all 2 comments

[–]neku 1 point2 points ago

The author seems very scared of leftists repeating "Russian propaganda" but fails to point to any specific examples of leftists doing so. I would be somewhat less sceptical of this article if it identified what "Russian propaganda" is and how "we" are falling victim to it. This article also employs the same patronising language that your average Twitter liberal conspiracy theorist uses, but as though it was coming from someone "on my side". It's also operating under the implied assumption that leftists that reject the author's beliefs may be "in a de facto alliance with the global Far Right".

In terms of concrete support, Russia has almost exclusively helped the far right, as far right ideas the closest thing Russia has to an official ideology. However, they still maintain contacts with the left and use symbolism, often Soviet or “Communist,” to dupe leftists into identifying with Russia. Accepting anything they offer gains you nothing. Your right-wing opponents will seize on any opportunity to attack you as a “useful idiot” and dismiss you. It’s not fair, but politics is war by other means, and all’s fair in love and war.

These paragraphs attempt to illustrate some Leftist cooperation with Russia but fails to present any evidence. What does it mean to "maintain contacts with the left"? Who is identifying with post-Soviet Russia? Who is accepting anything that "[Russia] has to offer?" What the fuck is this person talking about?

[...] It’s a lot better than becoming a shill for a regime that not only doesn’t care about your cause, but by all counts probably hates you and hopes you experience more political and economic strife because from their point of view, destabilization in your country is good for them.

I could say the same for the American bourgeoisie, who profited greatly from the political and economic strife from the 2008 recession. What destabilisation American politics has already suffered through has been nothing but a boon for their elites, fostering a deeply pro-business fascist/nationalist ideology.

More importantly, this strategy is apparent in many of Moscow’s foreign policy activities, such as fake “election observations” in Donbas or Crimea, the sponsoring or assistance of far right and far left organizations in the West, and internet trolling operations that have tried (and to some degree succeed) to stir up real life conflict within the US and other countries.

We have seen since 2014 that to the extent Russia has the ability to project military force, it has done so, and with far less restraint or even candor than the US. More over, its media and politicians continually threaten nuclear war against nations which object to its activities. The Russian government promotes the idea that Russia is a “natural empire” and that it has the right to have a “sphere of influence” around it. Would you tolerate the US or any of its allies doing something like this? I’d hope not. So don’t tolerate it from Russia.

The US government is staffed entirely by neo-conservative war hawks. Donald Trump threatens nuclear war regularly, without restraint or "candor". The only time American media outlets like Trump is when he sends cruise missiles of "freedom" into Syrian air bases. The American government has dominated within and without its "sphere of influence" since World War 2. Don't pretend that the US is better than Russia in this realm.

Even to this day Russia keeps offering “cooperation” with the West, so long as the West unilaterally concedes to all of Russia’s demands. How would that fare, for example, for the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (formerly known as Rojava)? Russia’s all in for Assad’s government, while the US, though supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces now, is still in an alliance with NATO member Turkey. An agreement between Russia, Turkey, and the US, could sweep one of the world’s most progressive projects in decades away in a bloodbath.

This is really weird speculation that doesn't actually strike me as being anywhere close to reality. The idea that Russia is offering "cooperation" in exchange for concessions to "all of Russia's demands" sounds extremely suspect, and even if it is true, it is not as though the US doesn't do the same thing, especially when dealing with third world countries. The USA is doing the exact same thing that the author is complaining about right now to North Korea, for heaven's sake.

Onto the actual meat of the quote, this dreamed up fantasy about Rojava fails to take into account the contradictions that the author points out within the same paragraph. The Department of Defense could decide to withdraw funding for the PKK and let their ally Turkey whittle them back down into an oppressed minority, or even agree with Turkey and designate them as a terrorist group (opening them up to surveillance and military action). Both of these hypothetical situations could happen without Russia having to lift a finger. It's like the author is racking their brains, trying to think of something that socialists like that has a remote chance of being imperiled by some bilateral US-Russia pact that was never, ever on the cards anyway!

