How to Maliciously Smear Your Critics (and Not Get Away with It)

The life of a professional political satirist is many things, but it is certainly never boring. Last week, for example, was particularly not boring. OK, I wasn’t called before a Senate committee to testify against a rapey nominee to the highest court in the United States, or smeared by the right-wing media for doing so, nothing that dramatic or consequential. No, while most Americans were parsing every “he said” and “she said” of the Kavanaugh hearings, I was embroiled in my own little sordid drama involving “going public,” and smears, and my colleagues attempting to assassinate my character, and so on.

What happened was, I got the kiss-off from CounterPunch (where I had been a contributor for over two years) by CounterPunch’s Red-Brown Putin-Nazi hunting squad. That, or the editors just overlooked my submissions, or they decided not to run them, or they were going to run them, after having overlooked them, but then decided not to run them, because I’d already run them, after they didn’t run them … or something. I can’t keep all their stories straight.

This kiss-off (or confusion, depending on who you believe) happened after I submitted a piece, Putin-Nazi Paranoia, responding to a featured essay in CounterPunch smearing a number of leftist writers (and me by extension) as “far-right shills.” Smearing leftist writers they do not approve of has become a standard feature of CounterPunch. As far as I recall, it began in earnest in the Summer of 2017, when they accused Caitlin Johnstone of Red-Brown activities, i.e, promoting an unholy union of ultra-far-right and ultra-far-left movements (or “neo-Strasserism,” for you Putin-Nazi scholars).

This was an extremely ignominious episode, as Johnstone documented at the time, and followed up on about a year later. Featured essays in CounterPunch by Yoav Litvin and CounterPunch editors Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair either openly claimed or insinuated that Johnstone was a Red-Brown infiltrator who was calling for an alliance with white supremacists, which, of course, was a load of paranoid nonsense. Diana Johnstone (no relation to Caitlin) also covered this brouhaha in her essay about the CounterPunch Red-Brown hunter squad (which, in addition to Litvin, St. Clair, and Frank, include other characters like Anthony DiMaggio, author of the above-mentioned “far right shill” piece, Eric Draitser, the official team cheerleader, and Alexander Reid Ross, who is a bull goose loony. Sadly, Diana left out Louis Proyect, the notorious “unrepentant Marxist” creep, who, although not technically a CounterPunch editor, appears to have quite a lot of influence at the magazine … I have never really understood why that is.

In any event, after I announced that CounterPunch had stopped running my pieces, and asked for help spreading them around on the Internet, they promptly began smearing me as an anti-Semite (or continued smearing me as an anti-Semite, because Louis Proyect had already been trying his best to smear me as an anti-Semite). They base their smears on the fact that my essays have been re-posted by The Unz Review, which the CounterPunch Red-Brown hunting squad have become increasingly obsessed with lately. (For the record, my essays have also been re-posted by outlets like ColdType, The Greanville Post, OffGuardian, Entelekheia, Le Grand Soir, ZeroHedge, Dissident Voice, Black Agenda Report, and other such outlets, and people’s personal blogs. I do not work for any of these outlets. They have simply been kind enough to re-post my essays, each of which originally appeared in CounterPunch, until the last two essays in question. Weirdly, the CounterPunch editors do not appear to be concerned about these other outlets, nor even, consistently, about The Unz Review, as they just featured this essay by Michael Hudson, which had been featured two days earlier by The Unz Review, where Hudson is listed as a columnist.)

But I’m not going to defend The Unz Review, or Michael Hudson, or any of the many other writers, whether left or right, that are posted, or re-posted, on that site. Nor am I going to defend myself against the smears leveled at me by the CounterPunch editors. Why, you probably want to know, am I not going to do that?

OK, I’ll tell you.

Because that is precisely how the smear game works. The way it works is, the smearers bait the smearee into defending himself against the defamatory content of the smears. Once the smearee has done that, the smearers have him. From then on, the focus of the debate becomes whether or not the smears are accurate, rather than why he’s being smeared, how he’s being smeared, and who is smearing him. This is the smearers’ primary objective, i.e., to establish the boundaries of the debate, and to trap the target of the smears within them. If you’ve followed the fake “Labour Anti-Semitism” scandal, you’ve witnessed this tactic deployed against Corbyn, who unfortunately fell right into the trap and gave the smearers the upper hand. No, the only way to effectively counter a smear campaign (whether large-scale or small-scale), is to resist the temptation to profess your innocence, and, instead, focus as much attention on the tactics and the motives of the smearers as possible. It is difficult to resist this temptation, especially when the people smearing you have significantly more power and influence than you do, and are calling you a racist and an anti-Semite, but, trust me, the moment you start defending yourself, the game is over, and the smearers have won.

