The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:54 pm

I can't claim to speak for Joey Ayoub regarding that quote. I'll let it go at that.
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:09 am

http://www.marxmail.org/msg152298.html

"The road to unfreedom" - a book review


Yes, Putin and Trump are peas in a pod.

And just because the US capitalist press attacks Putin doesn't mean they
are wrong (no more than when they criticized Hitler or Mussolini). In 1814,
Tsar Nicholas led the creation of the Holy Alliance, which was an alliance
of the reactionary monarchist forces of Europe meant to stem the democratic
tide on the continent. Two hundred years later, Putin is playing a similar
role. Towards that end, among other things, he has weaponized the internet.
Here is a review of a book that sounds very interesting.

"When Westerners first began to hear of Vladimir Putin’s troll army—now
some five years ago—the project sounded absurd. President Obama in March
2014 had dismissed Russia as merely a weak “regional power.” And Putin’s
plan to strike back was to hire himself a bunch of internet commenters?
Seriously?....

"Clausewitz defined war as the use of violence by one state to impose its
will upon another. But suppose new technology enabled a state to “engage
the enemy’s will directly, without the medium of violence,” Snyder
writes—this would be a revolution in the history of conflict. This
revolution, Snyder argues, is what Russia has imposed upon the United
States and the European Union. How, why, and with what consequences is the
theme of Snyder’s newest book, *The Road to Unfreedom
<https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/570367/the-road-to-unfreedom-by-timothy-snyder/9780525574460/>*
....

"At first, Putin turned a sunny face to the West. He cooperated with the
United States after the 9/11 attacks. In 2004, he endorsed EU membership
for Ukraine and did not object to NATO enlargement. He attended a NATO
summit in 2008 and spoke warmly of European economic integration. But as he
centralized the state and consolidated his own power—rewriting the
constitution to enable him to rule for life—he turned ever more harshly
repressive at home and violently aggressive abroad.

"He promoted ideologies that Snyder inventively describes as
*schizo-fascism*: “actual fascists calling their opponents ‘fascists,’
blaming the Holocaust on the Jews, treating the Second World War as an
argument for more violence.” Putin’s favored ideologist, Alexander Dugin,
“could celebrate the victory of fascist in fascist language while
condemning as ‘fascist’ his opponents.”

"In this new schizo-fascism, homosexuals played the part assigned to Jews
by the fascists of earlier eras. Democratic societies were branded by
Russian TV as “homodictatorships.” When Ukrainians protested against faked
elections and the murder of protesters, Russian TV told viewers, “The fact
that the first and most zealous integrators [with the European Union] in
Ukraine are sexual perverts has long been known.” Putin himself struck more
macho poses and wore outfits more butch than all the stars of the Village
People combined. In Snyder’s pithy phrase, "Putin was offering masculinity
as an argument against democracy.”

I urge you to read the entire review here:
https://www.theatlantic.com/internation ... gn/564032/

John Reimann
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:22 pm

Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?

The unfolding of the Russia scandal has been like walking into a dark cavern. Every step reveals that the cave runs deeper than we thought, and after each one, as we wonder how far it goes, our imaginations are circumscribed by the steps we have already taken. The cavern might go just a little farther, we presume, but probably not much farther. And since trying to discern the size and shape of the scandal is an exercise in uncertainty, we focus our attention on the most likely outcome, which is that the story goes a little deeper than what we have already discovered. Say, that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort told their candidate about the meeting they held at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer after they were promised dirt on Hillary Clinton; and that Trump and Kushner have some shady Russian investments; and that some of Trump’s advisers made some promises about lifting sanctions.

But what if that’s wrong? What if we’re still standing closer to the mouth of the cave than the end?

...The first intimations that Trump might harbor a dark secret originated among America’s European allies, which, being situated closer to Russia, have had more experience fending off its nefarious encroachments. In 2015, Western European intelligence agencies began picking up evidence of communications between the Russian government and people in Donald Trump’s orbit. In April 2016, one of the Baltic states shared with then–CIA director John Brennan an audio recording of Russians discussing funneling money to the Trump campaign. In the summer of 2016, Robert Hannigan, head of the U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ, flew to Washington to brief Brennan on intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The contents of these communications have not been disclosed, but what Brennan learned obviously unsettled him profoundly. In congressional testimony on Russian election interference last year, Brennan hinted that some Americans might have betrayed their country. “Individuals who go along a treasonous path,” he warned, “do not even realize they’re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late.” In an interview this year, he put it more bluntly: “I think [Trump] is afraid of the president of Russia. The Russians may have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult.”

While the fact that the former CIA director has espoused this theory hardly proves it, perhaps we should give more credence to the possibility that Brennan is making these extraordinary charges of treason and blackmail at the highest levels of government because he knows something we don’t.

Suppose we are currently making the same mistake we made at the outset of this drama — suppose the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper. If that’s true, we are in the midst of a scandal unprecedented in American history, a subversion of the integrity of the presidency. It would mean the Cold War that Americans had long considered won has dissolved into the bizarre spectacle of Reagan’s party’s abetting the hijacking of American government by a former KGB agent. It would mean that when Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle, possibly beginning this summer, Trump may not merely rail on Twitter but provoke a constitutional crisis.

And it would mean the Russia scandal began far earlier than conventionally understood and ended later — indeed, is still happening. As Trump arranges to meet face-to-face and privately with Vladimir Putin later this month, the collusion between the two men metastasizing from a dark accusation into an open alliance, it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.

