“Kill your idols”: Chelsea Manning and the reactionary “left”

Quotes by Chelsea E. Manning (pictured above) from a recent Washington Post article by Jenna Portnoy titled “Chelsea Manning: ‘The establishment needs to be challenged.’” Note that she has a necklace which is a hashtag, showing that what she writes on Twitter is part of who she is as a person, and connects to an analysis of her as a popular figure.

In August of last year, Tarzie, a self-declared “queer small a anarchist” who lives in Brooklyn, delivered a biting criticism of Chelsea Manning, the trans female whistleblower, who is the subject of this article. This writer said that they are free to “weigh in at length on Chelsea Manning’s rebirth as a 14-year-old fashion icon and anti-communist.” They further commented that Manning’s stunt which recapitulates “the Cold War “truism” that Nazi Germany = The DDR = The Soviet Union requires an answer,” since this is a common false equivalence, saying that good ‘ole Snowden was saying basically the same thing. Tarzie further wrote that without question Manning and Snowden, along with others, who “liken Lenin to Robert Lee are the most misleading kind of propagandist, regardless of how they see themselves,” further concluding that their motives are not of concern but rather the fact that they are “foisting it on impressionable nitwits in thrall to their celebrity and dissident cred” is disturbing. To counter such notions of anti-communism, Tarzie offered as a disinfectant an “excellent talk from Michael Parenti, which places the failings of communism in historical perspective.”

Saying all of that and recognizing the recent debate over Chelsea Manning and her actions, which will be discussed later in this post, it is worth delving more into Chelsea Manning, the reactionary “left”, which some call the “Celebrity Left,” and related aspects.

Table of contents

  1. The contours of the reactionary “left”
  2. The reactionary nature of Chelsea Manning
  3. Manning and the saga of FitzGibbon Media

 

The contours of the reactionary “left”

In the past, Tarzie has criticized the prominent parts of what he calls the “celebrity left,” or what can be call the reactionary “left.” On this blog, I have used the term to refer to supposed anarchist David Graeber (“Anarchy Dad”), “celebrity left personalities” Shaun King and DerayNoam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald (who claims to hold a “higher truth“), Snowden (who is inherently deceptive and claims to be “adversarial” meaning that he should undoubtedly be criticized), Naomi Klein, and artist Molly Crabapple (her real name is Molly Klein) while implying that the term also refers to bourgeois pacifist David Swanson and Obamabot Ta-Nehisi Coates. However, in none of these did I talk about the contours of reactionary “left” or “celebrity left” as Tarzie prominently calls them. The closest I came to defining the term “celebrity left” was in my article harshly criticizing Naomi Klein’s 273-page-book No Is Not Enough and arguing that she is a brand (all links not from my own blog have been retained):

The book itself, with the title “No Is Not Enough” on an orange background…with praises from Arundhai Roy, Noam Chomsky, Junot Diaz, Michelle Alexander, Cornel West, Bill McKibben, Yanis Varovfakis, Michael Stripe, Keeanga Yamatitta Taylor, Danny Glover, and Eve Ensler. Could there not be a bigger panoply of (mostly) bourgeois progressives, some of whom have their own brands consisting of themselves?…Hence, Klein herself is a brand “in the marketplace” as was alluded to earlier in this article, and is part of a bigger brand: Haymarket Books. Sure, they sell book of “radical” and progressive authors, but they engaging in branding, just like Verso Books…Furthermore, the organization she is part of, 350.org, is branding to the max, which is interesting considering it is not mentioned AT ALL in this book, apart from the dust jacket. The book itself is a product, a commodity to put in more evident terms. How can Klein not recognize she is a brand? The same goes for Matt Taibbi, Edward Snowden, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Chris Hedges, to name a few. These members of the “celebrity left,” as some have called it, are not the only brands. Bourgeois progressive media like Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, and the Nation, foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and non-profits like Public Citizen are all brands.

This begs the question: what is the “celebrity left”? In September 2014, Tarzie defined the Celebrity Left as those who who have an expansive “Twitter following in the tens of thousands and up” or capable of having such a following, and also “getting paid from time to time by mainstream media or larger liberal outlets to write and gab.” He also added that such individuals operate under “different or fewer constraints than the media as a whole,” that the funding sources of these individuals showing that the “presumed border between mainstream and alternative media is largely imagined,” that the higher status of these individuals “permits them a childishly despotic relationship with their critics” which usually takes the “form of sneering anti-radicalism — and the protection of fans…who dole out discipline on their behalf.” Tarzie further said that the latter is why “neoliberal billionaires and right wing media moguls find them worthy investments,” saying that such personalities are “essentially religious figures and so evaluating them becomes an issue of good and bad.” I would add  that such individuals do not  like criticism and dismiss it as silly, distracting, or unfounded, some of whom have been written about by Tarzie. [1] Other possible candidates for this “celebrity left” include Johnetta Elzie, Laurie Penny (not her real name), Sarah Jeong, Sarah Kendzior, Benjamin “Ben” Norton, Medea Benjamin, Bill McKibben, Chris Hedges, and Brittany Packnett.

It is worth investigating “what they actually believe and what they actually do” as one person, as noted earlier, suggested about Manning. These individuals may have some “wide recognition; fame; renown” but only in certain circles, as they are not famous or well-publicized people, as the definition by the fourth edition of the Webster’s New College Dictionary states for the word “celebrity.” As such, it may be detrimental to radical analysis to call them the “celebrity left.” Rather, one can have a broader group, considering them left reactionaries or the reactionary “left.” This person could as easily be applied to established media personalities like Melissa Harris-Perry, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Gore or Michael Moore as much as Chelsea Manning. This would help put them into context of existing bourgeois politics within the murderous empire, allowing one to criticize the reactionary elements of the “left.” Others can use the term “celebrity left” if they wish, but I think it limits the realm of discussion.

The reactionary nature of Chelsea Manning

A quote from her first column in The Guardian, showing her reformist, anti-revolutionary attitude. This photo is a revised version of the original posted on Manning’s twitter account, which was re-posted from her instagram account, in November of last year.

In late January of this year, /r/communism erupted in a storm with a post titled “i’m sorry for supporting Chelsea Manning.” Within it, the loyal comrade wrote that Manning has “gone full fucking reactionary these past few weeks” and said that he was “at least hoping she could eventually see past anarchism and move towards proper marxism,” saying at the end that “remember, comrades: kill your idols,” the latter used in the title of this article. There was over 40 comments on this thread, with some saying that it shouldn’t surprise people “she turned out to be a liberal” and that they “never thought of her as any different from Snowden or any more “left” than Sanders,” while others said that she is we should be aware of her but “actively seek to move past” as she remains “confined to the ideological trappings of capitalism-imperialism.” Comments ranged from those saying that “why would we (as a sub) support Ms. Manning anyway? She had always been an anarchist, and anti socialist,” that she is “is an inspirational figure, someone who did the right thing” but that “she is by no means a communist revolutionary” as her “announcing a Senate run under the Democrats should show just how liberal her politics are,” and others saying that she is a “big military supporter in spite of being personally aware of the war crimes they do on a regular basis” and that one should “not project revolutionary politics onto your fav celebrities” but rather “investigate what they actually believe and what they actually do.” As an active contributor on /r/communism, I of course commented as well, writing that

…I remember how people thought she was a pacifist, but she said she wasn’t anti-war or even a conscientious objector, but was only a “transparency advocate.” While she seems to be firmly anti-Trump, from a pursuing of her twitter account, she has said she wants ICE and Customs dismantled calling ICE the “gestapo”, supports universal basic income, believes the FISA court should be abolished, opposes police militarization and mass incarceration (I think?), has somewhat anti-authority beliefs and hangs out with other celebrity left as some call them. Lets say all of that is positive and genuine (not sure all those views are). It still doesn’t excuse equating the Nazi gestapo, Soviet nkvd, East German stasi, and ICE as one and the same! They aren’t! Its a bit disorienting to go through her twitter feed to say the least. I say that as a person who supported her throughout. I don’t think she has ever been radical, from what I can remember. This fulfills her self-defined “motivational” role, basically like a celebrity: “My role is to motivate people and remind them that there are ways in which we can defend ourselves”

After this, I said that I would like to know more about universal basic income, and that while Manning claims she “crashed” the party of bigots, but she actually didn’t do this at all, with the black bourgeois figure, DeRay as her “friend.” I also noted that she “believes in “radical anti-authoritarianism” (whatever that means)…doesn’t believe in borders and thinks that “anyone wanting to immigrate to America should be able to”…noted in that recent interview she had.” The response on /r/communism was a change from previous more supportive responses and for good reason!

This presents a number of problems. For one, any dedicated comrade should be horrified at the idea of partying with a bunch of bigots rather than protesting them and/or engaging in other anti-racist actions. It seems illogical to say you are crashing a party when you are schmoozing up with bigots of here, there, and everywhere! To her credit, however, she has been listening to these criticisms, saying in a recent tweet that

its been over a week since ive let everyone who helped me out of prison down, so many of you have helped me thru tough times, i tried too hard to do too much, im sorry im a human being and not a symbol, i have hit rock bottom

This is positive, but her logic that she “tried using my access/privilege to find ways to fight and undermine them” seems flawed. This is part of her response to “intense criticism for attending the A Night for Freedom party at the nightclub FREQ NYC hosted by right wing leader Mike Cernovich” as noted in The Daily Beast, for which she says she is “acting as a double agent, trying infiltrate the alt-right world to gain insight into their plans for rallies, get togethers, and general political strategy” as her connection with “right wing social media leaders began in autumn of last year” as she got more “involved in direct anti-fascist action in the wake of white supremacist-led violence in Charlottesville” by her own account. [1x] The same article says that Manning’s solution was “to use her fame and celebrity to integrate with an admirer who had connections with several alt-right social media personalities.” This included her connection with “Gateway Pundit writer Cassandra Fairbanks” whom she disagreed with, and was invited to go to “Escape the Room with friends” which she agreed with, feeling that she could “use the celebrity and fame I’ve gotten since getting out of prison to gather information and to ultimately find ways in which we who are against the alt-right can undermine the alt-right,”  deciding to double down on “her decision to hunt for information on the alt-right’s dealings.” She later spent an evening in playing Cards Against Humanity at the apartment of Gateway Pundit correspondent Lucian B. Wintrich, with Manning later saying that she learned that these individuals “don’t actually believe the things that they say…they’re opportunists and that they exploit their Twitter followers’ fears.” The Daily Beast then claims that Manning’s plan to establish “relationships with alt-right media figures to gain insight into their plans isn’t as far fetched as it seems at first blush” with Manning apparently using “her celebrity to access the [Manhattan] party to confront the alt- right VIPs on hand by making her presence felt in opposition, even if she wasn’t necessarily planning on making a scene inside before joining the anti-fascist protest assembling outside” with the party headlined “by VICE co-founder Gavin McInnes,” and said that there was “a transphobic rant,” viewing her presence as a protest. This flies in the face of “a photo that have been released this week showing Manning with a relaxed demeanor and smiling, with drink in hand as she conversed with McInnes,” then emerging from there to “join the protesters outside, who by that point had surrounded the entire building.” She talked gto the protest marshall “and relayed several bits of useful of information, including the number of people inside, the general mood, what people inside were talking about, and whether they were planning any after parties.” The Daily Beast concluded that “it’s impossible to really know what was going through Manning’s head as she decided to escalate her relationships with figureheads of the alt-right in order to supposedly gather intelligence on their plans” and that her “decision-making process appears nonsensical to all but the most ardently engaged in the anti-fascist movement and the whole thing has an air of impulsiveness,” leaving supporters confused and betrayed. As she said at the end of the article,

People have every right to be confused and hurt by this. Regardless of good intentions, I leveraged my privilege to gain access to spaces others couldn’t dream of entering safely. I never meant to hurt my supporters. No amount of information on the alt-right is worth losing the trust of my supporters.

I think that she made the wrong decision to enter the party. It may have had some short-term benefit, but ultimately it was worthless.

Then there’s her decision to run for office. Since she had NO established platform yet, other than what she has said on twitter, this isn’t worth discussing for more than a sentence, except to say that it shows that she doesn’t really care about the masses of people, whom the Democrats don’t really serve at all. As Ralph Nader said, in Omidyar’s plaything called The Intercept, of all places, the Democratic Party has been in decline since the 1970s, due to poor decisions and other factors:

…I’m going to give you millstones around the Democratic Party neck that are milestones. The first big one was in 1979. Tony Coelho, who was a congressman from California, and who ran the House Democratic Campaign treasure chest, convinced the Democrats that they should bid for corporate money, corporate PACs, that they could raise a lot of money. Why leave it up to Republicans and simply rely on the dwindling labor union base for money, when you had a huge honeypot in the corporate area? And they did. And I could see the difference almost immediately. First of all, they lost the election to Reagan. And then they started getting weaker in the Congress. At that time, 1980, some of our big allies were defeated in the so-called Reagan landslide against Carter, we lost Senator [Gaylord] Nelson, Senator [Warren] Magnuson, Senator [Frank] Church. We had more trouble getting congressional hearings investigating corporate malfeasance by the Democrat [congressional committee] chairs. When the Democrats regained the White House [in 1992] you could see the difference in appointments to regulatory agencies, the difficulty in getting them to upgrade health and safety regulations. The second millstone is that they didn’t know how to deal with Reagan. And the Republicans took note. That means a soft tone, smiling … You can say terrible things and do terrible things as long as you have [that] type of presentation…they took the economic issues off the table that used to win again and again in the thirties and forties for the Democrats. The labor issues, the living wage issues, the health insurance issue, pension issues. And that of course was a huge bonanza for the Republican Party because the Republican Party could not contend on economic issues. They contended on racial issues, on bigotry issues, and that’s how they began to take control of the solid Democratic South after the civil rights laws were passed…As a result they drew back geographically, to the east coast, west coast and so on. And that created another millstone: You don’t run a 50-state [presidential] campaign. If you don’t run a 50-state campaign, number one you’re strengthening the opposing party in those states you’ve abandoned, so they can take those states for granted and concentrate on the states that are in the grey area. That was flub number one. When they abandoned the red states, they abandoned five states in the Rocky Mountain area, and started out with a handicap of nine or ten senators…Next millstone, the labor unions began getting weak, weak in numbers and weak in leadership. They began shelling out huge money to the Democrats for television. And as they became weaker they lost their grassroots mobilization on behalf of the Democrats. The Democrats began the process of message preceding policy. No — policy precedes message…The last millstone is, they make sure by harassing progressive third parties that the third party never pushes them. I’m an expert on that. They try to get them off the ballot…Unfortunately, to put it in one phrase, the Democrats are unable to defend the United States of America from the most vicious, ignorant, corporate-indentured, militaristic, anti-union, anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-posterity [Republican Party] in history.

Then we get to Manning’s endorsement, on twitter, of Universal Basic Income (UBI) which calls for a discussion of the concept itself.

Since the 1980s, the idea of UBI has been circulating in “left-of-centere” political circles in countries such as Finland, with the idea it would “combat the economic and social consequences of falling industrial employment by freeing all” to make “meaningful contributions to society” but it is also appealing to the right-wing that sees it as “a possible way to a leaner, less bureaucratic welfare system.” [1a] As such, some say it is an “answer” to automation and some claim end “poverty with a stroke.” The idea’s conception is vague, but it seems to be that it means that the “government would pay every adult citizen a salary, regardless of wealth, employment income or if they worked at all” with the theory that this would solve “a host of endemic economic problems, from poverty to chronic joblessness, that are only likely to worsen in the coming century,” along with disruptions from technology, with this idea dating back years in Western political thought. [2] It is well-rooted enough that the Nixon Administration studied the idea in the later 1960s, unsuccessfully trying to “get a basic-income benefit through Congress” and is backed by Silicon Valley mavens Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar, and Bill Gates along with others like Andrew Stern (formerly of the SEIU), and Charles Murray of the AEI (American Enterprise Institute), to name a few. However, critics say it is just a way to starve the existing government programs, especially those that boost “universal child care or free college tuition” with most critics, and even some proponents, saying that the “the costs would be absurdly prohibitive in any case.” Specifically, Robert Greenstein of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says “a check of $10,000 to each of 300 million Americans would cost more than $3 trillion a year” while Lawrence “Larry” H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary, said that “paying a $5,000 universal basic income to the 250 million nonpoor Americans would cost about $1.25 trillion a year.” [3] Even with this, there are ongoing experiments in Finland, Kenya, Scotland, Canada, the Netherlands, India, and Italy of UBI, with the one in Finland being a short two year program only targeting the unemployed, and implemented by a “centre-right, austerity-focused government interested primarily in spending less on social security” along with bringing down the unemployment rate. [4]

There are a host of problems with UBI, claimed to be utopian. For one, it could sap the “desire to work” and it “divorces assistance from need” along with not being  politically resilient as some might think. [5] It may attract those across the political spectrum, including horrid libertarian economists F.A. Hayek & Milton Friedman, former Democratic candidate George McGovern, Stephen Hawking, Bernie Sanders, Andrew McDowell, political scientist Charles Murray, CATO Institute peoples, the Brookings Institution, the IMF, and others with a bourgeois viewpoint along with interest across the world, with a global network of support. Even Killary Clinton thought that it was a great idea, thinking about it during the 2016 presidential campaign. However, its supposedly “radically simple” approach does not “liberate” people in a capitalist society, from their jobs or give them more “bargaining power,” and be “revolutionary” as some proponents seem to think it will since a good number of those who support it, especially on the right-wing, want to eliminate all social programs, an excuse to “get rid of the welfare state” especially if those in power are hostile toward social services programs which serve the proletariat. [6] Some proponents are even unsure about is success, saying that “it could fail disastrously, or it could change everything for the better,” since we don’t know what would happen if it is implemented, a worrisome thought to say the least. Also, terms like “universal” and “basic” are not defined, likely leading to discrimination by those implementing the program to exclude “bad” people, as they claim it is “universal.” [7]

Sure, you can say there is a “patchwork benefits system” in the murderous empire, for example, but UBI’s universalism is a trap in and of itself, with failures in all the “four major negative income tax experiments” within the murderous empire held from the 1960s to the 1980s. It is further problematic that UBI may be, as some proponents say, is about embracing automation despite its effects on the proletariat which would benefit the capitalist class! Some proponents go out and declare that UBI is about making sure “the market is working as efficiently and effectively” by giving everyone, supposedly, “the minimum amount of voice with which to speak in the marketplace for basic goods and services,” an improvement on capitalist democracy, and others noting that it would allow the proletariat to become petty bourgeoisie. [8] However, the claims it will “even the playing field” in capitalism is magical thinking. You can’t regulate away exploitation. You can only do that through determined effort and struggle by the masses, not some law passed by stogy legislators. Of course some capitalists oppose the concept of UBI as would be “too expensive” or expands government too much, but there are also others who support it. A major problem is that there is no unified thought on UBI with some thinking that all payroll and income taxes should be replaced with “a 25% flat tax on income regardless of source,” benefiting the bourgeoisie (as they would be paying less tax and the proletariat would be paying more!), while others want higher taxes on the bourgeoisie and elimination of certain subsidies. [9] The libertarian proponents of UBI probably hint at the obvious results of the program: “free markets” would be reinforced, welfare programs limited, supporting the exploitative relationship of capitalists over workers, and reducing “bureaucracy.” All of these effects, in existing capitalist society, would hurt the proletariat. Regardless of what the proponents claim, UBI would support the bourgeoisie plain and simple, bankrupting a society (or societies) allowing the bourgeoisie to take even more control than they already have. Even Jacobin, the magazine for butt-hurt social democrats, argued that “UBI isn’t an alternative to neoliberalism, but an ideological capitulation to it” because the most “viable forms of basic income would universalize precarious labor and extend the sphere of the market.” [10] They further added that “if UBI does take shape, current power relations will favor those who have economic power and want to profit by weakening the existing system of social protection and labor market regulations.” That should be enough to reject the program all together. After all, while having a capitalist society and operating as part of the capitalist system, exploitation will always be there, even if you think you have “tamed” it.

In sum, Manning’s support of UBI shows she is standing with the bourgeoisie with a “trendy” political position, and not supporting the proletariat, yet another aspect of her horrid reactionary politics.

Manning and the saga of FitzGibbon Media

This video still comes right after Trevor FitzGibbon of the PR firm, FitzGibbon Media, declares “we work 24/7…to get our clients injected into the national and international news cycle, online through social media, pack a punch to make sure that clients, who are the real heroes here, are going to break through.” It also quotes the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Elyse Hogue, as praising the firm as an “extension of her campaign team.” The Executive Director of Color of Change says the same thing. This firm, as noted later in this section, has ties to Chelsea Manning herself.

Disturbingly, these views and attending a party of bigots is the least of the problems with the company she keeps. Her popularity is part due to her connection with the collapsed PR form, FitzGibbon Media (FGM). It is worth remembering what happened considering that some created crowdfunding for former FitzGibbon employees, and others  said that it “can be tough out here for women in the workplace.” [11] It is worth recalling that the form worked with clients like the ACLU, MoveON, Rock the Vote, Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund, WikiLeaks, Purpose, Credo, The Nation Institute, “Flood Wall Street“led by their client Energy Action Coalition,to name a few. The organization also opposed “Stand Your Ground” laws, assisted SumOfUs in “fighting” against Bank of America apparently, and demanding, hypocritically due to FitzGibbon’s predatory behavior, pushed for the passage of a new and improved Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and called out the Nature Conservancy for working with paper manufacturers (before FGM was formed).

FGM, having the same abbreviation as female genital mutilation, shutdown after various female employees, such as journalist Sierra Pedraja, Rachel Tardiff of a Democratic Party partisan organization (Media Matters), Heather Parker, “Mary,” “Beth,” “Tracey,” and “Karen,” among others, noted that Trevor FitzGibbon, former communications director for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, had engaged in sexual harassment and assault (including groping) toward them, even inviting people to his hotel room and requesting photos of some. [12] He also treated male staffers with an “overgrown frat boy demeanor” and angrily dismissed the accusations, declaring in sexist terms that “being accused of rape was actually worse than being raped,” defending his role as a “calculating predator who knew exactly how to exploit his power.” He did something similar at his former PR firm, Fenton Communications.

With employees apparently caught off guard when management said the firm was closing soon, due to the fact that they could not work under the leadership of a sexual harasser like him, staffers received no bonuses or severance, while some former clients said they were willing to “work with the company’s former employees.”Still, the “activist Left was shocked in December by the collapse of progressive communications consulting firm Fitzgibbon Media” as one article put it. This was indicated by those at The Nation engaging in hand-wringing about the disintegration of “one of the country’s most powerful PR firms on the left…[with] FitzGibbon Media is unique in [that]…the employees banded together and decided to speak out,” while Jamil Smith in the horrid New Republic declaring that “yes, you can be a liberal and a sexual abuser…[progressives] need to stop believing that liberalism elevates us over the possibility of being sexist.”

Of course FitzGibbon calling the accusations of sexual harassment “a distraction to the mission at hand” and defending his pervy behavior. Former staffers responded to this, saying the following on the tumblr of one “Ginny Simmons,” who was   the VP of the firm:

The team that comprised FitzGibbon Media is incredibly sad and disappointed to confirm that allegations have been made against Trevor FitzGibbon, FitzGibbon Media founder and President, for sexual assault and harassment of multiple female staffers. Staffers reported over a half dozen incidents of sexual harassment and at least two involving sexual assault committed by Trevor FitzGibbon against his own employees. For decades, Trevor presented himself as a champion of the progressive movement, claiming to support and respect women and feminist issues, from equal pay to reproductive rights, but his actions prove a hypocrisy so great that FitzGibbon Media closed its doors today, as we could no longer continue working under his leadership. We lost our jobs standing up for what’s right, to ensure a safe workplace for all — and while we may have been left without jobs, benefits and long-term healthcare, we have our integrity and each other. We are devastated to see our beloved place of work closed at the hands of such a coward and hope to continue working on the social and political issues we love and care so deeply for in the future.

With such accusations, some of FGM’s former clients [13] condemned the actions of FitzGibbon, whose actions were aimed at a total of (at least) thirteen women, 10 who were employees and 3 who were FGM clients. This is made worse by the fact, as PR Daily observed, according to FGM’s former website, “two-thirds of the 30 employees listed are female.” That’s a pretty strong case that FitzGibbon is creep, and definitely more of a creeper than Anakin Skywalker in Episode 2 of the Star Wars series in the way he acted toward Padme. With the end of FBM, which was in the process of expanding to a London office and had a new San Francisco office, with an office in L.A. adding a new employee named Naomi Seligman in 2010, one could say that FGM clients are at least partially responsible in covering up FitzGibbon’s abusive behavior.

Beyond this, the firm, which was described as “astroturf” by Tarzie, fulfilled this reality when Andy Stepanian with FGM spoke on behalf of Bree Newsome, a Black woman who took down the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolinan Statehouse, on June 27, 2015, a connection which Newsome didn’t even acknowledge as the hashtag of “#freebree” spreading across the twitterverse. [14] One article on a PR website, is most illuminating on this subject, noting that the firm

handled publicity for the removal by activists of the Confederate Battle Flag from the South Carolina Statehouse…Bree Newsome, who climbed the flagpole to take down the flag, said her group couldn’t wait any longer for the flag to go. She said, “It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.” The flag’s removal soared to the top of Twitter’s trending topics for most of June 2y…In its piece, CNN credited FitzGibbon Media, which represented Color of Change in the flag action, for reporting the event.

This use of FGM apparently to just “report” the event is troubling as it casts doubt on Newsome’s supposed radicalism. This troubling nature is enhanced by the fact that FGM promoted the event on their Tumblr, even reporting it originally for the first time on the same Tumblr, in a post where Newsome declares that “we removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.” This association with FGM throws doubt on Newsome herself, at least in my mind. This shows that FGM had a fundamental amount of power in social justice organizations, a number of which claimed to be grassroots. This is confirmed by an article in Style Weekly, noting that”Trevor FitzGibbon…knew for a week that the flag takedown was coming, but the exact time changed when capitol security showed up unexpectedly”with FitzGibbon hiring “the videographer, created the news release, trained people on the ground on how to deliver their message, and juggled the huge volume of media requests and appearances.” [15] Furthermore, the article says that FGM client Color of Change, “helped fund the effort,” with FGM getting “the first call whenever a huge progressive moment is about to happen anywhere in the country” engaging in pro-bono work for “leading organizations and public figures in the progressive world,” with staff sent to Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot  “to assess the situation and work with youth voices, friends of Michael Brown.” The article also said that “FitzGibbon visits Manning occasionally, runs her social media accounts.”

How does Manning connect to FGM? We know that in December 2015, when FitzGibbon was forced out and FGM closed that Manning’s account tweeted that “the crisis at @fitzgibbonmedia is hardly a “distraction.” Dozens of people are hurt, humiliated, and traumatized =( My thoughts are w/ them.” The question remains, who wrote this tweet? Was it Manning or someone else? This may seem to be worthless question. As Tarzie wrote in April 2015, in post titled “Chelsea Manning is not on Twitter. Her PR Agency is,” it was noted that the official story is that “she’s dictating tweets over the phone to a representative.” Tarzie noted that Manning’s agency is FGM, which is an organization which he describes as specializing “in co-opting non-partisan dissent for the Democratic Party.” Tarzie notes that MoveOn is the model for “niche astroturf campaigns for a variety of left-liberal concerns” and that “a number of Fitzgibbon’s larger clients are in the same vein” along with FGM participating in “soft imperialism” with the Ford Foundation and Amnesty International as clients, which makes Manning’s connection weirder considering the relationship between FGM and Manning goes back to 2011 at least. Tarzie also writes that we can “take everything her astroturfing PR Agency tweets on her behalf or publishes under her name, very, very seriously” and that he has “no illusions of unearthing a deep dark secret.” There are also a number of articles in Newsweek, NBC News, and the New York Daily News that show FitzGibbon’s involvement with Manning’s account. [16] Newsweek wrote in April 2015 that Manning created her account “with the help of Fitzgibbon Media, a self-described global, progressive communications firm,” with the account then managed by a FGM employee, while NBC News said that FBM is “handling Manning’s account…posting messages she dictates by phone and telling her about the responses.” An article in the New York Daily News added that “the note [in which Manning said her account was genuine], written on Manning’s personal letterhead, arrived late last week in Trevor Fitzgibbon’s mailbox,” with the message appearing “on her account Thursday.” with Fitzgibbon “one of two people with the keys to the Twitter account.” [17]

On December 18th, after the demise of FGM, “the Sparrow Project,” lead by the former senior director of the firm, Andrew “Andy” Stepanian (as noted on his LinkedIn), said that Manning’s account was discussed and will be “handled.” The same day, a tweet came from Manning’s account announcing that “control of this account has temporarily been transferred to a volunteer associated w/ https://www.chelseamanning.org” (dead link) likely written by Stepanian himself. Even Chuckles or Charlie Davis, an aspiring member [18] of the reactionary “left,” noted FGM’s involvement, writing that

Though owed tens of thousands of dollars, Manning’s lawyers have not stopped working (the fund paid $10,000 toward its bill in March after receiving $10,636 in donations, or $9,412 after bank fees). The shortfall has led Manning herself to appeal for funds on her new Twitter account. Her posts are currently dictated over the phone from military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to an employee of the public relations firm Fitzgibbon Media, according to a handwritten letter from Manning. That firm has been paid by the Chelsea Manning Support Network to promote Manning’s cause.

However, according to a resolute commenter, Mr. Kal Holmann, Glenn Greenwald said that FGM represented the Chelsea Manning Support Network for pro bono (it seems that many organizations were represented by FGM on a pro bono basis) because of the “rightness” of her cause. As I said in my comment, it remains to be seen if we should trust Greenwald’s account over that of Chuckles. Even so, it is undisputed, in both stories, that the Chelsea Manning Support Network was FGM client. Mr. Holmann also argued that while the relationship between Trevor FitzGibbon and Chelsea Manning, “remains of historical interest, it’s hardly pertinent to the left’s current concerns with Chelsea’s behavior.” I tend to disagree, as FGM had a pivotal role as a PR firm in progressive circles.At the present time, Manning likely does not have ties to the creep Trevor FitzGibbon, and neither do the progressives who rightfully left him in the dust when FGM closed down in December 2015. It is possible, however, that Manning has relationships with former FGM employees and may have some doing PR efforts for her, a possibility which isn’t out of the question. Now, back to the main article, my fellow readers.

