What is Corbynism? The author of a new book explains why even some left-wingers have problems with it.

corbynImages - Copy

[ A new book traces Jeremy Corbyn’s ideology from its roots. Clockwise from top left: Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, a Stop the War protest against bombing in Syria and a steel factory in operation (Photo: Getty) ]

[ Source= https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/what-is-corbynism-the-author-of-a-new-book-explains-why-even-some-left-wingers-have-problems-with-it/ By: Karl McDonald 27/9/18 ]

[Posted by Lara Keller 28/9/18]

What is Corbynism? The author of a new book explains why even some left-wingers have problems with it.

The ‘critical’ book traces the ideology that informs the Labour leader’s policies.

Everyone knows who Jeremy Corbyn is, and most of have an idea of “Corbynistas” too – but relatively little thought has been put into what Corbynism really means as a political ideology.

It’s forgivable for the casual follower of the news to be confused. In the right-wing press, we hear about Jeremy Corbyn the Soviet bloc spy.

On the left, Corbynism tends to be romanticised. And in the centre, we’ve lived through the great punditry crisis of 2015-17, as the unelectable dinosaur did better than anyone could have imagined.

But little of what we read day today deals with what he actually believes and why. One effort to get to grips with this comes in the form of Corbynism: A Critical Approach, a book by Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts.

“The origins of the book lay in our frustrations with the way that Corbyn is critiqued or examined across the spectrum,” Bolton told “iNews” [Newspaper]. His book is heavy on theory – it’s certainly not afraid of discussing the “substantialist strand of value theory” for example – but it’s also filled with criticisms that we don’t often hear, coming from left-wing academics.

Here are some of the conclusions they’ve drawn:

1. Corbynism is not just one thing.

corbynismAuthors - Copy

[ Frederick Harry Pitts and Matt Bolton, authors of Corbynism: A Critical Approach. ]

“You’ve got the traditional left strand, which is kind of a mixture of Bennism and bit of Trotskyism,” he says. “There’s a kind of residual Stalinism there as well, represented by Corbyn himself, (shadow Chancellor) John McDonnell, (former Guardian writer and now strategist) Seumas Milne, (special adviser and former Communist Party member) Andrew Murray and (adviser) Andrew Fisher.”

Next, you’ve got the Momentum strand – still a little Bennite in its older members, but driven mostly by the energy of younger people radicalised after the 2008 crash.

“Then you’ve got the (Derby MP) Chris Williamson, Squawkbox,Canary thread, who I’m increasingly interested in,” says Bolton. “They’re really coming from a much more conspiratorial point of view.”

On top of that, there are postcapitalists, cultural theorists and more.

“All these different groups with different traditions have fed into Corbynism – and there are tensions between them,” says Bolton. “They come out from time to time with Brexit and with the anti-Semitism row over the summer – McDonnell was intent on shutting that down, but the more extreme elements were keen on pushing it. ”

Corbyn’s major achievement, he says, is that the Labour leader keeps things vague.

“When he talks about socialism, he says it’s just natural, it’s people being nice to one another. And because he doesn’t express himself in clear political terms, it allows other groups to project what they want on him.”

2. We wouldn’t have Corbynism – or as much of a left resurgence – without Corbyn himself.

corbynRebuilding - Copy

[Jeremy Corbyn on stage at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool (Photo: Getty)]

The vagueness goes some way towards explaining why Corbyn’s rise happened when it would have seemed impossible to an observer wondering whether Corbyn, McDonnell or Diane Abbott would emerge for a leftwing tilt at the leadership in 2015.

“Would Corbynism have been possible without Corbyn? The ideas were there, and we had the upsurge starting in 2008, but we’re doubtful that any other figure from the left would have been able to do it,” says Bolton.

“Would John McDonnell have done it? He’s too clear, almost, on his positions.”

“George Galloway? In a lot of ways he’s similar to Corbyn, they share a lot of positions and Galloway is close friends with Seumas Milne. But it seems implausible to me that he could have done it.”

3. Corbyn sees the world as good vs evil.

stwcCorbyn - Copy.jpg

[A Stop the War protest near Downing Street demands bombing of Syria stops (Photo: Getty)]

When Bolton and his co-author Frederick Harry Pitts use the term “Stalinism” in relation to Corbynism, they’re not talking about gulags. They’re referring to a particular world view that splits countries into two camps: the American “imperialist” camp on one side, and those who resist American dominance on the
other, led in Stalin’s time by the Soviet Union.