Image
A Crazy Quilt of Connections

It is often said that Donald Trump has had the same nationalistic, zero-sum worldview forever. But that isn’t exactly true. Yes, his racism and mendacity have been evident since his youth, but those who have traced the evolution of his hypernationalism all settle on one year in particular: 1987. Trump “came onto the political stage in 1987 with a full-page ad in the New York Times attacking the Japanese for relying on the United States to defend it militarily,” reported Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The president has believed for 30 years that these alliance commitments are a drain on our finite national treasure,” a White House official told the Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin. Tom Wright, another scholar who has delved into Trump’s history, reached the same conclusion. “1987 is Trump’s breakout year. There are only a couple of examples of him commenting on world politics before then.”

What changed that year? One possible explanation is that Trump published The Art of the Deal, which sped up his transformation from an aggressive, publicity-seeking New York developer to a national symbol of capitalism. But the timing for this account does not line up perfectly — the book came out on November 1, and Trump had begun opining loudly on trade and international politics two months earlier. The other important event from that year is that Trump visited Moscow.

During the Soviet era, Russian intelligence cast a wide net to gain leverage over influential figures abroad. (The practice continues to this day.) The Russians would lure or entrap not only prominent politicians and cultural leaders, but also people whom they saw as having the potential for gaining prominence in the future. In 1986, Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin met Trump in New York, flattered him with praise for his building exploits, and invited him to discuss a building in Moscow. Trump visited Moscow in July 1987. He stayed at the National Hotel, in the Lenin Suite, which certainly would have been bugged. There is not much else in the public record to describe his visit, except Trump’s own recollection in The Art of the Deal that Soviet officials were eager for him to build a hotel there. (It never happened.)

How do you even think about the small but real chance that the president of the United States has been influenced or compromised by a hostile foreign power for decades?

Trump returned from Moscow fired up with political ambition. He began the first of a long series of presidential flirtations, which included a flashy trip to New Hampshire. Two months after his Moscow visit, Trump spent almost $100,000 on a series of full-page newspaper ads that published a political manifesto. “An open letter from Donald J. Trump on why America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves,” as Trump labeled it, launched angry populist charges against the allies that benefited from the umbrella of American military protection. “Why are these nations not paying the United States for the human lives and billions of dollars we are losing to protect their interests?”

Trump’s letter avoided the question of whom the U.S. was protecting those countries from. The primary answer, of course, was the Soviet Union. After World War II, the U.S. had created a liberal international order and underwritten its safety by maintaining the world’s strongest military. A central goal of Soviet, and later Russian, foreign policy was to split the U.S. from its allies.

The safest assumption is that it’s entirely coincidental that Trump launched a national campaign, with himself as spokesman, built around themes that dovetailed closely with Soviet foreign-policy goals shortly after his Moscow stay. Indeed, it seems slightly insane to contemplate the possibility that a secret relationship between Trump and Russia dates back this far. But it can’t be dismissed completely. How do you even think about the small but real chance — 10 percent? 20 percent? — that the president of the United States has been covertly influenced or personally compromised by a hostile foreign power for decades?


http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/20 ... usion.html
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:58 am

Critical thinking is essential in these matters.


In defence of anarchism and antifascism: a reply to the Winter Oak

Posted on June 20, 2018 by nothingiseverlost

Image

In recent months, the subject of the “red-brown” alliance between some leftists and parts of the far-right, especially around their shared fondness for Assad, has attracted increasing attention. As the anti-fascist critique of this alliance has become more prominent, it has also attracted something of a backlash, as some parts of the left wing of the Assadist coalition have insisted that there’s nothing to see here.

The Winter Oak/Acorn, a UK anarchist publishing project, recently dived into the controversy with a pair of articles, apparently guided by an understanding of “anarchism” as being all about unswerving loyalty to the Russian and Syrian governments and automatic defence of Jeremy Corbyn. Rather than treating this as a dispute taking place among different forces on “the left”, the Winter Oak position is to defend the pro-Assad leftists against criticism which they represent as coming from “outside”, from neoliberals and/or the state.

Discussing the recent chemical attacks in Syria, the Winter Oak writer states that “The war-hungry capitalist propaganda machine… has, of course, been relentlessly amplifying the views and narratives of the status quo and giving no platform for dissident opinion – that’s what it’s there for!” This is in itself something of an oversimplification, I think that famous Chomsky quote about “strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views” does a much better job at capturing how giving a certain amount of space for some “dissident opinion” actually makes the whole machine work more smoothly.

More to the point, questioning of Assad’s responsibility for various attacks is entirely within the spectrum of acceptable opinion for some parts of the mainstream media. That’s why Robert Fisk gets to write columns on the subject in the Independent, and Seymour Hersh does the same in the LRB, and Max Blumenthal keeps on getting invited to go on Fox News – or is Fox News not part of the mainstream media anymore?

It is interesting to see some of the voices that the Winter Oak wishes to cast as being somehow not really part of the status quo, as if the likes of Vanessa Beeley (daughter of Sir Harold Beeley, Knight Commander of the St Michael and Saint George, Commander of the Order of the British Empire), Max Blumenthal (son of Sidney Blumenthal, senior advisor to the President in the Clinton White House, and described as “a mitzvah” by Hillary Clinton herself), former UK ambassador Craig Murray and former US attorney Ramsey Clark were not really part of the establishment.

