Unless you move in certain leftist circles, you may not have heard about one of the Russians’ most insidiously evil active measures, an active measure so insidiously evil that it could only have been dreamed up in Moscow, the current wellspring of insidious evil. Its official Russo-Nazi-sounding code name is still being decided on by leftist cryptographers, but most people know it as the “Trumpenleft.”
The Trumpenleft (or “Sputnik Left,” as it is also called by professional anti-Putin-Nazi intelligence analysts) is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It is a gang of nefarious Putin-Nazi infiltrators posing as respectable leftists in order to disseminate Trumpian ideology and Putin-Nazi propaganda among an assortment of online leftist magazines that hardly anyone ever actually reads. The aim of these insidious Trumpenleft infiltrators is to sow confusion, chaos, and discord among actual, real, authentic leftists who are going about the serious business of calling Donald Trump a fascist on the Internet twenty-five times a day, verbally abusing Julian Assange, occasionally pulling down oppressive statues, and sharing videos of racist idiots acting like racist idiots in public.
The Trumpenleft is determined to sabotage (or momentarily disrupt) this revolutionary work, mostly by tricking these actual leftists into critically thinking about a host of issues that there is no good reason to critically think about … global capitalism, national sovereignty, immigration, identity politics, corporate censorship, and other issues that there is no conceivable reason to discuss, or debate, or even casually mention, unless you’re some kind of Russia-loving Nazi.
Angela Nagle’s recent piece in American Affairs is a perfect example. Nagle (who is certainly Trumpenleft) puts forth the fascistic proposition that mass migration won’t help the world’s poor, and she claims that it creates “a race to the bottom for workers” in wealthier, developed countries and “a brain drain” in poorer, less developed countries. After deploying a variety of Trumpenleft sophistry (i.e., fact-based analysis, logic, and so on), she goes so far as to openly suggest that “progressives should focus on addressing the systemic exploitation at the root of mass migration rather than retreating to a shallow moralism” … a shallow moralism that reifies the dominant neoliberal ideology that is causing mass migration in the first place.
This is the type of gobbledegook the Trumpenleft use to try to dupe real leftists into putting down their phones for a minute and actually thinking through political issues! Fortunately, no one is falling for it. As any bona fide leftist knows, there is no “mass migration problem.” The whole thing is simply a racist hoax concocted by Putin, Alex Jones, and other Trumpian disinformationists. The only thing real leftists need to know about immigration is that immigrants are good, and Trump, and walls, and borders are bad! All that other fancy gibberish about global capitalism, Milton Friedman, labor markets, and national sovereignty is nothing but fascist propaganda (which needs to be censored, or at least deplatformed, or demonetized, or otherwise suppressed).
But Angela Nagle is just one example. The Trumpenleft is legion, and growing. Its membership includes a handful of prominent (and rather less prominent) fake leftist figures: Glenn Greenwald, who many among the “Resistance” would like to see renditioned and indefinitely detained in some offshore Trumpenleft gulag somewhere; Matt Taibbi, who just published a treasonous article challenging the right of the US government to prosecute publishers as “enemy agents” for publishing material they don’t want published; Julian Assange, who is one such publisher, and who the US has scheduled for public crucifixion just as soon as they can get their hands on him; Aaron Maté of the Real News Network, a notorious Trump-Russia “collusion denialist“; Caitlin Johnstone, an Australian blogger and poet who the Red-Brown Putin-Nazi hunters at CounterPunch have become totally obsessed with; Diana Johnstone, who they also don’t like; and (full disclosure) your humble narrator.
Now, normally, the opinions of some political journalists and rather marginal political writers wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but there’s a war on, so there’s no room for neutrality. As I mentioned in my latest essay, over the course of the next two years, the global capitalist ruling classes need to make an example of Trump, and Assange, and anyone else who has had the gall to fuck with their global empire. Part of how they are going to do this is to further polarize the already extremely polarized ideological spectrum until everyone is forced onto one or the other side of a pro- or anti-Trump equation, or a pro- or anti-populist equation … or a pro- or anti-fascist equation.
As you probably noticed, The Guardian has just launched a special six-week “investigative series” exploring the whole “new populism” phenomenon (which began with a lot of scary photos of Steve Bannon next to the word “populism”). We are going to be hearing a lot about “populism” over the course of the next two years. We are going to be hearing how “populism” is actually not that different from fascism, or at the very least is inherently racist, and anti-Semitic, and xenophobic, and how, basically, anyone who criticizes neoliberal elites or the corporate media is Russia-loving, pro-Trump Nazi.
And this is where this “Trumpenleft” malarkey fits into the ruling classes’ broader campaign to eliminate any kind of critical thinking and force people to mindlessly root for their “team.” See, the problem with us “Trumpenleft” types is not that we support Donald Trump. For the record, none of us really do. Some of us think he us a dangerous demagogue. Others of us think he is a blithering idiot. None of us think he’s Fidel Castro, or that he cares one iota about the working classes, or about anyone other than Donald Trump.
No, the problem is not that we’re on the wrong team; the problem is that we are asking people to question the propaganda of the team that we’re supposed to be on, or at least be rooting for. We are asking people to pay attention to how the global capitalist ruling establishment is going about quashing this “populist” insurgency (of which Brexit and Trump are manifestations, not causes) so they can get back to the business of relentlessly restructuring, privatizing, and debt-enslaving everything, as they’ve been doing since the end of the Cold War. We’re asking folks, not to join “the other team,” but to pay close attention to how they are being manipulated into believing that there are only two “teams,” and that they have to join one, and then mindlessly parrot whatever nonsense their team decides they need to disseminate in order to win a game that is merely a simulation they have conjured up (i.e., the ruling classes have conjured up) in order to inoculate themselves against an actual conflict they cannot win and so must prevent at all costs from ever beginning … which, they are doing a pretty good job of that so far.
In other words, the problem with us Trumpenlefters is, the prospect of defeating a fake Russian Hitler, and restoring neoliberal normality in the USA and the rest of the West, is just not all that terribly inspiring. So, rather than regurgitating the Russia hysteria and the fascism hysteria that is being produced by the global capitalist ruling establishment to gin up support for their counterinsurgency, we are continuing to focus on the capitalist ruling classes, which are actually still running things, globally, and will be running things long after Trump is gone (and the Imminent Threat of Global Fascist Takeover of Everything has disappeared, as the Imminent Threat of Nookular Terrorist Backpack Attack disappeared before it).
Or maybe all that is just a ruse, an attempt on my part to dupe you into going out and buying a MAGA hat and shouting racist abuse at Honduran kids, assuming you can find some in your vicinity. You never know with us Trumpenleft types. Probably the safest thing to do to protect yourself from our insidious treachery is to start your own personal Trumpenleft blacklist, and spread lies about us all over the Internet, or just report us to Twitter, or Facebook, or somebody, whoever you feel are the proper authorities. The main thing is to shut us up, or prophylactically delegitimize us, to keep us from infecting other leftists with our filthy, nonconformist ideas. The last thing we need at a time like this is a bunch of leftists thinking for themselves and questioning official leftist dogma. Who knows what that kind of behavior might lead to?
N.B. As far as I could gather from my research, the “Trumpenleft” label was coined by Paul Street, a regular columnist at Truthdig and CounterPunch and all-around professional leftist. Like the editors of The New York Times, Street understands the importance of sloppily Germanicizing terms you want to frighten people with, because there’s nothing quite as terrifying as Nazi morphology!
November 26, 2018
Photo: Jordán Francisco/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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