“If you look at Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray, both of whom were very influential in the Corbyn circle, they have an explicitly Stalinist background,” says Bolton.

“Andrew Murray was a member of the Communist Party until 2016. And the way that that feeds in to the Corbyn movement is mainly influencing foreign policy through a particular form of anti-imperialism which we call ‘two-campism’.”

He adds: “Any group that opposes the states that are seen as the embodiment of capitalism through the lens of imperialism, is seen as anti-capitalist.

“You can see this in particular with Syria. Because they view Assad as anti-American, they see any opposition to Assad as a proxy for the Americans. So these Syrians fighting basically for liberal democracy gets dismissed either as a jihadi thing or as stooges of American democracy.

“That world view has its roots in Leninism and Stalinism.”

4. He’s a Bennite – and Bennism is economic nationalism.

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[Jeremy Corbyn is keen to subsidise industry – including steel – in the UK (Photo: Getty)]

When it comes to policy at home, however, it’s not Soviet policy that the Labour leader reaches for.

Bolton and Pitts links Corbyn to Tony Benn’s Alternative Economic Strategy which emerged in the 1970s and early 1980s – the last time the left was a serious force within the party.

“On the one hand you have the notion of workers’ control of production, which you can see in the stuff they were talking about at conference with workers on boards,” Bolton says. “Lots of that is good stuff, we don’t disagree with everything.”

But the other side of Bennism is the idea that the British economy and industry were “under attack” from finance – and that Britain needed to build a “siege economy” to throw off the shackles of the bankers, Bolton says.

“We think that’s a form of economic nationalism – protecting British jobs and British industry from foreign intruders,” he says. “That’s dangerous. It’s politically ambivalent.”

5. It’s a short jump from ‘rigged economy’ to antisemitic tropes.

bannonCorbyn - Copy.jpg

[Fire and fury: former Trump adviser Steve Bannon (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)]

Bennism’s sense of attack from the financiers leads Corbyn to describe the economy as “rigged” – something that might be intuitive to a lot of left-wingers. But left-wingers aren’t the only people who use it, Bolton points out – Donald Trump, Bannon and even Michael Gove have adopted it too.

“The political ambivalence of the ‘rigged economy’ term alongside the economic nationalism is quite dangerous,” he says.

It’s this sort of thinking that leads Corbyn into his anti-Semitism rows.

“If you see capitalism as something that’s imposed on workers rather than something more general, it’s not inevitable that you end up with anti-semitism, but the potential is there.

“The combination of that and the good vs bad world view, you can end up repeating or stumbling into antisemitic tropes.”

6. He had his chance to oppose Brexit and missed it – probably on purpose.

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Jeremy Corbyn during the Remain campaign (Getty) ]

There’s a reason Jeremy Corbyn is “anti-EU by instinct”, as it’s presented in the media. In the Bennite tradition, the EU stops Britain building a “siege economy” and growing its industrial base without restriction, according to Bolton.

“They don’t want to be in the single market because they think it restricts their ability to provide state aid for national industry,” he adds – meaning he wants to be able to put public money into nationalised businesses in a way that might be illegal under EU rules.

Of course, Corbyn campaigned to Remain, and even if he did want to change his post-referendum position on Brexit, he had a chance to do it when Theresa May lost seats in the election. “They could have said you’ve had your chance, you’ve lost the election, let’s have a re-think. But they want Brexit, I think,” says Bolton.

7. The Corbynite intellectuals are losing control of their own fringes.

williamsonCorbyn - Copy

Labour MP Chris Williamson is a leftist – but has been combative since leaving the shadow cabinet ]

Corbynism is open to many different left-wing ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t clash.

One particularly difficult subgrouping is what Bolton calls the “conspiratorial wing” – or the “Chris Williamson- Labour Against The Witch Hunt-Canary strand”.

“You’re starting to see a split between them and the intellectual leadership,” he says. “They’re starting to turn against them.”

“You can see the tension between the radical-but-sensible thinkers at the core of the party and their zealous outriders on social media and elsewhere when the latter turn against the leader’s perceived enemies.”