First, the Winter Oak (WO) writer picks up on a BBC article, which wrote about “people who call themselves ‘independent journalists’”, and noted the contradiction of those who “call themselves ‘anti-war’, but… generally back the Syrian government’s military operations…and Russian air strikes carried out in support”. For WO, this is apparently the same as saying that “There is no such thing as an independent journalist or a genuine anti-war activist, only shady agents of sinister foreign forces”. Except, of course, that questioning the applicability of a particular label in a particular case is not the same thing as saying that that label is never applicable to anyone ever.

This is particularly notable because the same writer also wrote “they are not actually anti-fascist… The witch-hunters are themselves part of a pro-war, pro-US, pro-Israel, neoliberal network.” If we apply exactly the same logic that they themselves apply to the BBC article, this would appear to be a statement that there is no such thing as a genuine anti-fascist, only agents of a pro-war, pro-US, pro-Israel, neoliberal network.

For WO, any criticism of the hypocrisy of those who criticise US/UK air strikes while cheering on Russian and Syrian ones equates to “an attempt to completely close down any possibility of dissent”. The option of criticising all powers intervening in the Syrian conflict, and so taking a genuinely internationalist anti-war stance, seems not to have crossed their mind.


More at: https://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com ... inter-oak/
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:46 pm

If saying it’s a bad idea to work with fascists makes you a pro-war neoliberal, then who was phone? More on red-brown alliances, smears and all that

Posted on June 28, 2018 by nothingiseverlost

Image

The Winter Oak has now replied to my article criticising their smear jobs against antifascists. Since positions are fairly entrenched by this point, with both of us feeling that we’re being wildly misrepresented by the other, it’s not clear how much further the discussion can go from this point; but, for what it’s worth, here’s an attempt at setting the record straight, as I see it.

To begin at the beginning: the headline and opening question, “Does opposing US imperialism and wars mean you’re not really an anarchist?” is clearly a total distortion, which bears no resemblance to my actual argument. Throughout the previous piece, I was at pains to make it clear that I also oppose US imperialism and wars. That’s why I recommended “criticising all powers intervening in the Syrian conflict, and so taking a genuinely internationalist anti-war stance”; repeatedly made positive mentions of “genuinely anti-war projects like No War But the Class War” and “the No War But the Class War project, a genuinely anarchist anti-war initiative that is openly critical of the US empire”; and approvingly quoted the Vagabond piece’s conclusion that “we can fight against imperialism, against racism, and against fascism at the same time, and we can oppose the American war machine and oppose colonialism without siding with reactionary and oppressive entities”.


Continues: https://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com ... -all-that/
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby dada » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:57 pm

“we can fight against imperialism, against racism, and against fascism at the same time, and we can oppose the American war machine and oppose colonialism without siding with reactionary and oppressive entities”


If I may: "we can oppose the American war machine and colonialism without siding with any other reactionary and oppressive entities.

What is a reactionary and oppressive entity? An authoritarian entity. Who will oppose them all? An anti-authoritarian, naturally.

The anti-authoritarian attitude has the most political charge to it. Try it, and you will see what society is really made of. Even if you want to join a party, no party will have you. Your family might disown you. You will most likely be fired for insubordination, even if you do a good job. Boss just don't like the look in your eyes.

To be an anti-authoritarian is to be ignored, and if you can't be ignored, you're treated as a jester, and if you don't play the jester, you will be attacked. Talk about anti-authoritarianism, and people squirm. It's a sexual thing. You here all know your Wilhelm Reich.

Anyone who is seriously interested in changing the world will easily see what a useful weapon this anti-authoritarian political stance is. Join us.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:14 am

Story of my life. I've been fired from several jobs for staying true to principle. I never could really jump on board for movements involved with bad things. I never wanted to join a party. Is "Insubordination" really wrong? What about "Resisting Arrest"?


dada » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:57 pm wrote:
“we can fight against imperialism, against racism, and against fascism at the same time, and we can oppose the American war machine and oppose colonialism without siding with reactionary and oppressive entities”


If I may: "we can oppose the American war machine and colonialism without siding with any other reactionary and oppressive entities.

What is a reactionary and oppressive entity? An authoritarian entity. Who will oppose them all? An anti-authoritarian, naturally.

The anti-authoritarian attitude has the most political charge to it. Try it, and you will see what society is really made of. Even if you want to join a party, no party will have you. Your family might disown you. You will most likely be fired for insubordination, even if you do a good job. Boss just don't like the look in your eyes.

To be an anti-authoritarian is to be ignored, and if you can't be ignored, you're treated as a jester, and if you don't play the jester, you will be attacked. Talk about anti-authoritarianism, and people squirm. It's a sexual thing. You here all know your Wilhelm Reich.

Anyone who is seriously interested in changing the world will easily see what a useful weapon this anti-authoritarian political stance is. Join us.
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:26 am

Ahead of Trump-Putin meeting, Nigel Farage appears on Fox & Friends to downplay Russian hacking in the 2016 election

MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On the morning of President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Fox News turned to Nigel Farage, a network contributor with extensive ties to both Russia and Trump, for analysis and commentary. During the interview, Farage downplayed Russian interference in American elections and laughed at a co-host’s suggestion that he advised Trump to undermine the European Union and said, “I'm claiming no credit.”

Farage, who campaigned for Trump in 2016, has deep and well-documented relationships with Russia and people -- including WikiLeaks' founder -- who are suspected of acting in the interests of the Russian government. According to British outlet The Independent, one of Farage’s closest business associates had frequent contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.K. throughout the 2016 Brexit campaign, in which Russia reportedly interfered. Farage has also been spotted outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, “where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living since he claimed asylum in 2012,” and he is alleged to have given Assange data on a thumb drive. The Guardian has reported that Farage is a person of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in part because of that relationship. Moreover, Farage has appeared on Russian state television numerous times and has stated that Vladimir Putin is the “current world leader he most admired.”