With that in mind, and for those readers who are tempted to just take the word of an established leftist magazine like CounterPunch over that of minor author who they may not have ever even heard of, I am posting the following email exchange between Jeffrey St. Clair, Joshua Frank, and myself (and a journalist and a colleague, whose names I’ve redacted, who wrote to St. Clair for clarification after reading conflicting reports on the Internet), for the purposes of criticism and review. CounterPunch readers, my readers, and others who swim these rather rarefied waters can judge the facts, and the quality of everyone’s character (and our motives) for themselves.

I hope that readers will also take the time to peruse the links I’ve provided for reference, in particular my collegial exchange with Joshua Frank and Louis Proyect on the Facebook, and Diana Johnstone’s Consortium News piece. Smearing one’s critics is an ugly business, but it’s a widespread and often very effective business. It is not going out of style anytime soon. So it’s essential to understand how it works, and to maintain an attitude of healthy skepticism toward anything defamatory you hear about anyone … and to know how to respond if it happens to you.

Oh, and please feel free to share, tweet, re-post, re-blog, or otherwise disseminate this essay, regardless of your politics.

***

The following email exchanges took place on September 21, and 24 and 25, 2018. The emphasis (underlined) is mine. Otherwise, they are reproduced verbatim.

1.

Colleague: [sends St. Clair an image of my tweet to ask, “what’s going on?”]

Jeffrey St Clair: No idea. We didn’t stop running him. We missed one column, because I’d been out for most of the week attending to the new grandkid. God forbid, I take a week off in 5 years before some shithead begins slandering me online. In any event, he does publish his stuff on a site which just try to claim Alex as a “Holocaust denier,” so it’s not as if he’s going without an audience.

2.

Journalist: Has [CJ] really been kicked off CP? That’s what he seems to be saying.

Jeffrey St Clair: No. I know that’s what he’s saying, but it’s a lie and he knows it’s a lie. I told him as much and I had his piece for last week edited, loaded and scheduled to run when someone sent me his drama queen tweet. 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.

John Ross used to get royally pissed at me for sometimes delaying running his pieces. He’d call Saul Landau from Mexico City and gripe and send me furious emails. But Ross never went public libeling CP editors for having overlooked one his essays. He’d never even consider it. But that’s because Ross was a real journalist, who’d been in the trenches for decades as Alex and I had, and was also on our side politically. The old notions of solidarity are, of course, withering away, while the state remains.

Alex used to say that we should reject every fourth or fifth submission from a writer just to keep them in their toes. I’ve never taken that position. It was an indulgence on my part to run Hopkins at all, since we’d had a fairly iron-clad rule against running satire since it always confuses the credulous readers of the site.

Even so, I think Hopkins’ public assault on us reveals something rather acidic about his character, almost as much as his preference to have his columns published by Ron Unz, the guy who funded the anti-immigrant and English-only ballot initiatives in California and who lately libeled Alex as a Holocaust denier–though, the coward that he is, Unz waited five years after Alex was in the ground to do so.

I don’t know what Hopkins’ real politics are and I don’t want to speculate. But I do know Unz’s politics and the circle that has coalesced around him, like Israel Shamir who publicly denounced me a couple of weeks ago for caring “more about blacks and Jews than white Christians.” I’ll cop to that smear, but not to CJ’s.

CJ Hopkins: Hi [REDACTED], and Jeff. [REDACTED], I’m not sure whether you’re inquiring personally or professionally, so with that in mind, here are the facts … and some of my thoughts.

I sent Jeff my recent Putin-Nazi Paranoia piece, waited for it to run. It didn’t. For the first time in over two years. So I wrote Jeff asking about it, specifically asking whether I had gone too far in my response to DiMaggio’s piece, in which DiMaggio had smeared a bunch of writers as “far right shills,” and supported his smear with a blog piece by Louis Proyect along the same lines, but crazier.

As both DiMaggio’s and Proyect’s smear pieces were focused on writers who write for Unz, or allow Unz to cross-post their essays (as I have for two years), and as Proyect had written me a nasty email fishing for comments for his piece, I considered myself part of the smeared group, though I was not named in either piece.

In any event, Jeff wrote me back, said he hadn’t seen my submission, that it had been a busy week, and that he would rummage around for it. I re-sent it to him immediately in order to spare him the rummaging. I waited for it to run. It didn’t. No follow-up from Jeff.

A week later, I sent my most recent piece, Down with the Working Classes! Waited for it to run. It didn’t. In the meantime, no word from Jeff or anyone at CP about the earlier piece.

So I posted the Working Classes piece on my blog, tweeted that CP had apparently stopped running my work and returning my emails, which is true. I did not claim that I was banned.