One former Occupy Leader came up with a good strategy for deterring this sort of manipulation- international solidarity for protest movements. Basically by linking protests, it makes it harder for foreign governments on both sides to hijack any one movement. For example, if there’s a big protest in the US, find ways to link it to global protests in countries like Russia. If protesters used signs and slogans comparing American wealth inequality with that of Russia, it is unlikely that Russian state media would want to give it much coverage. This can be done on other topics as well, from separation of church and state issues to militarism and war.

What the fuck is this person talking about? First of all, Occupy imploded for a reason. You couldn't pay me to take advice from an "Occupy leader". Second, demanding that protesters change tactics in order to prevent "foreign government hijacking" is extremely paranoid and extremely arrogant. Showing up to a protest with some arbitrary shit about Russia sounds extremely suspect, and the idea of "signs and slogans comparing American wealth inequality with that of Russia" is a fascinating example of liberal chauvinism. People are out protesting for reasons that relate to their personal struggle, and trying to adjust their message so that Russian state media have less of a chance of, uh, "covering it", sounds extremely counter productive. I don't care for fortune telling about what working class people will and won't relate to, but why would I, personally, show up to a local protest about any issue if it'll get co-opted into some weird nationalist Russia shit? When another black kid gets murdered by cops, I think showing up with signs trying to flimsily tie pigs killing innocent people to Russia will be in pretty fucking poor taste!

This passage also fails to illustrate what the risks of "Russian manipulation" are. What does it mean to American protesters if Russian state media covers their protest? Is the Russian state media saying something that isn't true about the protest? What's the difference between being covered in RT and being covered by the Washington Post?

Also realize you should relax and not become too paranoid about this kind of thing.

oh honey. baby. sweetie. my precious star child. cont'd.

[–]neku 1 point2 points ago

Unfortunately, many American leftists subscribe to out-of-date, naive ideas about imperialism and how to oppose it. As such, they are prone to knee-jerk reactions to world events and end up regurgitating Kremlin talking points totally independently of any exposure to Russian-produced propaganda. The best you can do in this case is to point out the moral inconsistency of their positions and how such out of date views of the world are not only counter-productive, but they often actually aid the forces of reaction and are condescending to boot. So-called “anti-imperialists,” often with zero experience or background knowledge on the country in question, are typically more than happy to make loud pronouncements about which peoples deserve self-determination, and which do not, which protests are authentic, and which are nothing but paid dupes of the CIA or State Department. And yet how many of these same people would bristle with anger when the right says they’re “paid by George Soros?”

I feel like no matter their political views, anyone could be able to identify this paragraph as being wildly arrogant. Assuming that those who disagree with you have "out-of-date [and] naive ideas about imperialism" asserts that if only these people were smarter and more well-read, they wouldn't hold the political stances that they hold; you don't need me to tell you that that's fallacious. Political stances can be informed by someone's "intelligence" and the books that they read, but they're never determined by them.

Quibbling aside, based on the discursive background of the modern left argument that boy, some anti-imperialists are just wackos!, this article is almost certainly about leftists who, I suppose, could be described best as "defending" the government of Syria, as well as the others who find themselves under the heavy gaze of the American empire (such as North Korea's or Iran's). It's often that these leftists are accused of, if not being on the take from Vladimir Putin, then falling for his dastardly talking points. But that fails to take into account the logic behind "supporting" these governments: constantly adding your voice to a chorus of right wing regime change fanatics, who hate nations solely for refusing to become American client states, serves solely to galvanise the bourgeoisie's case for regime change in those nations. Condemning American enemies that are under the crosshairs of American cruise missiles because they're capitalists - just those that are outside of American hegemony - is, in execution, simply tacit approval. Hemming and hawing over how problematic a nation is when the American public consciousness is, aloud or not, mulling over actions against that nation will only harm that nation's workers, is, in execution, staying silent! The rhetorical purity over correctly identifying every capitalist state as harmful to the proletariat means little when proletarians will suffer under whatever action America takes against their nation, be it military (drone strikes, invasion, funding of paramilitaries) or not (funding of right wing political figures, embargoes, diplomatic isolation). We mustn't stay silent when America's knife is at anybody's throat, because history tells us whatever happens, working people will be worse off after she's done her dirty work.

(I kind of petered out towards the end there. I had a big day. Good night, folks.)