Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 9, 2019

Amber A’Lee Frost and Anna Khachiyan: the two dingbats who bonded with Spiked Online

Filed under: imbecile trolls — louisproyect @ 8:14 pm

Anna Khachiyan (l) and Amber A’Lee Frost

On the Fourth of July, Amber A’Lee Frost and Anna Khachiyan, who are part of the Brookyn hipster Sandernista milieu, allowed themselves to be interviewed by Spiked Online as representatives of the “anti-woke” left. Despite the fact that the Koch-funded Spiked is hostile to the left, interviewer Fraser Myers lobbed softball questions at them that were softer than the kind Charlie Rose used to lob at Bill Gates or George Soros. How and why such seemingly clashing worldviews can converge is something worth examining. It might be said that contrarianism is shared across the board but there’s more to it than that.

First a word or two about Frost and Khachiyan. Frost was a FB friend a while back but I can’t remember much about her social media profile. She is a free-lance journalist who has written for some very good magazines, including Baffler. She also contributed an essay to a Rosa Luxemburg collection in 2013. But for most people, she is best known for being part of the Chapo Trap House crew that is commonly referred to as the “dirt-bag” left, a term coined by Frost herself. In one of six articles Frost has written for Current Affairs, she defended the use of vulgarity because it is “a tool for fighting the powerful”. She even has a kind word for Trump whose vulgarity “is appealing precisely because it exposes political truths,” something I admit is lost on me.

I had never heard of Anna Khachiyan before this interview. It turns out that she, like the Chapo people, is best known as a podcaster. She calls hers Red Scare, where she describes herself and fellow Russian immigrant Dasha Nekrasova as “bohemian layabouts”. Like Chapo Trap House, the two women love to laugh at their own jokes, a habit I find almost as annoying as those CNN commercials for prescription medicine that list all the terrible side-effects to watch out for. Last October, “The Cut” reported on a Brooklyn show where fans got a chance to meet their idols. This will give you an idea of what interests these “anti-woke” women:

The women onstage, all striking, were more Sevigny-goes-Hollywood, with leather miniskirts and Catholic schoolgirl provocation-gear and tiny sunglasses. After discussing their newfound addiction to Brandy Melville, a fast-fashion retailer for teens where Nekrasova had shopped for the show, the group moved on to a game: neoliberal disaster or crypto-fascist catastrophe? They debated: was SoulCycle neolib for its conflation of self-improvement with the outlay of cash? Or was there something more fascistic in the cult-leader instructor having her way with a room full of people pumping earnestly on bikes in darkness? Was Beyoncé, with her clothing line, a classic neoliberal opportunist, or, with her utter control over institutions like Vogue, a crypto-fascist? The intended lesson of the game, revealed swiftly, was that the two labels often were interchangeable. The subtext, revealed by the casual facility with which the hosts discussed the cultural products they professed to dislike, is that it’s all inescapable, no matter how mockable.

I guess I am showing my age by admitting that I have no idea what SoulCycle is and have never heard Beyoncé sing a song, not even once. I must confess, however, that I do have a fondness for Pete Seeger and Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” even if that brands me indelibly as a moldy fig.

Myers begins his interview by bemoaning “identity politics”:

The left is in crisis across the West. It is out of power in most countries and out of touch with its historical working-class base. Class politics has given way to identity politics. And noble causes like anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-discrimination have congealed into a stifling morass of political correctness and competitive victimhood.

So funny to hear a member of Frank Furedi’s gang fretting over the decline of “class politics”. Spiked has received $300,000 from the Koch brothers in exchange for articles denying climate change, supporting GMO and other rightwing causes but now is taking up the cause of the working class? Give me a fucking break.

Frost told Myers that “The majority of people are not woke. Why would we dismiss the majority of people as hopelessly reactionary?” I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. The only politician who have said things like that are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. When Obama said “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” was that a typical “woke left” attitude? Or Hillary Clinton’s dismissal of Trump voters as “deplorables”? Since the two women don’t define exactly what the “woke left” consists of, you can’t really decide whether they have a case or not. When I hear the word “woke”, I think of the Sandernista left. When Sanders went on Fox News to defend his program, that hardly sounded like someone who dismissed the majority of people as “hopelessly reactionary”.

As it happens, they hoist Bernie Sanders on their shoulders as one of their own “anti-woke” crusaders. Frost stated:

“The biggest divide in American society is class and that’s it. I’m a class-first person”, she tells me. “You’re hearing in the election how much we need to elect a woman or we need to elect a woman of colour. But the most left-wing candidate is an old, white, heterosexual man [Bernie Sanders] and I want him to win… I’m a Bernie bro. I was a Bernie bro in 2016 and I am now.”