With such involvement in promoting progressives, it is no surprise that the Venezuelan embassy in DC was given a “PR voice” by FGM, under a six-month contract with Trevor FitzGibbon and Suzanne Gilbert handling “Venezuela work” and reporting to “Maximillen Arvelaiz, charge d’affairs at the embassy” and another firm, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications also working for “Venezuela under a one-year contract worth $420K.” Before the LinkedIn for FGM disappears [19], I think its is important to fully quote what it says so it can be saved for future analysis:

FitzGibbon Media was founded a little over four years ago, uniting a staff of communications and campaign experts to create aggressive strategies that ensure non-profits, foundations, and progressive advocacy organizations break out, break through, and get noticed. FitzGibbon Media makes an impact in the US and abroad every single day. Our expertise and aggressive strategies ensure our clients’ actions, messages, and spokespersons are a dominant force in the news cycle. Our work is second to none.

It tells you that the connection of Manning and FitzGibbon plants her within the “left” reactionaries but also shows she is not only anti-revolutionary but has the company of creeps which is disturbing. FGM, along with George Soros’s Open Society, is willing to pull in progressives for their own motives, like the support for the group, Hands Up United. You could call it a progressive PR firm, but that inherently means that those it helps will not, in any way, be radical.

What happened to Christina C. DiPasquale, Nery Espinosa, Karen Scott, Suzie Gilbert, Yasmina Dardari, Tim Rusch, Al Thomson, Lucia Allain, Michele Setteducato, and Andy Stepanian, who all worked at FGM as of July 2015 (there are others who worked there in 2013, the next time the page was archived, in 2016, it was too late)? Well, Christina DiPasquale became the “founder and CEO of Balestra Media,” leading “strategic communications for progressive clients working on human rights projects.” It should be no surprise that Andy Stepanian is the creative director of Balestra Media (archived here), with the organization’s clients seeming to be some of same that were taken up by FGM:

  • National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) (partnered with other bourgeois “Latino” groups)
  • Global Witness (pushed along with millions of funding from Soros’s Open Society Foundations, with other money coming from the Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish governments, Omidyar Network, and Ford Foundation to name a few)
  • Stand With Congo (receiving support from varying partners, media organizations, and humanitarian imperialists like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International)
  • The Raben Group (a PR firm that works among “the LGBTQ community and communities of color” with philanthropic, corporate, and nonprofit clients. It is also where former FGM employee Nery Espinosa works)
  • Luminant Media (a “production and post-production company based in Venice, California” with a site that never loads)
  • AccessNow (a group which “defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world,” a mission which is complicated by their funding from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Cisco, to name a few)
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America (a group in favor of reproductive rights with millions of dollars of assets)
  • Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund (now defunct)
  • ACLU (A so-called “guardian of liberty…defend[ing] and preserv[ing]…the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States” but also sides with White supremacists and is incredibly liberal, not standing by radicals. It is funded by the Ford Foundation, Pierre and Pam Omidyar, and many other groups)
  • Fight for the Future ( a group that says it is fighting to “ensure that the web continues to hold freedom of expression and creativity at its core” but is funded by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, other foundations, and varying other funders)
  • Free Press (an organization which says it “fights for your rights to connect and communicate” but is funded by the Ford Foundation, and a host of others. Michele Setteducato, former FGM director of media relations, seemed to work for Free Press at least up to 2016 but not at the present)
  • University of New Hampshire Casey School for Public Policy (a school supported by the Ford Foundation, and Goldman Sachs, to name a few)
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC) (a group which says it “responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.” It is funded by Pfizer, General Electric, Google.org, Ford Foundation, Citi Foundation, Chevron, Tides Foundation, and Microsoft to name a few)
  • EducationCities (a “national nonprofit network of 31 city-based organizations in 24 cities working to significantly increase the number of great public schools across the country” which is funded by the Gates Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation, among others)
  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) (a group which works with and educates “immigrants, community organizations, and the legal sector to continue to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people,” and is funded by some law firms and numerous other individuals)
  • Youth First Initiative (opposes juvenile incarceration, and has Andy Stepanian of The Sparrow Project as the head of creative direction for the organization. Those who fund this organization are not known)
  • Restoration Legal Arts (a “retreat, learning and action community for artists and ministers who are creating resources within today’s movements of liberation.” It has only two staff, a small board of directors, and two advising theologians. It is not known who funds this non-profit)

It seems evident that Global Witness, Stand With Congo, AccessNow, NARAL Pro-Choice America, ACLU, Fight for the Future, NHMC, Free Press, IRC, EducationCities, ILRC, and Youth First Initiative are not grassroots. They are all, basically astroturf. Others, like the Raben Group, Luminant Media, and University of New Hampshire Casey School for Public Policy have ties to bourgeois groups and corporate funders, but that is all that is known. Restoration Legal Arts may be tied to such groups as well. Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund/Chelsea Manning Support Network may have been grassroots originally but it received money from Glenn Greenwald, First Look Media (the overarching organization of Omidyar’s The Intercept which is a horrid place to work by all accounts), and Courage to Resist at least.

We know where Andy Stepanian, went, as noted earlier, but what about the others? It is not known what happened to Karen Scott, former Vice President of the Artist Action Team at FGM, and Al Thomson. For others, something is known. Tim Rusch, Senior Vice President & NYC office Co-Director seemed to work for the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United at one point (and before FGM, Demos). Suzie Gilbert who was in FGM’s London office seems to have stayed progressive and is still on Twitter. Yasmina Dardari, a FGM strategist, is seemingly working for Unbendable Media, after graduating from Columbia University. Lucia Allain, a “Dreamer” and immigration activist, is a blogger and National Media Coordinator for Movimento Cosecha.

This shows that the former FGM people are everywhere. So, be careful, comrades! Perhaps some of the former FGM employees can redeem themselves, but a good amount of them still stayed in PR-like work.

The  Company Manning Keeps

It is worth briefly discussing the company that Manning keeps. Lets start with Glenn Greenwald.

While I think that I don’t even think writing a post criticizing Glenn Greenwald is worth my while, a criticism is warranted. Back in 2010, when the Supreme Court decided in favor of corporations with the Citizens United decision, Greenwald supported the decision. As even Noam Chomsky said in an interview with Truthout, “…there are some civil libertarians like Glenn Greenwald who more or less supported it on free speech grounds. I don’t agree with it, but I can see the argument.” Specifically in an article in Salon titled “What the Supreme Court got right: It’s best for the government to stay out of the business of restricting political advocacy” Greenwald said that while he was “deeply ambivalent about the court’s ruling,” he claimed that “the Government is barred from restricting speech — especially political speech — no matter the good results that would result from the restrictions. That’s the price we pay for having the liberty of free speech” which he accepted as the norm, adding that “free speech rights burdened by campaign finance laws are often significantly under-stated” while further saying he understands and sympathizes “with the argument that corporations are creatures of the state and should not enjoy the same rights as individuals,” ringing his hands over these speech restrictions.Even if we agree that such restrictions are worthless, that doesn’t mean we should applaud this decision. In fact, we should condemn it.

This opinion connects with Greenwald’s support for a Supreme Court decision that overturned a law banning videos showing kittens being crushed to death for sexual satisfaction, with Randy Shields saying in response that

the inspiration for this piece was a tweet of Salon’s Glenn Greenwald where he defended the court’s decision. Screw you, Glenn Greenwald, and your lofty liberal white bread apologetics, which don’t mean shit in the real world of “crush” videos and capitalism.

Greenwald’s view is not surprising since he has gone to conferences of the CATO Institute and Socialism conferences, as noted on his twitter. Even Socialist Worker (a Trotskyist site) writer Kolponashokti-r Doinyo was critical of Greenwald standing beside two conservatives and not challenging them [20], writing that

… Glenn Greenwald took part in a college speaking tour sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF) and Young Americans for Liberty (a mouthpiece for Republican presidential contender Ron Paul) in early February…At the tour stop at Ohio State University in Columbus, the speakers talked at length about the infamous federal law called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the evils of the state having the power to detain citizens (and non-citizens) without the due process…All three panelists shared the belief that there are certain core principles which citizens should fight for irrespective of their professed political and ideological beliefs…Additionally, while words like “empire” and “imperialism” were thrown around to describe the U.S., there was no connection made between U.S. imperialism and the economics of capitalism. WHILE GREENWALD’S critique of Barack Obama for undermining civil liberties was correct, his decision to choose a platform provided by right-wing libertarians should be a matter of concern to people on the left. At the forum, he never raised any points of political difference that he might have with the libertarians, giving the impression that civil liberties issues trump all other political and social questions. In fact, he went so far as to say that the only person challenging the narrow political spectrum of the two-party system currently is Ron Paul, effectively showing support for him before the Republican primaries…For someone like Greenwald to speak on a platform provided by a right-wing libertarian organization connected to Ron Paul–and to speak highly of Paul without even hinting at political differences–while solely concentrating on the question of civil liberties does not reflect the political perspicacity that followers of his blog at Salon.com might expect.

Then there’s Chris Floyd who notes that Greenwald fits in with Ominyar’s reformism,   unlike Douglas Valentine who once said he’d give Greenwald and others a “free pass” for working with capitalist Omidyar, arguing that

Omidyar, who founded eBay and now owns PayPal, has recently become widely known — and universally lauded — for committing $250 million to fund First Look, a publishing group dedicated to adversarial journalism. He has assembled an all-star team for his venture, including Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, Marcy Wheeler and others of similar reputation. It is no exaggeration to say that he has become a bonafide hero of the left, which has tended to dismiss all criticism or questioning of his new enterprise, or his wider operations, as the grumbling of jealous losers — or even as covert actions of the State, trying to derail this dangerous new threat to elite rule…Indeed, even Greenwald calls only for “reforms” of the system, for “real oversight” of the National Security State by legislators — the same legislators bought, sold, cowed and dominated by Big Money. I honestly don’t think that the powers-that-be feel threatened by an enterprise set up by one of their number that confines itself to calls for “reform” from “within”…Omidyar’s goals are limited: to protect the privacy of the individual from government. This is a noble, worthy aim. But based on his own actions, he is perfectly content for that privacy-protected individual to advance a punishing neo-liberal agenda on the rest of the world, and at home, in collusion with the National Security State if need be. Whether Greenwald, Scahill, Taibbi, Wheeler and the rest are equally content with this agenda is something we will find out in the months to come.

There are other critiques as well, like those that criticize him for misstating the charges against Chelsea Manning, and Israel Shamir’s articles (see here and here) about The Guardian, Snowden, and him getting to Moscow.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Freedom of the Press Foundation which recently waged a campaign against Wikileaks and claiming that funding still flows when it really doesn’t.  As Trevor Timm, of the foundation declared, at the last board meeting in October 2017,

…a consensus arose that we could not find any evidence of an ongoing blockade involving PayPal, Visa, or Mastercard. We decided we would therefore formally notify WikiLeaks that unless they could demonstrate that a blockade was still in effect, we would no longer provide a mechanism for people to donate to them.

Of course, Micah Lee, of the organization is saying that Wikileaks is lying (and has an “army of twitter trolls“), and trying to say Assange is anti-semetic.  As MintPress noted, the board of the organization voted “stop accepting U.S. donations for WikiLeaks,” claiming that “the financial blockade by the major payment processors is no longer in effect” and will not process any further payments to Wikileaks, as noted by the Washington Times. While Wikileaks is clearly libertarian in willing to hire that horrid Google engineer, they are right that the foundation was “substantially taken over by US oligarch Pierre Omidyar (Paypal/Ebay) cash and influence,” which once agreed with Wikileaks that there was a financial blockade! As one Wikileaks supporter put it, the answer for ending such donations lies “a man named Pierre Odiymar who is known for founding the site Ebay and for his board position at PayPal, and also created the Intercept news organization,” further writing that

…Up until a few months ago, the Intercept’s funding was public which showed financial resources coming from Pierre Omidyar’s NASDAQ securities. Removing this, is simply a publicity stunt in order that Omidyar can distance himself from the Intercept and appear to have no influence on its journalists…The only reason for dropping support of Wikileaks is purely political in nature and may very well be instrumented by the Clintons themselves…Recently, Micah F Lee has slandered the editor of Wikileaks on Twitter and is currently trying to smear his reputation. This also is included in the “Wikileaks Threat”…The biggest critics in 2010 of the Wikileaks bank blockade are now funded by none other than Pierre himself as seen in the chart below. This is an obvious attempt to silence the critics that are against his Wikileaks agenda…Needless to say, this dropping of funds by FPF should make patrons stronger in their support of this persecuted institute that has never been wrong in 11 years.

It seems that to some extent, Wikileaks has come around to the view of Tarzie, tweeting out one of his articles earlier this year.

Notes

[1] Articles/posts by Tarzie: Greenwald on Chomsky and Staying In the Mainstream Without Compromise, Citizenfour’s Astonishing Revelation: Greenwald is a “useless” “careerist” “boob”, Greenwald’s Free Speech Absolutism and Twitter’s Foley Ban, Do Glenn Greenwald And His Fans Really Care More Than You?, Greenwald’s Fireworks Finale Postponed, Sy Hersh is an Intel Asset and Therefore No Gary Webb, Snowden Lays an Egg, a Statue Grows in Brooklyn and Manning Wins a Round, and Cornel West’s Impermissible Opinions. Bill McKibben, a primer environmental activist who is part of the former FGM client, 350.org, promotes the New York Times on a regular basis. More importantly, 350.org celebrating that the New York Times featured the march on their front cover with a cover story, despite some saying the Times’s coverage was “pitiful.” This is laughable considering, looking at the Times’s own stats, their readers are “educated, affluent and influential” with over 85% with a college degree, and readers earning more than $75,000, with a median net worth of over $156,000. Hence, those that read the Times aren’t normal people, but are those that are affluent. That’s who their protests are supposedly reaching but likely not challenging in a fundamental way.

[1a] Jon Henley, “Money for nothing: is Finland’s universal basic income trial too good to be true?,” The Guardian, Jan 12, 2018, writing for “the inequality project,” a part of the Guardian supported by the Ford Foundation; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Dylan Matthews, “A basic income really could end poverty forever,” Vox, Jun 17, 2017.

[2] Matt Vella, “Universal Basic Income: A Utopian Idea Whose Time May Finally Have Arrived,” Time, April 13, 2017; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Chris Weller, “Mark Zuckerberg doubles down on universal basic income after a trip to Alaska,” Business Insider, Jul 5, 2017; Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), “History of basic income,” accessed February 2, 2018; Issie Lapowsky, “Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government,” Wired, Nov 15, 2017.

[3] Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017.

[4] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Jon Henley, “Money for nothing: is Finland’s universal basic income trial too good to be true?,” The Guardian, Jan 12, 2018, writing for “the inequality project,” a part of the Guardian supported by the Ford Foundation; Aditya Chakrabortty, “A basic income for everyone? Yes, Finland shows it really can work,” The Guardian, Oct 31, 2017. UBI was rejected in Switzerland by voters.

[5] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Michelle Chen, “Could a Universal Basic Income Work in the US?,” The Nation, August 15, 2017; Christine Emba, “Universal basic income,” Washington Post opinion, September 28, 2015; Andrew Flowers, “What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?,” Five Thirty Eight, Apr 25, 2016; Aditya Chakrabortty, “A basic income for everyone? Yes, Finland shows it really can work,” The Guardian, Oct 31, 2017; Ellie Mae O’Hagan, “Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for,” The Guardian, Jun 23, 2017; Scott Santens, “Why Should We Support the Idea of Universal Basic Income?,” HuffPost, Jun 26, 2015; Frances Coppola, “The IMF Gives A Cautious Welcome To Universal Basic Income,” Forbes, Oct 15, 2017.

[6] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Andrew Flowers, “What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?,” Five Thirty Eight, Apr 25, 2016; Ellie Mae O’Hagan, “Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for,” The Guardian, Jun 23, 2017.

[7] Yuval Noah Harari, “Universal Basic Income Is Neither Universal Nor Basic,” Bloomberg View, Jun 4, 2017.

[8] Scott Santens, “Why Should We Support the Idea of Universal Basic Income?,” HuffPost, Jun 26, 2015; Sebastian Johnson, senior associate with Freedman Consulting, LLC, “The case for a universal basic income,” LA Times Opinion, Jun 29, 2017; Keri Leight Merritt, “Why We Need a Universal Basic Income,” Common Dreams, Sept 17, 2017.

[9] “The Growing Need for a Universal Basic Income,” Universal Basic Income, accessed Feb 2, 2018; David Z. Morris, “Universal Basic Income Could Grow the U.S. Economy by an Extra 12.5%,” Fortune, Sept 3, 2017; Matt Oraflea, “Why Milton Friedman Supported a Guaranteed Income (5 Reasons),” Medium, Dec 11, 2015; Robert Reich, “Why We’ll Need a Universal Basic Income,” Sept 29, 2016.

[10] Daniel Zamora, “The Case Against a Basic Income,” Jacobin, Dec 2017.

[11] The tabloid publication the Daily Mail declared that “the head of a major PR firm has shut down his business after ‘an avalanche’ of sexual harassment claims from female workers” and Tom Blumer in the right-leaning Newsbusters declared that here was the “virtually complete lack of establishment press interest in the story…the establishment press did virtually nothing with the story.” Another right-wing publication, the Washington Times, declared laughably that “the Left loves to claim moral superiority over the Right when it comes to women…Perhaps the reason progressives think women in America are so oppressed is that they are treated unfairly in liberal spaces” but correctly that we should “not excuse progressives for bad behavior.” Even Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy weighed in, saying “bad news for Dems indeed as FitzGibbon Media…abruptly shut its doors yesterday…In the past, the firm was criticized for taking money from the Venezuelan government for PR work…How about allowing women at liberal PR firms to carry guns? Sounds like that’s what’s needed, and pronto.” Other sites such as the New York Post, Mashable, Fortune, Variety, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, RH Reality Check,Feministing, Ad Week, Jezebel, and Al Jazeera America, among others, had their respective articles as well.

[12] Amanda Terkel, Ryan Grim, and Sam Stein, “The Disturbing Story Of Widespread Sexual Assault Allegations At A Major Progressive PR Firm,” HuffPost, Dec 9, 2015;Amanda Terkel, “It Took Just One Woman Breaking Her Silence On Sexual Harassment To Take Down A Top Progressive PR Boss,” HuffPost, Dec 18, 2015; Amanda Terkel, Ryan Grim, and Daniel Marans, “FitzGibbon Media May Be Gone, But Staffers And Progressive Groups Are Rallying To Launch A New Version,” HuffPost, Dec 19, 2015; Emily Crockett, “FitzGibbon Media and the problem of sexual harassment in the progressive movement,” Vox, Dec 21, 2015; Ed Pilkington, “FitzGibbon Media sexual assault claims: alleged victims feared retribution,” The Guardian, Dec 19, 2015; Michelle Goldberg, “The Nice Guy Fallacy,” Slate, Dec 21, 2015; Marisa Kabas, “Alleged sexual assault victims describe working for Trevor FitzGibbon: ‘Every time I saw him, I feared him’,” The Daily Dot, Dec 18, 2015.

[13] The statements of numerous FGM clients were pretty similar, declaring that: “every allegation of sexual misconduct must be given the attention and seriousness it deserves” (AFL-CIO), “we admire the courage of the women who have come forward” about sexual harassment (Moms Rising), we are “shocked and outraged to hear of the alleged sexual misconduct of the President of FitzGibbon Media” (V-Day), “sexual harassment must be taken seriously and it has no place in the progressive movement or anywhere else” (Ultraviolet), “we are distressed and saddened by the alleged misconduct of the FitzGibbon Media president” (NARAL Pro-Choice America), and “we’re shocked and dismayed by the allegations of sexual assault and harassment at FitzGibbon Media” (MoveOn). Even the notoriously pro-Democratic Party joke of an organization, Working Families, said they were “stunned at the allegations of sexual harassment and assault” at FGM and that they “stand firmly with the staff who courageously spoke out.”

[14] Julia Jacobo, “Activist arrested after taking down Confederate Flag at S.C. Capitol grounds,” WPIX, June 27, 2015; CNN Wire, “NC woman climbs pole, takes down Confederate flag outside SC Capitol,” reprinted in Fox 8, Jun 27, 2015.

[15] Brent Baldwin, “The Fire Starter,” Style Weekly, Aug 18, 2015.

[16] NBC News, “Chelsea Manning Joins Twitter From Prison,” Apr 3, 2015; Nicole Hensley, “Whistleblower Chelsea Manning confronts Twitter account naysayers in prison letter,” New York Daily News, Apr 16, 2015;Lauren Walker, “Chelsea Manning, Leaker of Classified Information, Tweets From Prison,” Newsweek, Apr 6, 2015.

[17] Some of the tweets from the account included articles from The New Yorker (likely quoting FitzGibbon), USA Today implying that Snowden was a client of FGM. The latter is indicated by Snowden’s endorsement of DeRay’s proposals, promotion of the “Snowden Treaty” (see here and here) which was conceived, apparently, by Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda. The homepage of the Snowden Treaty shows that some of the “partners” of the Snowden Treaty are the usual suspects, such as Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Laura Poitras, to name a few. This is even more worrisome when the “description” of the Treaty literally describes nothing other than what the Treaty is supposed to do on a website that also almost no substance. It is also important to note that the Treaty was burst out of thin air in September of last year. FitzGibbon also promoted Chris Hedges (along with other clients) congratulated Chris Hayes on an Emmy, trolling about the Black Panthers, which he definitely wouldn’t support if they were around today, a rash of tweets which imply that CEPR, Color of Change, Hands Up United, and the nebulous “people’s climate” march are clients. There is also a connection between the later Michael Rattner of the Center for Constitutional Rights to FitzGibbon, with both promoting the sign “Jesus Loves Wikileaks” which may come from a guy named Sean Anderson or a number of other sources. It is worth mentioning because Rattner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Real News Network. This matters to FitzGibbon because CCR has legally represented/advised Wikileaks in the past, and Wikileaks, as noted earlier, was a FGM client. The FGM tumblr which seems to be taken over by former FGM employees, does note that FGM promoted the Google Impact Challenge, some Kansas juvenile justice organization (Kansans United for Youth Justice), served as a place for Hands Up United to publish a press release, and so on. Other posts are about a farm sanctuary (likely this is related), the black panthers, “blacktwitter,” mic.com, the Youth First Initiative, The Intercept (also see here and here), the “wear orange” campaign (see here and here), Obama, Baltimore United for Change (also see here), presente.org, black spring, White House, Kwame Rose, Nirbhaya (see here, here, and here), Chelsea Manning, and so on. FGM seemed to serve as astroturf, which is, as SourceWatch describes it, “apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.” In days future, it is likely that this will continue under the purview of a new PR organization which serves the purpose as the old FGM. While PR is a staple of the media landscape and social justice circles, perhaps it is time to move beyond organizations and peoples in the PR industry. This means that the existing PR tactics which constitute a form of propaganda, should be critiqued, challenged, and opposed with a form of counter-propaganda which promotes radical anti-capitalist goals to improve American society and global society. It’s worth a try.

[18] Charles (Charlie) Davis or “Chuckles” has many laughable ideas. Take for example a piece on Telesur English‘s website by Chuckles (a Telesur editor) on the “humanitarian crisis” in Yemen as a result of Saudi bombing of the country. He argues that there has been mass destruction with fighting between coalition forces and Houthi rebels “aligned with the country’s former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh” (they are not),” saying that the only solution is the grounding of the “airforce responsible for so much destruction in Yemen by imposing a no-fly zone—and it can and should do so unilaterally.” He further adds that this is needed due to a failed peace process, citing humanitarian imperialist Amnesty International, claims that a “Saudi-led coalition” is bombing Yemen (no, it is U$-led), mocks anti-imperialists (“You Yankee imperialist pig-dog. I knew to what end all this performative ‘caring’ would ultimately lead: ‘Humanitarian’ war crimes on behalf of your Anglo-Zionist paymasters at the World Bank and Major League Soccer, which has been trying to infiltrate the Yemeni market for years”), and calling for U.S. aircraft in Yemen’s skies, but not dropping bombs? He further says there should be “cease-fire, perhaps, by depriving an arson of more firepower,” grounding the “Saudi air force by refusing to restock it with weapons and spare parts,” imposing a ““no-fly zone” unilaterally without even offending the world’s multilateral organizations, saving lives and its own duplicitous face by ceasing to continue what it’s done so far.” While some may think this is ok, it is still a response allowing for anti-imperialism. Yemen should solve its own problems, meaning that the murderous empire should pull all support for Saudi Arabia without a question. With all this, Chuckles was clearly being smug, and it was more silly than anything else, utter nonsense. In some twitter exchanges with him, he claimed he wasn’t calling for a no-fly-zone even though that was part of his silly plan! If this wasn’t enough, Chuckles engaged in Chucklesplaining, which one could describe as a derivative of what some have called “mansplaining.” Beyond this, he is just like Proyect who calls out “Assadists”: he seemed to say that it is absurd that “the U.S. government would conspire to preserve the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad” as proposed by Sy Hersh, who has his own problems, but then said that this is the reality! If this wasn’t enough, he scoffed at the idea of “a U.S-Israeli plot to effect regime change,” claiming that the Obama administration’s “train-and-equip program for rebels was explicitly directed at the Islamic State” not the Syrian government which doesn’t even make sense,claiming that Assad is an “Israeli-preferred fascist” (which also isn’t true), and ringed his hands about “apologism for mass murder.” This is no surprise considering his other deluded views, including but not limited to acting like Wikileaks is in tandem with Putin. This aligns with his anger at Russia, basically calling them “imperialist,” hating those who point out that sanctions on Syria are utterly murderous, believing foolishly in the Russia conspiracy, along with some other absurd opinions (also see here, here, and here), calling Soviet Russia “imperialist,” and saying that the Workers World Party is a “delegation of old crackpot commies” because they back people he doesn’t like (whom he calls “dictators,” in keeping with imperialist propaganda), ending up thinking that the Trotskyists are more reasonable, of course. And this is only a sampling of what he is wrote! Lest us forget that even though there was a Chuckles story about NSA spying in Venezuela, his buddy, Glenn Greenwald, wrote about this in O Globo in 2013! There has been something deeper: work for Russell Brand as even a simple search of the internet confirms. The love of Brand as noted in other tweets was later over. Elsewhere, Chuckles doesn’t even stop to consider that the US government is pushing prosecution and other measures in an attempt to nab Assange, not once. The best refutation of Chuckles’s points is the agreed statement of facts which one twitter user shared in this exchange. There are also a number of things which should also be of note. One of these things is Google plus. However, more important is Chuckles’s LinkedIn (version is archived here) To me, what this shows is that Chuckles has become a mainstay in progressive movements, and easily meshes with liberal propaganda outlets like Salon whose main duty, as it will, it to counter right-wing propaganda outlets. The fact that he worked for places like Vice, FX, Michael Moore, and Change.org without shame is telling. Need I say more?

[19] There are a number of other webpages on Idealist, Foursquare, Vimeo, and Flickr.

[20] Kolponashokti-r Doinyo, “Sharing a platform with right-wingers,” Socialist Worker, Mar 6, 2012.

Advertisements

Imperial machinations, Mnangagwa, and gleeful capitalists

This is a graphic I created on 12/13/2017, and revised on 12/14/2017, to represent the continuing counter-revolution in Zimbabwe since Mugabe’s resignation on Nov 21 and Mnangagwa’s ascendancy the next day thanks to the ZDF’s coup d’etat.

The counter-revolution of President Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe continues afoot. The Zimbabwean Communist Party, as I noted previously, is no help, so the Zimbabwean proletariat are on their own as the socially democratic gains of the Black nationalist ruling party, the Zanu-PF, albeit limited by the fact that they originally accepted neocolonialism before the late 1990s as noted before, are being chipped away.

Recent Developments

Recently, on the same day that the Politburo of the Zanu-PF met, the royalty for platinum mining was slashed so that “all platinum group companies to reserve significant amounts of capital for reinvestment,” to help the bourgeoisie in that business, along with likely attracting other mining companies not native to the country, including those from the West. Again, this helps the capitalist class much more than the proletariat in Zimbabwe. If that isn’t enough, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) agreed to provide $1.5 billion for Zimbabwe’s economy in order to “meet the forex requirement for productive foreign payments” and support the “productive sector through banks and the mining sector, especially the gold sector, as well as the retooling of the manufacturing sector, among other industries.” This leaves the country, I would argue, further open to exploitation by other forces.

The ZDF (Zimbabwe Defense Force) again re-iterated the need for “calm,” basically saying that they will not be used to settle personal scores between Zanu-PF members. They also seem to want to tamp down any opposition to their moves going forward, which will come and is likely there.

The MDC was criticized by The Herald for its foray to the murderous empire. The latter publication, which has widely taken the side of the coup plotters and the imperialist sect of the Zanu-PF, declared that the MDC alliance, part of the Western puppet “opposition” is basically “campaigning for Zimbabwe’s continued isolation, despite recent developments and popular change of Government witnessed recently.” They added by saying that the MDC “has always been associated with the West” and sponsored by them in “fruitless bid to unseat former President Mugabe for the “crime” of undertaking the land reform programme.” However, they claim that Mugabe’s removal “set Zimbabwe on a historic transition process” while noting that the MDC wants to convince “the Western community to maintain frosty relations with Zimbabwe” and saying that they “expected better in a new post-Mugabe as era; there is more than enough room to talk among Zimbabweans.” This may indicate that this “counter-revolution” will involve the Zanu-PF staying in power while the Western puppet opposition is rightfully marginalized as they should have no real importance in Zimbabwe’s politics. However, the government could easily turn and work with the Western puppet opposition, however.

In terms of the land program, there seemed to be a recent development. The government ordered “illegally resettled farmers to vacate the land immediately or face the wrath of the law,” saying that the “Zimbabwe Land Commission shall be seized with the responsibility of settling land disputes emanating from resettled farmers and shall report to the Minister from time to time.” This seems to limit the land redistribution program to an extent while it tries to imply that there was corruption when the government, with Mugabe as the President, was involved in the land redistribution program. This development follows the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) saying they will “now accept 99-year leases that were given to resettled farmers by Government as collateral for bank loan,” while the new government has “stressed that it will not be fickle and will stick to its policies to maintain certainty and predictability to attract investment in the economy.” It seems that the government is willing to intervene in the economy but is hard to say this is benefiting the proletariat, as its efforts to boost maize yields was done in part because of an assessment based on “the World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) indicators.” Likely such efforts will help the bourgeoisie instead since the World Bank is one of the institutions which maintains the international capitalist economy.