Farage was named a Fox News contributor in the midst of all this, despite being known for regularly engaging with racist tropes, stumping for a pedophile, and whitewashing white nationalism. During his appearance on Fox & Friends to provide commentary on Trump’s meeting with Putin, Farage characterized the unprecedented Russian campaign to interfere in the 2016 election as just “how the world works.” He added that “the establishment [is] blaming Brexit and the Trump election on Russian collusion without an ounce of evidence, and it’s up to Trump to show the world that we don't need to make things worse with Russia.”


More at: https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/ ... ion/220680
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:45 am

Notes on Syria and the Coming Global Thanatocracy

Hummus For Thought

Image
Theodore Gericault – from the preparatory paintings for The Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819)


The Coldest Monster

In Thus Spake Zarathusta, Nietzsche called the state the coldest monster and we might add there is no state as cold as a thanatocracy. At present few genuine thanatocratic regimes actually exist but even using the most stringent definition (we use the loosest here), Syria unambiguously qualifies. Syria is a thanatocratic state whose kleptocratic ruling elite have tried to maintain their rule by freely resorting to genocide, systematically torturing and killing people on an industrial scale while using death, directly and indirectly to husband the populace in an escalation of governmental strategies to winnow targeted demographics and destroy those social ecologies felt to nourish rebellion. The genocidal destruction or disaggregation of some social groups by the thanatocratic state is accompanied by efforts to hothouse other demographics seen as compatible with the one overriding imperative: survival of the ruling elite.

Of course in the largely pacific global North and elsewhere many would look askance at the suggestion that Assad (and his allies) are responsible for the estimated half a million or more Syrian’s killed since 2011 as Assad certainly is. That is over half a million people killed out of a population of 22 million people while 5.6 million people have fled the country creating a grim refugee crisis with millions forced to live in sprawling camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and millions more displaced inside Syria. In his war to crush the revolt of the Syrian people, Assad and his allies have used tanks, fighter planes, rocket attacks, barrel bombs, white phosphorous, chlorine gas, sarin and other weapons, besieging towns, suburbs and villages – and their civilian populations.

Thomas Hobbes in Damascus

In a brief article ‘The Danger of a ‘State of Nature’’ written in September 2011 only months after the ‘Syrian Spring’ began, Yassin al-Haj Saleh, the veteran activist who spent many years in Baathist prisons under pere Assad, Hafez, first voiced alarm about the degeneration of the popular rebellion against Assad. Saleh traced this dangerous turn to the revolution’s defensive militarisation – a shift that was itself a reaction to Assad’s pitiless counter-revolution (1).

The Syrian revolution (and the ‘Arab Spring’) is the most important historical event since the collapse of the Soviet Union but has received little of the attention it deserves. This is perhaps because the ‘Arab Spring’ whose ground zero was Tunisia, encountered powerful headwinds after the early period of rising struggle between 2010-11. The Egyptian revolution was fatally thrown back when the country’s first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi was removed after only a year in office, in a counter-revolutionary coup d’etat staged by Egypt’s military. Another reason for the Syrian revolution’s neglect is the failure of the global left, especially in Europe and North America, to build a solidarity movement in its support. Rather insofar as solidarity was extended to any party in Syria, Assad’s thanatocracy has been the main beneficiary. The global left has been largely indifferent to the crimes of a regime where life is subordinated to death and biological precarity is the rule – with physical, social and cultural death imposed on incomprehensible numbers of people.

Despite the suffering of its people, Syria is commonly observed through the prism of post-truth and nihilistic scepsis. Much of the global left has joined the burgeoning ranks of cranks on social media peddling conspiracy theories promoting the demonstrably false view that Assad’s murderous regime was the target of attempted US regime change while viewing Assad’s revolutionary opponents through the spectacles of orientalism and Islamophobia. This diabolical consensus omnium parroted Assadist propaganda portraying Assad as an embattled secularist fighting opposition dominated by Salafist jihadis. In seven years of Assad’s brutal struggle to smash the ‘Syrian Spring’, few have tried to acquaint themselves with what is actually happening in Syria or listened to the voices of ordinary Syrian’s – people who despite their suffering are literally either invisible or ciphers for the paranoid fears and anxieties of the global North’s citizens.

In an arresting appropriation Yassin al-Haj Saleh invoked the seventeenth century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes to grasp the danger that faced the Syrian revolution, the morbid signs it was descending into a “primordial” ‘state of nature’ because of the brutal counter-revolution of Assad’s ‘neo-Sultanic’ state (as Saleh later characterised the Baathist state). Ominously, Saleh believed the revolution had begun to mirror the counter-revolution in the course of defending itself. Adversity engendered a struggle dominated by the “politics of survival” while the ‘state of nature’ was in principle antithetical to reason – the foundation of any politics. The fall into the ‘state of nature’ foreshadowed the destruction of politics and politics was the lifeblood of any revolutionary struggle as it embodied the autonomy and self-determination of the people (2).

