the truth about what happened in Charlottesville and also use this as an opportunity to impeach the credibility of the mainstream media and the political establishment. You need to speak out among your friends and relatives. You need to speak out on social media. You need to raid comment threads. You need to call into radio shows. You need to hone your talking points and share them with our comrades and allies. And you need to steel yourself for a long, hard fight, because the enemy never sleeps, never takes a day off, and never flags in flogging its lies to the masses….

This is only a setback if we allow it to be. We must seize upon it as our chance to expose the lies and hypocrisy of the Left and reassert the righteousness of our cause. This is an Übermensch moment for our movement. An obstacle has been thrown in our path. We need to surmount it. We have been presented with a crisis. We have to turn it into an opportunity.

So what are you waiting for?

Yes, what are we waiting for?

 

(1) I will forgo rehashing my views on the antifa and the role they play, but if you are curious, see my posts The System’s Useful (and Violent) Idiots and On the Left and “Fascism”.

It’s Nice To Know Where We Stand

At Counterpunch, Paul Street’s exhausting rant against any orientation on the part of the left toward winning over Trump-supporters Unity With the Right? A Deplorable Idea concludes:

Trump’s deplorable base is not pining to come over to the Left once the real populists and socialists take over or transcend the Democratic Party. Make no mistake it will have to be dealt with quite harshly and unsentimentally, if and when we ever take power.

Diana Johnstone on the Left, the Bolshevik Revolution, and More

The irony of the human rights doctrine is particularly evident in the anti-Russian propaganda of recent years. The collapse of the Soviet Union has led to a revival of traditional conservatism in Russia, including respect for religion and “family values.” The United States counterrevolution has thus gone full circle. The “enemy” today is what “anti-communism” claimed to defend yesterday.” – Diana Johnstone, The Western Left and the Russian Revolution

The latest Monthly Review, Revolution and Counterrevolution, 1917-2017, is devoted to marking the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution. Among the rather uneven mix of contributions, Diana Johnstone‘s stands out as particularly interesting.

Taken to task for its brevity by the pathologically prolix Louis Proyect, Johnstone’s article is an admirably cogent presentation of insights (and errors) regarding the revolution, counter-revolution, human rights ideology, Trotskyism, imperialism and more, with each of its sentences worth an essay in itself.  Definitely worth reading.

(By the way, also of interest in the issue is The October Revolution and the Survival of Capitalism by Prabhat Patnaik.)

On the Left – Free or Good?

I recently read Nikos Malliaris’s Freedom from progress: Donald Trump, Christopher Lasch, and a Left in fear of America in the March Platypus Review and am hoping to write more on his positive discussion of “reactionary leftism” and its Laschian critique of progressivism – but that’s for another post.

In reading this piece his repeated description of the left’s commitment to “the emancipatory project” caused me to reflect a bit on how the nature of the left has changed.  Obviously, the use of this phrase to describe the fundamental goal of the left has become pretty typical over the past decades, so I don’t present that here as any revelation (and, to give Malliaris credit, he argues that what distinguishes the “reactionary left” for which he advocates is its recognition of the need for limits).

Still, I can’t help thinking back to my own years on the left.  For me, the end was not freedom but virtue – the goal was the creation of a right and good social order, not “emancipation” as an end in itself.  (While one might argue that my leftism was just a secularized version of an internalized – and mainly pre-Vatican II – Catholicism, I think that it was also consistent with the “old” left – probably the reason why I was always drawn to those elements of the pre-60s left which lived on for a time within the New.)

No matter how elaborately its proponents dress this concept up in Theory and no matter how deeply they genuflect at the feet of Marx, et al, its adoption is a reflection – and a particularly telling one – of the left’s absorption by the system as a loyal, albeit utopian, opposition.

 

Against “Cultural Marxism”

Having spent 20 years studying the history and theory of Marxism, I can say with some confidence that… most American conservatives (as well as most white nationalists), know hardly a thing about it. – Michael O’Meara – The Next Conservatism?

I was once again reminded of the truth of Mr. O’Meara’s observation by Paul Gottfried’s recent article at Vdare, Yes, Virginia (Dare) There Is A Cultural Marxism–And It’s Taking Over Conservatism Inc.

In general, the theme of “Cultural Marxism” and its supposed triumph reflects the theoretical poverty of the American right – in both its mainstream and alternative varieties.  It is consistent with the tradition of blaming the “commies” (or, for some, the commies and “the Jews”) for everything, treating the globalist/multiculturalist order as something foreign to our system rather than the “natural” product of it.

Even worse, much of what passes for insight on the matter is of the crassest character. (See, for example, here and here.) While I will confess that I’ve never been a big fan of Gottfried‘s work, I expected something better from him and so was especially disappointed by the crudeness of his analysis in this particular effort.

While Gottfried expresses some general discomfort with the term “Cultural Marxism” and acknowledges a number of the ways in which it diverges from  class-oriented Marxism of one sort or another, he argues that it can be understood as fundamentally part of that tradition and seems to endorse the view taken by so many on the American right that all of today’s ills are traceable to the influence of that handful of  unorthodox Marxist theorists associated with the Frankfurt school.

Thus, in an earlier article Gottfried claimed that Cultural Marxism has been “successful… in taking over Western societies, through educational, social and political institutions” while in the current one, after some fretting over whether or not it still makes sense to talk about the influence of the original critical theorists given how far the corruption of the West has advanced beyond what they had imagined, he ultimately assures us that “Not only does Cultural Marxism exist” but that, given the embrace of a sort of political correctness-lite at home and “humanitarian” interventionism abroad on the part of the mainstream right,  “it now appears to be taking over Conservatism Inc.” and that “Conservatism Inc. … [has] become a Cultural Marxist puppet.”