Additionally, as Mnangagwa appoints a new head of Zimbabwe’s intelligence service, a new VP shortly (as some reports seem to indicate) reassigns permanent secretaries, there are considerations to raise the retirement age by five years (from 60 to 65) among civil service in Zimbabwe, if I understand that correctly. Additionally, the 2018 Budget does much more: a higher rate on spot betting, an “export tax of 5% on the gross value of exported lithium” imposed, a “zero tolerance on land barons,” amending the  Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, implemented by April 2018, that “diamonds and platinum are the only sub-sectors designated as ‘extractive’” with the “51/49 Indigenisation threshold [confined] to only the two minerals” and not to the “rest of the extractive sector, nor…the other sectors of the economy, which will be open to any investor regardless of nationality.” Furthermore, this law would allow entrance into the “reserved sector,” which is “only for Zimbabwean citizens” if a the business “creates employment…seek[s] to attract both local and foreign investments,” among other aspects. The budget also declares that “State Enterprises that exhibit potential will be reformed, while those which cannot be rehabilitated will be privatised or face outright closure,” abolishing “the Youth Officer posts under the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation & Empowerment,” transferring it to another role, and limiting the civil service.If that isn’t enough, the government, as of January 2018, will “retire staff above the age of 65” and convince them to be petty bourgeoisie. It also includes adopting “fiscal anchors” which cap “budget deficits below 3%,” limit public debt, reduce spending on Infrastructure “by re-directing substantial resources towards capital development priorities,” and sticking to “…agreed Cabinet policy positions that entail pain and sacrifice.” If that isn’t enough, the budget says that “money creation, through domestic money market instruments which do not match with available foreign currency, only serves to weaken the value of the same instruments” and adding that the “new economic order” includes restored discipline “supported by political will in dealing with the following…Re-engagement with the International Community; Stimulating Production, and Exporting; Creation of Jobs, as well as a  credible 2018 election.”

The 256-page 2018 Budget Statement, which includes financial audits of all civil servants, is basically another step in the counter-revolution, a declaration of war on the Zimbabwean proletariat as the policies have a neoliberal capitalist ring to them. It is, as The Herald put it (in a supportive way, but can also be seen negatively), the beginning of an “economic cleansing” rather than just a “revival.” Clearly Mnangagwa is agreeing with commentators like Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo who serve the bourgeoisie with their words which are like a knife stabbed into the heart of the Zimbabwean proletariat.

As the Extraordinary Congress of the Zanu-PF is set to meet, with the goal “unity in the party,” it is expected to “endorse the recalling of former President Robert Mugabe and the installation of President Mnangagwa as the First Secretary and President by the Central Committee on November 19” while also expected to “uphold the decision by the Central Committee to expel G40 cabal members,” including Grace Mugabe who was attacked in an undoubtedly misogynist way, and also possibly bring back “all Central Committee members elected at the 2014 Congress but suspended or expelled from the party subsequent to the Congress on the basis of fictitious or fabricated allegations by the G40 cabal be reinstated.” The coup will then be fully legitimized and the counter-revolution affirmed by the Zanu-PF itself!

Machinations by the imperialists

Apart from a brief interruption in internet service in Zimbabwe, possibly caused by imperial machinations (or possibly not), imperialists are salivating without end. As I noted in a recent post on a radical subreddit, Zimbabwe is undoubtedly in a “bad situation.” A law recently signed by the orange menace (Trump) declares that the US will stand against “any extension by the respective institution of any loan or grant to the Government of Zimbabwe, except to meet basic human needs or to promote democracy,” unless the rule of law has returned, including “respect for ownership and title to property, and freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.” The law adds that funds may be available for “health and education,” and possibly even for “macroeconomic growth assistance” if the US thinks the government “is implementing transparent fiscal policies, including public disclosure of revenues from the extraction of natural resources.” This basically means that the imperial machinations in Zimbabwe will continue, that the US still wants land redistribution removed (as in the part about “property”), wants a place for the MDC hucksters, and wants an in within the market of Zimbabwe.

In the post cited in the previous paragraph I also noted a Senate hearing for a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee to unilaterally determine Zimbabwe’s “future.” The participants had varied views.Stephanie Sullivan, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, declared that the coup offers an  “opportunity for reform that could allow the United States to re-engage in ways we have not recently been able to do,” said that they want the Western puppet’s opposition to have a voice “in charting a path forward” and saying that tbe U.S. capitalist class is “eager for improvements in the [Zimbabwean] business climate that will encourage them to invest and trade” and sees “promise in agriculture, tourism, energy, and mining.” Then the MDC Alliance representative, Tendai Biti, declared that Zimbabwe’s future was uncertain but has an opportunity for “reconstructing, rebuilding and re- fabricating a new Zimbabwean story, and a new Zimbabwean society,” declaring that the country needs “a genuine break from its tortured past…[creating] a just and prosperous society” where citizens can “pursue life, liberty, and happiness,” the Western bourgeois values in politics. He also said that there should be “political and institutional reforms” along with “major economic reforms that focus on restoring livelihoods, growing a shared economy” which includes “a commitment to real transformation other than cosmetic statements on the economy.” He feared that Zimbabwe would “pursue a Beijing model, in the respect of which there are nominal improvements on the economy while political space is closed and democracy is muzzled” while adding that Zimbabwe should not be “forgotten in our battle against tyranny and poverty and for democracy and human rights” and that once Zimbabwe shows “signs of an irrevocable and irreversible trajectory towards legitimacy, democracy, and the rule of law, we [Zimbabwe] shall require your full support as we re-engage key international institutions.”

There were two other guests. One of them was Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW). He did accurately describe the ZDF’s role in the coup, but he obviously cited with the imperialists by saying that ” re-engagement with the Zimbabwean government should be based on a firm commitment” of measures that “ensure tangible and long overdue democratic and electoral reforms…a clear roadmap for democratic elections.” In the meantime what does HRW want? Continuation of “existing US policy toward Zimbabwe until the military removes itself from politics and the 2018 elections are legitimately assessed to be peaceful, transparent, free and fair,” basically meaning that the murderous sanctions will continue. Finally there was the view of a a Mugabe-hating “journalist” named Peter Godwin, who was more skeptical of all. He claimed that Mnangagwa will “entice his own people and the world with a ‘reformist stance’,” working to re-brand the Zanu-PF but in actuality all of his “promises don’t stand up to scrutiny.” He also added that “opposition fragmentation is enormously beneficial to Zanu-PF, allowing them a real possibility of winning at the polls,” arguing that the Western puppet opposition needs “to unify or at least broker alliances or electoral pacts.” Again, the same strategy is trotted out by the imperialists.

Looking forward

Zimbabwe seems on the road to ruin. It will intensify the “exploitive relation between the owners of the means of production…and the producers of value” with “production of knowledge…directed towards profit” even more than in the past, with “tension between the underlying forces of competition and monopoly” as Michael Roberts put it recently. As Roberts further added that “rise of intangibles means the increased concentration and centralisation of capital” and ended by saying that “capital without capitalism becomes a socialist imperative. Furthermore, let us recognize that there are no “progressive radicals” in Zimbabwe anymore. Michael Parenti, the radical scholar everyone should listen to rather than establishment “radical” Noam Chomsky, defined this term in an interview back in 2015

A progressive radical is someone who supports democratic political procedures rather than moneyed-driven ones, much needed human services, public ownership of education, utilities, industrial production, and most financing, while opposing big corporate power and global imperialism.

There is no one like that in Zimbabwean politics. In fact Mnangagwa and his cronies want to privatize government entities, reducing public ownership, and seem willing to work with the imperial West to “improve” their country. That will undoubtedly lead to further exploitation! There is no doubt of that.

Those in the murderous empire seem to be playing a “wait and see” game, with many citing the event “committed by the North-Korean trained fifth brigade in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the 1980’s, also referred to as Gukurahundi,” saying that Mnangagwa was involved, with Chris Coons declaring that its “critical that the people of Zimbabwe not see one dictator replaced by another and so for one I am reluctant to see us take any steps to lighten or relieve sanctions or other international restrictions on loans or partnerships until we see … concrete steps.”  Other reports say that the empire is “cautiously considering re-engaging Zimbabwe, following the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe,” seeing a possibly window of opportunity. A “peace campaign” won’t stop the empire from coming in and bringing in all the corporate brands that those living inside the beast have grown to hate. At this point, let us not forget the contributions of comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe who originally embraced neo-colonialism but ultimately led the country to one that allied with China and was strongly anti-imperialism, supporting independence for Western Sahara and Palestine for example. No one should forget him and his contributions, which the current government seems intent on erasing without a doubt.

Then there is the role of China. One commentary recently asserted that “Zimbabwe’s economic and political ties to China could prove decisive for Africa’s perpetual underdog” and added that “more Chinese money is flowing to Zimbabwe as well” with it also noted that “China has been a partner to Africa when many Western investors preferred to stay away.” What will China’s role be? Well, they seem to be willing to keep their investments in the country and would be glad to have more “business-friendly” conditions to benefit Chinese companies. Again, this would not make Zimbabwe a Chinese colony, as those deluded commentators in the West assert, but it would show that both countries have embraced capitalism without a doubt.

In other news, the relations with Botswana seem to be on upswing. This is disturbing because, as I noted on Reddit, Botswana hated Mugabe, supporting the Western puppet opposition, with suggestions they are imperial puppets of the murderous empire. A new memorandum of understanding is coming soon with Botswana, which hailed the new government. This seems to indicate that Zimbabwe could be further corrupted by imperial machinations without a doubt.

The future forward for Zimbabwe is unclear. Frantz Fanon wrote back in 1961, in the Wretched of the Earth, about how the “national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building, nor labour; it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type” saying that their “psychology…is that of the businessman, not that of a captain of industry” while adding that “from now on it will insist that all the big foreign companies should pass through its hands, whether these companies wish to keep on their connexions with the country, or to open it up” and that the “national bourgeoisie will be quite content with the role of the Western bourgeoisie’s business agent, and it will play its part without any complexes in a most dignified manner.” He added that when the national bourgeoisie within an “under-developed” country is strong, it can “arrange everything and everybody to serve its power” and said that there must be “very exceptional circumstances if such a bourgeoisie…is forced into denying its own humanist ideology” while the Western bourgeoisie is racist but works to mask such racism. He also wrote that

…The national bourgeoisie turns its back more and more on the interior and on the real facts of its undeveloped country, and tends to look towards the former mother country and the foreign capitalists who count on its obliging compliance…The bourgeois dictatorship of under-developed countries draws its strength from the existence of a leader…in spite of his frequently honest conduct and his sincere declarations, the leader as seen objectively is the fierce defender of these interests, today combined, of the national bourgeoisie and the ex-colonial companies…the national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is incapable of carrying out any mission whatever…The party, a true instrument of power in the hands of the bourgeoisie, reinforces the machine, and ensures that the people are hemmed in and immobilized…In under-developed countries, the bourgeoisie should not be allowed to find the conditions necessary for its existence and its growth. In other words, the combined effort of the masses led by a party and of intellectuals who are highly conscious and armed with revolutionary principles ought to bar the way to this useless and harmful middle class…In the colonized territories, the bourgeois caste draws its strength after independence chiefly from agreements reached with the former colonial power

While Fanon was talking about the development of independent nations in Africa, after their liberation wars against “colonial domination,” what he writes about the national bourgeoisie can easily apply to the Black bourgeoisie in Zimbabwe which seems to be happy and gleeful to work with the West while still wanting to defend their own interests.

With this counter-revolution, the Europeans who “robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people” will be back to do what did they in Zimbabwe for over 70 years, mainly by the British imperialists like Cecil Rhodes. The European imperialists will exploit the proletariat and peasantry with a “modern flair,” followed by the gung-ho imperialists from the murderous empire. Neo-colonialism, the most dangerous form of imperialism as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana called it, will be back “in style” as Zimbabweans continue to toil.

As Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau put it in 1964, “whether we wish it or not, we are fighting against imperialism, which is the basis of colonialism, in every form.” Apart from following this advice, we should be worried about Zimbabwe’s future trajectory as it seems to invalidate  liberation of Africa from world imperialism, which was fought for so many years ago with vigor, determination, and good cause for a better world free of capitalism, but seems to be slipping away with counter-revolutions like this one in Zimbabwe. To end this post, Fanon’s words on the future path for liberation and independence are an instructive reminder of where our thoughts should go in the days forward:

We must shake off the heavy darkness in which we were plunged, and leave it behind…We today can do everything, so long as we do not imitate Europe, so long as we are not obsessed by the desire to catch up with Europe…European achievements, European techniques and the European style ought no longer to tempt us and to throw us off our balance…Let us decide not to imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction…a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe…[this was the] United States of America [which] became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions…Comrades, let us flee from this motionless movement where gradually dialectic is changing into the logic of equilibrium. Let us reconsider the question of mankind…The Third World today faces Europe like a colossal mass whose aim should be to try to resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find the answers…So, comrades, let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institutions and societies which draw their inspiration from her…If we wish to live up to our peoples’ expectations, we must seek the response elsewhere than in Europe…For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man.

The counter-revolution of Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe’s military

As  wrote on December 29, “Mnangagwa, even more than Mugabe, seems to favor the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie” while adding that “while I hope for the best as always, I fear for the worst. We should stand with whatever forces have the interests of the Zimbabwean proletariat at heart,” arguing that the current government does not have those interests at heart. Current events seem to demonstrate that the “corrective measure” that removed Mugabe was nothing short of a coup that seems ready to benefit Western capitalists.

Amending the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (IEEA)

Already, the new government has amended the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act “to reflect its policy position that the 51-49 percent requirement only applies to natural resource-based investments.” This position runs contrary to what Mugabe issued in April 2016, meaning that the government felt that having across all sectors promised “empowerment for the indigenes without delivering it on the other hand, while creating discomfort or even suspicion to would-be investors on the other” and instead supporting a “new investment framework…clear cut in terms of what’s on offer to both domestic and foreign investors.” What is this new framework? Well, they posit “Zimbabwe as an investment destination,” and open up the “non-resource sector and reserved sector” to more foreign investment. The non-resource sector includes

beneficiation of raw materials, transfer of appropriate technology to Zimbabwe for the purposes of enhancing productivity, creation of employment and imparting of new skills to Zimbabweans, granting of ownership and/or employee share ownership for value to indigenous Zimbabweans

This sector is even larger than what The Herald stated in their recent article (linked at the beginning of this section) as noted by the National Economic Empowerment Strategy issued in 2015 by Patrick Zhuwao, then the Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (original link). It includes the manufacturing, finance services, tourism, education & sport, arts entertainment & culture, engineering & construction, energy, services, telecommunications, transport & motor industries.

The reserved sector includes those areas “reserved for Zimbabwean entrepreneurs, except for existing businesses,” including businesses such as

retail and wholesale trade, transportation (passenger buses, taxis and car hire services), estate agencies, grain milling, bakeries, tobacco processing, advertising agencies, valet services, employment agencies and provision of local arts and crafts and marketing and distribution of the same

The latter were once “non-indigenous businesses” who had to pay “the full amount of the Empowerment Levy proposed herein as part of measures designed to ensure compliance with the indigenisation legislation.” This levy, to summarize without bogged down in the details, depends on the “extent to which a business simply decides to comply with the laws of Zimbabwe, on indigenisation and economic empowerment.” This is no longer to be enforced at all!

With this, foreign investors can have control of businesses in these sectors. With this new policy, only businesses are national resources sector is required that Black Zimbabweans “hold a 51 percent stake…with the remaining 49 percent belonging to the partnering investor(s).” As a result, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act’s purpose has been subverted! As Mugabe put it in 2016 (original link), the law meant to enable “historically indigenous Zimbabweans” to be “significant players” in Zimbabwe’s economy, granting them ownership of “the country’s means and factors of production.” Only allowing it one sector benefits the global capitalist class.

I doubt that weakening of this law will put forward “goals of indigenisation and economic empowerment” of the Zimbabwean people as Mugabe stated in 2013, specifically focusing on the resources sector which is wide ranging, as provided by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (General) Regulation in 2010 and noted within xxx:

Air, soil, waters and minerals of Zimbabwe…Mammal, bird, fish and other animal life of Zimbabwe…The trees grasses and other vegetation of Zimbabwe…Springs, vleis, sponges, reed beds, mashes, swamps and public streams of Zimbabwe…Any landscape, scenery or site having aesthetic appeal or scenic value or of historic or archaeological interest

I doubt that Mnangagwa and his government will stand by that interpretation of natural resources. I really do. The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (“NIEEB”) which is currently “tasked to spearhead this process of transforming the peripheral role of the indigenous majority in the economy to a leading role in the mainstream economy together with the attendant benefits of improving their standards of living” still has a role but it has been dramatically reduced.

Basically, this decision, applauded by The Herald, which seems to hold the line of the Zanu-PF adherents sympathetic to Western imperialism now unlike under Mugabe’s presidency over the years, opens up Zimbabwe to exploitation from international capital. This should be condemned by anyone with sense as it will hurt the Zimbabwean proletariat without a doubt.

What we have now is the beginning of what I’ll call a counter-revolution. It is almost like the efforts pushed by Nikita Khrushchev after the death of comrade Joseph Stalin in 1953. The difference is that Zimbabwe is not a socialist country like the USSR and does not have a communist party in that position of power, as Zimbabwe is a socially democratic country with a socially democratic political party. However, there are some parallels that could be drawn since comrade Robert Mugabe is being taken down by Mnangagwa who is not a comrade in the slightest meaning of the word! Even if The Herald says it time and time again, that doesn’t make it true!

The new presidential cabinet of Mnangagwa

Currently the cabinet has 22 members with a varied number of new members, some of which are just appointed. These include:

  1. Patrick Chinamasa as new Minister of Finance and Economic Planning
  2. Obert Mpofu as new Minister of Home Affairs and Culture
  3. Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance/Perence Shiri as the new Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement
  4. Lazarus Dokora still in charge of the Primary and Secondary Education portfolio
  5. David Parirenyatwa still as Health and Child Care Minister
  6. Kembo Mohadi as new Minister of Defence, Security and War Veterans
  7. Ziyambi Ziyambi as new Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
  8. Major-General Sibusiso Moyo as new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  9. Kazembe Kazembe as new Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation
  10. Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa as new Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services
  11. Mike Bimha as new Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development
  12. July Moyo (2) as new Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
  13. Sithembiso Nyoni as new Minister of Women and Youth Affairs
  14. Head of the University of Zimbabwe Geography and Environmental Science department Professor Amon Murwira as new Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Development
  15. Supa Mandiwanzira as now Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security
  16. Former National University of Science and Technology (NUST) pro-vice chancellor Professor Clever Nyathi as the new Minister of Labour and Social Welfare
  17. Joram Gumbo still as Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister
  18. Mimosa Mining Company executive chairman Mr Winston Chitando as new Minister of Mines and Mining Development
  19. Simon Khaya Moyo (3) as new Minister of Energy and Power Development
  20. Oppah Muchinguri (Kashiri) as new Environment, Water and Climate Minister
  21. Prisca Mupfumira as new Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister
  22. Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as new Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring of Government Programmes

Other ministers not in the cabinet were as follows:

  • Miriam Chikukwa (Harare), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Martin Dinha (Mashonaland Central), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Webster Shamu (Mashonaland West), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Angeline Masuku (Bulawayo) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Monica Mutsvangwa (2) (Manicaland) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • David Musabayana (Mashonaland East) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Cain Mathema (Matabeleland North) Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Josiah Hungwe (Masvingo) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Owen Ncube (1) (Midlands) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Abednico Ncube (2) superintending over Matabeleland South province
  • Chrsiopher Mushohwe remains the Minister of State for Government Scholarships in the President’s Office

And then there are six deputy ministers appointed by President Mnangagwa:

  • Terence Mukupe (Finance and Economic Development)
  • Davis Marapira (Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement)
  • Paul Mavima (Primary and Secondary Education)
  • Victor Matemadanda (War Veterans)
  • Pupurai Togarepi (Youth Affairs)
  • Joshua Malinga (Social Welfare)

The bourgeois media saw this in an interesting light. Bloomberg News quibbed that “his cabinet announcements have been dominated by loyalists to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, dashing hopes of significant change,” quoting the thoughts of the opposition People’s Democratic Party,  Tendai Biti. [1] Reuters said something similar. They noted how Mnangagwa swore in his cabinet, “giving top posts to the generals who helped his rise to power” including Air Marshall Perrance Shiri who declared that “who says military people should never be politicians? I‘m a Zimbabwean so I have every right to participate in government,” even as he kept “several faces from the Mugabe era, including Patrick Chinamasa as finance minister.” [2] The end of the article added the following quote from MDC’s Vice President Nelson Chamisa, “as far as we are concerned there was no contact whatsoever between President Mnangagwa, ZANU-PF and our party regarding the possibility of inclusion or involvement of our members in the government,” but we can’t completely. A German publication, DW, said that “Mnangagwa came under heavy criticism for recycling officials from Mugabe’s era” even as it was noted that “Mnangagwa still has important allies” in the military who he “nominated two of them to cabinet positions, further angering the public.” [3] It was also claimed that “Zimbabweans hoping that members of the opposition would be appointed to the new cabinet were ultimately disappointed with the outcome.” Other sites said that “the new Cabinet is just a collection of the old, corrupt and incompetent people who created the present economic shambles in the first place” with another saying that the new cabinet had “two senior military officials who played a central role in bringing him [Mnangagwa] to power were given key jobs.

As for The Herald, it said that “Zanu-PF, as the ruling party, is in a clear majority and therefore doesn’t require outsiders…There is no doubt peace and unity are key requirements for national development…What we don’t understand is why that noble role should be predicated on them [the opposition] getting positions in Government.” They added that “his Cabinet…includes a number of new faces, and a sprinkling of women in the interest of gender representation, and the disabled too and war veterans…it is the President’s prerogative to appoint and disappoint whoever he wants…common sense teaches us of the importance of continuity and institutional memory…let us give the new administration the benefit of the doubt.” Another opinion said the same, criticizing Jonathan Moyo (part of the pro-Mugabe G40 group) declaring at the end that the military’s coup “was not a revolution. Nor was it a subversion of a constitutional order, which is why our unique-coup-that-was-no-coup has become a global marvel” and claimed that “good times are promising to roll, and it will be for the national good.” This is a similar position to that held by the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF).

Mnangagwa declared, as quoted by PressTV, that “I have sworn in a new cabinet just to finish the term of the former president, which is a period of six to seven months. I believe with my team we will stand up to the challenge. I want them (Zimbabweans) to be united, we must grow our economy.”

This doesn’t seem to be a “moment of madness” as one article in The Herald scoffed at. Instead, it is directly planned. It is more than what the media above say it is. Using a Zimbabwean wiki and general online searching we find that:

  • 23 are Zanu-PF partisans (Mpofu [supportive of trade with China], Ziyambi,  Dokora, Parirenyatwa, Mohadi, Moyo (2), Nyoni, Gumbo,  Moyo (3), Muchinguri, Mupfumira, Mumbengegwi, Chikukwa, Dinha, Shamu, Masuku, Mutsvangwa (2), Musabayana, Mathema, Ncube (1),  Ncube  (2), Mushohwe, Marapira)
  • Six are Mnangagwa allies and/or coup plotters (Chinamasa, Moyo, Kazembe, Hungwe, Matemadanda, Shiri (supportive of land reform, participated in 2nd Congo War, and seems to have some feelings against Mugabe))
  • Four are former bourgeoisie in communications, travel, and mining, among others (Mutsvangwa (anti-Mugabe), Bimha, Makupe, Mavima)
  • Two are academics (Murwira, Nyathi)
  • One is part of mining bourgeoisie (Chitando)
  • One is part of telecom bourgeoisie (Mandiwanzira)
  • One works in the insurance and pension industry (Togarepi)
  • One is a consultant (Malinga)

This does not look like a collection of people who will help the Zimbabwean proletariat but rather one that will help the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie and their friends! Capitalism will win out here, and the cries of the oppressed will be drowned out in money, with the technocrats getting a hand in this, along with the imperialist faction of the Zanu-PF represented by the partisans. This is not something that Zimbabwe needs. Mnangagwa will hear what he wants to hear, and the “reform” of the economy will lead to ruined livelihoods as suffering increases beyond its current level.

In comes the IMF

According to the South African press, the IMF is sending officials to Zimbabwe to help it “design policies to revive the economy” with a statement that Mnangagwa “is putting in place his Cabinet and we stand ready to work closely with the country and the staff should help us to make progress in that direction.” It was also noted that Mnangagwa “appointed a new acting finance minister and announced a three-month amnesty window for the return of public funds illegally stashed abroad by individuals and companies.” The IMF is probably smiling that the Mugabe family, which the white propaganda outlet named VOA called the “Mugabe clan,” is not really in political life as directly as they once we and see an opening.

Mnangagwa claims he is aiming to “revive the economy” of Zimbabwe, at least from the mouth of his supporters, like the new minister Mutsvangwa, head of the Zimbabwe War Veterans group. This same person claimed that Mnangagwa talked with the opposition (Tsvangarai’s MDC-T) but that “the MDC, through their leader Tsvangirai, turned around and said he wanted to give him people of his choice.” It was also noted how Zimbabwean white farmers saw Mugabe’s exit as a positive and Mnangagwa’s rise seeming to benefit them, perhaps as part of push for “reform.” Likely Amnesty will cheer too. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa declared, after smearing Mugabe in typical imperialist fashion, that “Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past.” [5]

Even more, the country has foreign debt that the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie in the construction industry complained about. So the IMF is in luck. Perhaps the new government will come begging to the IMF (and World Bank) for help, allowing them to shape the economy and screw over the Zimbabwean proletariat. Any attempt to do so should be strongly opposed by comrades anywhere, especially in the West.

Where do we go from here?

The Extraordinary Congress of the Zanu-PF is coming later this month. Already the “party is no longer going to have another Congress in 2019” with the upcoming Congress “expected to endorse the recall of former President Robert Mugabe and election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the First Secretary and President made by the Central Committee on November 19” and this Congress is “expected to uphold the decision by the Central Committee to expel G40 members such as former First Lady Grace Mugabe, Mr Phelekezela Mphoko, Professor Jonathan Moyo, Mr Saviour Kasukuwere, Dr Ignatius Chombo, Dr Walter Mzembi, Mr Kudzanai Chipanga, Ms Mandi Chimene, Mrs Letina Undenge and many others.” Additionally, it is “expected to discuss the state of the party, the economy and preparations for next year’s harmonised elections, including the manifesto for the polls.” The Herald added that after the coup, “the ruling party is now shifting its attention to dealing with economic challenges that are affecting the generality of the Zimbabwean population.”

The current Congress may feature Mugabe, although this is highly unlikely. It may even be time to say that the Zanu-PF is something that the Zimbabwean proletariat should abandon, but not exactly yet as Mnangagwa has only begun his term. Hopefully it is not as bad as I’ve outlined, but I am not completely optimistic in this realm whatsoever. I really am not. I can’t think of any forces that stand with the Zimbabwean proletariat. I wish for the best but will brace for the worst.

Notes

[1] Godfrey Marawanyika, “Zimbabwe President Changes Cabinet After One Day,” Bloomberg News, Dec 2, 2017.

[2] Emelia Sithole-Matarise, “Zimbabwe swears in first post-Mugabe cabinet,” Reuters, Dec 4, 2017.

[3] Cristina Krippahl (with Reuters, AFP), “Zimbabwean cabinet sworn in amid criticism,”  DW, Dec 4, 2017.

[4]  Eddie Cross, “How Mnangagwa deceived the world: Zimbabwe emerges as military junta,” BizNews, Dec 4, 2017; Key ‘coup’ leaders appointed to Zimbabwe cabinet,”

[5] Deprose Muchena, “Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe’s legacy,” Amnesty International, Dec 4, 2017.

A “corrective measure”?: Zimbabwe, Black power, and Western imperialism

From an article in The Herald titled “No Military Takeover in Zimbabwe” The article adds the following caption about this photo: “free movement of people in the Capital city as the Army calls for peace and calmness.”

Recently the bourgeois media has been up in arms over Zimbabwe. But what is it all about? What is going on? After one user asked what was going on, writing that “there is a decided lack of information, but things don’t look very good. Robert Mugabe has made significant efforts to keep Zimbabwe free of domination by Western imperialism and Western capitalism. Further information would be appreciated,” some comrades on /r/communism (obviously tarred as a “rush to defend Mugabe” by anti-communist subreddits like /r/enoughcommiespam and /r/Zimbabwe) responded by saying that “Mugabe, in this particular gistorical moment…should be defended it possible and the coup opposed at costs,” while others said that this is an “AFRICOM coup basically” and one said that “doesn’t matter who comes next. If he does not accept wall street to buy up the country pretty much, there will be a coup.”  [1] As I publish this, I read that the Zimbabwe Communist Party welcomed the military takeover by saying that it is “the result of the chaotic state of Zimbabwe as a whole and the ruling party, Zanu (PF), in particular. The extravagant lifestyles of the ruling elite contrast sharply with the extreme poverty of the majority of the Zimbabwean people.” Without knowing the full context of these statement or anything else about the Zimbabwe Communist Party (I only just heard of it), I cannot respond to this statement with any more than what I just said. I will look into the Zimbabwe Communist Party for a future update on this post, as noted at the end of this article I was going to put together anyway.

