Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

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.


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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.

July 9, 2021

Chemical Warfare In Syria, and Its Corrosiveness Beyond

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 5:27 pm

An article by Manuel Garcia Jr., a retired physicist who debunked 911 Truther claims in CounterPunch. This time he is taking on a new round of conspiracy theories designed to absolve Assad of chemical attacks.


July 6, 2021

The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, final chapter

Filed under: The Unrepentant Marxist comic book — louisproyect @ 6:56 pm

A political life after sectarianism

 Additionally, you can download the entire memoir
 from http://www.panix.com/~lnp3//UnrepMarx.pdf

(Chapter guide: chap. 1chap 2chap 3chap 4chap 5chap 6chap 7)

The End

July 5, 2021

The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, chapter six

Filed under: The Unrepentant Marxist comic book — louisproyect @ 11:15 pm

The turn toward industry and my turn away from the SWP

 Additionally, you can download the entire memoir
 from http://www.panix.com/~lnp3//UnrepMarx.pdf

(Chapter guide: chap. 1chap 2chap 3chap 4chap 5chap 6chap 7)

The final chapter appears tomorrow

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