The background to this, on my side, is that I have watched as key CP writers, namely Litvin, Frank, Draitser, and then DiMaggio (and Proyect on his blog and elsewhere) have posted a series of paranoid pieces accusing people of being “Red-Brown” agents, or whatever. (You probably recall the “Caitlin Johnstone-is-a-Nazi” episode.) Long story short, the DiMaggio piece was the last straw for me. I wrote my Putin-Nazi Paranoia piece as a response. It was tough. I was angry. Which shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

If CP had run that piece (i.e., my response), that would have sufficed. I think I was entitled to that, after two years of contributing to CP, and otherwise supporting it, and after having been smeared in CP’s pages, in a lead essay, as a “far right shill.” Or, if Jeff or Joshua or anyone at CP had simply returned my emails and informed me why they had stopped running my essays, or accusing me of being a crypto-Nazi because I have let Unz re-post my pieces, or just telling me directly to go fuck myself, that would have also sufficed. But nothing.

This email is long enough, so I’ll spare you the details of my exchanges with Joshua and Louis on Facebook, and Jeff via email, other than to say they all seem to be obsessed with the Unz thing (which is surprising, since Unz has been reposting my stuff for two years) and suddenly very concerned about my “character.”

I think my character is pretty clear from my writing. I don’t appreciate the guilt-by-association game, or being smeared as a “far right shill,” and I simply don’t have any respect for folks who engage in that sort of thing. It appears to have become a standard tactic at CP, as you can see from Jeff’s reference to my “real politics” in his email.

As for my “public assaults” on CP, again, that could have been prevented with a simple email, which, where I come from, is just professional courtesy.

Anyway, [REDACTED], those are the facts and my thoughts. If you have further questions about what happened, or my “character” or my “real politics,” just ask. Despite the CP folks’ insinuations and smears, I’m really not a very sneaky guy.

Jeffrey St Clair: A favor: stop attacking Nat in your online self-promotions—“Read the article that Nat refused to run, blah blah blah.” He doesn’t make any editorial decisions. Train your pop-gun on me, instead. It will probably increase your hits with the Holocaust deniers and Pizzagaters you like to hang with, even as you demure that you ain’t one of them. The reason the “Unz thing” has became an issue is that he just smeared Cockburn as a Holocaust Denier—not so much “smeared,” I guess, as adopted & celebrated as one of the gang. Alex was my partner and best friend for 25 years. Maybe you think it’s funny. I don’t.

PS—For the sake of accuracy, even though I realize that’s not the domain of satirists, Litvin hasn’t written for CounterPunch in more than year because he doesn’t like our politics or the fact that we regularly run writers whose point of view he disagrees with.

CJ Hopkins: Sure, Jeff. Send me an official Twitter handle for CounterPunch that isn’t Nat and I’ll switch to that one. Until then, I’ll use the official CounterPunch handle that exists.

Thanks for making my point by insinuating that I’m anti-Semite, again, and that I share the politics of every outlet that re-posts my essays and am responsible for their behavior. My essays have been reposted by numerous outlets, left and right, which I assume you know. There’s a list of them on my website. I don’t work for or represent any of them.

I don’t think any of this is funny, in case you didn’t get that. If you want to purge CP of writers you suddenly decide are “far right shills” and publish smears of them, that’s your prerogative. If you thought I was going to go quietly, you’re probably not as good a judge of “character” as you think.

Jeffrey St Clair: Why would I know who you write for, CJ? And how would I know this? Am I supposed to have tracked you across the web? I know you advertise yourself as “America’s greatest satirist,” but, even though I think I’m a fairly well-read person, I’d never heard of you before one of your submissions showed up in my inbox, which I gladly ran and continued to do so for many, many months, whether I agreed with your pieces or not. Do you admit that is true or are you going concoct some contorted fabulation about that as well? If I had known that you’d been posting the same pieces we’d run on CP on Unz for two years (or other sites), we wouldn’t have run you on CounterPunch to begin with. Why the fuck would we? Putting aside the rancid nature of Unz’s site, we have too many writers—right, libertarian, left, green and anarchist—who want to write for us to run writers who are broadcasting the same piece across multiple venues. I’ve been libeled as an anti-Semite for 20 years at least and have been on the ADL and SPLC hit lists for nearly as long, so you’ll have to do better than that to get anyone who really knows the score to believe that we somehow gagged you because of your views on the Israel lobby or evicted you as part of some alleged purge of “rightwing” writers. Who are these poor victims? What are their names? Where can we send flowers? Josh and I both grew up among conservatives and we’ve always run conservatives on CounterPunch and published many essay by them in our books, from Imperial Crusades to Red State Rebels. I do draw the line at publishing racists. You don’t draw the line—apparently– about being published by them. I’ll be honest, if I knew that you’d continued publishing on Unz’s after he wrote his defense of Holocaust denialism that libeled Alex (and me, since one of the pieces he cited as “evidence” we co-wrote), I’d’ve asked you to quit publishing with him out of solidarity. But I didn’t realize that until after you’d thrown your public tantrum. I don’t know you at all, so I can make no assessment of your character, other than from the public lie you told about us having stopped running your writing. You can continue to project whatever bile you want about us, I just asked you politely to direct them and not my son, who makes none of the editorial decisions here—not that we even made one your case. You’ve declined to do that. I’m no dramatist, but I think that says something about your “character”.