Descent into the ‘state of nature’ indicated society was “losing its self-control” and the crystallisation of a social trend present in the revolution itself. Within months the open, “civic minded” nature of the revolution’s early days apparent in the role of a variety of civil society groups, the visible activism of women and so on, started to erode as the people fought Assad’s “brutal power.” Saleh argued the degeneration was apparent in the readiness to resort to arms for self-defence and the growth of religious influence that saw inherited identities displace more inclusive, secular identities within the anti-Assad camp. Inevitably there was a transition from slogans repudiating Salafism while underlining the democratic aspirations of the revolt to slogans with more traditional Islamic or religious connotations. In the revolution’s early weeks, the street protests were “civil, emancipatory, and humanist” but quite rapidly the revolution’s “public face” began to speak the “language of Islam” (3).

In subsequent years Saleh revisited the changing role of violence in Syrian society – the atomisation of the populace brought about by Assad’s ‘torture state’ and the problems the revolutionary camp faced as violence as self-defence became more indiscriminate and threatened to demoralise and undermine the revolution itself with the transition to “ultraviolence” or “militant nihilism” as Saleh would characterise it, in particular connecting the latter to the millenarian goals of religious fundamentalism in his own evolving evaluation of the political role of Salafism.

Reflecting on Assad’s “killing machine” Saleh pointed to the impact of earlier military and civil conflicts in the region, the civil conflict in Lebanon and the coalition invasion and occupation of Iraq, to illustrate the elective affinity between civil war and sectarian war or what Thomas Hobbes called the ‘war of all against all’ – the ‘state of nature’ where hatred fed hatred and killing led to more killing in a mimetic cycle similar to the cycle of violence and bloodletting Rene Girard thought defined the periodic sacrificial crisis that visited any society. As Saleh observed:

“This is the supposed ‘natural condition’ of mankind, in which everyone is at war with everyone else, much as Thomas Hobbes described in his ‘Leviathan’, during the middle of the seventeenth century. But the state of nature is not in fact a ‘natural’ condition; it is a historical conjuncture” (4).

Intriguingly the political and social backdrop to Hobbes’s ‘Leviathan’ (1651) was the English Civil War, a significant upheaval in what was an emerging capitalist society. The exact death toll from the three different phases of the civil war is not known though many historians estimate casualties as high as 180,000 dead from fighting and disease – about 3.6% of the population. A large proportion were combatants though about 40,000 civilians were among the dead. About 2% of the population are estimated to have been displaced. In comparison 2.6% of the British population was killed in the First World War though it must be conceded the English Civil War simply doesn’t compare with the modern mass fratricidal conflicts of either the C20th or our present century, where the nature of war and conflict clearly occupy an entirely different level altogether.

Image
Detail from the title page of Leviathan (1651)

In a recent, astonishing article ‘Love, Torture, Rape…and Annihilation’ written in exile, Saleh explores the relationship between hate, torture and rape against the backdrop of the Syrian experience. Saleh begins by noting how generally love unites humanity, especially the exclusive erotic love of lovers – it unites by separating ourselves from ourselves and so allows us to find ourselves. Love is revelation, mutual recognition and love as intimacy blurs boundaries as one becomes two or One of Us. In utter contrast torture annihilates boundaries in a quite different way, so as to pursue its victim into herself. Unlike love, torture is not a relationship but rather a non-bond of destruction that is brutally invasive and is conducted with a variety of goals and motivations by a torturer or the “torture state.” Saleh’s discussion is subtle and evidently derived from the experience of having spent many years in Baathist prisons. Yet the interest of Saleh’s analysis is its apprehension of certain global arguments about the nature of our age. Saleh distinguishes between three types of torture or violation. The first interrogatory or investigatory torture broadly aims to create a civil war within the individual victim so they betray themselves. In this circumstance an individual’s survival instinct and their commitment to a “higher obligation” or “social being”, are pitted against each other. In Syria before 2011 such objectives of torture might also include the destruction of proscribed opposition groups without necessarily aiming at the physical destruction of individuals. The second type of torture is retaliatory torture that aims to humiliate its victims and lead to either the physical or psychological destruction of the individuals. According to Saleh, Hafez Assad’s Tadmor prison and Bashar’s Saidnaya prison both aimed to “create an unforgettable memory, addressed far beyond the tortured person” to intimidate and deter the populace against rebelling. Thus, the tortured body was a “billboard” for obedience. The third type of torture, exterminatory, was self-explanatory.

The transition from death under torture to death by torture was consequential. It was a symptom of the systematic killing of people en masse on a regular basis over a more or less extended duration of time. In his essay on ‘necropolitics’ (discussed below) Achille Mbembe invoked the work of the Italian historian of the origins of the Holocaust Enzo Traverso who explored the affinity between the Nazi’s extermination camps and the industrial like processes of the production line characteristic of Fordist modernity. In 2013, a photographer employed by the Assadist state, known as ‘Caesar’ released 53,000 photos that constituted a routine bureaucratic catalogue of the emaciated waxy cadavers of those who had died under torture. In doing so ‘Caesar’, who fled Syria, provided a bleak glimpse of the state as organised killing machine – or as we contend, a thanatocracy. Saleh himself notes that all three types of torture have in practice blurred into the other two types while at a more general level pointing to a historical transition from one form of torture to the adoption of another form. For example, from the early 1970s until the early 1980s Syria may be said to have overstepped certain long established social boundaries or solidarities with the normalisation of torture. The ‘lesson’ of torture was intended to be internalised by everyone including the torturer who was transformed into a willing instrument of the ‘torture state.’ The transition to exterminatory torture – in our terms the transition to thanatocracy – was part of a genocidal continuum that disclosed the state had obtained “absolute freedom” to overstep human standards and boundaries without any normative or ethical limit other than the practical limit (5).

