Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 12, 2021

The Future of this Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 6:05 pm

Update: this site has now returned to its free version at https://louisproyect.wordpress.com … i do not know how much longer https://louisproyect.org will redirect to this new address. The old address went defunct on June 7. So if you had troubles connecting the last couple, apologies. We had been told the changeover would happen gracefully. C’est la vie.

Now that this is no longer a Premium site, perhaps certain features will no longer work. I’ll monitor the Comments section for reports of problems.

Les 6/9/22

Just to let readers of Lou’s Blog know: Lou made arrangements for WordPress to host this site as a Premium blog up till May 2022.

After that time, Unrepentant Marxist will be available, for all time according to WordPress.com, at the following address https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/, while the address you normally use, https://louisproyect.org will no longer function. From now until May 2022 both links will work equally well. After May 2022, whatever Premium features Lou used in his blog posts will not be available. I will try to sort out if such Premium features are in use.

Les Schaffer

note added: 2/23/22

1. i see some of the Vimeo videos Lou included in his blog are not showing up at Vimeo any more. i will have to look into this disappearance.

2. i cleared out the queue of comments going back to last August. I apologize for the delay, particularly to those who wanted to pay their respects to Lou. I didn’t realize comments were moderated for those that have not posted here before.

many of the comments i approved. some i just deleted. i do not have time to sort through peoples’ anger and frustration with Lou long enough to decide if a comment is worth approving. in the future if comments clearly (and quickly) add something to an old discussion i will approve them. otherwise, its probably time, now that Lou is gone, to find another venue for your thoughts on his shortcomings as you see them.

August 28, 2021

Louis N. Proyect 1/26/45 – 8/25/21

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 3:29 pm

It’s with much sadness that, at Lou’s request, I let readers of Lou’s blog know that Lou died two days ago after a courageous struggle with cancer. And, he commanded me to be brief.

Lou did not want to share his personal health battle with the public. His passion was Marxism in thought and action, and that was alive and well in him as we talked, right up to a few days before his death.

He asked me to forgo writing anything biographical about his life. He said that if anyone wanted to know who he was, they can read The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, by Harvey Pekar. I’ve included a link, below.

Meanwhile, many people have been writing tributes to him elsewhere. So I can keep my promise to Lou to be brief in word, while disagreeing in spirit, by adding what other people have said about him. I will update what will be the last page of his blog over the next couple days with these tributes.

It is not possible to express my tears in writing here without breaking my promise to Lou.

Les Schaffer

Below are tributes written by two people that Lou deeply respected. I know that Jeffrey’s words in particular would make Lou smile appreciatively.

from Jeffrey St Clair

We lost another good friend today in Louis N. Proyect. Lou was a fighter and we had our fights over the years and I enjoyed most of them, even though he bloodied me up a couple of times. Usually they were fights about important things. Lou didn’t tolerate “beliefs”, he demanded ideas and he wanted proofs. Alex used to tweak Lou mercilessly in his columns, as the last Trotskyist. And Lou took it good-naturedly. In part because he idolized Alex and admired his writing. In part because it meant that his ideas were important enough to be debated, even parodied, at that level. Lou had his passions, Syria, being one, which often put him on the wrong side of many doctrinaire anti-Imperialists. He had his reasons, some very personal ones, but he didn’t flinch. As a writer, I admired how much and how clearly Lou wrote. Many writers, especially on the Left, have adopted an ornate, even opaque, rhetorical style. That wasn’t Lou. He valued clarity. And he worked hard at it. You would never mistake where Lou was coming from. That clarity of prose and ideas often made him an open target, especially by those who were made uncomfortable by his assertions. Lou and I only met once in NYC and that briefly, though we talked often across the years and exchanged emails two or three times a day, until the cancer made him too weak. For years, I’d save a spot for Lou’s Friday film column, trenchant reviews of independent and international films. I’ve watched a lot of films in my life, but Lou devoured them. He’d seen six or seven a week and write compellingly about most of them. Lou went to Bard, a fact he brought up often in our talks, not for academic boasting but for the opportunity it gave him to brought jazz musicians to campus, another mutual passion that deepened our friendship. He hated war and injustice and the perversions of history, the twisting of the record of events to suit political ideology. He wanted to see history straight, whether it was the Soviet Union under Stalinism or the Comanche under the murderous thugs who claimed Texas as their own. Like Cockburn, Lou didn’t want people to know he was sick. He didn’t want that distraction from the work he wanted to do in the last months of his life. He was a revolutionary in spirit, who never surrendered to pessimism, even as his own life started to flicker. The work was to make our lives better, to ease the suffering, to end needless deaths, to value all life and defend it. Well done, pal.