CJ Hopkins: Dear Jeff, please show us all where I have once advertised myself as “America’s greatest satirist.” When you can’t, admit that you’re just making shit up because you’re angry.

You knew that other outlets re-posted my stuff. I asked you about that a long time ago, and you said it was no probem, as long as they credited CP. I’ve specifically mentioned at least two of them to you at different times, ColdType and Greanville Post. I have tweeted many of those other outlets’ reposts, regularly. All of my essays ran on CounterPunch first.

I don’t “draw the line” at being re-posted by anyone. If I did, I’d spend half my time trying to force people to remove my essays from their sites and blogs. I realize you are trying to draw me into a debate about Unz. That’s how the smear game works. I’m not going to bite. I have nothing to do with Unz, except that they re-post my pieces, as do many other sites, which I also have nothing to do with.

Regarding the Twitter handle, please be honest. You are referring to CounterPunch’s official Twitter handle, not Nat’s personal Twitter handle, which I have never used. I’m not going to stop tagging CounterPunch’s official (and, as far as I know, only) Twitter handle just because you chose to put Nat’s name on it.

I understand that you are angry and want to insult and belittle me. If you could just insult and belittle me without making shit up that I have to refute, that would save us both a lot of time.

Josh Frank: CJ, nobody is shedding a tear for you here, we take this shit personal when writers go public with their petty shit. And yes your whining that we didn’t run your piece was petty. Personally I am happy to see you go. It had nothing to do with your grievance about some link in an article to another article that didn’t even name you – which of course is petty. It’s more to do with the obvious thin skin you have. You can’t be a left writer and have thin skin, you won’t last long. But I guess you are proving the point.

Don’t let the door…

Jeffrey St Clair: “In house satirist”, excuse me, my mistake. All apologies.

If you told me you were running your stuff on other sites, I’ve long forgotten it. It’s certainly not something I’ve ever encouraged in the 20 years we’ve been online.

I’m not trying to draw you into a debate about anything. What’s to debate?

The only thing I’m angry about is the lie you continue to tell for your own self-promotion, I guess, that we abruptly stopped running your pieces for some reason of political correctness.

As for Nat, I see that he just retweeted, as he usually does, your ad for Consent Factory. (As I have also done many times. As I did your book, even advertising it on CP, as I recall.) So I guess you can spit invective (“the latest smear by Nat@counterpunch) in his direction, but it will be hitting the wrong mark. I’m sure there’ll be no acknowledgment of this generosity from you, because it wouldn’t fit your narrative of victimization.

As for you having “nothing to do with Unz,” [cites my tweet] “Here’s my latest leftist heresy, in the @UnzReview, which posts both far-left and far-right views. Unz has been reposting my @NatCounterPunch essays for years, but according to CP, I’m suddenly a fascist “shill” because I let them do so. Am I? You decide.

It’s a quaintly neutral way to describe Unz, but he’s your publisher. Enjoy the ride.

CJ Hopkins: Dear Jeff, I’m happy to acknowledge everything you and CP have done for me. You ran everything I sent you for over two years, plugged my book, and me, often featured my pieces, at least early on. You more or less put me on the map in this gig, and I have been proud to be included in CP’s pages.

What you characterize as a “lie” is indeed my interpretation of events. I’ve detailed those events, and my interpretation of them, so I won’t waste our time doing it again.

The tweet you cited was sent after these events, and after Joshua and Proyect started smearing me on Facebook. I’m not going to sit idly by while CP’s Red-Brown hunters (or you for that matter) smear me, and insinuate that Unz is my publisher, or that I am somehow in cahoots with fascists and Holocaust deniers. Again, as I have stated several times already, I have nothing to do with Unz, nothing more than I do with ColdType, Greanville Post, Black Agenda Report, OffGuardian, ZeroHedge, Entelekheia, or any other outlet that has re-posted my stuff. The tweet was meant to spur readers to look at the facts and decide for themselves.

I am honestly sorry that you set up your official CP account with Nat’s name on the front of it. I have no wish to involve Nat in this. Unfortunately, that is CP’s official handle. So if I want to make reference to CP, that’s the one I have to use, until you change it.

I sense we’re coming to the end of this email exchange. I hope so. I won’t bother to reply to Joshua’s email, which was just spewing more bile, nothing substantive that requires a reply.

All best wishes for the future …

***

 

CJ Hopkins
September 29, 2018

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnailDISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 per month), or send your contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his satirical dystopian novel, Zone 23, which we understand is pretty gosh darn funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, please feel free to contact him directly.

