by Andrew Stewart
Note: None of the opinions expressed herein are to be construed as those of anyone but the author’s.
-At this point we can only pray for gridlock until 2018 when a wide coalition of Greens, Libertarians, and other third parties to deliver a midterm upset to whoever wins the White House, a radical Left remake of what the Tea Party did to Obama in 2010 or what Newt Gingrich did to Clinton in 1994.
-A great piece of Marxist journalism (https://rimediacoop.org/2016/09/26/don-debar-election-analysis/) was written by Don DeBar, the host of CPR Metro radio out of New York. He and Du Bois scholar Dr. Tony Monteiro spent the summer reporting live from the Democratic and Republican conventions, daring to speak with the Trumpenproletariat about their issues and concerns rather than hectoring and lecturing them about chauvinism. It is a piece of work totally worth reading, which is why we published it at the Rhode Island Media Cooperative.
-Oh goody, some Brown student named Benjamin Gladstone is whining to the New York Times about antisemitism. It’s a typical lament over the fact kids on campus stand in solidarity with Palestinians so they don’t want to play with a Hillel-nik. I live outside Providence and know for a fact that an urban campus like Brown is both a major part of a historic Jewish neighborhood AND the fact that Brown has been gentrifying black/brown neighborhoods for decades. And that doesn’t even account for their huge role in the slave trade.
I think quoting what Norman Finkelstein said last summer about the attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn as a bigot is worthwhile here (https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jamie-stern-weiner-norman-finkelstein/american-jewish-scholar-behind-labour-s-antisemitism-scanda): It’s doubtful these Holocaust-mongers have a clue what the deportations were, or of the horrors that attended them. I remember my late mother describing her deportation. She was in the Warsaw Ghetto. The survivors of the Ghetto Uprising, about 30,000 Jews, were deported to Maijdanek concentration camp. They were herded into railroad cars. My mother was sitting in the railroad car next to a woman who had her child. And the woman – I know it will shock you – the woman suffocated her infant child to death in front of my mother. She suffocated her child, rather than take her to where they were going. That’s what it meant to be deported… What are they doing? Don’t they have any respect for the dead?… Have they no shame?… It’s long past time that these antisemitism-mongers crawled back into their sewer…
-Chauvinism within the working class goes hand-in-hand with austerity and always has. The Trump phenomenon is the result of an American Left that objectively failed to provide an alternative to Obama’s austerity program that bailed out Wall Street instead of Main Street. Clinton’s plan is for more austerity, which is pouring gasoline on the fire of racism. Just take a look at her new National Service Reserve program (https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/updates/2016/09/30/hillary-clinton-announces-new-national-service-reserve-a-new-way-for-young-americans-to-come-together-and-serve-their-communities/), essentially the AmeriCorps program on steroids. I did AmeriCorps in 2009-2010. It was absolute hell. They gave us a peon-level wage in the form of a stipend, promoted white living in black neighborhoods without any kind of cautionary words on gentrification, and fostered resentment in the ranks with goody two-shoes neoliberal identity politics games that failed to articulate a structural critique of how American empire supports neoliberal capitalism. In other words, it is the perfect way to build up more resentment rather than promoting class solidarity.
-In the name of cheering people up, I am launching a new comedic podcast on the Friday after Election Day called Political Gingervitis (https://youtu.be/pDMbh-rgO9k). The Trump phenomenon, as well as the base that paved the way for him over the past few decades on shows like Rush Limbaugh or Bill Maher, is defined by an intentionally funny eschewing of what is called colloquially “political correctness.” We need to have laughs on the Left to beat this wave of chauvinism. Sasha Baron Cohen once pointed out something in an interview that always has stuck with me, the road to Auschwitz was paved with jokes. In that sense anyone and everyone who can give me a hand with this by either sending in jokes or appearing as a guest, please, as the least funniest person I have ever met, I am going to need all the help I can get! Please, I’m so boring that people say I need a life (something I find myself agreeing with half the time)!
-The reliably dreadful Clinton Campaign Newsletter (aka New York Times) came through in stellar fashion this week with an article in their self-important and obnoxious magazine with a piece titled How Donald Trump Set Off a Civil War Within the Right-Wing Media (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/02/magazine/how-donald-trump-set-off-a-civil-war-within-the-right-wing-media.html). Throughout the piece by Robert Draper, there’s a typical east coast liberal bifurcation created between “acceptable” conservative discourse and “white nationalist” conservative discourse, grouped around the alt-right by Draper in a fashion akin to how an Italian baker will manipulate and gruffly handle dough when baking a calzone.