“Jon Lansman has done more for Corbynism than almost anyone apart from John McDonnell, maybe,” says Bolton.

“But once he does one thing to contradict the leadership’s position, which is put himself forward as General Secretary against Jennie Formby, instantly the Chris Williamson wing started to turn against him.”

“Suddenly it become, oh he’s a Zionist, he’s power-mad, it’s a secret Israeli agenda.”

————————-

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International Assadists Reference Directory.

trollArmy

International Assadists Reference Directory.

[ Posted by Lara Keller 21/9/18 Updated 16/4/19 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Expanded from web page by Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

[Article on range of Assadist opinion see here.]

A references directory on 171 (?) public figures who have expressed support and/or whitewashed the Assad regime, with examples and references.

The purpose of this list is to facilitate finding the references to see and to show people who genuinely don’t know what is true and who to trust about Syria why the people on this list should not be trusted as sources. I am not expecting anyone to read the whole thing, at least not in one sitting. I suggest you use Ctrl+F on a Windows computer or ⌘+F on a Mac to easily find the name(s) you’re looking for. There may be an online database facility in future.

Each time there’s an incident in Syria which breaks through into international public attention (only nerve toxin gas attacks or >1000 civilians killed in a week seem to trigger 1–2 weeks of international attention now), we get a week or two’s rush of people who have not been paying attention to the daily reporting from Syria before then sharing articles, videos and memes from pro-regime propaganda sources, often without knowing that’s what they are, and we are busy re-finding and copy-pasting the links around to show them why they shouldn’t trust those sources. I hope this reference list will at least make that easier and more efficient next time, because unfortunately there will be a next time, as we have still not done anything to make “never again” a reality.

I decided to spend quite a lot of time in introduction articles defining terms, because otherwise what happens is the other side just call this “propaganda”, as if words have no objective meaning independent of partisanship anymore.

I cut into a separate article my attempt to understand how it happened that so many mostly good people came to believe so much evil bullshit, which I think is more due to authoritarian regimes exploiting the built-in vulnerabilities in the structure, as it has been designed so far, of the social media part of the Public Sphere than it is due to the inherent moral frailties of human nature.

How have so many people become so seriously misled about Syria?
It is tempting but probably untrue to attribute malice to most people who believe narratives about Syria which are…medium.com

[ LK: It is important to understand what is meant by Assadist, and anti-Assadist, appreciate the range of opinions these terms cover and how people develop these stances. The original author provides essential prerequisite material on this in four  parts. It is important to realize Assadist is not meant by the author as a term of abuse. This directory could be used to understand why the Assad Regime is so hated, journalists to research sources, provide information on the range of people willing to apologize for a very violent and oppressive dictatorship or to study the variety of pro Assad propaganda and its intended audiences. There is no intention to provide or encourage the access to or inappropriate use of personal information. Content is limited to public sources. ]

Prerequisite material:

I will now continue the rest of the list in alphabetical order by second name. Corporate entity names I’ve alphabetised by the first letter of the first word.

A–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • shortArrow - CopyDiane Abbott  [id=1-a1]
  • shortArrow - CopySarah Abdallah (also known as ‘Sahouraxo’, formerly aka ‘Jnoubiyeh’ and ‘Muqawamist’) [id=2-a2]
  • shortArrow - CopySarah Abed [id=3-a3]
  • Ali Abuminah [id=4-a4]
  • Mother Agnes [id=5-a5]
  • Nafeez Ahmed [id=6-a6]
  • Tariq Ali [id=7-a7]
  • Louis Allday [id=8-a8]
  • James Allsup [id=9-a9]
  • Kevork Almassian [id=10-a10]
  • Tim Anderson [id=11-a11]
  • Paul Antonopolous [id=12-a12]
  • Andrew Ashdown [id=13-a13]

B–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Steve Bannon [id=14-b1]
  • Arron Banks [id=15-b2]
  • Gérard Bapt [id=16-b3]
  • Ajamu Baraka [id=17-b4]
  • Yahya Barakat [id=18-b5]
  • Eva Bartlett [id=19-b6]
  • Thierry Baudet [id=20-b7]
  • Vanessa Beeley [id=21-b8]
  • Jens Bernert [id=22-b9]
  • Richard Black  [id=23-b10]
  • Christian Blex [id=24-b11]
  • Max Blumenthal [id=25-b12]
  • David Bromwich [id=26-b13]
  • Aisling Byrne [id=27-b14]