An important question arising from the Syrian tragedy is how much of what has unfolded in the last seven years encapsulates wider global trends in social conflict and war and how much events derive from trends immanent to Syrian society, to the specific nature or psychopathology of the Baathist state and its singular historical evolution? The answer to that question must surely be that a great deal is specific to the nature of what Saleh calls Assad’s ‘neo-Sultanic state.’ Yet it is also clear that Syria has a global significance in a variety of ways. For example, as Saleh argues in an interesting passage:

There is a strong international dimension to the Syrian genocide that is almost unmatched in history and that could be linked, with further investigations, to emerging Islamophobia, as the most prominent form of racism in today’s world.”


More at: https://hummusforthought.com/2018/07/15/thanatocracy/
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:26 pm

News Corp Australia’s promotion of Lauren Southern is disturbing

Image

Southern says she chose Luton because it is the home of Tommy Robinson, the currently imprisoned founder of the English Defence League. In May, Robinson was sentenced to 13 months in prison for contempt of court after broadcasting details of a trial from outside Leeds crown court that risked causing it to collapse.

Like Southern, Robinson has been an outspoken voice in anti-Islamic politics. His prominence in the UK has more recently translated to international fame on the far right. Southern and touring buddy Molyneux have made videos separately and together in support of both Robinson, and the #freetommy movement. This cause was the inspiration for a riotous far right protest in London last month.

Southern, Pettibone, and Sellner have engaged in other European provocations. In 2017, they took part in an effort, billed as “Defend Europe”, to disrupt the work of NGOs assisting refugee boats in the Mediterranean. The campaign was crowdfunded using the now-defunct WeSearchr website, run by American far-right provocateur, and alleged fringe Trump adviser, Charles C Johnson. The mission ended in failure after some of their ship’s crew were deported.

This began a run of bad luck for Sellner, in particular – currently he is being prosecuted in his native Austria under hate speech statutes, and for criminal association under what Breitbart called “mafia laws”.

More recently, Southern has appeared impressed by explicitly fascist figures, labelling the ideas of Aleksandr Dugin as “new” and “interesting”.

Last month, for example, she went to Moscow to meet with Dugin, the “National Bolshevik” political philosopher. Dugin dreams of Russian preeminence over an imperial “Eurasia” stretching “from Lisbon to Vladivostok”. He sets out the ideology which would unite this vast realm in books like the Fourth Political Theory, available in English from the fascist publisher, Arktos. This ideology encompasses what Dugin himself describes as a “genuine, true, radically revolutionary, and consistent fascist fascism”.

The rest of Dugin’s “traditionalist” worldview, as even the conservative National Review comments, is “straight out of Nazism”. Yale historian Timothy Snyder has written about Dugin, whom he calls “an actual fascist”, and detailed his philosophical influence on Vladimir Putin, and Russian foreign policy. Snyder says that “for years Dugin has openly supported the division and colonisation of Ukraine”.

Dugin has referred to a segment of the Ukrainian people as a “race of bastards that emerged from the sewer manholes”, called for their “genocide”, and exhorted that those Ukrainians must be “killed, killed, and killed”. One of his English translators is Nina Kouprianova, who is married to leading light of the US alt-right, Richard Spencer.

Southern and Pettibone’s fawning multi-part interview with Dugin, completed last month, is available on YouTube, and is entitled “From Russia With Love”.


https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... disturbing
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby Jerky » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:04 pm

Incredibly insightful and valuable contribution here, AD. So much food for thought, and it branches out into more content that is even more important, insightful, and ultimately disturbing in its implications. Thanks for this. I will definitely be sharing via my blog (for all the good it'll do).

Jerky

American Dream » 16 Jul 2018 15:45 wrote:
Notes on Syria and the Coming Global Thanatocracy

Hummus For Thought

Image
Theodore Gericault – from the preparatory paintings for The Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819)


The Coldest Monster

In Thus Spake Zarathusta, Nietzsche called the state the coldest monster and we might add there is no state as cold as a thanatocracy. At present few genuine thanatocratic regimes actually exist but even using the most stringent definition (we use the loosest here), Syria unambiguously qualifies. Syria is a thanatocratic state whose kleptocratic ruling elite have tried to maintain their rule by freely resorting to genocide, systematically torturing and killing people on an industrial scale while using death, directly and indirectly to husband the populace in an escalation of governmental strategies to winnow targeted demographics and destroy those social ecologies felt to nourish rebellion. The genocidal destruction or disaggregation of some social groups by the thanatocratic state is accompanied by efforts to hothouse other demographics seen as compatible with the one overriding imperative: survival of the ruling elite.

Of course in the largely pacific global North and elsewhere many would look askance at the suggestion that Assad (and his allies) are responsible for the estimated half a million or more Syrian’s killed since 2011 as Assad certainly is. That is over half a million people killed out of a population of 22 million people while 5.6 million people have fled the country creating a grim refugee crisis with millions forced to live in sprawling camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and millions more displaced inside Syria. In his war to crush the revolt of the Syrian people, Assad and his allies have used tanks, fighter planes, rocket attacks, barrel bombs, white phosphorous, chlorine gas, sarin and other weapons, besieging towns, suburbs and villages – and their civilian populations.