24 thoughts on “How to Maliciously Smear Your Critics (and Not Get Away with It)

  1. Sometimes a writer’s character (I am thinking of our common friend Sarah) is more thoughtful than their author.
    What an interesting puzzle.

    Like

  2. Thanks for the observation about the smear-bait game i.e. the moment you defend yourself, you are lost. That is exactly how trolls work. They behave as obnoxiously as possible until it becomes almost impossible to restrain yourself. I have seen the same phenomenon on comment threads until I wised up and realised that the best thing to do was note certain names and then totally ignore their postings.

    One of the names that should be ignored is Mr Proyect who has mastered the art of spouting enough dense Marxist sounding jargon while injecting often infantile invective at crucial points. It’s interesting – and perhaps significant – that he “appears to have quite a lot of influence” at Counterpunch.

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    1. “One of the names that should be ignored is Mr Proyect who has mastered the art of spouting enough dense Marxist sounding jargon…”

      That would be enough to make me stop reading, flat.

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      1. I didn’t make myself clear enough there. I should have said that Proyect spouts enough dense Marxist sounding jargon to establish his “left” credentials before that snarky juvenile stuff derails any Marxist reader and steers them towards harmless avenues – such avenues just happening to coincide with whatever the US govt wants to do anyway,

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  3. From what I have seen – and I have been reading CP for many years, and CJ for a year or so (I think) – CJ is usually urbane and civil. When he has occasion to say criticize anyone, he does it in a measured way.

    Jeffrey St Clair’s communications, as quoted here, look a great deal more intemperate and intolerant. I shan’t stop reading CP, of course, because it does publish many fine writers. But I won’t feel able to give them any money unless they calm down.

    It’s a great shame so many people (most of them Americans) feel the need forever to be attacking other people, rather than discussing the actual issues of the day. I honestly couldn’t care less if someone is a nazi, a racist, a communist, or all three wrapped up together; if he says something that makes sense, I’m all ears.

    Dismissing people by association is lazy, unfair and downright stupid.

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  4. DJ, I never smeared you as an anti-Semite. In fact, if anybody clicks the link above that supposedly contains such a smear, they will find nothing to support that.

    As for my influence at CP, I never once discussed your articles appearing at UNZ Review with Jeff or Josh. You kept trying to finger me as having something to do with your problems but as is obvious from the exchange above, it had nothing to do with me. Tony DiMaggio linked to my blog article in his CP piece but my article did not mention you. I was far more agitated over Norman Finkelstein being associated with a holocaust denial website but understood it a lot better when someone commented on my blog that Ron Unz has paid him about $40,000 over the years. Given his financial problems, it makes sense why he would tolerate having his name tied to a website that identifies Ernst Zundel et al as reliable historians.

    I don’t see why it bothers you so much that you have been dropped by CP. You are getting lots of attention on UNZ Review even if most of its readers are neo-Nazis and would likely look forward to you being put in a concentration camp if a government of their preference seized power.

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  5. Not surprising in the least CJ, as the CP boys have been letting their actions expose their “character” for some time now. The first thing I noticed was the rather clearly orchestrated and quite disgusting group attack on Caitlin Johnstone you mentioned, followed more recently by ceasing to publish the work of anti-imperialists like Diana Johnstone and Andre Vltchek. Now culminating with no longer publishing your work – err, I mean “losing your work,” or “planning to publish it but not getting around to it,” “thinking about publishing it,” or whatever nonsense they’re peddling.

    Meanwhile I’ve seen articles by the odious Louis Proyect along with Melvin Goodman, regarding of all things, why this time the protests in Iran are real, and like not manufactured by the CIA or NED, so real leftists should support regime change there – I kid you freaking not. After another CP piece attacking anyone on the left who questioned this bizarre narrative (sound familiar) I had the following email exchange Joshua Frank (see below). My personal take on this is that when a “progressive site” is doing the work of the deep state’s imperialist establishment, well, it may be many things, but it is no longer a “progressive site.” Thank you for your post clarifying how this went down.
    **
    Joshua Frank
    Fri 1/5/2018, 11:07 AM
    He’s also written for us for a long time. Next time he submits I’ll make sure it passes the Weglarz sniff test.

    On Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 10:06 AM, Gary Weglarz wrote:
    He’s both “Iranian” and a “radical historian?” Who knew? I’ll be more careful to use such criteria – rather than “reason” and “historical record” – in any further critiques.

    From: Joshua Frank
    Sent: Friday, January 5, 2018 10:37 AM
    To: Gary Weglarz
    Cc: counterpunch@counterpunch.org
    Subject: Re: some feedback

    Reza’s voice is an important one. He’s Iranian and a radical historian. You may not agree with his take, but it’s still a good one to hear. We offer a different take with Whitney’s piece today. So quit complaining and keep reading.