This is what it boils down to: voting for Bernie Sanders on a class basis? For Marxists, the term class has a different meaning. It is not based on income but on the relationship to the means of production. Bernie Sanders is opposed to “runaway capitalism” and the “billionaire class” but he is not for abolishing the class relationships that define American society. In the 1950s, the income tax in the USA was about as egalitarian as anybody on the left could dream of—even “socialistic” given the campaign programs of Sanders and other DSA-backed candidates. But what you never hear from them are speeches that challenge the right of a capitalist to own an automobile, steel, or retail chain. While everybody can appreciate Bernie Sanders confronting Walmart’s bosses at a stockholders meeting, his proposals went no further than to put workers on the company’s board and a minimum wage raise. Of course, we understand that Sanders only became a Senator by soft-pedaling what might be called “communist” demands but that leaves open the question of what it means to be a socialist today. Sanders answered that by saying it means creating a new New Deal, as if that is either possible or desirable. It took FDR’s entry into WWII to life the USA out of the Great Depression, not WPA projects clearing brush or building roads to do that.

Frost is so determined to characterize the “woke left” as anti-working class that she once again makes a statement without backing it up: “The self-identified left are very sceptical of the populist stuff. Look at their takes on the yellow vests: ‘They’re all fascists!’ They’re probably just fucking French people – and who can tell the difference?”

Really? I have no idea what she is talking about. The left has been universally behind the Yellow Vests, even accepting the possibility that there are nativist elements in its midst. All you have to do is search CounterPunch or Jacobin for “Yellow Vests” and if you can find one article that claims “they are all fascists”, I will donate $100 to Red Scare. Then again, maybe Frost had a different “left” in mind. Like the Washington Post or MSNBC but even there you won’t find anything so crude. Perhaps the tendency for these two women to be shock jocks in the Chapo Trap House leads them to project their own vulgarity into the left in a Freudian sense.

Probably to curry favor with Spiked, Khachiyan demonstrates a contrarianism that is positively blood-curdling:

The conversation turns back to Bret Easton Ellis, a critic of what he calls snowflake culture, who is frequently accused of being a reactionary. “A lot of artists either don’t have any politics or their politics are retarded”, says Khachiyan. “His whole virtue as a writer is being a great stylist and a great narrator who retains plausible deniability. American Psycho has references to killing homeless black people, calling Asians ‘slant eyes’. And a lot of these woke SJW people sincerely think he’s a racist because he describes the condition… Artists are sometimes unassailable… The whole impulse to peg someone for what they are now is bizarre.”

I don’t know. Maybe he was just being “literary” in American Psycho but when he says that the film Black Panther was a sop to Hollywood’s “diversity push”, I do have a feeling that he just doesn’t care much for Black people.

Among the most disgusting aspects of this interview is what was said about Lena Dunham, a celebrity I cannot stand myself:

Khachiyan tells me about an event she was at with Roupenian recently. (‘Hands down one of the most inarticulate, scatter-brained speakers – but the woman can write!’) Lena Dunham was meant to speak, she says, but didn’t show up because “she cooked up a fake illness”. “It was around the time she had her uterus removed”, she says. Frost adds that lots of American women are “voluntary removing their reproductive organs”. “Nobody is talking about this. It’s a middle-class, very elite phenomenon, where they’re like, ‘I have menstrual problems, I’m going to remove my womb’. Lena Dunham wrote a whole fucking essay about it.”

As is typical of these two, there is no evidence provided that there are lots of American women who are “voluntary removing their reproductive organs”. What kind bullshit is this? My wife just had surgery to remove some fibroids and we were both grateful that a hysterectomy was not necessary.

In Dunham’s “fucking essay”, which characteristically is not linked to in the article, she states that her hysterectomy was a last-ditch decision to avoid the pain she suffered during menstrual cycles due to endometriosis, a “painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus”, according to the Mayo Clinic. Dunham describes how this affected her:

I wake up surrounded by family and doctors eager to tell me I was right. My uterus is worse than anyone could have imagined. It’s the Chinatown Chanel purse of nightmares, full of both subtle and glaring flaws. In addition to endometrial disease, an odd humplike protrusion, and a septum running down the middle, I have had retrograde bleeding, a.k.a. my period running in reverse, so that my stomach is full of blood. My ovary has settled in on the muscles around the sacral nerves in my back that allow us to walk. Let’s please not even talk about my uterine lining. The only beautiful detail is that the organ—which is meant to be shaped like a lightbulb—was shaped like a heart. Back in my room I hurt in surprising places: my shoulder, my hip, my ankle bone.

What amazes me is that these two dingbats evidently read this essay and were unmoved by this account. They should rot in hell.

July 14, 2014

A reminder to imbecile trolls

Filed under: imbecile trolls — louisproyect @ 9:30 pm

I have a way of preventing crap like this from appearing as a comment. I only post it now to make a point.

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 5.19.41 PM

How does it advance the Palestinian cause by baiting me as a “war mongering piece of shit”? Was I expected to approve a message that was so venomous? And from a bogus name and email address? When I flame some blogger, I always make sure to include my name and email address. What’s the pleasure in using a fake name and email address? Afraid that I will track him down in his parent’s basement in Lambeth and piss on his PlayStation? What a pussy.

I got a chuckle out of sp17@gogole.com. This cretin must have been so worked up he couldn’t get it together to spell google correctly. I approved an earlier message from him on the LTV post but only after pruning it of another gratuitous attack. The problem with jerks like him is that they lack the IQ to debate Syria or Ukraine. They are only capable of crude one-liners like the kind you would see on the wall near a latrine in a Mississippi truck stop.


Blog at WordPress.com.