What the bourgeois media has “reported”

Let’s first give a brief overview of what the bourgeois media is claiming is happening. Al Jazeera, a Qatari pro-terroristic outlet, declared that “there is growing uncertainty in Zimbabwe…the army says this is not a military takeover…But as yet, there is no official word from the government or the Mugabe family as to their whereabouts” with South Africa’s Jacob Zuma apparently talking to Mugabe who “told him he is safe but confined to his home” and with an “apparent bid to expand the Mugabe dynasty” as they put since “President Mugabe sacked Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army, on November 8” with his wife Grace “eyeing” the position. [2] The article goes on to say that the pro-Western #ThisFlag “called for calm and the protection of all Zimbabweans following the army’s takeover of power” while Temba Mliswa, an independent member of parliament, supported the military’s moves, the African Union (AU) chief “said the political crisis in Zimbabwe “seems like a coup”,” humanitarian imperialist Amnesty International seemed to take a non-stand but would definitely cheer when Mugabe was gone, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said it hopes the situation “will not lead to unconstitutional changes of government,” and Lovemore Chinoputsa of the MDC supported the move as did the Victor Matemadanda, the leader of war veterans (Zimbabwe’s War Veterans Association) urged that “Robert Gabriel Mugabe…be recalled from his role as the president and first secretary of ZANU-PF.” Additionally, several Zanu-PF individuals were reportedly detained , the Zimbabwe reportedly “seized state TV and blocked off access to government offices,” with war veterans claiming that “Mugabe has betrayed the revolution.” Another article they published added that “Major General SB Moyo…denied that the army was carrying out a coup…[as] tanks surrounded parliamentary and presidential buildings” while claiming that “for many the first priority was to head to the banks” and noting that “critics of Mugabe” (who are Western-backed) don’t like the military because it favors Mugabe and the Zanu-PF. [3]

Other bourgeois media have described what they say is happenning. BBC held a similar line to Al Jazeera, claiming that the army’s move may “be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy,” noting that China “says it is closely watching the situation” closely, claiming that that”So this military action is the old guard reasserting its authority,” and saying that Gen Chiwenga was a friend of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was recently “sacked” by Mugabe. [4] Anti-imperialism.org partially reviews other media outlets, noting that Mugabe and his wife are apparently “secured under house arrest,” The Guardian continues to support “the coup overwhelmingly [with] hands begin[ning] to point to british/south african collusion” while the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie complained “of political uncertainty just before coup” as claimed by the Zimbabwe Independent (opposition rag), the New York Times penning an “article in explicit support of the coup leaders…while endorsing the ascension of a 75 year old man, older than the oldest amerikan president-elect.” They added that

…the politics of peripheral states are rarely their own, and the likelihood of imperial machinations at work in the current powerplay are high. The pro-monopoly capital leanings of Mnangagwa suggest he could be supported by either the u.$. or uk…As is often said in military coups, the commander in charge has expressed vague platitudes of democracy and constitutionalism as the justification for the move, stating that civil order will be restored shortly…It is unclear what role the UN and AU is to play in this transition, but given recent threats by the UN sanction-regime which has been harassing regional governments suspected of undermining the blockade imposed over the DPRK, it is clear nothing good will come of it…The confusion caused by misinformation promoted by coup leaders, along with the imperialists in their premature victory-lap, has created a difficult scenario for getting reliable information from the country.

The Washington Post held a similar line. They bellowed that Mugabe led “the country from the triumph of its independence struggle to economic collapse,” with now, the “world’s oldest head of state becam[ing] a prisoner of the military he once commanded” and basically endorsing the coup my saying the military’s move “appears to end one of Africa’s most controversial political dynasties while raising questions about what might come next.” [5] They go on to gush that “this appears to be a watershed moment for Zimbabwe and southern Africa, which have suffered from the tumult of Mugabe’s reign…the events bore all the signs of a coup…the commander of Zimbabwe’s military forces, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, made the move as a struggle over who will succeed the country’s elderly leader came to a head. Mugabe…in recent years, as Mugabe’s presidency was marred by allegations of corruption, nepotism and repression…In recent weeks, there have been signs of an increased sensitivity to criticism of the government.” One article linked to is by the Associated Press quotes the US State Department as saying that the murderous empire is “concerned by recent actions undertaken by Zimbabwe’s military forces,” calling for restraint but has been in contact with “Zimbabwe’s military [coup plotters] and foreign affairs ministry.” [6]

With Reuters saying that the military swept “into power,” CBS News declaring that “who will rule Zimbabwe should become clearer in the coming days,” and the Washington Post editorial board declaring that “his removal could “pull a once-prospering country from the ditch into which Mr. Mugabe drove it” as they endorsed the coup by saying “some reports suggest that Mr. Mnangagwa, if put in power, could reverse some of the regime’s worst mistakes…the end of Mr. Mugabe’s rule offers a fragile opportunity to rescue an African country — but only if it does not lead to the installation of another strongman.” [7] Then there’s other media, like USA Today, NPR, saying that Mugabe’s tenure recently has “been marked by human rights abuses and economic collapse” or ” international alienation and economic collapse,” others calling him a tyrant and “authoritarian.” Some in the Bloomberg News said that the coup would extend Zimbabwe’s “reign of terror” with  generals “paved the way for the dictator to be replaced by one of his henchmen” in the mind of bourgeois scholar Eli Lake, and othersclaiming that Mugabe transformed from “his transformation from a national liberation icon to an autocrat.” [8] Other media said that the coup would be opening a “door to freedom” and end “economic collapse.”

What does Zimbabwe’s state media say?

They quote a statement by the Zanu-PF’s Youth Executive League saying that “we will not sit idly and fold our hands whilst cheap potshots and threats are made against the legitimate and popularly elected leader…Robert Gabriel Mugabe.” They add that “we are, however, totally against the bulk of the press statement issued by General Chiwenga yesterday” and believe that this is not a view held by the whole military. They end by saying that “it is our country and future at stake and we will not let any individual military man interfere with the leader of the party and legitimately voted President of this country Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe…We, therefore, call upon all the youth of Zimbabwe regardless of their political affiliation, race, gender or creed to stand up and be counted when the time comes.” A report seemingly indicate that there is “business as usual” in Haare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Other articles showed that the electoral act in the country will soon be amended, that some support (like the war vets) the military’s position while opposing the views of the Zanu-PF’s Youth Executive League. Then they  reprint a speech by the Zimbabwean military on national tv, the one often quoted by bourgeois media. It should be quoted in full here (bolding is my emphasis with two links added in the beginning):

Fellow Zimbabweans, following the address we made on 13 November 2017 which we believe our main broadcaster, ZBC and The Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level. Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, The President, of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R.G. Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice. As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy. To the civil servants, as you are aware, there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging which is place in the political sphere to the civil service. We are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against that. To the judiciary, the measures underway are intended to ensure that, as an independent arm of the State, you are able to exercise your independent authority without fear of being obstructed as has been the case with this group of individuals. To our Members of Parliament, your legislative role is of paramount importance for peace and stability in this country and it is our desire that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective political constituencies according to democratic tenets. To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe, we urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual. Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice. To political parties, we urge you to discourage your members from engaging in violent behaviour. To the youths, we call upon you to realise that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with dirty coins of silver, be disciplined and remain committed to the ethos and values of this great nation. To all Churches and religious organisations in Zimbabwe, we call upon you and your congregations to pray for our country and preach the gospel of love, peace, unity and development. To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of Government. What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict. We call upon all the war veterans to play a positive role in ensuring peace, stability and unity in the country. To members of the Defence Forces, all leave is cancelled and you are all to return to your barracks with immediate effect. To our respected traditional leaders, you are the custodians of our culture, customs, traditions and heritage and we request you to provide leadership and direction to your communities for the sake of unity and development in our country. To the other Security Services, we urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response. To the media, we urge you to report fairly and responsibly. Thank you.

So other than not calling this a military coup, they seem to be calling for allies across Zimbabwean society, including those in the defense forces, and trying to “restore order” by removing the “bad people” from the government, then threatening anyone that challenges their attempt for order. This should make anyone wary, but it seems to sound like an intra-party struggle which is why the “opposition” is not happy.

Then there’s a reprinted speech by General Chiwenga. It is as follows with bolding as needed on certain aspects:

Let us begin by quoting the Constitution of this Country particularly the preamble which speaks of “Exalting and extolling the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Chimurenga/Umvukela and national liberation struggles and honouring our forebears and compatriots who toiled for the progress of our country”. It is with humility and a heavy heart that we come before you to pronounce the indisputable reality that there is instability in Zanu-PF today and as a result anxiety in the country at large. Zimbabwe’s history is hinged on the ideals of the revolution dating back to the First Chimurenga where thousands of people perished. Zanu-PF is the political Party that waged the Second Chimurenga for our independence; the struggle that caused the loss of over 50 thousand lives of our people; the struggle in which many Zimbabweans, in one way or the other, sacrificed and contributed immensely for our liberation. Many of these gallant fighters still live-on with the spirited hope of seeing a prosperous Zimbabwe but also the hope of leaving behind inheritance and legacy for posterity. It is pertinent to restate that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces remain the major stockholder in respect to the gains of the liberation struggle and when these are threatened we are obliged to take corrective measures. Clearly, Zanu-PF having mainly been the only Party that has ruled this country since Independence, it had become a household name to most Zimbabweans across political divide. Therefore, it is common cause that any instability within the Party naturally impacts on their social, political and economic lives, accordingly, there is distress, trepidation and despondence within the nation. Our peace-loving people who have stood by their Government and endured some of the most trying social and economic conditions ever experienced are extremely disturbed by what is happening within the ranks of the national revolutionary Party. What is obtaining in the revolutionary Party is a direct result of the machinations of counter revolutionaries who have infiltrated the Party and whose agenda is to destroy it from within. It is saddening to see our revolution being hijacked by agents of our erstwhile enemies who are now at the brink of returning our country to foreign domination against which so many of our people perished. The famous slogan espoused by His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R. G. Mugabe: “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again” is being seriously challenged by counter revolutionary infiltrators who are now effectively influencing the direction of the Party. It is our strong and deeply considered position that if drastic action is not taken immediately, our beloved country Zimbabwe is definitely headed to becoming a neo-colony again. The current purging and cleansing process in Zanu-PF which so far is targeting mostly members associated with our liberation history is a serious cause for concern to us in the Defence Forces. As a result of squabbling within the ranks of Zanu-PF, there has been no meaningful development in the country for the past 5 years. The resultant economic impasse has ushered-in more challenges to the Zimbabwean populace such as cash shortages and rising commodities prices. Our revolutionary path is replete with conduct and rebellion by people who have attempted to destroy the revolution from within. The formation of FROLIZI, the attempt to remove the late Cde Chitepo from his position of Chairman at the Mumbwa bogus Congress in 1973, the Nhari-Badza rebellion, Ndabaningi Sithole rebellion soon after the death of Cde Chitepo, the Vashandi 1 and 2 as well as the rebellion that led to the death of the late ZIPRA Commander, Cde Alfred Nikita Mangena, among others are cases in point. Therefore, the current shenanigans by people who do not share the same liberation history of Zanu-PF Party are not a surprise to us. But, what is significant to us and the generality of Zimbabweans is to remember that all these rebellions were defused by the military, but at no point did the military usurp power. We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting out revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in. ZANU PF’s standing political virtues are a product of faithful adherence to the founding values, decorum, discipline and revolutionary protocol in the ruling Party. Party orders were strictly adhered to and whatever differences existed, they were resolved amicably and in the ruling Party’s closet. Unfortunately since the turn of 2015, Zanu-PF’s traditional protocol and procedures have been changed with a lot of gossiping, backbiting and public chastisement being the order of the day. Indeed the Party is undoing its legacy built over the years. While our people may be persuaded to take what is going on in Zanu-PF as internal political matters in that Party, the truth remains that Zanu-PF’s conduct and behaviour as a ruling Party has a direct impact on the lives of every citizen; hence all of us regardless of political affiliation are affected by the Party’s manner of doing business. From a security point of view we cannot ignore the experiences of countries such as Somalia, DRC, Central Africa Republic and many others in our region where minor political differences degenerated into serious conflict that had decimated the social, political and economic security of ordinary people. Section 212 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to protect Zimbabwe, its people, its national security and interests and its territorial integrity and to uphold this Constitution. Among other security threats that are coming out of what is obtaining in Zanu-PF are there reckless utterances by politicians denigrating the military which are causing despondency within the rank and file. Further, we not with concern the attempts by some politicians to drive a wedge between the security services for their own selfish interests. This is unacceptable. We take great exception to this behaviour. There is only one Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency The President, Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R. G. Mugabe. The military in an institution whose roles cut across the wider spectrum of Government support functions in the form of Military Aid to Civil Power and Military Aid to Civil Ministries, which are roles derived from Defence Instruments. Therefore we want to state here and now that the history of our revolution cannot be rewritten by those who have not been part of it. Having said that we strongly urge the Party: To stop reckless utterances by politicians from the ruling Party denigrating the military which is causing alarm and despondency within the rank and file. The current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith. The known counter revolutionary elements who have fermented the current instability in the Party must be exposed and fished out. As the Party goes for the Extra-Ordinary Congress, must go with equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights. Comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen, we remain committed to protecting our legacy and those bent on high-jacking the revolution will not be allowed to do so. Further, we must understand that the freedoms that we enjoy today were as a result of supreme sacrifice by some of our country men and women and this must not be taken for granted. Let us remove this air of uncertainty and allow Zimbabweans to enjoy their freedoms and rights as enshrined in the national Constitution.

Along with the attacks on Zanu-PF policies for the past few years, what he is saying again seems to indicate this is an intra-party struggle, specifically to rid “traitorous” elements from the Zanu-PF. Does that mean they oppose Mugabe sacking Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa? Even Liberation News of the Party of Socialism and Liberation is scratching their heads about what is happening (although their article on this is a great read). After all, he has, along with other political players “positioning themselves for the day Mugabe either steps down or dies,” with the former reportedly envisioning

“cooperating with Tsvangirai to lead a transitional government for five years with the tacit backing of some of Zimbabwe’s military and Britain. This unity government would pursue a new relationship with thousands of white farmers who were chased off in violent seizures of land approved by Mugabe in the early 2000s. The farmers would be compensated and reintegrated…Tsvangirai, a 65-year-old former union leader who enjoys broad popular support, told Reuters in an interview in June he would not rule out a coalition with political opponents, such as Mnangagwa…According to the intelligence reports, Mugabe got wind of Mnangagwa’s ideas about white farmers earlier this year…The intelligence reports say that some of Mugabe’s army generals are starting to swallow their disdain for Tsvangirai, who, as a former union leader rather than liberation veteran, has never commanded the respect of the military…The tipping point came in 2000 when Mugabe approved radical land reforms that encouraged veterans from the fight for liberation to occupy some 4,000 white-owned commercial farms…The tipping point came in 2000 when Mugabe approved radical land reforms that encouraged veterans from the fight for liberation to occupy some 4,000 white-owned commercial farms…According to the intelligence files, Mnangagwa’s overtures to Tsvangirai and white farmers became apparent in early 2015 amid bitter strife within the ZANU-PF party…According to the intelligence reports, Mutsvangwa is a middleman between various parties involved in a possible coalition government…Senior figures in Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF…have acknowledged…that white farmers should be compensated for their losses two decades ago, although talks with farmers have yet to produce any major breakthrough” [9]

How all this matters to

I’ve written before on this blog about how Zimbabwe is under attack, meaning that it is a duty of comrades to engage in international solidarity with these states and any others that stand “against the existing social and political order of things.” I also wrote about how “Black nationalist Robert Mugabe led the liberation struggle of the then-Maoist Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, alongside the more moderate Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu-PF,” and in the process he did not go to “the US asking for help to fight the white colonists.” I also noted how The Herald honored the “DPRK’s efforts at self-defense on its islands, with its power stations, and continuing to build their form of socialism based on the masses,” that Zimbabwe was one of the countries at the conference on Palestine in Tehran with Jacob Francis Mudenda, the current Speaker of Zimbabwe’s National Assembly, condemning “Zionist Israel for construction of illegal settlements, [and] praised the role of Iran in the region, and reaffirmed Zimbabwe’s support for Palestine until it turned “into a full-fledged and established country.”” With Trump’s administration, he acts as a “bully for Western capitalists to gain new markets,” with Zimbabwe remaining “under imperialist assault,” continuing what happened under Obama’s administration. This isn’t a surprise since “enemies” of empire with a leader who described Fidel Castro’s death as the lose of a “farewell revolutionary [saying]…We shall always remember you as our own in the same way as Cubans will do so and that is the spirit that brings me and my delegation here” and allowing Mengistu to flee into exile there. Finally, in my imagined scenario for Cuba, I noted how NED described Zimbabwe (along with Burma, DPRK, and Cuba) as a “harsh dictatorship” which is laughable.

But there is more to this story. Already we know that every day the bourgeois media in the West “concocts another story” about the “faults” of Mugabe with human rights imperialist orgs joining in, with the “revolutionary state of Zimbabwe is rocked by political turmoil because the neoliberal opposition leads to polarization, not due to the policies of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF party.” Back in February I further noted that Zimbabwe’s history dates back to years before “the first White imperialist would be out of their womb” and that various societies “constituted a developed (and advanced) Zimbabwean culture lasted a total of a thousand years” while by 1889,

the British South African Company came to Zimbabwe, later naming it “Rhodesia” after British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Not only did this name override the indigenous name of Zimbabwe…but it showed that the age of imperialist exploitation was at hand…This exploitation went beyond the erasure of culture. In the economy of Southern Africa and Rhodesia under British colonialism, Africans were treated as cheap labor…In the years that followed, the British South African Company continued to control the British colony of Rhodesia…[by 1923] with the settlers with official power, the British monarch in the colony itself [was]…represented by the governor and there were “British errand boys” who lived as White settlers…the “rich and fertile land” was occupied by White settlers and the “sandy, semi-dry land” given to Black Africans…[by] 1957, a chapter of African National Congress (ANC) organized in the country, led by Joshua Nkomo, with the chapter joining the ANC in South Africa…In the 1960s, the anti-colonial struggle in Zimbabwe heated up…[a] conflict between Zapu and Zanu erupted. At times it became violent. While some may be included to do so, it is wrong to discount the Zanu group wholesale…Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola, supported the guerillas with training areas and pitched camps…As a result of Chinese support, Zanu was transformed from a splinter organization into a full-fledged participant of the liberation struggle…With financial interests in White-ruled Africa, Africans continued to be oppressed by about two hundred British firms in companies led by a small “White group of capitalists””

In the next article of the series I noted how during the revolutionary struggle in Zimbabwe, “Zapu and the ANC were close to the Soviet Union, Zanu was supported by Beijing, allowing the revolutionary group to prosecute a war of liberation, with Chinese aid as a contributing factor to victory.” By 1974, Sithole was pushed out of the leadership, “with Mugabe put in his place, and fully taking control of Zanu after the death of Herbert Chitepo in 1975.” The rest is history:

…Mugabe, unlike Nkomo, was a radical nationalist and he opposed settlement with the White settler government and that he remained suspicious of numerous commanders of the armed military wing, ZANLA…In 1979, the liberation war, militarily at least, seemed to be coming to an end…Mugabe was very open to the changes to come in the future….In 1979, when military victory seemed in view, two new African leaders betrayed the Zimbabwean liberation struggle. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Samora Machel of Mozambique…demanded that Mugabe’s Zanu’s guerrillas forces…could not use their countries as bases to launch attacks on the UDI government. This forced Mugabe to the negotiating table. If these liberation forces had been allowed to win militarily, there is no doubt that Zimbabwe would have been a different country…the Lancaster Agreement…signed on December 17, 1979…include[d a] phased British withdrawal, but the nation was reverted to colonial status before it was declared independent in April 1980…In April 1980, in elections allowed under the Lancaster Agreement, Mugabe became the Prime Minister of the free nation, the Republic of Zimbabwe…Surviving two assassination attempts by White Zimbabweans during the campaign, since he seemed “terrifying” due to his comments during the war and Marxist outlook, he took more a conciliatory approach once in office…In Zimbabwe, such neocolonialism was put in place in a manner which hurt the well-being of the populace. During Mugabe’s time as prime minister of Zimbabwe, he lived in highly fortified residences, and Zimbabwe received Western aid in hopes of pacifying it…Mugabe and the Zanu-PF did not do this willingly. For one, as 100,000 White settlers remained in the country, they commanded the “commerce, finance, industry, mining, and large-scale agriculture” industries, Mugabe tried to create a socially democratic state, rather than a socialist one, helping the Chinese gain markets for their companies…there was a “real threat of a right-wing military coup by the White minority still in Zimbabwe”…This cozying up to the West…led to military material from Europeans going to the new independent government…by the 1990s, the situation in Zimbabwe was changing…As a government that was short on cash, the Zanu-PF government began an IMF Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP)…leading to a program of austerity which hurt the populace for years to come, while also weakening the government…This IMF prescribed program, lasting from 1991 to 1995, resulted in scarce foreign exchange, destruction of domestic industry, many consumer goods became unobtainable, and thousands of civil servants fired, but Mugabe was arguably forced into this position

In the next article in my series on Zimbabwe, I commented on how starting in 1966 the “neo-colonial chains, of the post-independence period, began to be broken” wth the Zanu-PF government moving away from ESAP. By 1997 the

chains holding Zimbabwe to Britain were completely snapped. The government began to seize land owned by a “handful of white farmers”…After failing to undertake the IMF’s “reforms” as quickly as they wanted, the assurances the British government made in 1979…were rejected by the New Labour government controlled by Tony Blair…In 1998, Zimbabwe snubbed the Western capitalists yet again. With his land program, resistance to IMF programs by adopting Black nationalist economic measures hostile to the West, and support for the new government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)…the West was steaming…By 1999, opposition formed from angry White farmers whose land was expropriated and redistributed justly to Black families. This included the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC…The boldness of the Zimbabwean government led to anger from Western capitalist governments and the capitalist class for years to come…While Mugabe is clearly an African nationalist not a doctrinaire Marxist and the policies of Zanu-PF are socially democratic, the Western capitalists would not relent in their assault…The redistribution of White farms to the Zimbabwean populace, even as every White farmer was allowed to control individual, single farms…was begun in a way that shocked Western capitalists…The White farmers who used their money and wealth to try and stop the Zanu-PF in the ownership of natural resources by the Zimbabwean populace, and reclaiming White land for indigenous Black farmers, were not alone…[in the mid-2000s] the Zimbabwean parliament passed a law to move the fast-track land redistribution effort forward. The law, which nationalized land that had been redistributed…was a victory for Black nationalism…[in 2009 with power-sharing with the MDC,] Mugabe still refused Western demands he “step aside,” knowing that it would let neo-colonialism back into the country…six years later [in 2016], Zimbabwe got past this hurdle and the government nationalized the mines…even a Chinese company challenged [this], showing that the country is not a “colony” of China

In my final article in my series on Zimbabwe I noted how in 2013 there was an election where the “chains of neo-colonialism were broken” with Black nationalism again victorious with proposals including one that “prevented legal challenges to the land redistribution program” approved by a wide margin, along with a new Constitution for the Republic of Zimbabwe which is not only

socially democratic, but it calls for good governance, national unity, fostering (and respecting) fundamental rights, fair and “Pan-African” foreign policy. Additionally, it calls for rapid and equitable development, empowerment, food security, “gender balance,” and fair regional representation…It declares the country will help children, youth, elderly, and people with disabilities, favoring vets of the liberation struggle, and have reasonable work and labor policies. The Constitution also says there will be promotion of free and gender equal education, provision of social welfare, legal aid, and so on. It…says that every person has a right to life, meaning that there are limits on the death penalty, and right of personal liberty. The document also outlines rights of arrested persons, the right to dignity, the right to personal security, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of association, and freedom of conscience. Additionally, it talks about the expanse of labor rights, certain property rights, environmental rights, right to pension benefits, and a right to education. Importantly, to protect it from imperialist subversion, it says that there will limits on rights, especially during a public emergency. One can say Zimbabwe is a “dictatorship” all they want, but this Constitution shows that such claims are baloney since this document is many times more progressive than the guarantees of [the US Constitution]

I also wrote about a Zanu-PF manifesto that argued in favor of “land reform programme and other empowerment policies,” along with “party promises to deepen unity, security, independence, and respect for liberation,”  saying they will not be “stopped by foreign imperialists,” that the state should be used as a “”revolutionary instrument” to reclaim land from White settlers and redistribute it to the Black populace,” and that the “Zanu-PF, representing the interests of the country’s national bourgeoisie, including Black farmers and wealthy Black investors, continued to look to China.” I added that

Mugabe said that he wanted to expand his “indigenization” policy, while China remained a major international supporter of the country…there was even a specific effort to warn South Africa to not emulate Zimbabwe’s form of land reform…Grace [Mugabe, Robert Mugabe’s wife] has a prominent place in the ZanuPF, which is good to fight off such pathetic assertions by the Western media and shows that she is not sitting on the sidelines…Ewan Mawaire’s “ThisFlag” movement…is clearly Western-backed and another form of imperial destablization…the two countries [China and Zimbabwe] still have very friendly relations…2017, has already been eventful for Zimbabwe. For one, the IMF declared that more reforms were needed and Tsvangirai…claimed to look “beyond Mugabe,” whatever that means…there was a push for a more united Zanu-PF…Zanu-PF is focusing on the 2018 elections…it should concern people little if Mugabe has a person to continue strong black nationalism and anti-imperialism after he passes from this world, or not…Let us look…to see the road ahead to the 2018 elections as what lies in store for Zimbabwe under the Trump Administration not known

Now it has been nine months since I wrote that article. I won’t venture to summarize what has happened in the nine months since I wrote my last piece. However, I will say that it seems that a power struggle is going on in Zimbabwe without a doubt. It does not seem to be a coup at this time. I don’t say that because I believe in the coup plotters and I definitely do not believe the narrative pushed by the bourgeois media. I stand by what I wrote in the past on this subject and what I wrote on reddit last month, with links removed:

“I know that Zimbabwe has a black bourgeoisie and that the Zanu-PF is not a communist party. However, Mugabe (and the Zanu-PF) has served as a powerful force to resist Western imperialism, especially with his land redistribution program which assisted the black masses in Zimbabwe. Lest us not forget that the Chinese strongly support Zimbabwe due to their history of supporting the Zanu-PF (as did the Cubans) during the revolt against the British colonial oppressors, while the Zapu-PF were supported by the Soviets. By the later 1990s, the neo-colonial chains in Zimbabwe were finally broken which the government had felt forced to keep, and/or went along with, in the aftermath of independence. At this current time, I think supporting the Zanu-PF is the best course of action even as the country is only socially democratic and not socialist.”

Adding to that, I do not think that the black bourgeoisie are souring on Mugabe as some seem to indicate. I think Mugabe even with his age is wise and a master politician to put it lightly. He is not a socialist or a Marxist anymore. However, without him or the Zanu-PF then Western capitalists would be smiling with glee. We can be critical of Zimbabwe as it is socially democratic but we should not abandon our solidarity with the Zimbabwean people or in this case the Zimbabwean government which is standing against Western imperialism and is duly elected by the populace. In coming days, I plan to, at some point, write an update of this article after it is clear if a coup took place or if it is an intra-party struggle within the Zanu-PF which seems more likely than not.

 

Notes

[1] Others wrote that “the main opposition within the country…isnt super involved in this…this seems to be more an internal power struggle within the ZANU-PF. The army has said before that they wouldn’t allow anyone who didn’t take part in the revolution war itself to lead the country next…I am more curious about if the accusations against the VP hold water…Whatever disagreements exist, its clear that the overwhelming majority of the people in Zimbabwe love their revolution.”

[2] Al Jazeera, “Zimbabwe: What’s happening?,” accessed Nov 15, 2017.

[3] Al Jazeera, “Zimbabwe army takes control but denies coup,” Nov 15, 2017.

[4] BBC News, “Zimbabwe crisis: Army takes over, says Mugabe is safe,” Nov 15, 2017.

[5] In Zimbabwe, an anxious wait to see if Mugabe will return after military takeover,” Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2017.

The Latest: Zimbabwe youth leader apologizes to army leaders,” Nov 15, 2017.

[7] Ed Cropley and Cris Chinaka, “Eyes on the ‘Crocodile’ as Zimbabwe Military Sweeps to Power,” Reuters (reprinted in US News & World Report), Nov 15, 2017; CBS News/AP, “U.S. monitoring “fluid” situation in Zimbabwe,” Nov 15, 2017; Washington Post Editorial Board, “What happens in Zimbabwe without Mugabe in power?,” Washington Post, Nov 15, 2017; Godwin Mangudya, “Zimbabwe grapples with new reality after military sidelines longtime President Robert Mugabe,” USA Today, Nov 15, 2017; Edyer Peralta,”Robert Mugabe: A Legacy Of Tyrannical Rule, Economic Ruin And International Isolation,” NPR, Nov 15, 2017; Robyn Dixon, “Zimbabwe military warns it will act against those who do not cooperate,” LA Times, Nov 15, 2017.

[8] Eli Lake, “A Half-Hearted Coup, Extending Zimbabwe’s Reign of Terror,” Bloomberg View, Nov 15, 2017; Leonid Bershidsky, “Zimbabwe’s Coup Is Nothing to Celebrate,” Bloomberg View, Nov 15, 2017; Mxolisi Ncube and Ryan Lenora Brown, “Amid apparent coup, Zimbabwe ponders a future without Mugabe,” Christian Science Monitor, Nov 15, 2017; Geoffrey York, “The Globe in Zimbabwe: End of Mugabe’s 37-year rule opens door to freedom,” The Globe and Mail, Nov 15, 2017; “Zimbabwe: Here’s what’s going on between President Robert Mugabe and the military,” ABC News, Nov 15, 2017; Todd Moss and Jeffrey Smith, “Robert Mugabe’s Inner Circle Implodes,” The Atlantic, Nov 15, 2017; Alastair Jamieson, “Zimbabwe army has Robert Mugabe in custody and seizes state TV,” NBC News, Nov 15, 2017; Jason Burke, “Zimbabwe army has Robert Mugabe in custody and seizes state TV,” The Guardian, Nov 15, 2017; Explosions, military tanks and soldiers on streets of Zimbabwe put Mugabe’s rule in doubt,” Washington Times, Nov 14, 2017; Tara John, “Rumors of a Coup Are Circling Around Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Here’s What We Know,” Time, Nov 14, 2017. The CBS/AP report quoted the US State Department as saying that “the United States does not take sides in matters of internal Zimbabwean politics and does not condone military intervention in political processes,” which is utter BS as anyone knows.

[9] Joe Brock and Ed Cropley, “Behind the scenes, Zimbabwe politicians plot post-Mugabe reforms,” Reuters, Sept 5, 2017.

 

The orange menace, bigotry, and the murderous empire

Quotes from Trump’s recent speeches spewing racism and/or jingoism time and time again.

While much of Texas (and now Louisiana) reels from a “capitalist crime scene” which was made clear nationwide across the US with the “unprecedented” flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, another storm is brewing: racism in the White House, the “President’s House” was built on the backs of enslaved and wage laborers.