    On Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 9:33 AM, Gary Weglarz wrote:
    “As has been its folly, the “anti-imperialists” of the western left wasted no time siding with the theocracy; once again. Global Research, for example, has cast doubt on the integrity of the uprising by labeling it another “Color Revolution”. Moon of Alabama, likewise lost no time disparaging the demonstrations, sounding almost like Iranian regime propagandists. For these so-called leftists, the Iranian people are a bunch of mindless robots remote-controlled from Langley.” – Iran and the Left: a Dissenting View by Reza Fiyouzat

    Geeze, you folks are becoming a parody of your former selves. I mean how dare a progressive site like Global Research question possible CIA and Western involvement in, or suggest possible Western support for, the Iranian protests? Where oh where is the history or evidence the CIA or Western NGO’s have ever done something like this in the past, or that the West would like to topple the Iranian regime yet a second time? – (I mean other than Libya and Syria, most recently). It’s of course one thing for the author to suggest that the protests are a natural outgrowth of the repression within Iran, its quite another to smear progressive voices who suggest the West will do anything and everything in its power to exploit such protests and the left should be closely monitoring this. If pointing out the history of CIA and Western criminality in fomenting “regime change” in nations we have openly targeted for such somehow constitutes “folly” to this author – well – I suggest you encourage the him to submit this piece to the NYTs and Washington Post where it will find a less “anti-imperialist” and perhaps therefore more appreciative audience.

    I’ve been rather faithfully wading through the extensive amount of similar pablum Counterpunch has been publishing lately, looking for an occasional article by Andre Vitchek, Diana Johnstone, John Steppling, John Pilger, or any other author unafraid of the apparent “folly” in wearing the “anti-imperialist” label Mr. Fiyouzat disparages. Sadly, these authors seem to show up less and less on Counterpunch pages. I hope that changes soon.

    sincerely – Gary Weglarz

    Like

    1. The problem with MoA and many other sites is not their opinions and speculations but that that they pass these off as objectively true facts and jump on anyone who dares challenge their assumptions as as a “troll” or “Mossad/CIA sock puppet”.

      Go to MoA and present to the regulars credible facts that indicate Putin isn’t in fact God or the west’s new savior in chief and they won’t even bother refuting anything you say with arguments or facts. They are convinced they know the truth and that is that.

      Even verified and uncontroversial facts such as the Syrian Ba’ath regime’s 40 year track record of savagely brutalizing and torturing suspected dissidents or their post-911 stint as a CIA torture affiliate are met with ridicule or just ignored completely. Those places are total groupthink echo chamber cults.

      It really is a post-truth world in many respects….it’s all about diverse (cough) “points of view” and “perspectives” and “having your say.” Everybody can fashion their own personal “truth” as they see fit, and many do just that.

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  6. Sad to see the folks at CounterPunch take the low road and engage in underhanded character assassination and pretentious moral and ideological posturing. Because creating more more division and discontent is exactly what the left needs to keep from sliding into total political irrelevance.

    Smearing fellow travellers as fascists or Nazis because they aren’t 100% ideologically aligned with your politics is a totally shrewd move and has the ethnic nationalist right and the liberal establishment quaking in their boots.

    I fully agree with CJ that the vast majority of people on the left are completely out of touch with present day political reality. Particularly those who enjoy the privileges of a financially secure middle or upper class lifestyle which shelters them from the ongoing neoliberal onslaught that is pummelling the working class and the poor.

    There was a time when even leftists for whom living a precarious existence on the margins of society is an abstract notion they never experience directly nonetheless recognized that the left’s main task is fighting to eradicate the poverty and destitution that unfettered capitalism inevitably breeds.

    Decades of insidious “third way” neoliberalism put an end to that. Today, in 2018, systemic poverty and income inequality are barely on the left’s radar, and when they are mentioned, they are almost alway linked exclusively to women, ethnic and social minorities or “people of color.” This is not helpful. Without resizing it, much of the left has let the neoliberal Democratic establishment and the liberal media set it’s agenda.

    (There is a reason why Wall Street finance capitalists, most of the establishment media, the creepy Silicon Valley infotech monopolies and pretty much every retail and service sector corporation – and, of course, the slimy and devious Democratic Party – all enthusiastically embrace identity politics, “diversity” and “fighting racism and misogyny.”)

    Carrying water for the very slick and very polished neoliberal wrecking crew that is tearing apart the last remnants of the post- World War 2 social contact by obsessively policing everyday language use and reflexively calling people out as racists and fascists (or Nazis) if they don’t play the IdPol game or, you know, their stuff is published at an ideologically incorrect website, is really sticking it to the man and putting the final nails in capitalism’s coffin. Way to go St. Clair.

    It is rather ironic that the Unz Review, which undoubtedly does attract some pretty deluded and fearful folks who have an extremely unhealthy obsession with Jews and pseudoscientific race and IQ nonsense, actually has some very good threads with intelligent people from across the political spectrum discussing the issues of the day. The racism, Jew hating and other irrational nuttiness doesn’t infect every single discussion and it is actually challenged quite regularly by a significant minority of commentators there.