from Michael D Yates:

It is with great sadness that I announce my good friend, Louis Proyect, has died. He had a serious illness for some time. He died peacefully in his sleep on August 25. I will miss him greatly, and I assume you will as well. Louis was a voracious reader, and almost every day, he posted links on Facebook and on his listserv (Marxmail) to articles from a wide variety of sources on multiple subjects, from politics and economics to music and philosophy to physics and ecology. I am sure we have all learned a great deal from his posts. I don’t know anyone who wrote as many film reviews as he, with a regular Friday feature at Counterpunch. He did much in his life, through his efforts in Nicaragua and South Africa, for example, and with his voluminous writing, to push radical transformation forward. He allied himself with leftists around the world. He seemed to know just about everybody. Those who knew him personally know that he was a good human being, always willing to help a friend, no matter where in the world that person happened to be. He and his wife Mine showed me and my partner many kindnesses over the years.Goodbye, Louis. You will live on in our hearts and in our efforts to change the world.

August 6, 2021

A Walk on the Moon

Filed under: Catskills,Film,Jewish question — louisproyect @ 1:15 am

I confess that I have not watched all the films about the Borscht Belt but I am sure that nothing will ever top the 1999 “A Walk on the Moon” (universally available as VOD) since it captures the culture of the Catskill Mountain bungalow colony, basically a cottage of the type that first appeared in Victorian England, Its name derived from the Gujarati bangalo (“Bengali”) that meant “a house in the Bengal style.”

In terms of the hierarchy of the mostly Jewish summer places, it was poised midway between the kuchalayn and the hotel. The kuchalayn was the first resort area rental that was affordable to the first generation of Jews. It started off as rooms in farmhouses, where Jews from the Lower East Side could cook [kuch] their own meals in the kitchen. My grandfather Louis Proyect ran a kuchalayn in his modest farmhouse, where he grew cabbage during the Depression. Once he put some capital together, he began building hotels in and around Woodridge, where I grew up. The only one I know of was the Biltmore, a medium-sized hotel that overlooked the Neversink River (the Munsee word for “mad river”) and that was only a five-minute walk from the Avon Lodge, where Sid Caesar got his start.

At the top end of the scale, hotels could cater to different social classes within Jewry. I suspect that a garment worker could have afforded to keep his family in the Biltmore but for the  wealthy Jews there were dozens of fashionable and amenity-filled places like the Concord and Grossingers. In such places, people like Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis and Milton Berle got their start. They worked as tummlers, the men who were paid to entertain guests throughout various roles, from a comedian leading guests in Simon Says, walking through the lobby cracking jokes, and up to serving as master of ceremonies in the revues that played nightly. You can have seen tummler comedy on the Milton Berle show in the 1950s.

My knowledge of the bungalow colony is that of a delivery boy who showed up 3 or 4 times a day at different colonies to bring fruit and vegetable orders from my father’s store to the women whose husbands worked in the city during the summer. It was their sacrifices that made his wife and children enjoy cool fresh air, swimming pools, beautiful countryside and summer camp. It was just one of these bungalow colonies that served as the location for “A Walk on the Moon”.

The film, which is set in 1969 (hence the reference to the moon landing) begins with Marty Kantrowitz, his wife Pearl, his mother Lillian, their adolescent daughter Allison, and their young son Danny jammed into the family Rambler, a car that perfectly expresses his modest class status. Not only does the car have to accommodate the five people, it also has to have room for their garments, bedclothes, kitchen utensils and playthings. They might be described as modern Jewish versions of the Joads departing for California in “Grapes of Wrath.” By no means impoverished, the family lives on Marty’s modest income as a TV repairman.

Called Dr. Fogler’s Bungalow Colony, their summer place was based on Dr. Locker’s a colony in Mountaindale. To save money, the film was made in Quebec. That being said, it has the exact look and feel of a Catskill resort. The bungalows typically circled around something called a “concession” where ice cream, candy, suntan lotion, and cigarettes were sold. There was always a pinball machine that I used to stop in and play once or twice before I went back to my dad’s store. The concession could be heard all day long on a loudspeaker that would notify a guest that a husband like Marty Kantrowitz needed to speak to his wife. This was long before the days of cell phones obviously.