Thomas Hobbes in Damascus

In a brief article ‘The Danger of a ‘State of Nature’’ written in September 2011 only months after the ‘Syrian Spring’ began, Yassin al-Haj Saleh, the veteran activist who spent many years in Baathist prisons under pere Assad, Hafez, first voiced alarm about the degeneration of the popular rebellion against Assad. Saleh traced this dangerous turn to the revolution’s defensive militarisation – a shift that was itself a reaction to Assad’s pitiless counter-revolution (1).

The Syrian revolution (and the ‘Arab Spring’) is the most important historical event since the collapse of the Soviet Union but has received little of the attention it deserves. This is perhaps because the ‘Arab Spring’ whose ground zero was Tunisia, encountered powerful headwinds after the early period of rising struggle between 2010-11. The Egyptian revolution was fatally thrown back when the country’s first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi was removed after only a year in office, in a counter-revolutionary coup d’etat staged by Egypt’s military. Another reason for the Syrian revolution’s neglect is the failure of the global left, especially in Europe and North America, to build a solidarity movement in its support. Rather insofar as solidarity was extended to any party in Syria, Assad’s thanatocracy has been the main beneficiary. The global left has been largely indifferent to the crimes of a regime where life is subordinated to death and biological precarity is the rule – with physical, social and cultural death imposed on incomprehensible numbers of people.

Despite the suffering of its people, Syria is commonly observed through the prism of post-truth and nihilistic scepsis. Much of the global left has joined the burgeoning ranks of cranks on social media peddling conspiracy theories promoting the demonstrably false view that Assad’s murderous regime was the target of attempted US regime change while viewing Assad’s revolutionary opponents through the spectacles of orientalism and Islamophobia. This diabolical consensus omnium parroted Assadist propaganda portraying Assad as an embattled secularist fighting opposition dominated by Salafist jihadis. In seven years of Assad’s brutal struggle to smash the ‘Syrian Spring’, few have tried to acquaint themselves with what is actually happening in Syria or listened to the voices of ordinary Syrian’s – people who despite their suffering are literally either invisible or ciphers for the paranoid fears and anxieties of the global North’s citizens.

In an arresting appropriation Yassin al-Haj Saleh invoked the seventeenth century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes to grasp the danger that faced the Syrian revolution, the morbid signs it was descending into a “primordial” ‘state of nature’ because of the brutal counter-revolution of Assad’s ‘neo-Sultanic’ state (as Saleh later characterised the Baathist state). Ominously, Saleh believed the revolution had begun to mirror the counter-revolution in the course of defending itself. Adversity engendered a struggle dominated by the “politics of survival” while the ‘state of nature’ was in principle antithetical to reason – the foundation of any politics. The fall into the ‘state of nature’ foreshadowed the destruction of politics and politics was the lifeblood of any revolutionary struggle as it embodied the autonomy and self-determination of the people (2).

Descent into the ‘state of nature’ indicated society was “losing its self-control” and the crystallisation of a social trend present in the revolution itself. Within months the open, “civic minded” nature of the revolution’s early days apparent in the role of a variety of civil society groups, the visible activism of women and so on, started to erode as the people fought Assad’s “brutal power.” Saleh argued the degeneration was apparent in the readiness to resort to arms for self-defence and the growth of religious influence that saw inherited identities displace more inclusive, secular identities within the anti-Assad camp. Inevitably there was a transition from slogans repudiating Salafism while underlining the democratic aspirations of the revolt to slogans with more traditional Islamic or religious connotations. In the revolution’s early weeks, the street protests were “civil, emancipatory, and humanist” but quite rapidly the revolution’s “public face” began to speak the “language of Islam” (3).

In subsequent years Saleh revisited the changing role of violence in Syrian society – the atomisation of the populace brought about by Assad’s ‘torture state’ and the problems the revolutionary camp faced as violence as self-defence became more indiscriminate and threatened to demoralise and undermine the revolution itself with the transition to “ultraviolence” or “militant nihilism” as Saleh would characterise it, in particular connecting the latter to the millenarian goals of religious fundamentalism in his own evolving evaluation of the political role of Salafism.

Reflecting on Assad’s “killing machine” Saleh pointed to the impact of earlier military and civil conflicts in the region, the civil conflict in Lebanon and the coalition invasion and occupation of Iraq, to illustrate the elective affinity between civil war and sectarian war or what Thomas Hobbes called the ‘war of all against all’ – the ‘state of nature’ where hatred fed hatred and killing led to more killing in a mimetic cycle similar to the cycle of violence and bloodletting Rene Girard thought defined the periodic sacrificial crisis that visited any society. As Saleh observed:

“This is the supposed ‘natural condition’ of mankind, in which everyone is at war with everyone else, much as Thomas Hobbes described in his ‘Leviathan’, during the middle of the seventeenth century. But the state of nature is not in fact a ‘natural’ condition; it is a historical conjuncture” (4).

Intriguingly the political and social backdrop to Hobbes’s ‘Leviathan’ (1651) was the English Civil War, a significant upheaval in what was an emerging capitalist society. The exact death toll from the three different phases of the civil war is not known though many historians estimate casualties as high as 180,000 dead from fighting and disease – about 3.6% of the population. A large proportion were combatants though about 40,000 civilians were among the dead. About 2% of the population are estimated to have been displaced. In comparison 2.6% of the British population was killed in the First World War though it must be conceded the English Civil War simply doesn’t compare with the modern mass fratricidal conflicts of either the C20th or our present century, where the nature of war and conflict clearly occupy an entirely different level altogether.