    Ron Unz gets a lot of things wrong but he has created a website where free speech is practiced in earnest and his forum generates some genuinely interesting and worthwhile discussions and debates. Higher quality stuff than the drivel on the many left oriented blogs and sites that use Facebook (like CP) or Disqus (where I am IP shadow banned for repeatedly challenging the obsessive paranoiacs and responsibility evaders who post semi-coherent screeds blaming Jews for every ill in the world). It’s a strange world out there indeed.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    /rant

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  7. CJ, I’m one rightie who discovered your writing on Unz and now actively seeks out new installments of your column. It’s refreshing to see someone on the left who thinks for himself. BTW, I’m a fan of Caitlin’s as well. Do people like me implicate you guys further as part of the red-brown conspiracy? :-)

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  8. CJ, I’m a populist deplorable who discovered your writings on Unz and now actively seek out your columns. My grandparents were Democrats in the days when the party stood for the working class. Now it’s rare to find left-leaning authors like you and Caitlin who reject identity politics and think for yourselves. Is the support of right-leaning folks like me further evidence of the red-brown conspiracy? :-)

    Like

  9. Hey what do you expect when you disrespect Nat and Alex? WTF?! For the record, I too jumped to the conclusion that CP had stopped publish8ng you for ideological reasons, because it seems so consistent with the drift in political tone at CP. I know CP has always published a range of opinion from the left, but I have been more and more disappointed in their editorial choices. I don’t consider support for Russjagate compatible wth a left perspective. It is an obvious propaganda effort to suppress dissent and has been depressingly successful. The DiMaggio piece was irksome. Makropolus’ description of Proyect above is spot on. I don’t understand how StClair can pull the intellectual elitist attitude with you when he includes these luminaries in his inner circle. His correspondence with you was rude and petty and I can’t help but notice it’s likeness to the current Russiagate debate style, smear by association.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The points you made in your last essay (Down with the Working Classes) are relevant here,

    “What she (Diana Johnstone) is writing about is the ongoing “populist” insurgency against globalized capitalism, which is what I’ve also been writing about for the better part of the last two years. This is the historical moment we are experiencing, a clumsy, sloppy, partly fascistic, partly non-fascistic democratic uprising against the continuing spread of global capitalism, the erosion of what is left of national sovereignty, and … yes, people’s cultures and values.

    The international working classes understand this. The neo-nationalist Right understands this. The majority of the Left does not understand this, and is refusing to admit that it’s happening, and so is standing around on the sidelines calling everybody “racists” and “fascists” while the global capitalist ruling classes and the neo-nationalists sort things out.”

    The “left” is becoming narrowly focused, unimaginative, unpleasant and boring. I’m white and grew up upper middle class, but I dropped out of college and worked blue collar jobs all my life. I really believe today’s left doesn’t understand or care about working people. I’ll listen to (read) anyone who does.

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  11. Our in-house satirist just phoned in to say that he really appreciates everyone’s comments on his latest piece, especially those by folks like Mr. Bartram, who have worked blue collar jobs and otherwise spent time with the actual American working classes. Notwithstanding his pretentious, elitist wanker facade, our in-house satirist spent his late teenage years and early adulthood operating Brown & Sharpe automatic screw machines, and other precision metals machining equipment, and has worked a variety of other blue collar jobs, which might partly explain his heretical leftist views and “populist” affinities. Oh, and, he also asked us to mention that his appreciation doesn’t extend to Louis. He doesn’t appreciate Louis very much at all. He finds Louis creepy.

    Like

  12. From: peasant43
    Sent: now
    To: in-house satirist
    Subject: shit…

    God damn you for fighting back. Now I have to increase your Patreon support. And it’s going to hurt because I haven’t had a raise in 25 years thanks to the these disembodied typists telling me I’m what’s wrong with the world.

    I’ve spent my adult life 10 meters in the air with a hot-stick while the highly credentialed have “worked” late into the night typing their Stockholm Syndrome addled neo-liberal apologia, so I’m not going to pretend I understand fully what all the fuss about. But it sure is fun watching the faux-Left lose their shit (implode) when someone punches back.

    Less typing more punching back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your continuing and increased support on Patreon. At this rate, we’ll be able to banish our in-house satirist from our offices, which he habitually haunts, hitting our staff up for money, much sooner! And we will definitely pass on your advice.

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  13. The in-house satirist’s comment has emboldened me to elaborate on my working class comments. About twenty years ago when I was still working (I’m now retired), a co-worker made a comment to the effect that management and labor never have the same interests and more specifically what management wants is usually harmful to labor. I was surprised to hear this coming from this person who was an older white guy, had been a cop before and had often made disparaging remarks about women and minorities – definitely not a liberal or lefty. Although it seemed obvious after he said it, I had never thought about it before. As time went on, it became clear to me that he was right, certainly in the Electric Utility where we worked (peasant43, we may have worked in the same industry – I was an electronics tech – sounds like you are a lineman), and to a greater or less degree in almost any job in any field. Note that the same thing applies to most white collar workers, but they have been brainwashed to not notice it.