The film revolves around the trials and tribulations of Marty and Pearl, whose marriage is strained to a breaking point as she ends up in a passionate affair with Walker Jerome, the “blouse man” who stops by the colony several times a week to peddle women’s clothing out of a bus. Played by Viggo Mortensen, Walker is an amiable hunk who flirts with his customers mainly to help sell some clothes. When Pearl Kantrowitz stops in, the flirting has a different character since Pearl is played by Diane Lane, an actress who is of Jewish origin but lacks Schreiber’s authenticity. The wiki on her does not even mention that she is Jewish. Since Walker Jerome is clearly not a Jew, Mortensen works out just fine even though the screenplay does little to flesh out his character. He is a hunk of meat more than anything else. On the other hand, Liev Schreiber is great as Marty. Was a Jewish female version of Schreiber available to play Pearl? Unfortunately, there was only one Barbra Streisand and she was too much of a superstar to take such a role.

After a few days of flirtation between Walker and Pearl, they get it on in his bus while watching the moon landing on his TV. The film goes to great lengths to make her cheating understandable. She first met Marty at a hotel when she was 17. They went out for a date, had sex, and were immediately confronted by her unexpected pregnancy. Marty had to forgo college and begin raising a family with all the responsibilities that entails. Meanwhile, Pearl could not help feeling frustrated with the burdens of a housewife. Think of her as a latter-day version of Madame Bovary.

When Marty is up for the weekend, the bored and frustrated Pearl asks if they could try “something new” for sex, he has little idea what she is looking for. No, it is not anal sex but it obviously something she has not thought through herself. He tells her to wait a minute since he thought of a “new” approach. After stepping out of the bedroom, he comes back in his underwear wearing his son’s cowboy hat and holstered cap guns.

The love scenes between Walker and Pearl are par for the course and utterly forgettable. It is only after Marty’s mom informs him that his wife is “shtupping” (fucking) the blouse man that the real drama begins. When he confronts her, she really has no defense and only comes up with a lame (but entirely plausible) excuse. She feels that life is passing her by.

The drama intensifies when Walker and Pearl go to Woodstock, where they are seen dropping acid and going full-bore “hippy” with body paint and all the rest. Unfortunately, Allison, who is at Woodstock herself, spots them cavorting. When Pearl returns home, Allison asks who the teenager is. Her or her mom. It turns out that the spirit of rebellion has become contagious by 1969. Allison is against the war in Vietnam and even Marty finds himself digging Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” At the very end of the film, when Marty and Pearl are reconciled, they end up on the bungalow porch dancing to Dean Martin’s “When You are Smiling” on an “easy-listening” radio station. Marty must have found it too schmaltzy since he changes the station to a new rock-and-roll venue and the two begin bopping to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”

It turns out that I am not the only fan of “A Walk on the Moon”.  Phil Brown, who has the relationship to the Borscht Belt that Paul Buhle has to the left, conducted an interview with Pamela Gray, who wrote the screenplay. Gray, whose story is based on her personal experiences at bungalow colony, was asked “Did your parents ever talk about why colonies instead of hotels?” Her reply “Money. Hotels were not even an option. We could never afford that.” And this is why I loved the film as did Phil, whose parents owned a tiny hotel:

Q: It was a challenge, I would gather, to portray working class people as very interesting for a film world that does not necessarily see that.

A: Yes, because the film world does not often show working class people, except in stereotypical ways. Growing up, I thought that the Catskills were predominantly working class people and bungalow colonies. Although I knew that the hotels were out there; we would try to sneak into them (e.g. as teenagers we tried to sneak into dances). At one point in the script there were scenes with Pearl and Marty climbing fences to try to sneak into the hotels to go to the shows, and I said “you know this is just going to fit that stereotype of Jews, you know of ‘cheap Jews.’” But literally we could not afford it. That was why bungalow colony people did that. Anyway, that scene was cut for other reasons so I didn’t have to worry about it.

There was only aspect to the film that wasn’t completely accurate. By 1969, many of the hotels went bankrupt, were shut down by their owners, or were burned by arsonists to collect insurance. Just a few years later, I used to discuss the tourist industry with my mom, who was very involved on preserving it, and her cohorts.