Trump is undoubtedly a racist and bigot as proven during his campaign. Most recently this was manifested in his pardon of Sheriff Joseph Michael Arpaio or “Sheriff Joe” of Maricopa County, Arizona. Defending the action, he claimed that Arpaio did “great” for the Arizonan people and was “loved” there. He further spewed out that his pardon was justified by previous pardons of Marc Rich, Susan Rosenberg, and Carlos Vignali by Bill Clinton, and famed whistleblower Chelsea Manning and noble Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera. He hates them all. Manning, who sadly fell in line with supporting Apple’s fake “privacy” battle with the US government, played a major part in interrupting “imperial scheming,” often called diplomacy, of the murderous empire, revealed, for example, that there were “the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] proposed energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, and [showed] that the country is a major source of financing of Islamic reactionary groups.” The same is the case for Rivera, who is also a brave, and arguably heroic figure. As I wrote back in January, which I still stand by

In the days before Trump’s inauguration…Obama made some “last minute” actions, some of which were symbolic. Due to public pressure and likely to give himself a “good” legacy…he pardoned transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning  and Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, along with a number of nonviolent drug offenders…many political prisoners are still locked behind bars and his action was symbolic…It worth saying however that if Manning’s sentence had not been reduced, Trump likely would have extended the sentence and left her in prison for life

Yet, he thinks that Arpaio “is a patriot [who]…loves our country…protected our borders” and the Obama administration “unfairly” treated him. Lest us forget that Arpaio is well-established believer in the theory that Obama’s birth certificate was faked (which Trump ran on in an unsuccessful campaign for the 2012 Presidential election) and Maricopa County had to pay millions for his racial profiling to Chican@ people who were profiled as he continued his illegal immigration patrols. Only more recently he was cited as “guilty of criminal contempt of court” since he did not follow a “federal judge’s order that halted his signature immigration round-ups,” which Trump could not stand, so he pardoned the bigot. To summarize what Arpaio did, he enforced hardline racist anti-immigration policies which were dictated on the federal level, with sweeps that zeroed in on immigrant neighborhoods, with many of “those taken into custody were not accused of violating a state crime but only of living in the country illegally.” [1]

Trump brought his racism to another level, beyond the pardon. He threatened to shut down the federal government over border wall funding (which he did not pull back even he had the opportunity to do so). In his jingoism, he declared that “Mexico is going to pay for the wall….one way or the other,” slammed NAFTA as “one of the worst trade deals ever signed at any time, anywhere in the world” (which isn’t wrong, but what he would replace it with is a bunch of bilateral-NAFTA-like agreements), and said that the US needs “the wall very badly” since it will “stop a lot of things” including “drugs” which he bellows is “pouring in at levels like nobody has ever seen,” which sounds like clear and simple fearmongering. There is no doubt about this since he wants to be “very, very tough on the southern border,” in his own words, to protect the supposed “prosperity” he will bring White people in the US, which isn’t going to materialize. Recently, he praised the mobilization of the Homeland Security Search Capacity Force, in response to Hurricane Harvey, declaring that with law enforcement we have to “make sure that we’re overcoming and anticipating any security needs that we have.” This is consistent with his moves to give the police even more weaponry, which was partially limited by the Obama administration because of public pressure, so they can further terrorize communities of color.

Before putting the orange menace in his appropriate context, it is worth discussing his comments on the anti-racist protests in Charlottesville. On August 12 he declared that “we” (by which he meant the US government) condemn “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides” and said that “it’s been going on for a long time in our country,” nothing new. In his mind, what was needed was “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives,” and coming together as a nation to “heal the wounds of our country.” While this may seem more measured than chasing people down who are of a certain color of the skin, it still has a white supremacist tone to it, especially when he talks about the “healing procedure” which, when coming from him, sounds like David Duke. Considering that the police and capitalist state in the US are of a white supremacist character, calling for “restoration” of “order” means that his “moderation” is nothing of the sort, when he does not categorically condemn bigotry, saying that it happened on “many sides” but not the side of the white supremacists. As Sam Marcy of the Workers World Party wrote in 1982, which is still relevant today,

“…in the eyes of the liberal bourgeoisie a militant struggle against the Klan…violates the sacred norms of imperialist democracy…Unless one sees the Klan and other fascist organizations in the general context of the developing struggle of the workers and oppressed, one runs the danger of completely abdicating…using the free speech amendment as a cover for…the use of violence and mass repression is a congenital tendency of the capitalist state. Even in the so-called best of times the capitalist government not only tolerates terrorist organizations like the Klan…It is the ever-expanding growth of the police and military forces at home which makes repression and violent outbursts an inevitable outgrowth of the deepening class antagonisms…This is how consistent liberalism can be in a crisis – they go over to the other side…it is most important to discard the liberal straitjacket that only leads to defeat and frustration and arm the mass movement of the working class and oppressed with a revolutionary perspective.”

Two days later, on August 14, after controversy and anger over his “many sides” comment, he read from a teleprompter, declaring that the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence” in Charlottesville has “no place in America,” going onto say that “racism is evil…those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups.” He went onto say that their beliefs are “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” and adding that “those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.” His solution was the idea of “bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans” which has echoes of the bygone era when the murderous empire was “fighting” those it called “subversives” and “communists,” a fight against those who stand for justice and a better world which continues to this day. While he condemned hatred, he did not condemn those who engage in bigotry in ways that are not outwardly violent like police killing Black men (and women) on the streets of the US, the symbols of the Confederacy that still stand in thousands of locations across the country, mostly in the US South but some in the North as well. This was to be expected. After all, from his definition, HE should be “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” and his words of hate strike at “the very core of America.”

Trump’s definitions are contorted, since bigots of any type manifest basic US values of White America from redlining, de facto re-segregation in urban areas, and dirty environmental projects placed in poor Black and Brown communities (called environmental racism for short) that cannot readily fight off the challenge as much as affluent White communities. These values, the conception of a safe White neighborhood with white picket fences, barking dogs, and areas removed from the perceived (and sometimes real) “problems” of the city, which does not, in general, include people of color. There are some exceptions, but there areas are broadly created for White people. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1968, there is “no more dangerous development in our nation than the constant building up of predominantly negro central cities ringed by white suburbs” saying this will “invite social disaster.” Yet, nothing was done.

To give more historical context, the US Constitution, which is still used as a “blueprint” by the Supreme Court and is a “highly regarded” document, was formed by 55 men who were well-off white property owners, slaveowners, speculators, and other elements of the “new” capitalist class of the burgeoning nation. Anti-Black provisions were written into state laws, proven by the Supreme Court in decision after decision (i.e. Dred Scott v. Sandford, Civil Rights Cases, and Plessy v. Ferguson), and became part of the legal code of the United States at large. Racism is NOT “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” because it is part of the DNA of the murderous empire itself from transatlantic slavery to indigenous genocide and immigrant expulsion. Sure, it should have “no place in America,” but Trump himself stoked the flames of the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence,” in places such as Charlottesville, Boston, and San Francisco, to name a few, which was becoming “re-energized” by the united hatred of the US’s first “Black president” (he was actually mixed race, half White, half Black) Barack Obama, who, as noted before, put a happy face on the murderous empire. If racism” is “evil” as he says, and those who cause “violence in its name are criminals and thugs,” which strikes “the very core of America” (either indicating his dwindling core of supporters or the Midwest of the US), then Trump himself is “evil” and so is the murderous empire, since HE and the empire cause violence in the name of racism,  in terms of inherently racist imperialism.

One day after he, in scripted remarks, condemned in a PR statement, the hatred spewed in Charlottesville, he doubled back on his August 12th comments. This showed that inherently he still believed that both the anti-racists and bigots committed acts of violence. Apart from defending a racist, hate-filled man named Steve Bannon who was, not many days later, fired as his chief strategist (after which he returned as editor of the conspiratorial bigoted site called Breitbart) as a “friend of mine…he’s a good man…not a racist…a good person” who gets “very unfair press in that regard,” he charged that the “alt-left” (which doesn’t exist) was guilty of violence, “charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs” at the bigots. Basically he defended the bigots as those with a protest permit and the anti-racists as those without a permit (whether that is true or not), declaring that not all of the people protesting “the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee” (which he claimed was “very, very important”) were white supremacists. Furthermore he portrayed the bigots (“bad people”) as “violently” attacked by anti-racists, claiming that there were “very fine people, on both sides.” In his shouting match with reporters of the bourgeois press he said, in his white supremacist language, that those who want Confederate monuments to come down, since they honor a failed nation which explicitly defended and promoted Black slavery, are “changing history…[and] culture” (why is this bad?). [2] He further said that those who are neo-confederate were “treated them absolutely unfairly” by the same press and saying that there were “troublemakers…with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats.” Those people are what is commonly called the Black Bloc. While further comment on the would require more analysis of their tactics and history over time, there should be no debate that those who are facing bigots should be able to use any tools at their disposal to defend themselves.

It was then that Trump said that the taking down of the Confederate monuments was only the beginning, like a first domino of a series of dominos falling:

…this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down…is it George Washington next week?…Thomas Jefferson the week after?…you…have to ask yourself, where does it stop?…George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his statues?….are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?…Are we going to take down the statue? Because he [Thomas Jefferson] was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue?

When Trump feels under attack he predictably spews garbage like this. This just gives pure ammunition to the forces of bigotry within the United States, at least, giving them an easy counter-argument. The fact is that such forces are, as it stands now, on the losing side, on the defensive. The fact that governments (and universities) across the country are taking down Confederate statues shows the power of the anti-racist forces, forces for justice, forces for a better world. To think that people would support taking down the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson within the murderous empire is a joke. Founding myths, as progressive historian Ray Raphael calls them, about such Founding Patriarchs are inherent to the national consciousness. They are drilled in inhabitants of the United States from an early age, through schooling, and used by politicians, whether Democratic or Republican to make “patriotic” arguments. Reading the writings of progressive historians like Howard Zinn, Ray Raphael, William Hogeland, and Christina Synder, who are not always radical in their writing, can help to counter this worship of the Founding Patriarchs.

In the same press conference, Trump boasted that he owned “a house in Charlottesville…one of the largest wineries in the United States,” flaunting his capitalistic wealth once again. On the ground, people are resisting at the Charlottesville City Council against the pathetic white moderates who let the calamity unfold, even as it is a “watershed” in the anti-fascist struggle, and people worked together to topple a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, an effort rightly applauded by the local chapter of the socialist (and Marxist) Workers World Party.

MLK, mentioned earlier, a self-defined democratic socialist who seemed to incorporate Black nationalism more into his beliefs between 1965 and his death in 1968, once said that “the bombs in Vietnam explode at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.” [3] The same is the case today, with the violence in the streets of Charlottesville, on the streets of decaying urban metropolis after metropolis by the hands of cops, connecting to the imperial war in Afghanistan. Trump already thinks that everyone who puts on a uniform “makes our nation proud” with a shared purpose, wanting the US to be like the military with “love and loyalty to one another – and to our nation – as we seek to heal divisions from within,” speaking out against “the voices that try to sow hatred and division” (which includes Trump himself), treating fellow citizens “with love and affection” while honoring “our heroes” with supposed “sacred bonds of loyalty that unite us together as one.” This talk of loyalty not only harkens back to Cold War era loyalty oaths but it inherently fascist as he doesn’t want any sort of dissent, a nation of “yes men” and “yes women.” Furthermore, he doesn’t like transgender people in the US military, allowing those who currently are within the ranks to stay, but not allowing others to join, an uneasy compromise for the bigot-in-chief. This could provide an opportunity to organize against military recruitment in the transgender community instead of joining the jingoistic forces that want a bigger recruiting pool for imperialist footsoldiers. That topic is for another article, but should be written about and discussed.

In short, Trump wants to escalate the war in Afghanistan which was begun by George W. Bush, continued by Obama (who had a “withdrawal” plan that wasn’t about withdrawing) and revved up by the Trumpster. The latter likely believes it is part of some Christian crusade as he is almost evangelical in his religious beliefs, asking “God for his wisdom and strength,” declaring that “we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before.” In his much hyped speech, by the bourgeois media in the US, he declared that there is a “special class of heroes” in the US, of “American patriots from every generation” (undoubtedly including, in his mind, the Confederate States of America), saying that the county is at “war with itself at home” and falsely claiming that the US is a “force for peace in the world,” with imperialism only possible in his conception if everyone falls in line and doesn’t question him. His “policy” is not really a declarations that there must be “an honorable and enduring outcome” in Afghanistan (reminiscent of Nixon’s idea of an “honorable end to the war in Vietnam” or “Peace with Honor” which was actually ramped up imperialism), no “rapid exit…[or] hasty withdrawal” from Afghanistan, “immense” threats to US security apparently from the region, and facing the “reality of the world as it exists right now.” In his simplistic conception, terrorists who “slaughter innocent people” (like him with his drone killings or the US military killing innocent civilians) are “losers” while those in the US are apparently “winners.” He further showed that the military really controls the policy on Afghanistan by firstly saying that “conditions on the ground…will guide our strategy from now on” with secret plans to attack without public notice, ” integration of all instruments of American power…toward a successful outcome,” not engaging in nation-building or constructing “democracies in faraway lands,” but allowing the military to do what they please without restrictions with expansion of authority “for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.” He basically wants to give more power to the military that lied about its number of troops in the country (admitting that 2,600 more troops were there than they said publicly), killed 15 Afghanis in an airstrike, “accidentally” killed Yemeni families, killing 10 Somalis (with the help of the US-backed Somali army)

He seemed to eerily echo Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Speech:

Again, toward the end of the speech, he called for those in the US to “unite” to defend the country “from its enemies abroad” by restoring “the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home” and achieving an “honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.” The latter is not possible at this point and the former just reflects his obsession with loyalty and no dissent, his inherent mindset. Anyone who challenges him, even liberals and progressives of a bourgeois character are disloyal, especially those who point out the contours of his brand, working to poke holes in this super-brand as Naomi Klein, a progressive of the bourgeois variety who is part of what some call the “Celebrity Left,” writes who is clearly a brand herself, just like many other “exalted” figures on the “Left” like Noam Chomsky.

Trump racism and outright bigotry is only one manifestation of the foulness of the murderous empire. He has embodied the empire as its head, so to speak, with a changing strategy in Syria, threats against the DPRK (and more recently Venezuela), along with horrendous sanctions, reinforcing the imperial interrelationship with Saudi Arabia, bombing Syria in what seems to be a one-time event to send a message to Moscow and Damascus to name a few aspects. While Bannon is gone, the bigotry continues. He will remain, an informal adviser to Trump, in his position at the head of a hateful propaganda network. After all, the Muslim ban was greenlighted by the Supreme Court as only a partial ban, showing their role in reinforcing racist legalism once again. Trump’s advisers, like H.R. McMaster, have more pull with Bannon gone, but perhaps that was part of the plan. It is hard to discern. To put it simply, in the grand scheme of things, Trump is only one cog of the machine. Bigotry of all types, runs rampant in the murderous empire from gentrification in the “fixed up” urban areas to more dirty energy pipelines forced through the land of indigenous nations. The capitalist monster can only be stopped in its tracks with determination, solidarity, knowledge of past history, and a well-developed analysis, to name a few elements.

 

Notes

[1] He also boasted that “Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.”

[2] Bringing down Confederate monuments should be applauded but it only the start and should not be done to replace necessary racial justice not of the kind proposed by Ta-Nehisi Coates but that which is written about by Cornel West or those over at the always well-spoken Black Agenda Report.

[3] While his belief in non-violence and “loving your enemy” doesn’t really have a place in today’s society, he did truly care about the Black people of America, and the disenfranchised of all races.

The hilarious and deluded criticisms of my post on Syria, Trump, and certain Kurds

My response to the comments on my post. Well, not really. But, this is one of my favorite Simpsons’ scenes (its from S7e9, “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaning“)

In response to my post, people were as angered as “mad-hatters.” It was a bit hilarious to watch it all unfold. I noted the comments in a post on /r/communism, but will address each “criticism,” if some could be called that, here:

“Can we just do away with the idea that Assad’s Syria is a socialist democratic state? It is false and the author does not try to prove any of his affirmations about Syria. This piece is garbage as a result, does nothing but cloud our judgement of the situation”- some person on /r/fulldiscourse

This person clearly did NOT read my post. I specifically called the “Assad’s Syria” a “secular, socially democratic state” and criticized Gowans for calling it socialist (certain parts are bolded for emphasis):

Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans[,] that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy since they are under attack from reactionary religious terrorists backed by Gulf and Western states.

Hence, their “criticism” was disingenuous.

The next person claimed that….

“So ridiculous that the war for a de facto monarchy (the Al-Assads) that is fought for by one of the most aggressive imperialist regimes doesn’t get any meaningful criticism on a website called ‘anti-imperialism.org””- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

This is an Orientalist diatribe. To call the Bashar Al-Assad or the Assad family in general royal is laughable (its as bad as calling the DPRK a “monarchy”). They were duly elected by the people of Syria and not even the intelligence and military establishments of the murderous empire (US) have EVER called them monarchial. They have scowled at Syria since the 1960s. Russia, which is implied here, is NOT “one of the most aggressive imperialist regimes.” Such aggressiveness comes from the murderous empire (US) and European capitalists, not from those who were supposedly imperialist.

“Imagine a prose written by a late 19th, early 20th century industrialist writing for a pro-industrialist website, promoting the virtues of child labor and educating the poor through hard labor. Sorry, but that’s how ridiculous it is to be a revolutionary anti-imperialist in 2017. Or should be.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

I don’t even have any comment to this other than to laugh. I would consider myself to be a “revolutionary anti-imperialist” though.

“It is very obvious that these people writing this have an agenda. You couldn’t have chosen the perfect image either – the US standing in front of Turkey’s aggressive military to prevent them from annihilating the Kurds… The evil US Imperialism! Who stands to gain for all the points this article has mentioned? Which groups, which governments.. Then you can see how far toxic these kind of articles are. The no-war signs, the civilians being bombed to stop the US from bombing ISIS.. The thing that gets on my nerves is the actual nerve to use these kind of low tactics to get the US to weaken its position so other powers can take control or do what they want without anybody stopping them. If this is the “left” angle, They are but a tool, being used now to be anti-america to benefit others, as usual.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

This person is almost frothing at the mouth in outrage. To cast the US as saviors of the Kurds is silly at best. My article does not, in any shape or form, defend Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds. I stand with all nations under imperialist attack and Turkey is NOT one of those. It is happily working with the global capitalist class while there is some tension. The questions about who will “benefit” from this article is like a person claiming that there are commies under beds, making the comment also a joke. I would not call my article “anti-america” but I would call it pro-Syria, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist, at minimum, to name a few descriptors. That should be obvious. Also, obviously the site as an agenda. Its called anti-imperialism.org. Its not called magical swill’s site of extraordinary wonders or something like that.

“Because, unlike the lunatic writing this garbage, sane people recognize that the definition of a revolutionary is not avoiding everything connected to the US military when your shared enemy is Islamic State.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

Apart from the ableistic slur (“lunatic”), to think that working with the US military is “revolutionary” shows this person does NOT recognize how revolution works. Also, they clearly have no knowledge of the destruction the murderous empire has foisted on indigenous people, enslaved Black peoples, Mexican peoples, and all those  around the world who have been killed by bombs and missiles sent (or dropped) by the bloody planes and warships of empire. Also, calling it the Islamic state is confusing as it confuses one with an ACTUAL state based on Islam like Iran, so its better to call them Daesh. That’s all I have to say about that.

“Tight cooperation with multiple powers that have differing agendas has been a cornerstone of successful movements in history. Earlier this year, the Manbij Military Council met with US 4-star General Votel one week and signed an agreement with Russia the next week for regime forces to assume positions along its border. Raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality is the main problem for lunatic fringies like the writer of this article who cites Roy Gutman once, cites Marx a half-dozen times, never quotes anyone who lives in North Syria, and nevertheless pretends that they know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

It may be the case that tight cooperation with multiple powers leads to victory, but those powers don’t have to be blood-sucking imperialists! If they wanted to, they could be working with Russia or China. If what they say about the agreement between a US general and Russia is true (which is possible) then that is positive that “regime forces” (the Syrian government) can have positions on the border. I wouldn’t see that as bad. To call myself part of the “lunatic fringies” brings up two questions: what is a “fringie”? and how is writing about something in a radical flair make me a “lunatic.” Wouldn’t those who are apologists of empire more readily fall into this category. I didn’t know defending Syria and carefully explaining what is happening in the region from my point of view was “raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality.” I also didn’t know that Roy Gutman was such an expert apparently, as they imply. Yes, I did cite “Marx a half-dozen times,” but so what? Sure, I didn’t “quote anyone who lives in North Syria,” but I don’t need to know the broader trends of what is happening in the region. I also do NOT pretend I “know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear” as they claim. Instead, I am just analyzing the reality. If people don’t like what I’m saying about what is happening, that’s just too bad.

Comments like these are deluded but also fun to read through. Thanks, magical critics for making me laugh at your silliness.

Naomi Klein “resists” Trump by embracing bourgeois progressive politics

Sampled from her Twitter on August 4, 2017.

Recently, I read Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. It is a relatively quick read, only 273 pages long, much shorter than her This Changes Everything book a few years back. Even so, it has thirteen chapters, a conclusion, a postscript, and an introduction.

In the introduction to the book sets the theme: that Trump is applying “shock politics” to the US, trying to pull off a “domestic shock doctrine” against public institutions and “public interest.” She goes on to describe Trump’s reactionary advisers like Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner while claiming there is a “corporate takeover” in DC (there is actually a long trend of corporate control in America, so it’s not something new), with Trump forming a brand in and of himself. She, of course, stops short of calling Trump fascist, only describing him as anti-“democratic” (relying on the idea of bourgeois democracy) and drawing parallels to policies in Greece, after Hurricane Katrina, in Baghdad after 2003, and in Britain, which resemble “Trumpism.” As she states clearly, her book’s argument is that Trump is a culmination of the “worst trends” of the 20th century that have “used race as a weapon to advance brutal economic policies,” pioneered by Milton Friedman, and other “market fundamentalists.” She also seems optimistic, calling for “change so fundamental that today’s corporate takeover will be relegated to a historical footnote,” although the “change” she later explicates is not even close to being “fundamental,” challenging the Trump superbrand, as she puts it.

After a lackluster introduction with broad vagueness, Klein has a chapter that focuses on Trump the brand, noting that Trump won because of the electoral college, not the popular vote, with his victory as a “shock.” She adds that there is a “surge of authoritarian, xenophobic, far-right politics” in France, India, the Philippines, UK, and Turkey, implying that the morally corrupt socially democratic politics in the West is a “solution.” Also her usage of useless words like “authoritarian” which is often used to shame countries deemed as “communist” or “socialist,” regardless of whether they are or not, means that she is legitimizing this word as speech that’s fine, showing her lack of comprehension in this realm, to say the least. She goes on to talk about Trump’s “cabinet of billionaires and multibillionaires” like it something new (it’s not), and acts like Bernie Sanders was a savior who made Wall Street shake, celebrates “concessions” to Black Lives Matter and the “climate movement” by political elites. She further adds that Trump’s election is part of a backlash against social movements, with a supposed “takeover” benefiting capitalists and removing environmental protections, for example. Apart from this claptrap which shows that she does not have understanding for how the capitalist state functions, and had changed over time, is a part about branding. She writes that starting in the 1980s companies like Nike and Apple, among many others, believes their fortunes were in branding with the concept that an idea or brand surrounding a company can connect with consumers, tying to a “profound human desire to be part of…a circle of belonging.” As a result, the product became (and was part of) the brand, meaning that this brand could be projected into “seemingly unconnected physical commodities.” Hence, products were produced at low price by subcontractors and contractors, with horrid work conditions in sweatshops. As a result, capitalist combines everywhere engaged in a brutal “race to the bottom” with complex supply chains involving contractors. As for Trump, after he had been a real estate developer for years he branded “high-end real estate” which could be a “single global luxury brand,” which was boosted by his show, The Apprentice, gaining revenue from “Trump-branded properties” with leasing his name, pulling in the dollars. When anyone noted horrible conditions his products were created in, the Trump Organization shrugged them off, defending a brand that “stands for wealth” itself, making this part of the reason scandals don’t stick to him: he plays by the “rules of branding” as Klein writes.

Based off a Mr. Robot quote by Angela Moss, but also applying to horrid Trump of course.

The second chapter promises to find ways to pierce “Trump’s brand bubble.” After noting how Trump’s presidency made the Trump “family of brands more valuable,” including those of Ivanka and Melania, she notes that cities and companies pay millions to “lease the Trump brand.” It is at this point she says that Bill and Killary spent decades blurring ethical lines” at the Clinton Foundation even as she basically says that Trump is worse. It is not beyond belief to think this about Bill & Killary Clinton, and Trump have destructive and exploitative brands. But Klein will not consider this possibility, shrugging it off by omission. The chapter is ended by her saying that Trump embodies Reagan (a former actor), briefly says that “the system is corrupt,” noting the rules of Democrats such as Bill Clinton and Obama, and then moving onto Trump’s “personal brand,” claiming that making Trump look “like a puppet” “jams” “The Trump Show.” So using the fake, deceptive, and worthless “Russia connection,” first concocted during the campaign by Killary Clinton’s camp, to call Trump “Putin’s Puppet” weakens his brand? This doesn’t even make sense in the slightest. Additionally, she is sidelining the reality: that Obama set the foundation for Trump. With over 2 million deported, continuing mass incarceration, and drone strikes, among other horrid elements of his “legacy,” the fascism of Trump had a comfortable breeding ground when he was inaugurated on January 21, 2017.

The following chapter is similarly about Trump’s branding. It talks about the structure of a show like The Apprentice, how it applies to “income inequality,” connects to his books, and notes that he brought “reality TV expertise to electoral politics,” which means that the “Trump show is now broadcasting live from the Oval Office.” With that, Trump made promises on the campaign trail (like every politician these days) which he won’t fulfill and edits “reality to fit his narrative.” Klein briefly talks about “progressive messaging” by Justin Trudeau in Canada which dazzled people, and “carefully crafted symbols” by the Obama administration to move the conversation away from discussion about the destruction he caused. Once again, she engages in another oversight. As the Wrong Kind of Green folks have notes, Obama is/was a brand, and so is Trudeau. She seems to forget what she wrote in 2009: that a “superfan culture…brought Obama to power” saying that we are “all going to have to stop hoping and start demanding.” Add to this that as even Noam Chomsky pointed out, Obama is a brand, who won the “highest advertising campaign accolade and attracted unprecedented sums of money” as also noted by John Pilger.

“Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products…we are being duped”- Chris Hedges in a May 2009 article

To close out the chapter, she notes that Trump is pushing for more war (which is continuing the warmongering that Obama engages in, expanding upon the foundation left by Bush, Clinton, and predecessors going back years), making it a “spectacle,” just like the Gulf War in 1990 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Deirdre Griswold remarked recently in Worker’s World, “imperialist diplomacy has the same objective as imperialist war. If negotiations are to take place, either openly or secretly, the DPRK will have to weigh every word very carefully before agreeing to anything with the treacherous and arrogant bunch of marauders who run the U.S. government.”  She ends by saying that Trump’s rise to victory in the election last year was fueled by a “decline of communal institutions and the expansion of corporate brands” in US culture as a whole.

“From its origins in the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution, fossil capital has developed into a monstrous complex generating multiple biospheric crises, including climate change. To head off a catastrophic warming of the atmosphere, it will be necessary to de-fossilize the global economy over the next several decades. The growth of fossil fuel use must stop now, followed by absolute reductions of carbon emissions to near zero levels by sometime later in the twenty-first century. Nothing less is acceptable if we want a livable planet for the majority of humanity and other species. Such a transition has been shown to be, physically speaking, quite feasible…Unfortunately, under mature capitalism things are not done according to human needs, environmental sustainability, or common sense. Both economically and politically, this system is dominated by monopoly-finance capital (MFC) and its state functionaries. Two basic facts must be noted here. First, MFC’s ideology and policy program are both constituted by neoliberalism (deregulation, privatization, and anti-union policies—in short, market fundamentalism—combined with militarism and imperialism). Second, MFC is inextricably tied to the fossil-capital complex. It follows from these two facts that at this point in history, de-fossilizing the economy means overthrowing MFC power and moving toward a worker-community controlled economy, socialism.”- Paul Burkett

The fourth chapter changes focus to the climate. After giving a personal story about her child and the Great Barrier Reef, along with her work for The Guardian, she notes how Rex Tillerson led ExxonMobil through increased drilling as CEO. She, however, also notes that one crisis is not more important than the other but that climate change is a current emergency, with Killary having a “web of corporate entanglements” that needs to be questioned while Trump seems to deny climate change as he supports more fossil fuel extraction. In framing Trump, she makes Trump out as the destructor rather than recognizing he is not doing this from scratch but on a basis formed by Obama’s faux environmentalism with a “Clean Power Plan” and supposedly “stopping” Keystone XL and a pipeline going through Standing Rock, when he was actually just appeasing social movements, engaging in “good-natured” deception. This was able have so much influence that if Obama approved the Keystone XL pipeline, the “letdown from the high expectation levels built on the many protests would be devastating to the morale and energy of the movement.” Additionally, he was able to strongarm Gang Green to be silent on climate change, the same groups that framed his issuing of “production permits were issued to oil and gas corporations for drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, both onshore and offshore” as responsible, especially the Sierra Club, and NRDC, meaning that they were cheering “Obama…eagerly bringing the total destruction of our planet’s climate and ecosystems.” Avoiding this discussion, Klein notes that many across the world are demanding “real action on climate change” (whatever that means), that Trump is pushing through varied cuts to the EPA which she says serves people of color (she seems to forget the arguments by Robert Ballard and others that the EPA has engaged in environmental racism), that prices determine which areas are drilled for fossil fuels, and that people don’t understand what neoliberalism [1] is. She then gives a tepid endorsement of “socialism” (which doesn’t mean anything radical to her), and calls for public sector investments on a large scale, which she says is more than just “tweak[ing] the existing system.” She says this despite the fact that her approaches are clearly just another “tweak” of the capitalist system.