    The point though is that if you are a white working class male and not only your day to day working conditions, but your ability to earn a living and support your family are completely controlled by people who are hostile to you and your needs and are constantly trying to get rid of your job by outsourcing or automation, you are very unlikely to think well of some one who tells you that you are privileged and that your concerns are nowhere as important as not only woman and minorities, but now on top of everything else, gays and transgender people! It is no mystery to me that Democratic politicians and left wing intellectuals or whatever they think they are who have never experienced what it is to be working class in a capitalist society, who talk like this to and about white male working class people will not be supported, and probably will be so despised that any alternative to their policies and candidates will be welcomed (e.g. Trump).

    The stupid actions of CounterPunch toward people like Caitlin Johnstone, the in-house satirist and many others associated with Unz Review only prove their irrelevance in my opinion.

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  14. We are in a time of historic re-alignment. The one time real left whines its way into liberalism. The Identity-sectoralists have peaked only to prove that women and gays+ can be as oppressive bosses, bomb and kill as the worst of the Boys. Nobody talks about class any more. On the right, the old establishment conservatives crumble. Radical populists rise up like mushrooms after rain. Society has become lumpenized.

    Revolutionary socialists cannot look to the spoiled, prosperous, embedded liberal-ex-left for anything good. Much of the population hate them for their hypocrisy and privilege. These burn-outs live comfortably off the franchise of covering the regime’s left. Their job is to furiously disparage those who yet say the emperor has no clothes. Consider it a compliment.

    Absent a pole of the organized real left, layers of people who are angry, disadvantaged, oppressed, lacking a future cohere into bodies, parties, forces impulsively around local concerns, strong personalities. They know what they are against but not so much what they are for. Forming, re-forming, always in motion, velocity, unstability. This is the most important characteristic. Their cement is not set. The liberal/left want to force these forces into a mold, one that they can better stereotype and attack. One that entrenches their privileges and powers. They have to ‘black hat’ all those are rising up against liberal elites and their toadies. Naturally, any real leftists who consistently oppose the regime must be cast out.

    Problem is the privileged elites – which includes the liberal left – have nothing to offer the mass of the population except more austerity, immiseration, insecurity, police, jails, war. When the early socialists strode forth to proclaim their way forward, the masses of that day were saturated with religion, nationality etc. These pioneers did not distain from engaging such people. They won them over by close engagement. But our liberal/leftists seek to sterilize themselves. They avoid wondering why they have so little influence among so many.

    The real left must find the most promising threads in the ever moving tapesty of popular discontent. And intervene, challenge, inspire. Win over and weave. To abandon the field as the liberal/left would is to feed the worst future. And the liberal/left is totally dead. Never will most of the population respect, trust or have confidence in these shysters. So, it’s plunge in and work to win. Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I have the advantage of working daily with a dog’s breakfast of just plain ordinary working people. Every age, language,nationality, religion, culture, sex, whathaveyou. They say everything under the sun about everything. Amazingly, they all get along rather well. They all hate the employer, think government agencies are worthless, don’t believe the lying media, rubbish the banks and elites. As an old far leftie, I’m a pig in mud. This lot re-freshes me, wises me up, knocks excess pride out of me, makes me humble. I learn afresh and am invigorated. These people are not my enemies, but my colleagues, sometimes friends, not yet comrades.

        My old fake lefties ‘friends’ sit isolated in comfortable offices. They piously mouth the empty platitudes of the holier-than-thou. Consultants, advisors, aides, associates, managers. Well off, secure, with pensions. Rub shoulders with the uber-liberals they do. Drink fancy cocktails, shop at Whole Paycheck.

        When push comes to shove I aim to be on the streets with my brothers and sisters lined up against their cops. Because of course, the liberal-lumpens will never get off their fat asses to actually do anything, never risk soiling their hands with real work.

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  15. I have been advocating just what CP hates for many years. I think an alliance between the anti-imperial elements within the right both libertarians and paleos like those associated and writing for The American Conservative Magazine, is the ONLY way to move away from the current structure. The anti-war left is just not influential enough or ever will be influential enough to stop the US obsession with war and authoritarianism.

    I’ve posted little bits about this over the years and gotten vicious responses that stunk of the tendency for much of the left towards tribalism and identity politics that make it impossible to form any coalitions of any kind. CP is typical of this tendency on the left. You should be proud to be excluded from CP which I consider, despite some great articles, to be part of what I have always called the STASI left–whether they are actually allied with state security services or not they are, to an extent, allied with them virtually.

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