Image
Detail from the title page of Leviathan (1651)

In a recent, astonishing article ‘Love, Torture, Rape…and Annihilation’ written in exile, Saleh explores the relationship between hate, torture and rape against the backdrop of the Syrian experience. Saleh begins by noting how generally love unites humanity, especially the exclusive erotic love of lovers – it unites by separating ourselves from ourselves and so allows us to find ourselves. Love is revelation, mutual recognition and love as intimacy blurs boundaries as one becomes two or One of Us. In utter contrast torture annihilates boundaries in a quite different way, so as to pursue its victim into herself. Unlike love, torture is not a relationship but rather a non-bond of destruction that is brutally invasive and is conducted with a variety of goals and motivations by a torturer or the “torture state.” Saleh’s discussion is subtle and evidently derived from the experience of having spent many years in Baathist prisons. Yet the interest of Saleh’s analysis is its apprehension of certain global arguments about the nature of our age. Saleh distinguishes between three types of torture or violation. The first interrogatory or investigatory torture broadly aims to create a civil war within the individual victim so they betray themselves. In this circumstance an individual’s survival instinct and their commitment to a “higher obligation” or “social being”, are pitted against each other. In Syria before 2011 such objectives of torture might also include the destruction of proscribed opposition groups without necessarily aiming at the physical destruction of individuals. The second type of torture is retaliatory torture that aims to humiliate its victims and lead to either the physical or psychological destruction of the individuals. According to Saleh, Hafez Assad’s Tadmor prison and Bashar’s Saidnaya prison both aimed to “create an unforgettable memory, addressed far beyond the tortured person” to intimidate and deter the populace against rebelling. Thus, the tortured body was a “billboard” for obedience. The third type of torture, exterminatory, was self-explanatory.

The transition from death under torture to death by torture was consequential. It was a symptom of the systematic killing of people en masse on a regular basis over a more or less extended duration of time. In his essay on ‘necropolitics’ (discussed below) Achille Mbembe invoked the work of the Italian historian of the origins of the Holocaust Enzo Traverso who explored the affinity between the Nazi’s extermination camps and the industrial like processes of the production line characteristic of Fordist modernity. In 2013, a photographer employed by the Assadist state, known as ‘Caesar’ released 53,000 photos that constituted a routine bureaucratic catalogue of the emaciated waxy cadavers of those who had died under torture. In doing so ‘Caesar’, who fled Syria, provided a bleak glimpse of the state as organised killing machine – or as we contend, a thanatocracy. Saleh himself notes that all three types of torture have in practice blurred into the other two types while at a more general level pointing to a historical transition from one form of torture to the adoption of another form. For example, from the early 1970s until the early 1980s Syria may be said to have overstepped certain long established social boundaries or solidarities with the normalisation of torture. The ‘lesson’ of torture was intended to be internalised by everyone including the torturer who was transformed into a willing instrument of the ‘torture state.’ The transition to exterminatory torture – in our terms the transition to thanatocracy – was part of a genocidal continuum that disclosed the state had obtained “absolute freedom” to overstep human standards and boundaries without any normative or ethical limit other than the practical limit (5).

An important question arising from the Syrian tragedy is how much of what has unfolded in the last seven years encapsulates wider global trends in social conflict and war and how much events derive from trends immanent to Syrian society, to the specific nature or psychopathology of the Baathist state and its singular historical evolution? The answer to that question must surely be that a great deal is specific to the nature of what Saleh calls Assad’s ‘neo-Sultanic state.’ Yet it is also clear that Syria has a global significance in a variety of ways. For example, as Saleh argues in an interesting passage:

There is a strong international dimension to the Syrian genocide that is almost unmatched in history and that could be linked, with further investigations, to emerging Islamophobia, as the most prominent form of racism in today’s world.”


More at: https://hummusforthought.com/2018/07/15/thanatocracy/
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:35 pm

That site, Hummus for Thought, supports a lot of valuable content, notably this gem:


The Multipolar Spin: How Fascists Operationalize Left-wing Resentment
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby Elvis » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:27 pm

American Dream wrote:Notes on Syria and the Coming Global Thanatocracy


This premise is debatable, to say the least—

Assad (and his allies) are responsible for the estimated half a million or more Syrian’s killed since 2011 as Assad certainly is. That is over half a million people killed out of a population of 22 million people while 5.6 million people have fled the country creating a grim refugee crisis with millions forced to live in sprawling camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and millions more displaced inside Syria. In his war to crush the revolt of the Syrian people, Assad and his allies have used tanks, fighter planes, rocket attacks, barrel bombs, white phosphorous, chlorine gas, sarin and other weapons, besieging towns, suburbs and villages – and their civilian populations.


I don't know whether the writer is deliberately disingenuous or just woefully blindered, but if nothing else, articles equating the foreign proxy armies in Syria with "the Syrian people" leave me cold. Just my take on it.
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Re: The Far Right's Love of the Kremlin’s Policies

Postby American Dream » Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:21 pm

Elvis, I feel that your interpretation is somewhat of a red herring. The author does claim that the Syrian State had become

a ‘mass murder’ or “torture state” (Yassin al-Haj Saleh’s characterisation) at some point in the preceding four decades of Baath party ascendancy. This is the argument we favour because while it’s obviously true the killing has massively escalated since 2011 due to a scorched earth defence of Assad’s rule, a large proportion of those deaths would still have happened in the ‘normal’ course of Assadist rule but within the security and prison apparatus as they did before 2011.


There is surely a more appropriate thread where you could make a definitive argument about the points you want to argue and then support them with specific evidence.
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