I made the same point over and over again. The hotels and bungalow colonies had to target non-Jewish groups that had become the counterpart of Marty Kantrowitz’s Jews. Most of all, the Black and Latinos working for the MTA or in the public school system, et al. This appeal fell on deaf ears. They just didn’t feel that Blacks had a place that Jews once held and saw them only as lowly hired help sweeping floors. The men who owned hotels and bungalow colonies used the word “schvarze,” a derogatory term for Black. I heard this with my own ears.

Blacks might have put together the capital to buy bungalow colonies and hotels had they been able to keep up with whites. After all, Landsman Bungalow colony, a beautiful and immaculate homage to the classic 1950s resort, is a co-op in the heart of the Catskills. Why couldn’t  bus drivers and schoolteachers pull off the same deal? You do have to keep in mind that their wealth was on a rung somewhat lower than Jews because some in the housing industry refused to allow them into the huge developments where Jewish TV repairmen could get a great deal. Levittown was one of the most famous.

A December 28, 1997 NY Times article titled “At 50, Levittown Contends With Its Legacy of Bias” fills in the details:

The year-long 50th-birthday party for this pioneering suburb on Long Island is winding down. The parade drew 5,000 marchers. Crowds came for candlelight church services, an antique-car show, exhibits, seminars and tours of the fabled Levitt houses that started it all.

There were even Potato Day festivities honoring the flat farmland here where Levitt & Sons began mass-producing single-family tract homes in 1947, heralding the wave of migration from cities that lasted for decades.

But not everyone touched by the Levittown experience has been celebrating.

”The anniversary leaves me cold,” said Eugene Burnett, who was among thousands of military veterans who lined up for their green patch of the American dream here after World War II. But he was turned away because he is black. ”It’s symbolic of segregation in America,” he said. ”That’s the legacy of Levittown.

”When I hear “Levittown,” what rings in my mind is when the salesman said: “It’s not me, you see, but the owners of this development have not as yet decided whether they’re going to sell these homes to Negroes,” Mr. Burnett, now a retired Suffolk County police sergeant, recalled. He said he still stings from “the feeling of rejection on that long ride back to Harlem.’”

William Levitt was a Russian Jew, just like most of the people who used to rent a bungalow colony. He was primarily hostile to Blacks, just like Fred and Donald Trump, but was not above refusing to sell to Jews, especially if they were not to his liking.

But as bad as Levitt was, the primary explanation for wealth inequality had more to do with banks. Even if some Black people decided to buy a bungalow colony co-op, there was little chance that they could get one from Chase mortgage or any other retail bank. I urge you to listen to HBO’s John Oliver explain all this. For my money, he is the only leftwing comic with the guts to implicitly use the 1619 Project for the real story of how white supremacy went on long on after Jim Crow died.

July 30, 2021

Eric Blanc, the Finnish Revolution of 1918 and Voting Democrat

Filed under: Counterpunch,DSA,Jacobin,Kautsky,reformism,social democracy — louisproyect @ 3:39 pm


Eric Blanc

Seven years ago, Eric Blanc’s “National liberation and Bolshevism reexamined: A view from the borderlands”made quite a splash, at least within the tiny world of Marxist scholarship. I welcomed a defense of those caught in the Czarist prison-house of nations, especially those that hoped to make revolutions themselves. At the time, Blanc had not yet become a Social Democrat. Therefore, there were little inklings that “the borderlands” would become a lynchpin for his aggressive attacks on revolutionary socialism that made their most recent appearance recently in a Jacobin article titled “Socialists Should Take the Right Lessons From the Russian Revolution”.

The “right lessons” turned out to be that the only “plausible path to socialist transformation in parliamentary countries is a radical form of democratic socialism.” And guess what that “radical form” amounts to: “socialists should only take executive office like presidencies during a socialist revolution.” In other words, Lenin was all wrong. He should not have fought for Soviet power but waited as if the “socialist revolution” were an embryo in the ninth month. Blanc would still insist that he is an orthodox Marxist, but Karl Marx made it patently clear that the dictatorship of the proletariat would not rest on “executive office.” Instead an armed people would rule in their own name—the Paris Commune, in other words.