Now a substantial section of what is run on websites like Breitbart is a textbook example of white supremacy, especially when it comes to their coverage of Israel-Palestine. But it also does have a percentage of articles that can be useful in a serendipitous fashion. For example, their coverage of Clinton describing Sandernistas as basement dwelling barista children of the Great Recession was spot-on and didn’t have a trace of chauvinism in it (http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/10/01/parental-basement-dwellers-hillary-clinton-criticizes-bernie-sanders-voters-for-having-bought-into-false-promise/). One can also find this sometimes in the weeds at Frontpage Magazine, the glamour effort of ex-lefty David Horowitz, whose rather comical neo-McCarthyite pieces investigating the background of Bernie Sanders were actually useful news items this year. I’ll return to this reason why in a moment but it is worth pointing out that Draper’s article is the prime example of how liberals give the room for Democrats to wiggle rightwards. By refusing to describe all serious conservative policy analysis as racist, which it almost always tends to be when one is able to cut through the dog-whistles about “entitlements,” by failing to name the names that have done actual harm to black and brown people in the past four decades, we see a Clinton-like triangulation at work.
The reason the alt-right is able to get a small percentage of their coverage correct with no discernible racism comes down to the fact that they are expressing loathing in such articles for the Wilsonian brand of big government progressivism that came to power a century ago in the Democratic Party. This type of progressivism did some decent things, such as passing regulations on foods and medicines while busting the trusts using anti-monopoly laws. But it was nationalist as opposed to its socialist cousin’s internationalism. We’re discussing the ideology of Jim Crow and eugenics here. Woodrow Wilson believed in notions of racial purity that led to the resegregation of the federal government. His predecessor Teddy Roosevelt, who was to his left on several issues, was a pillaging barbarian in Latin America and famously elevated via a White House dinner Booker T. Washington as opposed to W.E.B. Du Bois. The founder of the Tuskegee Institute believed in accommodating rather than smashing white supremacy, something that Du Bois would not accept and which led him to eventually become a member of the Communist Party USA after years of fighting chauvinism within the white progressive Socialist Party and internal contradictions in the NAACP.
The modern indication of this contradiction within the opposition to Wilsonian progressivism came during the Trump-Clinton debate when Prof. Marc Lamont Hill, on hearing the Donald describe how the Democratic Party treats the black vote, Tweeted (https://twitter.com/marclamonthill/status/780587563472084992) “Trump just spoke the gospel about the Democratic Party.” There also is the fact that one cannot eliminate from the motifs of alternative media, even when it is discretely funded by the 1%, its radical left origins and ideology. The layout and design of alternative media as an art form dates back to the years of the First and Second International and the radical groups (labor unions, political parties, fraternal associations, guilds, women’s auxiliaries, etc.) that populated them. Their motifs and structural markers, such a bold block lettering and the use of broadsides, come from a culture that was intentionally using their own resources rather than submitting more money to mainstream capitalist presses.
-The alt-right is a contradiction because on the one hand it aspires to Wilsonian racism but on the other it wishes to do so using the modes and methods not of accommodation but liberation, Du Bois rather than Washington. Was there racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of chauvinism in the socialist and anarchist movement prior to World War I? Of corse, that’s why the German Social Democrats voted to fund the war credits to commence the slaughter. It wasn’t until three years later, when a certain branch of the Russian Social Democratic Party took power, renamed themselves Communists, and created their new International, the Comintern, that positioned itself as a center between the poles of anarchism and democratic socialism while upholding opposition to imperialism that someone tried to resolve these contradictions. Of course, by 1919 and the destruction of the German Revolution on the part of the same German Social Democrats in coordination with the proto-fascist Freikorps, the Comintern’s project was altered forever, but that is another story.
-To be an abolitionist is to be a small-c communist. The label you prefer for your politics is irrelevant. Racism is a construct that designates the inferiority of nationalities in the eye of the beholder. The rejection of this is to embrace the desire to abolish borders and demarcations of nation-states, a communist proposition at its core. Those who try to be liberal anti-racists fail because they are half-hearted in their embrace of internationalism. The one who pointed this out with the finest detail to my knowledge and given high praise for his efforts in such a project by Lenin was (wait for it)…JOSEPH STALIN (https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1913/03.htm)! Talk about a contradiction!
-Until next time I will be humming John Brown’s Body.