Her next chapter notes how she is a “Berniecrat,” saying that Bernie was “the only candidate…serious about battling income inequality and taking on the banks.” [2] She also says that many establishment Democrats haven’t learned their lesson (only worried about Russian hacking now), that Trump spoke to the “economic panic” some whites faced with the idea that the election was a backlash pushed by some sexism toward Killary, with sexual abuse by “the men who surround Trump.” She says that the many voted for Trump were not among the Black and Latino populations most effected by “neoliberal policies” but were white men are losing their economic security and privilege. This doesn’t explain, however, why white women voted more for Trump than Clinton, but it cold be explains due to male dominated households, and/or that they also felt their privilege as white people was slipping. Klein continues her chapter by purposely framing social services as “entitlements” (why concede this to the right-wing?) in order to argue in favor of them, saying that “the stupid economics of neoliberalism” lost Clinton the election, again ignoring Clinton’s brand by only pointing out “Clinton’s brand of identity politics,” and talking about the “tweak[ing of] the system” to lead people of color, other genders, and sexual orientations to “the top,” with justice “to trickle down to everyone else,” which doesn’t work. G. William Domhoff noted this some time ago, but she seems to not even note his work, yet another oversight on her part. Even so, she remarks that it was “important that a generation of kids grew up seeing Obama in the most powerful office of the world.” I do not understand why, realistically this is important, with Black entertainers and politicians already, as his Black face seems just be an invitation to internalize neoliberal values with a happy face. [3] She also adds that we have to recognize how “forms of oppression intersect” (the idea of intersectionality that no progressives actually follow) as manifested in “racial capitalism” as noted by Cedric Robinson, citing another bourgeois progressive scholar named Michelle Alexander, a prison reformer, and talking about Reagan’s role in stirring up White resentment against people of color, with Trump having a role of this by calling for the return of the death penalty to execute the Central Park Five. The chapter ends by saying that white supremacy and fascism has a good breeding ground because of economic stresses, that Trump’s election should not be watered down to one or two causes since Trump (and associated forces) attack on many fronts.

The chapter after that focuses on varying topics. The first aspect is union leaders who embraced Trump who planned for more energy extraction and his bluff he will negotiate “better” deals, which will actually be “better” for him and “his corporate empire,” the capitalist class, with a “race to the bottom” for such trade deals. Even, reportedly, in a renegotiation of NAFTA will be the incorporation of horrible elements of the TPP. She did note that some union members stood up to Trump in an area he spoke, and that much of the “political battleground has been ceded by liberals to the Right.” After giving her personal experience as involved in social movements, she noted that while the movement was standing to win, the September 2001 attacks led to “shock” with the movement’s participants under attack, with those who remained active engaging in “thin and tactical” demands rather than more expansive ones. Adding to this are the facts that these demands may remove the necessary focus on the right-wing, fueling the “growth of far-right parties around the world,” with a supposed “progressive anti-free trade coalition” which is, as she won’t admit, bourgeois in character and “populist,” including those like socially democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders. In the last part of the chapter, she notes how the “super rich” like Oprah, Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, can’t save us (despite what Ralph Nader argued), with “elite liberals” looking to a sector of the capitalist class, which she calls the “billionaire class” or the “Davos class.” It is this class which is “horrified by the Trump presidency” even though those in this group share many ideas with Trump as she places hope in “progressives” to speak about the “grotesque levels of inequality,” and that we have to “save ourselves.”

In a recent statement against torture, Sanders accepted imperial precepts, basically saying that the US is “great” and worrying about helping our “enemies.” Hence, his argument against torture is not progressive but is actually an imperialist one.

In the next chapter she again professes her support (or “love”?) of Bernie Sanders. While she says she doesn’t like candidate endorsements, she thought that Bernie “had a shot at beating Hillary Clinton” (no he didn’t), calling him a person with “genuine warmth and without personal malice,” what she claims is a “transformative option on the ballot,” although Bernie is farm from it. To be frank, she is being a cheerleader of Bernie, supporting HIS brand, now channeled through “Our Revolution” groups and his persona as inflated in bourgeois progressive media. Of course she doesn’t say she is supporting the brand, only praising him by saying that he showed that “populist” leftist positions were popular, “understanding” why people of color, women, and other marginalized people didn’t support him, citing Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander as “evidence.” She ends the chapter by saying that Trump won because of the “absence of a progressive alternative” (was Bernie this at all?) and that there needs to be a “radical political and economic change” whatever she means by that. It is interesting that Klein keeps changing the stated reasons why Trump won, as noted in previous paragraphs, making one wonder if she believes all of them are causes or only some of them.

Chapter 8 returns the focus to Trump. After talking about Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of the Iraq invasion (Paul Bremmer, Dick Cheney, the Green Zone, and all), she notes that “shock tactics” follow a pattern in which a crisis is fomented (or waited or) with a moment when “extraordinary measures” are declared, some “democratic norms” are suspended, and a “corporate wishlist” is rammed through very quickly. She notes that this happened in Chile, Russia, Detroit, Flint, and many other places since the early 1970s. She notes that most neoliberal policies are unpopular apart from cutting “red tape” in theory and tax cuts (for the “middle class” or lower), which is done fast, with cover for “neoliberal political transformations” because of “radical political transitions” (which really aren’t radical), with crises exploited. Trump, as Klein puts it, embraces “shock doctrine logic” (referring to her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine), with his philosophy of being a winner, extracting from those who suffer like a vampire. The idea of what she calls “disaster capitalism” is embodied in his cabinet in every possibly way, with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a blueprint, the idea of what “we” can expect from Trump apparently. It is in this context she calls Muammar Gaddafi a “despised dictator,” without elaborating. While criticism of Gaddafi is warranted, especially when it comes to his relations with the West, calling him a dictator shows she doesn’t understand international solidarity and has internalized imperialistic logic. As Commie Dad writes,

“Qaddafi was ousted after a set of imperialist-backed rebels launched a racist campaign to topple a revolutionary government in North Africa, which succeeded precisely because of NATO’s assistance. He died beaten, broken, sodomized, tortured, and executed in a muddy sewage pipe without trial…The DPRK did not suffer the same fate as Libya precisely because it did not disarm [which some say opened up to invasion]”

Her next chapter follows a similar format. It starts by focusing on those who profited off Hurricane Katrina, cites Omidyar’s plaything, The Intercept, uncritically, says that having a “state of emergency” after a disaster, like Trump would want, is not unprecedented: the Conservative government of the UK did this after attacks in March 2017 and the French government of social democratic Francois Hollande did this in 2015. She goes on to note Trump’s closeness to Eric Prince of Blackwater and its mercenaries, how Trump’s policies help ISIS (is that purposeful?), and that countries like Syria and the DPRK are targets. Again she doesn’t even try to reject imperialistic propaganda about the two countries, implying that Syria committed chemical attacks (inadvertently playing into propaganda of the White Helmets) and that the DPRK, which she calls “North Korea,” is somehow menacing. She shows this in the rest of the chapter, talking about Exxon, citing a person she even defines as a “right-wing, Ukrainian-born British [oil] businessman,” Alexander Temerko uncritically, calling Vladimir Putin a “strongman” and basically an imperialist. She also doesn’t even try to defend Venezuela, which she only briefly describes as an oil-dependent country. It is much more than that, it is a place that exercises popular democracy, a beacon for those who want a better world as Commie Dad argued, just like Cuban socialism. Even so, Klein does not that antiwar action should be paired with “averting climate chaos,” notes how removing Obama’s tepid economic reforms, specifically Dodd-Frank, will lead to disaster, with varied descriptions of “shocks” and Trump’s reactions, with people in luxury building shelters to protect themselves or “Green Zones” while the rest of the world are unprotected and vulnerable or “Red Zones.” In the last part of the chapter she treats the “Syrian uprising” in 2011 as legitimate (although it wasn’t), talks about where drone strikes have occurred, along with a “dramatic rise in right-wing nationalism anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy,” adding that we have it “in our power to change ourselves,” engage in “shock resistance.”

Her next chapter focuses on the failure of the “shock doctrine” as she calls it. She talks about the Trump administration strategy to “overwhelm their adversaries” with a multipronged attack, how Argentina said no to neoliberalism even though political changes were “far from utopian,” how Spain did the same during the Iraq war, and the fact that “past traumatic events” in US history were broadly misunderstood. From here, she focuses on resistance to Trump from groups across various movements and lauds the Women’s March not critiquing its neoliberal elements as Feminist Current did at the time, especially its pro-prostitution position, with a lot of hype. She further says there is a “spirit of unity” among anti-Trump forces, specifically against his Muslim ban (and in favor of “sanctuary cities” which are not all they claim to be), supporting science (and new activists among students of all types), donors to Planned Parenthood, and other protests across the world against neoliberalism. She floats the thought that many activist relationships made now will be strong enough during a state of emergency (we’ll see about that). It is clear that she seems to laud the “Indivisible Guide” despite the fact it is defensive in nature and basically copies Tea Party tactics, and praises the March for Science despite the fact it was mostly dominated by bourgeois science. Again, her argument clearly lacking in Marxist theory and analysis, showing she is not thinking critically in a holistic manner and is totally embracing bourgeois progressivism.

The chapter following this focuses on resistance to “shock” tactics and how Obama supposedly did good (really?) but abandoned many opportunities as a time for change. She admits that in 2009, “too many of us were waiting for change to be delivered on high” with the “us” undoubtedly including herself. In 2008 she called for Obama to denounce Islamophobia, but also took Obama at his word that he would “purge Washington of the scourge of Friedmanism,” although she said he had “ideological housecleaning of his own to do,” and seemed to support Obama’s idea of a “promise of change” warily. She quickly summarizes US history of destruction, exploitation, and genocide, lauding progressive “public policy,” not remembering that Social Security was crafted by corporate moderates. She seems to recognize that radicals and social movements in the past and that the New Deal was used by Roosevelt to “save capitalism” in order to “prevent full-scale revolution,” with the saving of capitalism almost seeming as a necessity to her. Revolution of the type they had in mind seems foreign to her, even as she recognizes that many programs were used to blunt popular movements. The chapter is ended by talking about the struggle against neoliberalism and how social movements should be about “yes” instead of just “no” (why so reductionist?).

Another screenshot from the Soviet animated film “Mr. Wolf.”

Her next to last chapter focuses on Standing Rock. While she completely describes the struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline, a perspective that fully understands indigenous history, connecting with genocidal policies against them is lacking, only briefly mentioned. The chapter is instead just a recounting of the resistance at Standing Rock, relating it to other struggles as she uses racist words like “tribe” instead of group or nation. She ends the chapter by almost casting Obama’s administration as heroes for rejecting the pipeline through Standing Rock, although his administration just declared that “things are on hold at Lake Oahe until the powers that be think it through some more” giving people the “illusion of victory” as Kelly Hayes argued. In contrast she casts Trump as a villain for allowing the pipeline to go through Standing Rock. This is inaccurate as the reality is that Trump AND Obama were villains, each in their own way.

Her last chapter declares that a major “transformative change” needs to happen (which is just empty rhetoric). She cites a story of political discussions in Canada, how Black and Brown people being killed is connected to climate change, how those who “use and abuse” women’s bodies” is connected with the notion that humans can “do the same thing to the earth,” what she calls a “dominance-based logic.” She could have taken this to the next step, calling for an end to speciesism, endorsement of some level of animal rights or such, but she didn’t do so, of course. Klein adds that there needs to be more than modesty, a “people’s shock,” with a “grand economic and political transition” with the description of what went into creating their magical Leap Manifesto. This is the same document that is part of the “marketed and branded opposition to capitalism” with opposition limited to certain forms of capitalism like “Crony capitalism” , “corporate capitalism” and “the excesses of capitalism” which were used by “Avi Lewis for Klein’s NGO campaign, “The Leap Manifesto”” with anti-capitalist expression become “hallowed” out, to say the least. She also says that an “economy built on destruction” should be replaced “with an economy built on love.” So, we should have “loving” capitalism then? How will that be any better? After going on about how the manifesto was made, specifics not worth noting here, she says that people can “save themselves” and remains optimistic about social movements, mainly to county Trump and his policies. She even notes that the “center-left” New Democratic Party in Canada passed a resolution to “endorse the spirit of the Leap Manifesto,” making it clear it is bourgeois and milquetoast, regardless of what Klein says about it.

Screenshot from the Soviet animated film “Mr. Wolf”

Finally there is her conclusion. She says that Trump should be a shock at all, with more horror at Trump than shock, seeing his presidency as a “dystopian fiction come to life,” implying that she still doesn’t fully grasp the reality, and saying that Trump is the “logical culmination of the current neoliberal system.” Her solution? Say no and fiercely protect “some space to dream and plan for a better world.” That sounds pretty worthless to me, especially the dreaming part. She also says we should kill out “inner Trump” with which we see “ourselves as brands in the marketplace…as rival products competing for market share,” joining those who “shame and attack those who disagreement with us. She ends by saying that centrist parties aren’t the solution but apparently bourgeois progressives are (they aren’t), that the “spell of neoliberalism has been broken,” pushing for a “plank in a true people’s platform,” and resisting what she claims is a “corporate coup.”

Ending her book is a postscript titled “The Leap Manifesto.” The document calls for respecting inherent rights of indigenous communities, “fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” the idea that there should be “energy democracy,” and that indigenous peoples should receive “public support for clean energy projects” as should communities dealing with health impacts from “polluting industrial activity.” This manifesto also calls for building of energy-efficient homes, retrofitting existing housing (starting with the poor), training for workers in carbon-intensive jobs for a “clean energy economy,” renewable-powered high-speed rail, “affordable public transit,” investing in decaying public infrastructure, and moving to a “more localized and ecologically based agricultural system.” Other demands include ending corporate-friendly trade deals, ensuring immigration status, and protection for workers, expanding low-carbon sectors of the economy, having a national childcare program, and universal basic income. The last parts of the manifesto reject austerity as a concept, push for end to fossil fuel subsidies, vow support for any policy based on the “polluter pays” principle, calling for town hall meetings across the country, and moving to a system where all votes county while “corporate money is removed from political campaigns.” While this may be more than those on Canada’s political scene are offering (I hope there is something more radical), it is very constrained. It could be said to be “bold” but it is definitely NOT revolutionary as it is abstracted from social movements, revolutionary struggle or international solidarity.

There are a few words I have to say before closing out this article, Klein makes a good point about Trump as a brand but misses many other points because of her bourgeois progressivism. The major point she misses is obvious: she IS a brand. She is among the “heat vampire” including celebrated bourgeois progressives, like Rebecca Solnit and Chris Hayes, that Tarzie wrote about. As Luke Orsbourne wrote in December 2015, she had an “enormous following…best selling books, and perhaps most glaringly, the megaphone and media attention the Guardian had just given her to write her own piece of acquiescence,” condemning climate change marchers outside COP 21 that year, just like 350.org and others. Others added that her book slogan, for This Changes Everything, was “used to advance capital” which was pushed by the Ford Foundation and The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and that she is part of a brand called 350.org/1Sky, which used the Obama brand in their anti-KXL campaign logo, allowing there to be a “pro-Obama, pro-Democrat veneer” to their logo, with their campaign reinforcing the illusion that “change” is still in front of us, reinforcing the thirst in society for “lies that enable the populace to continue to ignore reality…[and] disregard our collective role in it.”

The book itself, with the title “No Is Not Enough” on an orange background, with the letters in white except the word Not (in red) with praises from Arundhai Roy, Noam Chomsky, Junot Diaz, Michelle Alexander, Cornel West, Bill McKibben, Yanis Varovfakis, Michael Stripe, Keeanga Yamatitta Taylor, Danny Glover, and Eve Ensler. Could there not be a bigger panoply of (mostly) bourgeois progressives, some of whom have their own brands consisting of themselves? [4] Hence, Klein herself is a brand “in the marketplace” as was alluded to earlier in this article, and is part of a bigger brand: Haymarket Books. Sure, they sell book of “radical” and progressive authors, but they engaging in branding, just like Verso Books. As was noted in a recent article,

“Today, brands, ideologies, and even invasions of sovereign states, achieve authenticity through association. Thus, celebrity has become as vital a tool for empire as the NGO itself. Together they are akin to nuclear fusion…Today’s 21st century powerhouse NGOs have proven successfully that hate can be neutralized, and even be turned into adoration, as demonstrated by Avaaz co-founder, MoveOn.org. In a world of make-believe where lies are preferred over truth, charismatic warmongers of the past (Barack Obama) are embraced while vulgar warmongers in the present (Donald Trump) are crucified among the allegedly “unbiased left”. Branding supersedes reality straight across the board”

Furthermore, the organization she is part of, 350.org, is branding to the max, which is interesting considering it is not mentioned AT ALL in this book, apart from the dust jacket. The book itself is a product, a commodity to put in more evident terms. How can Klein not recognize she is a brand? The same goes for Matt Taibbi, Edward Snowden, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Chris Hedges, to name a few. These members of the “celebrity left,” as some have called it, are not the only brands. Bourgeois progressive media like Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, and the Nation, foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and non-profits like Public Citizen are all brands. This lack of understanding shows that while Klein is knowledgeable, she is lacking radicalism, and is, for all her rhetoric, fine with regulated capitalism, while she does not engage in international solidarity. Hence, she falls into the category of those who “brand ourselves as moral citizens standing in unity with Indigenous nations” while maintaining capitalism, the same people who are willfully blind “to the Bakken frack oil,” and are not aware of how “Obama’s move into WWF headquarters…could be an acceleration of the implementation of payments for ecosystems services…by the world’s most powerful institutions and states.” This is a book she in which she only mentions Marx in passing and never uses any of his idea or that of Marxists to form her understanding of ANYTHING. In the end, we can read Klein’s claptrap if we want to (I don’t recommend it) but we should always remember she is a brand, a commodity, and a “heat vampire.”

 

Notes

[1] She defines neoliberalism as an “extreme form of capitalism…shorthand for an economic project that vilifies the public sphere and anything that’s not…the workings of the market or the decisions of individual consumers…the primary tools of this project are…privatization…deregulation…cuts to public services…[and] corporate-friendly trade deals.”

[2] She claims that “if the Right specializes in turning backward, the Left specializes in turning inward and firing at each other in a circular hail of blame.” So there aren’t internal conflicts on the Right? This is a very pessimistic view to say the least, even if she is right ultimately.

[3] As Ajamu Baraka wrote in 2015, “…the lack of moral outrage and opposition to the reactionary policies of Barack Obama is changing and will change even more rapidly as the new generation of black activists shift the center of oppositional politics back to the radical black tradition.”

[4] The Michelle Alexander Brand, the Bill McKibben Brand, the Eve Ensler Brand, and the Noam Chomsky Brand for example.

The hideous nature of Matt Taibbi: bourgeois trash of the highest order

A photograph of Matt Taibbi. And yes, he did say that as I note later in this article.

I could have written about many topics today such as US special ops troops in the Philippines, the victory of social democrat Jeremy Corbyn in Britain (which some have discussed at length), or the kerfuffle between Qatar and other Gulf autocracies, among a litany of other topics. Instead, I write here today a criticism of Matthew “Matt” C. Taibbi, a bourgeois writer who claims to care about “income inequality” or the effects of capitalism, while ignoring the system itself.

Tarzie’s criticism

Tarzie has written about Taibbi before, who some call a “fake leftist.” While back in 2011 Taibbi was quoted in a supportive manner, when it came to criticizing neoliberal columnist Thomas Friedman, three years later, in 2014, that had changed. He described Taibbi as a Rolling Stone reporter who was “the latest trophy taken in Pierre Omidyar’s conquest of the fashionably leftish” and admitted that Taibbi’s work on Wall Street teaches him “things I don’t already know, in a style that frequently makes me laugh out loud” while the same is not the case for Glenn Greenwald (of course). He added that Taibbi has “crossed picket lines during a Writer’s Guild strike in 2008” to appear on late night TV, thinks Roe v. Wade should be overturned, feels that there shouldn’t be a  “Federal ban on anti-LGBQT discrimination” and considers himself a libertarian. Furthermore, Tarzie quotes from Walter Glass, and notes that Taibbi glosses over the effect of the corporate sector on places like Camden, New Jersey, and says that Taibbi is a “rich dude telling tales on the worst-behaved members of his class, while pleading the case for their reformability” and is a perfect “fit for an oligarch, just as he is.” Later that year, Tarzie criticized Taibbi again, saying he would hold a “no-holds-barred discussion” for Greenwald’s book tour.

There are only two other articles, to my knowledge, in which Tarzie criticizes Taibbi. One of them says that Taibbi left First Look by writing a piece earlier that year that “looks unmistakably like a warning and a cry for help” and that “we” missed the signs of this. The final one is written the following year, in February 2015, notes how former First Look writer, Ken Silverstein complained about the latter’s handling of “Racket” which was planned to a “satirical newsmagazine” headed by Taibbi which folded shortly after he left, wasting millions of dollars, which he called “the greatest squandering of money and example of criminal ineptitude in the history of modern journalism.” He goes on to quote Silverstein as saying that Taibbi “is definitely more likable than Glenn” who he says has a troubling role in First Look.

It is there that his criticism of Taibbi ends. From this point, this article will expand and augment what Tarzie had to say with principled criticism.

Taibbi shills for empire

Three days ago, Joe Emersberger wrote an article for Telesur English slamming Taibbi for taking the side of U.S. imperialists by calling duly-elected (but embattled due to internal and external pressures caused by the murderous empire) President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, a “dictator.” The article, reprinted on a pro-Chavista and respected news outlet, Venezuela Analysis. Emersberger notes how Taibbi attacked the Venezuelan government as a “dictatorship” by citing US-funded opposition figures like Julio Borges, president of the National Assembly, and Henrique Capriles, the opposition governor of the state of Miranda, who had run against Maduro in the election. Clearly, Taibbi forgets that these individuals are working for the empire, even as he alludes that Borges “has been using his position as head to the National Assembly to try to get economic sanctions implemented against Maduro’s government.” That’s not all.

Emersberger goes on to criticize Taibbi even more harshly. He notes how bourgeois media “has almost unanimously reported from the U.S.-backed opposition’s point of view” evidenced when a “prominent U.S. progressive like Taibbi chimes in from that perspective” (I think he is over-inflating Taibbi’s importance here). Then, he goes into an example about what he would think about direct Russian interference in the US political process. He adds that the government of Venezuela “has been very tolerant of U.S.-backed subversion” and that “protests dominated the coverage and that denunciations of the government…were given ample attention.” Hence, he notes that even Reuters admits that private broadcasters give “equal weight to opposition and government leaders and supporters in broadcasts.” He argues that this does “happen in a dictatorship” even though “serious criticisms can be made about Venezuela’s democracy” which I think it too much of a concession to bourgeois media. He ends by saying that “Taibbi should know better than to trust the establishment media within this imperial club to define who should be labelled a dictator.”

Taibbi’s article is even worse (do not read this unless you really want to) than Emersberger makes it out to be. It is titled “Two Vile Names, One Sweetheart Deal: Goldman Bails Out Maduro” with the subtitle “The Vampire Squid rescues an infamous autocrat.” For a magazine like Rolling Stone which has basically lost most if not all of its credibility from the fake rape story to other problematic stories, it is not a surprise that he wrote this op-ed. His short piece makes it seem that Goldman Sachs AND Venezuela’s government are “amoral and corrupt institutions.” This is utterly false. While he makes a valid point that Goldman Sachs is the “symbol of international predatory capitalism,” he seems to miss the point that Venezuela is bad straits because of the murderous empire. He does call Maduro an “infamous left-wing dictator” but he also calls the government of Venezuela “authoritarian,” citing sources such as the New York Times, Forbes (which Taibbi admitted years earlier was “very bank-friendly“), The Telegraph, New York Post, Miami Herald, Times of London, and so on.

That’s not all. He seems to mock the idea that Venezuela’s problems are part of a US “economic war” and calls the government of that country “Maduro’s regime,” even though he is only one figure in the government. He then goes on to mock Goldman Sachs as well,and almost “legitimize” the protests against Venezuela’s government by saying “More than 50 people have died in protests over the past two months, with many more injured and arrested.” He also claims that Maduro’s action represents the “ultimate in cynicism, and one likely to have dire consequences for a country already on the brink.” He then snarls at this attempt by the Venezuelan government to save itself…

It’s a good thing Karl Marx is dead, because otherwise this metaphysical mind-loop of a news story would make his head explode. Is this a corruption of capitalism, a corruption of socialism, both, or neither? Maduro himself would probably say this transaction is a perfect example of the “savage capitalism” he says he despises.

Again, this should be no surprise coming from a man such as Taibbi who cannot seem to think beyond capitalism in any way, shape, or form. Saying he is glad Marx is dead is anti-communist in the fullest extent, there is no doubt. As a result, he probably has NOT read the Communist Manifesto and hence does not know this part of the manifesto:

…the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things. In each of these moves they bring to the front, as the leading question in each case, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time…they labor everywhere for the union and agreement of democratic parties of all countries.

In my interpretation, countries such as Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia, the DPRK, Zimbabwe, and Cuba would fall into a “revolutionary movement” which can be expanded to cover revolutionary governments. Hence, it would be a duty of comrades to engage in international solidarity with these states and any others that stand “against the existing social and political order of things” which does NOT include the snivelly “good” Kurds.

Of course, as Marx and Engels said in the Communist Manifesto, the bourgeoisie, represented by Goldman Sachs in this case, as the need of gaining an expanding market for its products and hence must “nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” Hence, countries like Venezuela, that resist US and Western imperialism, are not unaffected by global capitalism, so they end up making agreements like this one with Goldman Sachs for their survival. While some may cringe, rightly so, as the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The Taibbi who you (should) love to hate

A skimming of his Rolling Stone contributor’s profile shows him as “pro-Democrat,” favoring the milquetoast “resistance” of Trump in more ways than one, especially by embracing the whole “Russiagate” cloud of nothingness which is a distraction from the other horrible events instigated by the Orange Menace. Furthermore, he seems to think Vladimir Putin is a horrible, nasty person, again, embracing the Russia hysteria, along with giving social democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders accepting him as “genuine.”

But there is more to Taibbi than that. Tarzie referenced this interview of Taibbi by the libertarian Reason back in 2007. Within this, Taibbi shows that he is a horrid libertarian and supportive of the capitalist system, along with not understanding socialism:

…I think Roe v. Wade should be overturned because I believe in the federalist model; I believe that states should be able to make their own drug laws. The more democracy you have, the more people can make decisions for their own communities, the more freedom people have…There’s more on-the-ground energy for Ron Paul than there is for the rest of the candidates combined…It’s [the war machine] not capitalism at all. It’s more like an authoritarian socialism. It’s forcibly extracting money from the customers and distributing the profits to companies that aren’t selected by market choice but government fiat. Critics call it the free market, but it’s not that at all…America is about getting the government off your back, a reprieve from having your life interfered with, and we keep forgetting that.

With this, not only he endorsing the capitalist ideology but he is also embracing the idea of American exceptionalism as some call it. Basically he is not OK with progressive efforts to stand against fast food industries or even moves that increase government control in a way to help people’s lives. Of course such governments are usually not socialist and these measures are reformist, but they are not inherently “evil” or “bad.”

There are further viewpoints of Taibbi which are repugnant. For one, he admires Andrew Breitbart to an extent, apart from accepting the story of Trump-Russia collusion he thinks that the Attorney General would be “better” if there is a “career investigator, career law enforcement official in that job” which denies the fact that such individuals are just part of the capitalist system, moving it forward. This so-called “award-winning journalist” buys into the Sanders deception, describing him as a politician who is “completely honest….really interested in…standing up for regular working people” even though he has not done this just like other bourgeois progressives, praising the DOJ as having “political” and “talented and aggressive lawyers”and called Molly Crabapple Klein Crapple a “great artist” even though she doxxed someone [1] for supporting Russian intervention in Syria (which was done with the approval of the Syrian government unlike US-led coalition efforts). Crapple also supported white nationalist Weev/Andrew Auernheimer as OLAASM has pointed out on varied occasions (see here and here). Hence, this endorsement by Taibbi is disgusting to say the least.

This is only scratching the surface of his beliefs. He also grumbles about the “government interfering in a market process” (why is this bad?). Even more than that, he whitewashes slavery as the driving force of US capitalism:

You know, America used to be—especially the American economy was built upon this brick-and-mortar industrial economy, where we had factories, we built stuff, and we sold it here in America, and we exported it all over the world. That manufacturing economy was the foundation for our wealth and power for a couple of centuries…whereas the old manufacturing economy had the sort of negative effect of spreading around to the entire population

As Edward Baptist writes in The Half Has Not Been Told (scholarship which was started by Eric Williams in his book Capitalism and Slavery), slavery was tied to every aspect of the US economy, with almost a million enslaved laborers moved from the “Upper South” (like Maryland) to “Deep South” (Georgia and Louisiana) in coffles. Furthermore, the industrial workers in the North were making products out of cotton, the same cotton that enslaved laborers had worked all day to pick from fields under the whip of the White slavemaster who whipped them if they disobeyed. Hence, Taibbi is acting like slavery was not part of this, or even mentioning indigenous genocide as a further foundation for settler colonialism in the United States as the “enlightened” empire grew with its tentacles reaching across the continent.

There are other aspects of Taibbi that make one cringe. He seems to accept the “goodness” of corporations in and of themselves, endorses some austerity (“if someone has to tighten a belt or two, let’s start there”), and strangely called Mitt Romney “a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky,” bemoaning the “roots of the radical economic changes” despite the fact that he is using the word radical incorrectly while portraying Romney in a weird way. He is also a person who has said that “private equity firms aren’t necessarily evil by definition” and seems to have a soft spot for “businesses that were America’s original industrial cornerstones” whatever that refers to.  Apart from endorsing the Occupy movement despite its bourgeois nature (as we all know by now), he calls the high-ranking people at Bank of America “not bankers or capitalists, but a class of person that was never supposed to exist in America: royalty.” Again, his lack of class analysis and any semblance of radicalism means that he makes bizarre and worthless statements like that which are of no use to anyone. The same goes for his declaration that “we’ve just got to get the right people in the right jobs” if that will really change anything at all.

Taibbi and the past

To close out this article I’d like to look at a few articles looking at Taibbi’s past. The first is a 2010 Vanity Fair article titled “Lost Exile” focusing on the death of a Russian newspaper of the same name co-edited by Taibbi and Mark Ames (who now works for PandoDaily). The article notes that both of them would “prove the hardest-partying Moscow media celebrities of their time” and end up embodying post-Soviet Russia’s “hedonism.” It also claims that Taibbi was a “born journalist” but a person who speculated about a possible “connection” between “apartment-building bombings and Putin’s ratcheting up of the Chechen War” which is used by anti-Putin individuals to this day. The article goes onto say that Taibbi has earned a “reputation as the premier bullshit detector and absurdist on the campaign trail” among many, with some saying like Hunter Thompson he also hated politicians. Later, in response to the writer of the story asking Taibbi questions, he grew increasing agitated after they called his book crap, throwing his coffee over their face, which is actually a bit hilarious.