In fact, the “Cultural Marxists” are able to hold the sort of institutional power which they do because they are doing the system’s dirty work – motivating and justifying the clearing away of all of those “irrational” obstacles – family, nation, tradition, etc – to the horizontal and vertical spread of the capitalist system in its globalist phase.  As Gottfried himself points out:

… nationalizing productive forces and the creation of a workers’ state, i.e. the leftovers from classical Marxism, turn out to be the most expendable part of their revolutionary program…. Instead, what is essential to Cultural Marxism is the rooting-out of bourgeois national structures, the obliteration of gender roles and the utter devastation of “the patriarchal family.”

So, far from representing the victory of the left, the rise of “Cultural Marxism” to prominence and intellectual power represents a victory over the left – its absorption by the current incarnation of the capitalist system rather than a subversion of it.

(The introductory quote is from and article published some years back by the now-silent Michael O’Meara on William Lind, who was an early proponent of the concept of “Cultural Marxism”. The piece is typical O’Meara – full of insights and energy but seriously marred by his habitual anti-semitism. Overall, much of his critique of the notion of the alleged role of “Cultural Marxism” remains valuable.  I will not repeat his analysis here, but I do suggest that you have a look.)

On the Left and “Fascism”

“…most of what calls itself “the left” in the West has been totally won over to the current form of imperialism – aka “globalization”. It is an imperialism of a new type, centered on the use of military force and “soft” power to enable transnational finance to penetrate every corner of the earth and thus to reshape all societies in the endless quest for profitable return on capital investment. The left has been won over to this new imperialism because it advances under the banner of “human rights” and “antiracism” – abstractions which a whole generation has been indoctrinated to consider the central, if not the only, political issues of our times.” – Diana Johnstone – The Main Issue in the French Election: National Sovereignty

The collapse of the virtually the entire left into at best a mere loyal opposition within the capitalist order becomes clearer every day. Its recent and nearly unanimous rallying in support of the system’s candidate for the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, is yet another sad example.

The notion that Marine Le Pen was ready to install a Hitlerian dictatorship on France is absurd on the face of it and in fairness most commentators on the left acknowledged this however grudgingly, – usually just before arguing that she was still, however, so dangerous (a “canny fascist“, for example) that the left must unite behind  the candidate of the transnational elites instead (1).

In fact, there are a few on the left who dissent from this groupthink.  In addition to Johnstone, for example, James Petras argued in Twenty Truths About Marine Le Pen

Macron’s pro-war, anti-working class and ‘supply-side’ economic policies leave us with only one conclusion: Marine Le Pen is the only candidate of the left. Her program and commitments are pro-labor, not ‘hard’ or ‘far’ right – and certainly not ‘fascist’….

Le Pen is above all a ‘sovereigntist’: ‘France First’. Her fight is against the Brussels oligarchs and for the restoration of sovereignty to the French people. There is an infinite irony in labeling the fight against imperial political power as ‘hard right’. It is insulting to debase popular demands for domestic democratic power over basic economic policies, fiscal spending, incomes and prices policies, budgets and deficits as ‘extremist and far right’.

Unfortunately, however, the Johnstones and Petras’s are rare and to the extent that their efforts have been noticed, they have generally been denounced(2).

What characterizes the bulk of the left today is its ahistorical (and decidedly un-Marxist) approach to the populist movements of the right.  The left insists on understanding these movements in terms of a social reality that existed almost 100 years ago and is particularly unable (or unwilling) to recognize that the class content of movements and discourses changes over time – reflecting both the circumstances of a particular conjuncture and the overall arc of capitalist development.

Until roughly World War II capitalist classes in each country were fundamentally national.  In the moments of extreme crisis faced by certain of these countries, a sector of the ruling class opted for alliances with mass movements of the right in order to crush insurgent workers’ movements of the left, overcome the impasse created by non-functional parliamentary systems and better assert themselves internationally against their foreign rivals.  Once their radical wings were domesticated, in certain countries the fascist movements of the ’20s and ’30s suited the needs of much of the ruling class – at least for a time.

Unlike the interwar years, however, today’s ruling class has largely transcended national boundaries and is fundamentally globalist.  It is fundamentally committed to the multiculturalist ideology that is the natural world view that accompanies this.  Its fundamental enemy is nationalism and rootedness is all its forms.

In the current period the opposition to the ruling order is again based a sector of the popular classes and the ruling class is again mobilizing to destroy this opposition.  The difference is that today it is the so-called “fascists” who represent authentic resistance and it is the “left” that is being mobilized to stamp it out in the service of big capital and its globalist project.

In an typical article, which appeared on the blog Shiraz Socialist The Front National and fascism the author quotes Leon Trotsky’s description of fascism as:

“… a plebeian movement in origin, directed and financed by big capitalist powers. It issued forth from the petty bourgeoisie, the slum proletariat and even to a certain extent, from the proletarian masses… with its leaders employing a great deal of socialist demagogy. This is necessary for the creation of the mass movement.”

Although this apparently did not occur to the author, one is struck by how much more accurately this describes today’s left than today’s national populist right.

More than anything else, the left needs to learn to look in the mirror…

(For more on these issues see my previous posts Trump as National Bourgeois and On the Left and 2016 – Part 2. and Part 1.)

(1) The examples are endless but see here and here for a couple of representative samples from Jacobin.
(2) Thus, for example, Johnstone’s fellow CounterPunch columnist Louis Proyect denounced “Diana Johnstone’s poisonous nativism” in an article on his blog last year. More recently Tendance Coatesy attacked both “the notorious” Johnstone and Petras for their comments on Le Pen.