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July 23, 2021

The Milk System

Filed under: Counterpunch,Ecology,farming,food — louisproyect @ 3:28 pm


Thanks to my good friend Manuel Garcia Jr., I got a head’s up about a documentary titled “The Milk System” that arrived with zero publicity:

Everything you talk about, Louis N. Proyect, is here: the contradictions of capitalism, surplus value and the robbing of it, the precariousness of the actual producers of the surplus value, the necessity of continuous industrial growth, to “keep in place” despite being in a finite world, and thus consuming foreign resources by economic imperialism and ecological murder.

Manuel, as always, was right on the money. The film was made by Andreas Pichler, who grew up on a dairy farm atop a bucolic hillside that looked like the scenery in “The Sound of Music”. Wearing lederhosen, his job as a child was to walk the cows back and forth from pasture and to milk them. Conscious of sweeping changes in the dairy industry (the word industry is apropos), he decided to make a documentary that will help us understand why the big farms are getting rich as they torment animals and rob the soil.

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July 20, 2021

How Harper’s Magazine Undermines the Struggle Against White Supremacy

Filed under: african-american,Black Lives Matter,Harper's Open Letter,journalism — louisproyect @ 3:18 pm


John “Rick” MacArthur

When the latest issue of Harper’s arrived in my mailbox in June, white racist grievances had reached a fever-pitch. The University of North Carolina had refused tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, Critical Race Theory had become a bogeyman like Communism was in the 1950s, and Republican state governments were working overtime to pass Jim Crow type voting laws. Instead of standing up to these racist threats, the magazine decided to publish a nearly 5,600 word attack on the 1619 Project by Princeton history professor Matthew Karp titled “History As End: 1619, 1776, and the politics of the past.” While the article is behind a paywall, you can register for one free article a month.

The article argues that it is futile to dwell on the racist history of the USA and to instead look forward to breakthroughs like the Civil War, the civil rights movement, etc. Essentially, Karp aligns himself with the cadre of historians that complained bitterly about all the falsehoods they supposedly saw in the 1619 Project. Among them, his Princeton colleague Sean Wilentz barked the loudest at Hannah-Jones. Mostly, the complaints were about her introductory article that stated that the colonists fought for independence in order to maintain slavery and that racism was in America’s DNA. Except for Wilentz, the historians took their case to the World Socialist Website (WSWS), an outlet distinguished by its hysterical Henny-Penny warnings that WWIII was always about to break out and that Socialist Workers Party leader Joe Hansen was a GPU agent.


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July 18, 2021

Even Noah Would Be Amazed

Filed under: Ecology,Manuel Garcia Jr. — louisproyect @ 3:48 pm

(I am not sure I have provided any background on Manuel Garcia Jr. but suffice it to say that anything he writes on the environment is a must-read. He is a retired physicist who is a fellow contributor to CounterPunch that I first met over a decade ago when I was answering 911 Truthers. In a series of articles for CounterPunch, Manuel used his professional expertise to debunk “controlled explosives” and other elements of the conspiracy theory that it was an “inside job”. Manuel has a deeply profound understanding of the potentially apocalyptic nature of uncontrolled economic growth and expresses himself in elegant prose. I urge you to bookmark his website and pay careful attention to anything he writes that is crossposted here.)

By Manuel Garcia Jr.

A extensive televised BBC News story of 16 July 2021, titled “Catastrophic flooding across western Europe as politicians blame climate change,” showed the devastation caused by the rapid massive flooding in the region of Western Europe at the confluence of the borders of Germany, Belgium, France and Luxembourg during the third week of July 2021, when three times the monthly average of rainfall was dumped in only a day or two. In that report, the likely next Prime Minister of Germany forthrightly assigned blame for the catastrophe to global warming climate change, and urged serious and immediate national, European and world action to counter it by reducing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide.


Continue reading

July 16, 2021

Comrade Trump

Filed under: humor,Trump — louisproyect @ 11:39 pm

How Grayzone, Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald see Donald Trump

July 15, 2021

Freedom-Loving As Denial Of Truth And Freedom

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 2:04 pm

Manuel Garcia Jr. on the hypocrisy over the Cuban protests.