Farther back are a set of articles in 2005. One claims he has a “fairly sophisticated knowledge of the inner workings of Congress” while others criticize his article for the New York Press titled “The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope” panned by organizations and politicians as “hate speech,” “ugly,” and “disgusting.” Maybe this isn’t a surprise for a person who is an “expatriate-journalist-turned-New-York-writer” who “identified with Russia and its writers Nikolai Gogol, M. Saltikov and Leo Tolstoy” growing up, while “Taibbis popularity” rose that year.

Taking all of this into account, Taibbi no doubt has a developed ego which supports his self-promotion on places like Democracy Now! and other places. In those secluded areas, no one dare questions him. He is part of, as some have put it, the “Celebrity Left” or the professional left, individuals who are in a sense “above” others, in terms of criticism and status. Some, like Charles Davis (“Chuckles”) only aspire to this level, while others like Ta-Nahesi Coates and Snowden are already at this level.

Concluding thoughts

There really isn’t much else I’ll say about Taibbi at this time. Some may say that an article like this is unnecessary. I disagree. I think it is important to criticize public personalities like this. Too often, these people are barely criticized and given a free pass. That is not OK under any circumstances. Everyone, including this writer should and can be criticized, but fairly and justly. Self-criticism is important for radical and revolutionary politics as the Black Panthers realized, as did Mao and students of Maoist thought. Perhaps I’ll write another criticism of Glenn Greenwald next (or even “The Intercept”), or about some international issue. But for now, I think this article will stand. As always, I look forward to your comments.

Notes

[1] The person who this seems to refer to is a woman named Taryn Fivek, a deserving comrade. Tarzie seems to have a beef with her. He first accused her of “smearing for Soros” calling her a “Twitter nuisance, shameless liar and justifiably failed citizen journo” (along with “outright troll”) and wanting to shut down debate on this topic of Soros’s influence on “the Left” in his view. He seems to have forgotten these later tweets (standing by his flawed analysis in another post), showing that Tarzie is having problems of his own with analysis without much of a basis:

Later, on Tarzie’s blog, one user describes Fivek is a “self professed red who I’ve not really known but from time to time posted at the same places…she wrote a book under a pseudonym (Emma Quangel) which was essentially a direct attack on Molly Crabapple. Crabapple responded by doxxing Fivek” and that in the fallout of this, someone said that she should “monetize it, leading to whatever this nebulous cesspits” and told Tarzie, “knock this stupid transparent bullshit off because we really don’t need this right now. You can, you know, actually work a job instead of hustling mentally ill people on the internet. And if you actually can’t see through the bullshit start reading everything here to start.” Tarzie responded by saying that “Fivek doesn’t need Hopkins because she knows better” and what she is doing looks “like a paid performance.” Hence, he is still stuck in the mud of Fivek. For a person who defended Fivek and then turns on her for saying the “wrong” things about Soros is cruel and pathetic. This is where Tarzie is wrong. He may have good analysis in other realms, but on Fivek he is completely and utterly wrong. Hence, I’d rather stand with Fivek than with Tarzie, with some saying she supports white nationalism (or something) although I have seen no evidence to support that claim whatsoever.

“Until imperialism is defeated in the region”: The Kurds and the Syrian Arab Republic

Overlay of oil/gas pipelines with Rojava territory. I created this for one of the articles on Rojava I wrote, posting it on Imgur. I am sharing here since I feel it is relevant to this topic. As I said in my article, this map overlay “shows that oil and natural gas pipelines snake through it [Rojava], including one north from Aleppo, and others going through the heart of the territory in Northeast Syria where there is also a concentration of oil and gas fields.”
Recently, I read an article in Worker’s World by an author called Damien or “D. Angelpoulos,” a man who may be a student at a Michigan University. For reasons not yet known, it was deleted (also see here). Regardless, I feel it is only a fair to address his article after writing a two-part series on Dissident Voice about Rojava. The first part, titled “”A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava” focused on the broad contours of the supposed “state” while the second one, titled the “The Illegal Entity of Rojava and Imperial “Divide and Rule” Tactics” focused on how this entity is illegal and had illegitimate sovereignty under existing law. Each of those pieces will be quoted and summarized below.

Responding to Mr. Angelpoulos’s article

Mr. Angelpoulos has a very different, while informed, perspective than yours truly. He writes that..

For the past six years, the United States, Israel, NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council have waged an unrelenting proxy war against the sovereign, secular state of Syria. The U.S.-funded Free Syrian Army, called “moderate rebels” in the corporate-owned media, fights openly alongside forces backed by U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These forces, really mercenaries or contras, which include the Islamic State, Jabhat Al-Nusra (al-Qaida in Syria), Jaysh al-Islam and others, are largely constituted of foreign fighters.

While this is undoubtedly true, it is more than just the Free Syrian Army or FSA. As I noted in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava and Imperial “Divide and Rule” Tactics,” herein called “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” there is a new “rebel” group in town: the Free Idlib Army or the FIA, a part of the FSA:

…the Free Idlib Army (FIA), [is] a division of the FSA which would theoretically fight “jihadist groups and pro-government forces in [the] northwestern Idlib province” even as it faces likely targeting from such “al-Qaida-linked factions,” even though it has coordinated with them before. The FIA entity, consisting of 30,000 to 35,000 people, is undoubtedly, as one analyst put it, “100 percent an American project,” with weaponry, financial aid, and more, funneled through Müşterek Operasyon Merkezi (MOM), an operations center based in Turkey, operated by the CIA with the supervision of the Turks.

I do not know why Mr. Angelpoulos did not mention this in his article. He almost seems to play the clickbait tab, saying that the “anti-imperialist left” of which he does not define is missing out on “one front in this proxy war” omitting it from their analyses of the situation:

Since last August [2016], the U.S. has been engaged in Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, claiming this is an attempt to “liberate” Raqqa, the proclaimed capital of the Islamic State…The U.S. has aided the Turkish-led operation in an alliance with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

For one, this is confusing way of wording it, since Operation Euphrates Shield is actually a name for the Turkish military invasion of the sovereign Syrian state, not a US-led operation. However, articles from the “Turkish military intervention in Syria” Wikipedia page, only a good starting point on this subject, not a good source in general, indicate that the US has provided air support for Turkish military operations (and in general), but seemed to halt such support in November of last year. Furthermore, there are reports that the operation has “ended” which he also doesn’t say.

The SDF’s largest fighting force is the YPG…The YPG is allied with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and both are allied with the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long fight for self-determination of the Kurdish region inside Turkish boundaries against the brutally oppressive Turkish state.

This is partially deceptive. Although I admit that I do not know everything about this conflict, I think it is worth pointing out that while the PKK has been involved in a decades-long fight within Turkish in which they have been brutally attacked by the Turkish state, they dropped their demand for an independent Kurdistan when Abdullah Öcalan, the “Wizard-of-Oz” of Rojava, was arrested. Furthermore, lest us forget, as I noted in “”A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava,” called “A Liberated Area in the Middle East” in the rest of this article, the YPG and SDF were helped by US airpower in their efforts to seize control of about 26,000 sq km of Syria, including a 250 mile “stretch of territory along the Turkish border,” which basically constitutes Rojava.

In a sign of the contradictions inherent in U.S. imperialist policy toward Syria, on April 25 Turkish planes attacked units of the YPG in northern Syria, killing as many as 70 fighters. While U.S. diplomats said they raised concerns with NATO-ally Turkey regarding this strike, nothing concrete was done to stop future Turkish attacks against Kurdish fighters. (Reuters, April 25) This is one example in Washington’s long history of apparently backing one oppressed people and then turning on them.

You could call this an imperialist contradiction. However, but I would also say it fits with the imperial divide-and-rule tactics to break up the Syrian Arab Republic and nearby “hostile” states so they can ruled effectively to benefit Western capitalists. So, in many senses it isn’t as much as a contradiction as you might think, since the Turks AND and these Kurdish fighters are assisting Western imperialist objectives.

Many progressive people see the YPG, which is mostly made up of Kurdish fighters but includes other ethnic minorities as well as Western “foreign volunteers,” as representing the just struggle for Kurdish national liberation. Organized along democratic principles without a vertical chain of command, the forces of the YPG and their movement in northern Syria claim to model their “non-state” on anarchist, eco-socialist principles. The YPJ, the Women’s Protection Units, provide an active leadership role for women in their struggle.

I think that “progressive people” who see the YPG as representing a “just struggle for Kurdish liberation” and as organized “along democratic principles” is typical of the Western and some across the international left. However, as I noted in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” the “state” itself is ILLEGAL. Not only does its creation clearly violate the Syrian Constitution, tearing at the national fabric of unity, but it violates the UN Charter. Hence, it is an illegal entity with illegitimate sovereignty. As I said throughout my series on this topic, Rojava would not exist if it was not for intervention of Western capitalist powers.

The Kurds are a historically oppressed nation of 30 million to 35 million people. They are the world’s largest nation without a state. Most live in the contiguous, underdeveloped, mountainous region spanning four countries and speak their own language. About 14.5 million to 16 million Kurds live in Turkey, 6 million in Iran and 5 million to 6 million in Iraq. The 1.5 million to 2 million Kurds in Syria are the smallest grouping of this nation.

The estimates of how many Kurds there are worldwide vary. The Kurdish Project, a rabidly pro-Kurd website, claims there are 30 million within the ethnic community whereas the Encyclopedia Britannica says it could be as low as 25 million and Cultural Survival says it is 18 million. So, for him to say that they are the world’s largest group of people who is stateless seems questionable if best. This puts his other claims of population figures into question. As I noted in “A Liberated Area in the Middle East,” some have said that there are 4.6 million people within the illegal entity of Rojava. I am aware that the UN Charter talks about self-determination and that the principle, as stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is that all peoples “have the right of self-determination” and the ability to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Some would say that Rojava falls under their requirements, which could be interpreted in an anti-imperialist manner. However, I would argue that just because people have that right, which the good “Kurds” have shown they have exercised, does NOT mean they have to use that right. In this case, the right should be waived and not enforced as that would mean, ultimately, victory for the sneering imperialists. Furthermore, it is worth noting that “self-determination is limited by conditions on territorial integrity” as an anti-Soviet bourgeois scholar even admitted (also see here).

Mr. Angelpoulos goes on to say that

During the Kurdish people’s fight for liberation from Turkey, Washington has supplied arms, logistical and satellite assistance, and political support for the Turkish ruling classes against the PKK, which the U.S. labels as “terrorist.” Yet in Syria, Washington has a cynical, opportunistic alliance with the YPG, using those forces to accomplish its aims of destroying the Syrian state. At times, the Syrian Democratic Forces/YPG have coordinated with the Syrian Arab Army in the fight against IS and other mercenary armies. However, SDF/YPG now operate in coordination with the U.S. military. Despite the SDF/YPG’s progressive principles and organizational structure, the Pentagon’s aim is to have it function as an effective proxy for the U.S. geopolitical goal of dismantling the Syrian state.

There is no doubt that the US has allied with the Turks to suppress the Kurds in the past. I think he is right that the YPG, along with other “good” (by Western standards) Kurds, unlike the “bad” (by Western standards) pro-Syrian government Kurds, as I note in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” is serving as an US proxy force. However, I think he is giving the SDF and YPG too much credit.

It is not obvious what aggression the U.S. plans next for Syria after its deadly April 6 strike on the Sharyat airfield and the May 18 bombing of a Syrian government convoy. If Washington significantly steps up direct U.S. intervention, it will expect cooperation from the SDF in providing ground forces. The Pentagon has already been able to build two air bases in northeastern Syria in the past few months.

It is a good point that U.S. plans for Syria after the April 6 act of aggression and imperial show of force, are not clear. However, as I see it, that attack was a turning point. It meant that US foreign policy was basically being handed over to the Pentagon carte blanche, without restriction. Instead of colluding with the imperialists like Obama, Trump seems to be willing to let them do whatever they want.

Since last year, the U.S. has been sending special forces troops to northern Syria. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stated since the U.S. sent several hundred more ground troops to Syria in the beginning of March, “All foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation … are invaders.” Assad, who is constantly demonized in the U.S. corporate media, is the democratically elected leader of the people of Syria.

On this count, Mr. Angelpoulos is right. As I said in the opening of “A Liberated Area in the Middle East” currently over 17.1 million living in the socially democratic and secular  Syrian Arab Republic which is “ravaged by overt and covert imperialist machinations” the government led by the duly elected National Progressive Front (NPF) with its majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council, the Syria’s parliament, reaffirmed in April 2016 elections by the Syrian people. It is recently that Trump dealt such Syrians “a blow” by directly supporting the “good” Kurds.

The YPG has been bolstered not only by U.S. special forces but also by foreign volunteers including people from the U.S., Canada, Britain and other countries. Among them is Brace Belden, who had a Rolling Stone magazine centerfold feature on his role and inspired an upcoming Hollywood film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the “punk florist-turned-revolutionary.” Another volunteer is Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian-Israeli woman and former soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, and the first foreign volunteer in the Women’s Protection Units. These individuals violate Syrian sovereignty and package the  U.S. invasion of Syria as a progressive, “socialist” struggle against Islamic state fascism.

This is undoubtedly true. In “A Liberated Area of the Middle East” I noted how that fact that the YPG were US proxy forces dismayed “two deluded Marxists who thought they were fighting for an “egalitarian utopia”.” If you were going to fight at all in Syria, why not fight on behalf of the Syrian state. To fight on behalf of the YPG and the “good” Kurds is a violent act aimed at the Syrian proletariat and makes those that engage in such acts clear and blatant class traitors. There is no question about this. Such people undoubtedly violate Syrian sovereignty as well, there is no question.

The Rand Corporation think tank has drawn up various “peace plans” throughout the war, detailing the U.S. and its allies’ latest plans for the partition of Syria. The most recent, dated this year, projects large swathes of Kurdish-administered territory extending about halfway to Raqqa in the south and almost to Manbij in the west, as well as a corner encompassing Azaz in northwestern Syria. Buffering these zones are “proposed international administration” zones, code words for NATO occupation and Turkish-controlled areas. Notably, these “Kurdish zones” in northeastern Syria encompass much of the country’s greatest natural wealth, including its largest oil reserves.

I would not be surprised by the fact that Rand would engage in such politicking and call for the break-up of the country. After some searching, I found the report (I think) referenced here, and is one of RAND’s “scenarios” on what could happen:

In Syria, a peace process has resulted in recognized “zones of control” divided among the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the regime, and the opposition…After the zones are announced, a wave of internal displacement further consolidates Kurdish populations in the PYD zone of control; minorities including ‘Alawis, Christians, and Druze in the regime zone of control; and Sunni Arabs in the opposition zone of control. Mixed towns and border areas where the zones abut are the sites of particular ethnosectarian bloodletting. Even in microstates too small to partition, Sunni and Shi‘a self-segregate by neighborhood, with Manama and Kuwait City, particularly, divided between heavily Sunni and heavily Shi‘a neighborhoods…On the one hand, less interaction between sects decreases the daily incidence of conflict. On the other hand, the segregation of communities deepens prejudices, foreshadowing a brewing conflict

Hence, this does not seem to be what they are advocating, but it is a proposal they have under advisement to say the least. Another report actually seems to advocate intervention in the region, showing that the “good” Kurds can (and should stay) allies for the murderous empire:

…Located almost entirely in the north of the country, Syrian Kurds have a longstanding history of opposition to the Assad regime…Syrian Kurds are pressing forward against IS with U.S. military support, and their surging confidence led them to claim an independent state in the northwest…the most effective Kurdish forces engaged with IS…[are more] effective at offensive operations and, ostensibly, more useful for postconflict stability…the extreme violence of the Syrian war has made reconciliation with al-Assad all but impossible…this option seeks to protect Sunni, Kurdish, and other non-Alawi Syrians; create safe spaces for the return of refugees; and establish alternative governance in non-Alawi areas. Military force, including ground forces, may be used to expel GoS military forces from southern Syria and to expel IS from urban area. All military activities will focus on the reduction of the IS threat and the creation of safe zones for Syrian civilians. In the medium term, the United States and the coalition will invest in repatriation and reconstruction activities within these safe zones, focusing on the eventual development of legitimate local and regional governance. These efforts will be leverage to press Russia to negotiate and help remove Bashar al-Assad from power, while retaining Russian and many Iranian equities in Syria…To defeat IS and prevent its return, the United States will have to help mitigate or resolve all the major issues currently destabilizing Iraq. This means that the United States will have to remain heavily engaged in Iraq for many years, perhaps decades, just as it has remained engaged in Korea after the mid-20th century Korean War and in Kosovo more than two decades after U.S.-led coalition intervention there…this plan would…[include] a national program to recognize the bravery of Shi’a, Sunni, and Kurdish militia fighters… the incorporation of Kurdish paramilitary units into the ISF [Iraqi Security Force]…As Iraq stabilizes, it will become far more attractive to regional states as a safe investment for both private and capital wealth funds…the United States could ignore the civil war and focus on the tactical defeat of IS, leveraging Kurdish; Arab; and, if necessary, American and coalition military forces to expel the group from Raqqa and render it incapable of international terror attacks…All efforts should be made to keep the Kurds within a legitimate Syrian state, at least until Syria is fully stabilized…Ideally, Turkey will be a signatory to the Syria agreement and will accept the incorporation of YPG and other groups into the Syrian armed services in exchange for reduced Kurdish independence in the north

Not only does this raise the idea of creating zones for certain ethnicities so they can be easily controlled by the West within Syria, but it would mean, if implemented, a stronger military presence in Iraq (and in Syria undoubtedly), accompanying the overthrow of the duly elected Syrian government with the installation of a “friendly” government. Then after all of that, the US would use the Kurds as imperialist enforcers! Additionally, as a result, the US could easily accept the creation of a Kurdish state by this logic, as the above quote makes clear. This is a terrifying prospect because such a state and these machinations would lead to more chaos and destruction in the Mideast.

If the U.S. aids the SDF to annex northeastern Syria, this will not lead to any meaningful form of Kurdish independence. Rather, it will mean the Kurdish forces will be subordinate to and will collaborate with the U.S., much as the Kurdish regime does inside Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. will destroy what remains of Syria and purge any progressive forces in the Kurdish movement.

While I could see this as a possibility, based on the RAND report quoted above, a Kurdish state could be created, but it would be subservient to US imperialism. If what he says occurred, there is no doubt that Syria would be destroyed and any progressives in the Kurdish movement could be purged, although the latter may not matter as long as such progressives are willing to bow to their new masters in Washington. More worrying is the fact that Trump seems to be taking DIRECTLY out of the RAND playbook by sending arms and equipment to the “good” Syrians:

Washington has found an effective partner in the mixed Kurdish and Sunni Arab Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), which is dominated by a Syrian Kurdish faction closely linked to a violent separatist movement in Turkey in conflict with the Turkish state. This force has isolated Raqqa and is poised for an assault on the city, but lacks the weaponry that may be necessary for success. Turkey is strongly opposed to any further extension of Kurdish control within Syria and equally opposed to any American effort to arm the SDF. Washington must therefore choose whether to ignore Turkish objections and arm the SDF, seek direct Turkish army participation in the assault as a substitute, or add some American units to the assault force. Waiting for the Turkish army and its Syrian allies to arrive will require postponing the operation several months, with an uncertain end result. Arming the Kurdish‑dominated SDF and introducing additional American forces into Syria,beyond the special operations troops already there, may be the fastest and surest way of retaking Raqqa and other Islamic State territory…Employing Kurdish led forces to liberate Raqqa requires the United States to convincingly assure Turkey that Kurds will not occupy this region once it has been cleared of the Islamic State. This will in turn require some clear understanding between Washington and the Syrian Kurdish authorities. It also requires the availability of some alternative hold force. Once Raqqa and the surrounding region have been cleared, the United States will need to help that hold force resist attacks from residual Islamic State fighters, other violent extremist groups, and the regime…We suggest Washington should offer to place Raqqa, once liberated, under some form of international administration

Once again, these Kurds would be serving Western imperialism, and Raqqa would be in the hand of gleeful imperialists. There is no doubt about that.

At this point, Washington sees the claims to a separate Kurdish region based out of northern Syria as fitting its goal of dividing Syria. With the Syrian state under siege, the attempt to create a Kurdish “autonomous” zone under U.S. guidance is in direct contradiction to the preservation of Syrian sovereignty in defense against imperialism. The U.S. has made this abundantly clear, saying that it plans to station its forces in Syria even once IS has been eliminated.

He is right about that. Creating a Kurdish region that is “autonomous” would clearly violate Syrian sovereignty. But it also would serve the interests of imperialist destruction. Hence, it could be a precursor to further US presence in the county.

Moreover, all of these events obscure the fact that the Syrian government and Kurdish groups have negotiated greater autonomy for the latter on their own terms before. If there is to be any change in the relationship between the Syrian state and its Kurdish inhabitants, it is clear that this change cannot be imposed by the imperialist powers. The U.S., NATO and their allies should have no say in this history.

In this case, I think he is exaggerating the relations between the “good” Kurds and Syrian government. Such relations seem to include possibly partial recognition, but also have been in question since the Syrian government may see such groups as imperial proxies. They likely prefer the “bad” Kurds better, those groups that want to work with the Syrian government, not against it. I definitely agree with the sentiment that there should be non-interference in Syria, which means no meddling by the US imperialists.

The imperialists in the U.S. and elsewhere have planned a grim end for Syria: the destruction of the sovereign secular state in favor of Balkanized ethnic enclaves in the manner of Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia and any other state that has defied destruction and imperialist plundering since the fall of the Soviet Union. This includes the current aggression against Syria, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I understand his viewpoint here, but I would not say that Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia are Balkanized ethnic enclaves. In fact, the US imperialists failed in that endeavor in Iraq, and likely in Libya which is in the midst of the bloody civil war, from what I can tell. However, it is true that this measure did happen in Yugoslavia, a place where the most of the inhabitants of this former system of federalism “seem willing to share their societies with ethnic and religious groups different from their own” with a few exceptions. Hence, in that case, US imperialism did not succeed either. But, undoubtedly this idea is carried over to Venezuela (which Trump wants to “fix,” whatever that means) and the DPRK as well, which is troubling and should be stopped at all costs.

There can be no genuine liberation for any peoples — Arab, Kurdish or otherwise — until imperialism is defeated in the region and the right of self-determination is fully realized and respected. Anti-war and other activists in the U.S. and NATO states must stand in full solidarity with the right of all nations to develop their collective livelihood, culture and economy without interference from imperialists. Hands off Syria! All mercenaries out of Syria! Uphold self-determination!

Again, he is correct. Defeating imperialism in the Middle East is needed for genuine liberation of any people to occur. As I noted in a footnote of “The Illegal Entity of Rojava,” if circumstances were different, with the “good” Kurds asking “for direct support from Russia, China, and the Syrian government, instead going directly to grinning Western imperialists, then I would be inclined to engage in international solidarity with them.” I still stand by that claim. I would add Cuba, Iran, Belarus and Zimbabwe (which is facing its threats of violence against the elected government coming from the US-backed opposition) to the list of nations under attack as well, along with others that could easily be added to the list.

Further comments on the “notion of American empire” (a.k.a. the murderous empire)

“The action of U.S. warplanes bombing a Syrian government military convoy near the town of al-Tanf on May 18 marks a sharp escalation of the U.S. campaign to overthrow the elected Syrian government and to dismember the country. It must be protested by all who oppose U.S. imperialism’s aggression. With bloody irony, the Pentagon claimed it attacked the Syrian government convoy because the Syrian trucks had entered “an established ‘de-confliction zone’.”The convoy had moved within 18 miles of a U.S. military base…The Pentagon set up this base without permission by the Syrian government…The Russian government called the U.S. attack a breach of Syrian sovereignty. The air attack took place as President Donald Trump left the U.S. to visit Saudi Arabia…The U.S. bombing also comes just after an agreement creating “de-escalation” zones in Syria was signed by Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria and non-al-Qaida groups that operate in Syria…The U.S. bombing was clearly designed to torpedo this agreement. Its goal is to re-enforce U.S.-defined “safe zones”…partition Syria and overturn the Bashar al-Assad government.”- Workers World Party, May 22.

While some telling the Kurds what they should focus on, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, head of the DIA, is declaring that “Kurdish independence is on a trajectory where it is probably not if but when. And it will complicate the situation unless there’s an agreement in Baghdad,” showing that the imperialists are accepting the “inevitable.” Furthermore, are the stories about how the US-Turkey relationship could be permanently damaged if the “good” Kurds stay in Raqqa while the US gives the “good” Kurds armored vehicles, arms, “machinery, equipment, supplies” along with, as NPR even admitting, in their pro-military manner: “more American troops to head into Syria – maybe a couple of hundred” who are trainers along with “maintenance people to help with these armored vehicles” which would be there along with “some American troops close to the front lines in Syria, special operations forces like Green Berets and Navy SEALs, helping these local forces.”

Hence, the destruction of Syria will continue full force. I stand by what I said at the end “The illegal entity” about possible next steps for everyone reading the article:

…the next steps forward are up to everyone out there reading this and…the international “left[,]” which needs to get its act together with a strong message of international solidarity with governments (and peoples, but not the “good” Kurds) under attack, not division on countries such as Syria.

Hence, there needs to be a united front. After all, Trump is unpredictable in many ways, which some may say is positive but actually bodes badly in trying to counter US imperialism as it is hard to predict what will happen next. This reality of Trump was noted in a fawning Time magazine cover story. This piece said that Trump is not only tuning out “bad news about himself” but he “comes to office with no well-formed ideology,” which sounds a bit like Obama and the “blank screen.” The article further claims that he has “an evolving understanding of history and government” which is clear from his comments about Andrew Jackson ending the Civil War, and uses “his business acumen to help is more fervent supporters” while he is “extremely confident in his own judgment.” The article also notes that Trump has a social media director, Dan Scavino, formerly the general manager of Trump’s Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and that his “willingness to fight is unabated and unfiltered.”

Beyond that, the recent visit to Saudi Arabia seems to indicate that the US has its sights set on the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the Parliament Speaker of Iran, Ali Larijani, argued “it was both interesting and unbelievable to hear that the US President clearly announced the volume of cash he had received in order to make the visit” which seems to be true since he was not only there for US imperialism but to benefit his cronies (also see here) a sort of “foreign triumph” as he faces the never-ending “Russia conspiracy” the Democrats are using to push him out of office, to unseat him, to overthrow him. I say this even as I dislike Trump very much and feel he is an utter monster. Still, I don’t believe the claims of a such a conspiracy in the slightest. It is all a smokescreen to me even if questions about his stability in the future. Focusing on such a conspiracy distracts from the damage Trump and his loyal minions are doing to public lands, education, public assistance, and worldwide imperial aggression of course, while supporting increased police brutality at home. As for the journey to Saudi Arabia, it is part of a plan to create an “Arab NATO” which is an idea that threatens the region, which would cause increased instability since the Saudis sponsor many of the Islamic reactionary groups within the region. Clearly, this an anti-Iran move, anger at their measures to mitigate US imperialism.

The looming threat of war against Iran seems to be occurring at the same time the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) seems to be winning on the battlefield, implying that Washington wants to stop such successes. As Al-Jaafari put it, their goal is to combat terrorism, but “state terrorism is being practiced against Syria” with violations of international humanitarian law. I could go on, but the reality is that the Russian and Syrian government forces are the only ones earnestly fighting terrorists. The US and their international coalition which killed 255 civilians last month as the worthless piece of junk, the Syrian Observatory for “Human Rights” (SOHR) which is an imperialist, anti-Syrian government outlet, claimed. The Syrian government is even moving its planes back to the airfield the US bombed in April, showing that the US show of force was worthless and pathetic. At the same time, the Russians seem to be willing to weaken the Syrian state and benefit the “good” Kurds possibly because they have a capitalist class as well and see something positive in the “good” Kurds. This is happening at the same time that the US slaps more sanctions on the Syrian government and by extension the Syrian people as a whole.

The Syrian government (and people) will continue to be in a precarious situation until the end of the conflict and withdrawal of Western imperialism from the region. The best we can do is pledge solidarity with those fighting the mercenaries of imperial conquest, not only Daesh but the “rebel” forces and “good” Kurds, and all of those standing against global capitalism, even with our respective critiques.

A bunch of baloney: The Trump-Russia “connection”

A scene from “Two Bad Neighbors” (S7E13), a Simpsons episode where Homer fights with George H.W. Bush after Bart accidentally destroys his novel and Bush spanks him

Two nights ago, 60 Minutes came on at 7:00. They claimed they had an “exclusive” interview with James Comey, the FBI Director and long-time bureaucrat. It cast Comey as a nice, well-spoken person, not a showboater as Trump has called him. Hence, it was, like pieces they have done on Apple, drones, and many other subjects, a puff piece. Since May 9, bourgeois liberals and progressives have been waiving their hands, which has even been joined by “progressive” media like The Real News, putting out three stories trying to attest that Mr. Comey was fired because of (1) Trump’s “collusion” with Russia, (2) considering the hypothetical of such interference while claiming there is financial ties between Trump and Russia, (3) and acting the Trump-Russia connection is real. Of all the media, not Democracy Now or any of the other left-leaning media was of note, but rather Liberation News, a publication of the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) had the best perspective on the topic. Brian Becker, the coordinator of ANSWER, noted how the Democratic Party and liberal organizations closed ranks in their call for a “special prosecutor to “protect our democracy” from the Russian menace” and held up Mr. Comey as “the martyred champion” just like 60 Minutes. He goes on to say, rightly, that it is ridiculous to think that Mr. Comey was “the one person who had the goods on Russia” with his firing ending the investigation, that Clinton blamed Comey and the Russians for her defeat, not the arcane Electoral College, that “the Watergate investigation was based on an actual criminal act” unlike this “connection,” and that none of the allegations have been proven. Mr. Becker interestingly noted that not only did the FBI tell the DNC that its “email servers had been compromised by “Russian hackers”” but Crowdstrike, was allowed by the FBI, even though it was “a privately owned Democratic Party-aligned cybersecurity firm,” to provide supposed evidence Russians did it, which is suspect since “CrowdStrike is owned by Dmitri Alperovitch, who is Russian and a virulent opponent of Putin.”