July 13, 2021

Matt Taibbi descends deeper into the abyss: the CJ Hopkins interview

Filed under: Red-Brown alliance — louisproyect @ 11:15 pm
Matt Taibbi

Recently I discovered that Matt Taibbi had interviewed CJ Hopkins on May 13, 2021. My own encounter with CJ Hopkins should prepare you for how questionable it was for Taibbi to give Hopkins a platform. The interview was a schmooze-fest like the ones that Charlie Rose used to conduct with figures like Bill Gates or Henry Kissinger and make you wonder how far Taibbi can go until he hits rock-bottom.

Back in 2017, I discovered that a number of well-known leftists had their articles cross-posted on Ron Unz’s website called the Unz Review. I can’t use the URL since that would prevent my article from appearing on FB where Unz is banned. Unz’s website is openly neo-Nazi with Unz, a Jew by birth, writing long holocaust revisionist essays. Among the more frequent contributors to the Unz Review are Andrew Anglin, the editor of neo-Nazi message board Daily Stormer, and Jared Taylor, founder of the New Century Foundation that promotes pseudo-scientific research that tries to prove the inferiority of blacks to whites.

I made an effort to contact the leftists who Unz was using as window-dressing to ask them to demand their articles not being reproduced on his website.. Ultimately, they were not successful but at least they made an effort, such as Patrick Cockburn’s editor at The Independent making a futile demand.

Among those who insisted that he had no problem with Unz Review was CJ Hopkins who went so far as to submit them voluntarily. I found this troublesome since Hopkins submitted the same “satirical” articles to CounterPunch and Unz Review simultaneously. Hopkins’s ties with CounterPunch ended rather abruptly after he got on Jeffrey St. Clair’s wrong side. On September 11, 2018 Anthony Dimaggio wrote an article that warned about the emergence of a red-brown tendency. He linked to an article I had written calling attention to Unz’s use of left authors as a left cover, which did not even mention Hopkins. He assumed that when one of his “satires” did not show up later on at CounterPunch, it was because he had been dropped. He went public with his complaint without even consulting Jeffrey St. Clair, who cleared the air: “We didn’t publish a single piece, out of the dozens we’ve published, because it slipped past me while I was trying to take a little time off to enjoy the arrival of our first grandkid. It’s a simple as that.”

Now, I am allowing the possibility that Taibbi knew nothing about the Unz Review connection but even if he didn’t, he failed miserably by endorsing Hopkins in his Substack piece. After Hopkins’s ties to CounterPunch were severed, he took a sharp turn to the right that can only be characterized as a mixture of COVID-19 denialism, racism and a growing identification with the Trumpist right—one that makes Taibbi and Greenwald look like MSNBC hosts by comparison.

Let’s look at the introduction to the Q&A first, which deals mostly with the pandemic. Taibbi hailed him as  “taking aim at overwrought official rhetoric, interpreting a lot of the coronavirus response as an opportunistic, authoritarian power grab by the global neoliberal project.” This hardly conveys what Hopkins has been writing. Instead, his articles have been an unending stream of articles claiming that the pandemic was a “false flag” like the chlorine attack in Douma. Instead of being used to justify “regime change” in Syria, the manufactured pandemic would now be used to create a world-wide dictatorship fomented by Bill Gates and the Democratic Party. The madman writes:

You could experimentally “vaccinate” millions of people whose risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from your apocalyptic virus was minuscule or non-existent, and kill tens or hundreds of thousands in the process, and the people whose brains you had methodically broken would thank you for murdering their friends and neighbors, and then rush out to their local discount drugstore to experimentally “vaccinate” their own kids and post pictures of it on the Internet.

For Hopkins, the coronavirus is a “common-flu-like” illness that is hardly worth caring about since most of the deaths occur among old folks, anyway. You get the picture. It is the same talking points you’ll hear on Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham nearly every night.

Turning now to the Q&A, you get Hopkins making his talking points about the pandemic but with a careful attempt to sound less insane. Whether Taibbi made an attempt to go through some of Hopkins’s more hysterical articles is open to question.

It is toward the end of the interview that the two mavericks begin to discuss broader political questions. Taibbi asks, “You were one of the first people to express skepticism about Russiagate. Do you see a connection between that story and this one?”

His reply is most revealing:

So, there global capitalism was, happily destabilizing, restructuring, privatizing, and debt-enslaving the entire planet, and cleaning up little pockets of resistance to global capitalist ideology, as it had been doing since the fall of the USSR, which is when global capitalism became the first unopposed globally-hegemonic ideological system in history. The War on Terror was still the primary official narrative. Then Brexit, Trump, and the whole populist backlash against globalization and wokeness that erupted in 2016. So global capitalism (or “GloboCap,” as I’ve taken to calling it) needed to adjust the official narrative to delegitimize Trump, who was (a) an unauthorized president and (b) a symbol of that populist backlash, basically, a big “fuck you” to the global capitalist establishment from the American people.

Instead of throwing soft balls, Taibbi could have honed in on the question of Trump’s “populism”. What was “populistic” about the Trump administration? His tax cuts for the rich? His putting lobbyists for the energy corporations in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency who pushed for drilling in public lands? Making sure that the FDA kowtowed to big pharma? You’d think that Hopkins, who makes big pharma a key part of his conspiracy theories about the pandemic, would have noticed Trump and the drug industry working closely together to make oversight a thing of the past. Science Magazine reports

FDA inspection reports labeled “official action indicated”—typically a trigger for warning letters or similar actions—have fallen by about half under Trump and are continuing to trend downward. Even FDA’s rare injunctions, a more forceful step than warnings to prevent sales or distribution of unsafe or otherwise illegal products, fell from 35 in the last part of the Obama administration to 26 under Trump. (During a comparable period at the start of the Obama years, FDA issued 51 injunctions.) The agency’s “untitled letters”—for concerns that fall short of thresholds for formal warnings—also have dropped sharply under Trump.

It is impossible to figure out what Hopkins means by populism since his “satires” are devoid of economic analysis. Let’s leave it at this. When Trump claimed that “inequality is down,” the next day the U.S. Census Bureau data confirmed that income inequality had hit its highest level since the federal government started tracking it five decades ago. The richest one percent of Americans now take in one-third of the country’s net worth, while the bottom half of the population scrapes by with only 1.2 percent. If that’s “populism”, then I oppose it.

Perhaps the only thing that does tie Hopkins’s to earlier populist movements is racism. Keep in mind that despite a class-struggle orientation, the original Populist movement was weakened by its racism. Tom Watson, the best known Populist, succumbed to it later in his career. After 1900 he no longer viewed the populist movement as being racially inclusive. By 1904, he was engaged in attacks on Blacks, believing them to be little more than pawns of the Democratic Party. By 1908, Watson identified as a white supremacist and ran as such during his presidential bid. He used his highly influential magazine and newspaper to launch vehement diatribes against blacks.

Get that? He saw the Democratic Party as using Blacks as pawns for their nefarious ends. Maybe Hopkins studied Watson’s career to figure out how to make white supremacy palatable. Just as the pandemic was a “false flag” to create a dictatorship controlled by MSNBC, Chase Bank, Bill Gates, and Nancy Pelosi (ie., what he calls the Resistance below), the riots that ensued after George Floyd’s murders were a plot to strengthen the Deep State:

So I have no illusions about racism in America. But I’m not really talking about racism in America. I’m talking about how racism in America has been cynically instrumentalized, not by the Russians, but by the so-called Resistance, in order to delegitimize Trump and, more importantly, everyone who voted for him, as a bunch of white supremacists and racists.

Fomenting racial division has been the Resistance’s strategy from the beginning. A quote attributed to Joseph Goebbels, “accuse the other side of that which you are guilty,” is particularly apropos in this case. From the moment Trump won the Republican nomination, the corporate media and the rest of the Resistance have been telling us the man is literally Hitler, and that his plan is to foment racial hatred among his “white supremacist base,” and eventually stage some “Reichstag” event, declare martial law and pronounce himself dictator.

In fact, this is pure hyperbole. Nobody opposed to Trump believes that he is “literally” Hitler. Instead they tend to warn about the possibility of fascism arising during his administration but this is a “neo-fascism” that looks hardly different from McCarthyism, the Nixon years, etc. Like clockwork, liberals call Republican Party presidents a fascist threat ever since Eisenhower.

By defending Trump against a non-existent “Resistance”, Hopkins moves the conversation away from new Jim Crow-type laws, attacks on the academy’s right to teach about white supremacy and generally the Republican Party’s deeply reactionary attempts on working people as indicated by its attempts to torpedo Biden’s palliative government spending legislation. How Taibbi didn’t figure this out speaks volumes about his sad decline.

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