Previously I’ve written about the supposed “connection” between Trump and Russia. I’ve argued that the Trump Administration was making Russophobic moves, continuing the same policies of the Obama “era,” while also hoping that a pro-Russia approach by such an administration could reduce conflict, and saying that there should be solidarity with those countries under attack by US imperialism and against Trumpian fascism instead of getting “caught up in the supposed Trump-Russia “connection.”” Before that, I said that Trump was considering Russia as a partner against terrorism even as he proposed more imperialism to “solve” the problems in the world but warned that tensions with Russia will continue while pointing out Obama’s hawkishness when it came to Russia (and to the rest of the world) with Clinton undoubtedly doing the same, since she likely would have “started WWIII with bombing Russian troops in Syria.” Four months ago, I summed up the whole hullabaloo around this issue, writing (links have been removed for easier reading):

…the anti-Russian campaign [is being] pushed by the Democratic Party, certain Republicans, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with internal (FBI) and external (CIA) police of the empire, and “left” journalists of The Intercept like Glenn Greenwald, and other “respected”  publications like Mother Jones…a possible conflict within the administration is brewing about the threat of Russia as some want to take more of a defiant stance and others want to be more cordial…there doesn’t need to be a protest against rapprochement with Russia, but instead against a reactionary Russophobic position by Obama, Clinton, McCain, and the like…[we must] organize to stop the “orange menace” not because of his supposed “friendly” nature with Russia, but for the fascism he will bring to the homefront, imperialist destruction that will rein down on the peoples of Korea, Syria, China, and Iran, and unwavering support for the murderous Zionist state of Israel.

I still stand by this same viewpoint, but I went through a Wikipedia article titled “Russian interference in the 2016 United States election” so you don’t have to, and what I found confirmed by perceptions. As a disclaimer, this article is NOT pro-Trump in any way, shape or form, but only shows the Trump-Russia “connection” as fraudulent based on analysis of existing articles written on the subject and that such bourgeois media that wrote these articles should generally not be trusted.

Muddying through Wikipedia

There is no doubt that like Google, Wikipedia is fundamentally bourgeois, even with the “non-profit” status of the Wikimedia Foundation will controls the site. I say this even as a person who has edited numerous Wikipedia articles myself in hopes to countering bourgeois distortions. The following is a list of sources, with articles in the footnotes, that have been cited as “proof” that there is a Russia connection:

  • Unnamed “U.S. officials,” current and former, always ranging in number, sometimes “senior” and have “access to information,” sometimes in the White House. [1]
  • Unnamed “Western intelligence” officials, either in U.S. or foreign intelligence. [2]
  • Information or reports “obtained by a Western intelligence service” that only the media can see, like a secret CIA assessment. [3]
  • Obama administration officials (prior to November 8 election), including Ben Rhodes, Josh Earnest, and President Obama himself [4]
  • Christopher Steele dossier on Trump-Russia “connections,” with documents that haven’t been verified but may have been used as a “roadmap” for investigation by the FBI, who was open to paying him for the information, among other aspects [5]
  • Crowdstrike, the pro-Dem firm run by an anti-Putin individual contracted by the DNC to investigate the hack, blamed the Russians [6]
  • “Guccifer 2.0,” the Romanian hacker who claims he gave docs to Wikileaks even though this has not been confirmed, to whom Roger Stone claims he talked to and has a “backchannel” to Assange, both of which can’t be proven. [7]
  • “suspicious” supposedly “pro-Russia” actions by DCLeaks and Wikileaks or weak supposition [8]
  • DHS, DNI, and private security companies “conclusions,” with specific reference to a  14-page document by CIA, DNI, and FBI, had “high confidence” in Russian involvement, a report commissioned by Obama, even though the Intelligence Community Assessment or ICA was drafted by the CIA, FBI, and NSA, relies on “reporting” of varied sources and “multiple corroborating sources,” their “assessment” based on how they see Russian behavior, claims that Putin and Russian government had preference for Trump over Clinton, claim Moscow used disclosed documents, accessing DNC databases, because RT, other Russia state outlets, was critical of Clinton (that means they swung the election for Trump?), criticizing US shortcomings in civil liberties and democracy using an open source report published in 2012, criticizing US (means that RT is somehow pro-Trump?), RT hosts criticize fracking (so they serve Russian interests?), they even admit near the end of the report that even as RT has more YouTube views and subscribers, CNN has the most Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and Facebook likes of the bourgeois news organizations they list (Al Jazeera English, BBC News World, along with RT), admit at the end that even an assessment of “high confidence” could “be wrong” with the assessment not necessarily a “fact or certainty” [9] Later, these same agencies, CIA, FBI, and NSA stood by their previous assessment, of course.
  • Claims of Russian business ties with Newsweek even admitting that they can’t find any illegal action, and noting there are business ties across the world [10]
  • Claims Putin “praised” Trump, even though he didn’t. [11] Further articles showed that Putin just called Trump a colorful figure or flamboyant, but did NOT call him a genius or any of the other “praise” he supposedly gave.
  • Pending investigations by FBI, NSA, CIA, DOJ, FINCEN (Treasury Dept), and ODNI reps; also some individual agencies are sometimes cited. [12]
  • Max Boot, Clinton campaign, a lawsuit by Bayrock, Toronto Life magazine, news media itself (WashPO and Bloomberg), claimed “Russian trolls,” FBI insiders, and magical “experts” [13]
  • Joint ODNI-DHS statement even admitting that they are only “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails” and they only “believe” top Russian officials involved; also Clapper, the DNI, but not “17 agencies” agreeing as some claimed. [14]
  • Private security companies ThreatConnect (likely US military/intelligence contractor), Symantec which received a license from the US military in 2005, FireEye run by a former Pentagon officer, and Dell-owned Secureworks which maintains “close ties to various public and private organizations involved in information security” such as the federal government, intelligence and military sectors [15]
  • Unnamed US, European, and Arab officials [16]

Apart from these piss-poor “sources” of collusion, there are confirmed meetings between Trump Administration officials and the Russians, but every administration, even through the Cold War has met with the Russians, and as some US diplomats admitted, including Clinton ally Michael Morrell, this is not a crime as even James Clapper said at one point. [17] Then there’s Michael Flynn. There is no doubt he was paid by RT for three talks, but so has Ron Paul and other US political personalities they’ve had on their show, so how does this show that the Russians “rigged” the election? [18] The truth is it doesn’t do this at all. Perhaps its better to focus on the fact that he was a registered foreign agent for Turkey, that he was the board member of the pro-drone group (Drone Aviation Holding Corp) for which he gained $24,000, consultant for the hawkish Center for a New American Security, among much more that would make him chummy with the capitalist class. All of this has led to some thinking that the Pentagon is right but that Russian media “lies,” claims that the Russians hacked the Trump campaign too but didn’t release information (disproving the whole collusion), as the Russians note that they also spoke with Clinton advisers, and Putin said that the Democrats should get over their loss in November (they should). [19] As a result of the determination that Russia was “behind” the hacking, a number of events went into motion. The FBI spied on Carter Page for at least 90 days, and Trump conceded Russia role sort of but also didn’t, later decrying a “witch hunt” by the Democrats. [20]

Of course, the FBI and intelligence establishment, along with the lackey bourgeois media are wrong. Still, Clinton strongly believes in Russia role as do some former Intel chiefs and Evan McMillian (former CIA) but RNC doesn’t and neither does David Nunes. The media are so caught up in this, they were angry about publication of official photos, with the Russian Foreign Ministry saying that if they hadn’t published pictures from the meeting, the photos would have leaked, which is probably correct.

With such a predictable propaganda assault by the bourgeois media and Russophobes within the military and intelligence establishments, US public opinion reflects this reality. 51-56% of the public, depending on the poll, believes in such interference, with at minimum, 39% opposing this viewpoint. [21] Furthermore, over 60% of those living in the US have said that they are “concerned” about ties to Russia. Some may say these viewpoints are residual effects of the Cold War, with strongly rooted in anti-communism of that time. However, it is more likely that even with waning popularity of bourgeois media in the United States many still rely on it for news and viewpoints that are critical of US empire are marginalized. It may also have to do with uber-nationalism of Americans, many of whom may not trust Trump and see him as a shyster. The real explanation here is not known.

Trump’s tweets and other commentary

Some may say cite Trump’s tweets as “evidence” of the collusion. A search through his tweets for the word “Russia” shows that this is faulty. Looking through tweets from 2011 to 2016 shows that he is more uber-nationalist, jingoist to use the right word, than having any sort of favoritism toward Russia. [22]

The tweets this year, after his election, which are displayed in the search, are worth focusing on here. They range from Trump declaring that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi met with the Russians, basically saying that meeting with the Russians is normal, calling these Dems “hypocrites,” while again blaming Obama, even claiming he colluded with Russia (no proof of that). He goes on to say that the “so-called Russia story” is (1) “fake news,” (2) claims that there is a magical deal the Clintons made with Russia over uranium which is somehow connected to John Podesta somehow, (3) that the “Trump Russia story is a hoax,” and (4) calls the Russia-Trump connection “phony.” He then said that “things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia” with everyone eventually coming to their “senses,” that the story about Trump’s connection to Russia is an excuse used by Democrats, that Democrat “dealings with Russia” are not investigated by the media, that Clapper noted that there is no collusion between Trump and Russia, asks if Obama was too “soft” on Russia (implying he would be more hardline), and says that the Russians might be laughing at the whole story. Most strikingly is a tweet on May 8, in which he declares “the Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?”

Then there are two tweets the bourgeois media claims are “evidence” that Trump gave classified information to the Russians. In them, Trump says that it is “absolute right” to share facts with them which pertain to “terrorism and airline flight safety” which he says he is doing not only for “humanitarian reasons” but because he wants “Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.” I don’t see how this “proves” that classified information was shared. Just because Trump says he shared information, who is to say this is classified information? Also, who is to say that these tweets aren’t just part of Trump’s bravado and he’s making the whole thing up?

Five days before this, Trump, in an interview with NBC News, declared the following:

“This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Predictably, PolitiFact showed its Russophobia in response. They said that the FBI and intelligence community have “credible evidence” and that Democrats weren’t behind it, cites magical “evidence” in assessments, shows even Federation of American Scientists believes in collision, and also cites Comey and Clapper. As noted earlier in this article, this is utter baloney. While I think there is validity to his statement that the “Russia thing with Trump” is made-up, it is more than just the Democrats. The military and intelligence establishments of the United States, the Democrats, numerous Republicans, other Western intelligence services, and capitalist governments across the “West” have a coordinated Russophobic propaganda offensive. This goes back to 2014 at least, when the “crisis” in Ukraine begun with a coup in the country by Nazi and reactionary forces, seemingly assisted by the CIA and US intelligence in general. In fact, such Russophobia goes back further, perhaps all the way to 1917 when the Soviet Union was founded, but it was a different strain back then, with a lapse in that strain after the demise of the USSR in 1991, and picking up again in 2000 with Vladimir Putin coming to the helm of the independent capitalist Russian state.

The staff of the PSL’s Liberation News put it best, even better than Mike Whitney, as they centered it in an anti-capitalist context.It is worth quoting what they said in part:

“Clinton’s leaked emails have never been conclusively linked to Russia, or to the Russian government. Nor was the leak that novel — the whole game of modern electoral politics is to dig up dirt which compromises one’s opponent…It is likely that Gen. Mike Flynn, then the incoming national security chief, came to some understanding in December with the Russian ambassador about the easing of sanctions. Again, the people who think that this is exceptional — as if presidential campaigns and incoming administrations do not start striking deals before they formally take over — have serious delusions about the workings of politics. What was exceptional was that Flynn lied about it to his own superiors…Most of the Trump team’s purported “collusion” with Russia amounts to rather standard contacts with a foreign government. Trump was open throughout the campaign that he wanted to reorient U.S. policy towards Russia — which would indeed have signified a seismic shift in geopolitics, and would have had dramatic ramifications on crisis flashpoints such as Syria and Ukraine. In this context is it really surprising that his subordinates and team would have developed Russian contacts and back-channels? Why is every conversation with a Russian suddenly proof of foreign control?…the Russia realignment died almost as soon as Trump came into office — CIA-CNN-DNC pressure campaign after the election made sure of that. The administration changed its tone and then doubled down on the new Cold War when it bombed Syria in March [he means April]…But as a political card, the Russia connection remains particularly convenient to the DNC and its associated liberal organizations such as MoveOn. It taps into a long-held and well-indoctrinated prejudice — fear of Russians — while directing the struggle against Trump into channels they can more easily control: investigative committees, special prosecutors, and made-for-tv intrigue…The Russia card gives the Democratic leadership a strategy to weaken or potentially bring down Trump — as their base wants — without actually meeting the demands from below to move the party in a more left-wing, progressive direction.”

A conclusion

It’s hard to know the reason for Trump’s firing of Mr. Comey on May 9, one week ago. Perhaps it was because Marylander Rod J. Rosenstein, who only became Deputy Attorney General on April 26 after near unanimous approval of the US Senate, had convinced Attorney General Jeff Sessions that through revealing the investigation of Killary before the election, he had weakened the “public confidence in the FBI.” [23] Mr. Rosenstein said such in his letter recommending the firing of Mr. Comey, writing in part:

“Over the past year, however, the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage…I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken….The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution…When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information….former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties…concluded that the Director violated his obligation to “preserve, protect and defend” the traditions of the Department and the FBI…Although the President has the power to remove an FBI director, the decision should not be taken lightly…The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong…the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.” [24]

Taking this letter into account, one could almost say that the removal of Mr. Comey was in a sense, a PR move to improve the “reputation” of the FBI, which would appeal to the law-and-order approach of Mr. “expand the drug war” Sessions and Trump himself. This would also explain the timing of the letter. While Trump has supposedly said that the “Russia investigation” was on his mind when he fired Mr. Comey, the decision to fire was likely about improving the FBI’s “image” among the populace as a “nonpartisan” agency although it has never been non-political in any way. I could see how firing Mr. Comey damages Mr. Rosenstein’s “independence,” but I would be wary of calling him a “lackey” of Trump just yet.

With pending investigations in the House and Senate, the “Trump-Russia connection” seems destined to continue as a “legitimate” topic for the rest of this year, maybe for his whole first term. In the meantime, Trump’s EPA has greenlighted a gold mine in Alaska despite the environmental effects, the Trump State Department cited the discredited Amnesty report to smear Syrian government for its “brutality” (which has been rightly dismissed by the Syrian government), the Trump Pentagon continues to kill Syrian civilians every day, and most startlingly, and Trump’s plan to review protections on 27 national monuments could very well open up “more than 2.7 million acres of iconic US landscape” through extraction of oil, coal, and natural gas.

But, instead, say the hard-nosed bourgeois liberals and progressives, let’s all dance around with glee, allying with the US intelligence and military establishments, and impeach Trump for his “traitorous” action of talking with the Russians, who they think, based on the propaganda from the bourgeois media, rigged the election for Trump. Nothing could be more ridiculous. There is no doubt that the Electoral College is an institution which supported slavery, racism, bigotry, and exploitation, while muting popular movements. However, as it stands now, this means that by the existing laws, based in the “supreme” law of the land, the US Constitution, Trump was elected legally. This was not only because Killary didn’t care about the white section of the working class but due to her crass elitism like calling all of Trump’s supporters “the basket of deplorables…[they are] racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it,” a faux pas as bad as Mitt Romney’s remarks in which he said that 47% of the populace will vote for the populace and are entitled, people who “pay no income tax,” whom Romney doesn’t care about at all.

The talk of Trump-Russia “collusion” will go on, but as reasonable people we must be above this, rejecting such narratives and work with those affected by Trumpian fascism Lest us not be dupes of the bourgeois media as many bourgeois liberals and progressives already are, trapping many publications in self-made deception, while the capitalist class laughs in glee as they continue to destroy the work, crushing resistance wherever it can be found, and by whatever means at their disposal.

Notes

[1] Greg Miller and Adam Entous, “Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump,” Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2017; AP, “Trump transition raised flags about Flynn Russia contacts,” May 5, 2017; Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador,” Washington Post, May 15, 2017; William M. Arkin, Ken Dilanian, and Cynthia McFadden, “U.S. Officials: Putin Personally Involved in U.S. Election Hack,” NBC News, Dec. 15, 2016; Yara Bayoumy, “Putin turned Russia election hacks in Trump’s favor: U.S. officials,” Reuters, Dec. 16, 2016; Barbara Starr, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, and Elise Labbott, “Intel analysis shows Putin approved election hacking,” CNN, Dec. 16, 2016; , “Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US election – documents,” Reuters, Apr. 21, 2017; Jack Stubbs and Denis Pinchuk, “Russia denies Reuters report think tank drew up plan to sway U.S. election,” Reuters, Apr. 21, 2017; Ken Dilanian and William M. Arkin, “Blackwater Founder Repped Trump at Secret Meeting Overseas: Sources,” NBC News, Apr. 3, 2017; Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper, and Carl Bernstein, “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him,” CNN, Jan. 12, 2017; Washington Newsroom of Reuters, “U.S. intel report identifies Russians who gave emails to WikiLeaks -officials,” Reuters, Jan. 6, 2017; Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” New York Times, Feb. 14, 2017; Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman, and Michael S. Schmidt, “Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking,” New York Times, Mar. 1, 2017.

[2] Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump, Putin and the Hidden History of How Russia Interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election,” Newsweek, Jan. 10, 2017; CBS News, “More details on U.S. probe of Russian hacking of DNC,” YouTube, Dec. 14, 2016; Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, and James Gordon Meek, “Officials: Master Spy Vladimir Putin Now Directly Linked to US Hacking,” ABC News, Dec. 15, 2016; Ali Watkins, “Intel Officials Believe Russia Spreads Fake News,” BuzzFeed, Nov. 30, 2016; Ken Dilanian, “Official: Flynn Discussed Sanctions With Russians Before Taking Office,” NBC News, Feb. 10, 2017; Spencer Ackerman, “Intelligence figures fear Trump reprisals over assessment of Russia election role,” The Guardian, Dec. 11, 2016; Shane Harris, “Donald Trump Fuels Rift With CIA Over Russian Hack,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 11, 2016; Luke Harding, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, and Nick Hopkins, “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia,” The Guardian, Apr. 13, 2017.

[3] Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump, Putin and the Hidden History of How Russia Interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election,” Newsweek, Jan. 10, 2017; Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House,” Washington Post, Dec. 9, 2016.

[4] Euan McKirdy, “WikiLeaks’ Assange: Russia didn’t give us emails,” CNN, Jan. 4, 2017; Fox News, “Obama says US needs to respond to Russian cyberattacks — ‘and we will’,” Dec. 15, 2016; Yara Bayoumy, “Putin turned Russia election hacks in Trump’s favor: U.S. officials,” Reuters, Dec. 16, 2016.

[5] Adam Goldman, “Russian Spies Tried to Recruit Carter Page Before He Advised Trump,” New York Times, Apr. 4, 2017; Scott Shane, “What We Know and Don’t Know About the Trump-Russia Dossier,” New York Times, Jan. 11, 2017; Julie Pace, “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page met with Russian spy in 2013,” Chicago Tribune, Apr. 3, 2017; Ali Watkins, “A Former Trump Adviser Met With A Russian Spy,” BuzzFeed, Apr. 3, 2017; David Corn, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump,” Mother Jones, Oct. 31, 2016; Tom Hamburger and Rosalind D. Helderman, “FBI once planned to pay former British spy who authored controversial Trump dossier,” Washington Post, Feb. 28, 2017; BBC News, “Meeting the man behind the Trump memos,” Jan. 14, 2017; Rosie Gray, “‘It Is Fake News Meant to Malign Mr. Trump’,” The Atlantic, Jan. 10, 2017; Natasha Bertrand, “The FBI is reportedly using the explosive Trump-Russia dossier as a ‘roadmap’ for its investigation,” Business Insider, Mar. 30, 2017; Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Manu Raju, “FBI used dossier allegations to bolster Trump-Russia investigation,” CNN, Apr. 18, 2017.

[6] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016; Clint Watts, “Why Russia Wants the U.S. to Believe the Election Was Hacked,” PBS NOVA Next, Oct. 26, 2016; Dmitri Alpervitch, “Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee,” Crowdstrike, Jun. 15, 2016.

[7] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016; Trump adviser Roger Stone repeatedly claimed to know of forthcoming WikiLeaks dumps,” CNN, Mar. 20, 2017; Chas Danner, “Trump Adviser Roger Stone Admits Messaging With Alleged DNC Hacker,” New York magazine, Mar. 11, 2017; Martin Matishak, “Roger Stone takes center stage as Congress lines up Russia probe witnesses,” Politico, Mar. 20, 2017; Maggie Haberman, “Roger Stone, the ‘Trickster’ on Trump’s Side, Is Under F.B.I. Scrutiny,” New York Times, Mar. 21, 2017; Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, “Trump Adviser Had Twitter Contact With Figure Tied to Russians,” New York Times, Mar. 11, 2017.

[8] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016.

[9] Greg Miller and Adam Entous, “Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump,” Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2017; Clint Watts, “Why Russia Wants the U.S. to Believe the Election Was Hacked,” PBS NOVA Next, Oct. 26, 2016; Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “ODNI Statement on Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” IC On the Record (tumblr), Jan. 6, 2017; Bryon Tau, “Trump’s top intelligence officials accept conclusion that Russia hacked election,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2017; New York Times, “Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking,” Jan. 6, 2017.

[10] Kurt Eichenwald, “How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security,” Newsweek, Sept. 14, 2016; Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin,” Washington Post, Jun. 17, 2016.

[11] Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin,” Washington Post, Jun. 17, 2016; Jeremy Diamond and Greg Botelho, “Putin praises ‘bright and talented’ Trump,” CNN, Dec. 17, 2015.

[12] Ken Dilanian, Robert Windrem, William M. Arkin, and Tom Winter, “FBI Making Inquiry Into Ex-Trump Campaign Manager’s Foreign Ties,” NBC News, Nov. 1, 2016; Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, “FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump,” McClatchy, Jan. 18, 2017; Zeeshan Aleem, “6 different agencies have come together to investigate Trump’s possible Russia ties,” Vox, Jan. 21, 2017; Stephen Collinson, “FBI: Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found,” CNN, Mar. 20, 2017.

[13] Jeff Nesbit, “Donald Trump’s Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia,” Time, Aug. 15, 2016; Rachel Roberts, “Donald Trump fired James Comey because ‘he refused to end Russia investigation’, say multiple FBI insiders,” Independent, May 11, 2017; Leo Benedictus, “Invasion of the troll armies: from Russian Trump supporters to Turkish state stooges,” The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2016; Andrew Weisburd, Clint Watts, and JM Berger, “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy,” War on the Rocks, Nov. 6, 2016; Jill Dougherty, “The reality behind Russia’s fake news,” CNN, Dec. 2, 2016; Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2016 (the infamous story in which they promoted PropOrNot, which STILL hasn’t been deleted).

[14] DHS and Director of National Intelligence, “Joint DHS and ODNI Election Security Statement,” Oct. 7, 2016; Spencer Ackerman and Sam Thielman, “US officially accuses Russia of hacking DNC and interfering with election,” The Guardian, Oct. 8, 2016; Ellen Nakashima, Karoun Demirjan, and Philip Rucker, “Top U.S. intelligence official: Russia meddled in election by hacking, spreading of propaganda,” Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2017; Fred Flitz, “Was Friday’s declassified report claiming Russian hacking of the 2016 election rigged?,” Fox News opinion, Jan. 7, 2017; Tessa Stuart, “A Who’s Who of the Trump Campaign’s Russia Connections,” Rolling Stone, Mar. 2, 2017.

[15] ThreatConnect, “Does a BEAR Leak in the Woods?,” Aug. 12, 2016; Kevin Poulsen, “How the U.S. Hobbled Its Hacking Case Against Russia and Enabled Truthers,” The Daily Beast, Jan. 6, 2017; SecureWorks, “Threat Group-4127 Targets Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign,” Jun. 16, 2016.

[16] Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel,” Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2017.

[17]Michael S. Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg, and Matt Apuzzo, “Kushner and Flynn Met With Russian Envoy in December, White House Says,” New York Times, Mar. 2, 2017; Mark Landler and Eric Lichtblau, “Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself From Russia Inquiry,” Mar. 2, 2017; Jo Becker and Matthew Rosenberg, “Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms,” New York Times, Apr. 6, 2017; Jonathan Easley, “Diplomats warn of Russia hysteria,” The Hill, Mar. 11, 2017; Ken Dilanian, “Clinton Ally Says Smoke, But No Fire: No Russia-Trump Collusion,” NBC News, Mar. 16, 2017; NBC Meet the Press, “Full Clapper: ‘No Evidence’ of Collusion Between Trump and Russia,” 2016?; Todd Shepard, “James Clapper: Still no evidence of any Russian collusion with Trump campaign,” Washington Times, May 8, 2017; Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, “Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose,” Washington Post, Mar. 1, 2017; Julie Pace, “Senate committee calls on former Trump adviser Carter Page in Russia investigation,” Associated Press, Mar. 6, 2017; Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel,” Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2017; David Ignatius, “Why did Obama dawdle on Russia’s hacking?,” Washington Post opinion, Jan. 12, 2017; Marshall Cohen and Eli Watkins, “Who is Carter Page?,” CNN, Mar. 4, 2017.

[18] Michael Isikoff, “Moscow paid $45,000 for Flynn’s 2015 talk, documents show,” Yahoo News, Mar. 16, 2017; Lachlan Markay, “Michael Flynn Failed to Disclose Payments From Russian Propaganda Network,” The Daily Beast, Apr. 1, 2017.

[19] Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd, “How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And, Trump, Too),” The Daily Beast, Aug. 6, 2016; Carl Schreck, “FBI Director: No Evidence Russia Successfully Hacked Trump Campaign,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty (US government propaganda outlet), Jan. 10, 2017; David Filipov, “Putin to Democratic Party: You lost, get over it,” Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2016; Olivia Beavers, “Kremlin spokesman: Russian ambassador met with advisers to Clinton campaign too,” The Hill, Mar. 12, 2017.

[20] Julie Hirschfield Davis and Maggie Haberman, “Donald Trump Concedes Russia’s Interference in Election,” Jan. 11, 2017; Ellen Nakashima, Devlin Barrett, and Adam Entous, “FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page,” Washington Post, Apr. 11, 2017; Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann, “Trump Cries ‘Witch Hunt’ as Russia Questions Pile Up,” NBC News, Mar. 3, 2017.

[21] Gregory Holyk, “Republicans and Democrats split over Russia probes: Poll,” ABC News, Apr. 26, 2017; Steven Shepard, “Russia investigations a ‘witch hunt’? Not according to polls,” Politico, Mar. 3, 2017; Reid J. Epstein, “About Half of Americans Think Russia Interfered With Election Through Hacking, Poll Finds,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17, 2017; Quinnipac University Poll, “American Voters Back Sanctions For Russian Hacking, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Israel, Palestinians Not Sincere About Peace, Voters Say,” Jan. 13, 2017.

[22] In 2011 and 2012, Trump was still a real estate developer and ravenous capitalist. He displayed his unbridled nationalism by declaring Obama weak for not getting the Chinese and Russians to agree on sanctions, while also saying that Obama’s plan to get Russia to “stand up” to Iran has failed, making America a “laughingstock.” He later called Obama weak (again) and showed his affinity with Mitt Romney. The following year, he took a hardline stand in support of an US nuclear deterrent (against Russia), slammed Snowden first as a “traitor” and then as a pawn of the Russians, saying that Russians are “embarrassing” the US, among much more. Trump also said that the Russians are “laughing” at the US, that Snowden is a traitor (and another time), that Russia doesn’t “respect” the US, that Putin is “laughing at Obama,” and that Snowden is a Russian agent (again here). He also claims he spoke with the LGBT community in Russia, that it doesn’t make sense to go in Syria with military force, that the Russians are “better prepared” for war than the US, and that OPEC, China, and Russia are “laughing” at the US (variant of this here). That’s not all. He also said that Obama’s Syria conflict could become a “worldwide conflict,” promoted the Miss Universe pageant in Russia (also see here), that US looks “worse” to Russia than before, that Russian and Chinese leaders are “smarter” than those in the US, that the war in Iraq is “stupid,” that Russia may have driven the US into a “deeper mess,” and that the US looks “weak.” He goes on to say later that the US must be “smart and strategic” when it comes to Russia, mocks Obamacare (also see here),  Russia beat the US in Olympics, which is another “embarrassment,” Russia laughing at the US yet again, that Putin is much more popular than Obama, that Russia should be watched, Putin and Russia have more leadership than Obama, and calls Snowden a piece of “human garbage” who should be brought back to stand trial. He later tweets about Russian moves in Ukraine, a China-Russia oil deal, the country seeming “weaker” in comparison to Russia, joking about Obama’s “trade” with Russia, China and Russia not helping fighting ISIS which angers him (also see here), and slamming Jeb Bush (also see here). Later years, in 2014 and 2015 he says that the US needs “great leadership,” that Russia isn’t a regional power, that China and Russia are “smart” unlike US leaders, Russia and the world “respecting” the US because of Trump (oh really), slamming the Iran deal as helping Russia. There are the tweets that some would say are “pro-Russia.” With his bravedo, Trump claimed, before he was elected/selected via the Electoral College in November 2016, that (1) “Putin likes me,” (2) he has “ZERO investments in Russia,” (3) says that Putin called him a genius (he didn’t), and (4) said that if any country had the deleted emails of Killary, including the Russians, they should leak them. Yet, this is countered by the fact that he criticized Russia for its occupation of Crimea (which was done by referendum, which he doesn’t believe), blaming Obama, and condemning Russia’s nuclear capabilities, to give a few examples.

[23] Charlie Savage, “Deputy Attorney General’s Memo Breaks Down Case Against Comey,” New York Times, May 9, 2017; David Leonhardt, “Rod Rosenstein Fails His Ethics Test,” New York Times, May 10, 2017; Doyle McManus, “All eyes in Washington are on Rod Rosenstein. Does he have what it takes to investigate Trump?,” LA Times, May 10, 2017; Pamela Brown and Eric Lichtblau, “Rod Rosenstein: Trump’s unlikely hatchet man,” CNN, May 10, 2017; Steve Reilly, “Rosenstein: ‘Prosecutor’s prosecutor’ at center of Comey firestorm,” USA Today, May 10, 2017; Benjamin Wittes, “Et Tu Rod? Why The Deputy Attorney General Must Resign,” LawFare, May 12, 2017; Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Sari Horwitz, and Robert Costa, “Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey,” Washington Post, May 10, 2017 (claims to tell the “story” of the behind-the-scenes of the Comey firing).

[24] BBC News, “Rod Rosenstein’s letter recommending Comey be fired,” May 10, 2017.