C–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Tucker Carlson [id=28-c1]
  • Mike Cernovich [id=29-c2]
  • Noam Chomsky [id=30-c3]
  • Neil Clark [id=31-c4]
  • Alexander Cockburn [id=32-c5]
  • Patrick Cockburn [id=33-c6]
  • Elizabeth Cocker ‘Lizzie Phelan’ [id=34-c7]
  • Stephen Cohen [id=35-c8]
  • Gerry Condon [id=36-c9]
  • Alistair Crooke [id=37-c10]
  • Jonathan Cook [id=38-c11]
  • shortArrow - CopySheila Coombes [id=39-c12]
  • shortArrow - CopyJeremy Corbyn [id=40-c13]
  • Pierre le Corf [id=41-c14]
  • Alain Corvez [id=42-c15]
  • Ann Coulter [id=43-c16]
  • Baroness Caroline Cox [id=44-c17]

D–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Sevim Dagdelen (*1975) [id=45-d1]
  • Clare Daly [id=46-d2]
  • Golden Dawn [id=47-d3]
  • Zlatko Dizdarevic [id=48-d4]
  • Jimmy Dore [id=49-d5]
  • Bob Dreyfuss [id=50-d6]
  • Tom Duggan [id=51-d7]
  • Wierd Duk [id=52-d8]
  • David Duke [id=53-d9]

E–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • European Solidarity Front for Syria (ESFS) [id=54-e1]
  • Pepe Escobar [id=55-e2]

F–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Leith Abou Fadel [id=56-f1]
  • Robert Fisk [id=57-f2]
  • Sara Flounders [id=58-f3]
  • Peter Ford [id=59-f4]
  • Benjamin Fulford [id=60-f5]

G–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Tulsi Gabbard [id=61-g1]
  • Uli Gack [id=62-g2]
  • George Galloway [id=63-g3]
  • Tim Gionet ‘Baked Alaska’ [id=64-g4]
  • Marco Glowatzki [id=65-g5]
  • Glenn Greenwald [id=66-g6]
  • Joachim Guilliard [id=67-g7]

H–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Declan Hayes [id=68-h1]
  • Tim Hayward [id=69-h2]
  • Patrick Henningsen [id=70-h3]
  • Seymour Hersh [id=71-h4]
  • Peter Hitchens [id=72-h5]
  • Katie Hopkins [id=73-h6]

I–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • David Icke [id=74-i1]
  • Laura Ingraham [id=75-i2]
  • Robert Inlarkesh [id=76-i3]

J–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Ken Jebsen [id=77-j1]
  • Simon Jenkins [id=78-j2]
  • Adam Johnson [id=79-j3]
  • shortArrow - CopyBoris Johnson [id=80-j4]
  • Caitlin Johnston [id=81-j5]
  • Alex Jones [id=82-j6]
  • Owen Jones [id=83-j7]

K–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Leila Khaled [id=84-k1]
  • Rania Khalek [id=85-k2]
  • Janice Kortkamp [id=86-k3]
  • Dennis Kucinich [id=87-k4]
  • Harald Kujat (*1942) [id=88-k5]

L–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Tomi Lahren [id=89-l1]
  • Joshua Landis [id=90-l2]
  • Adam Larson [id=91-l3]
  • Paul Lauradee [id=92-l4]
  • Carlos Latuff [id=93-l5]
  • Gregory Lauder-Frost [id=94-l6]
  • Régis Le Sommier [id=95-l7]
  • Christian Lindgren [id=96-l8]
  • Joe Lombardo [id=97-l9]
  • Michael Lüders [id=98-l10]

M–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Jeff Mackler [id=99-m1]
  • Abby Martin [id=100-m2]
  • Aaron Mate [id=101-m3]
  • shortArrow - CopyTara McCormack [id=102-m4]
  • Ray McGovern [id=103-m5]
  • Gavin McInnes [id=104-m6]
  • Paul McKeigue [id=105-m7]
  • Barbara McKenzie [id=106-m8]
  • Kerry-Anne Mendoza [id=107-m9]
  • Guy Mettan [id=108-m10]
  • Günter Meyer (*1946) [id=109-m11]
  • Thierry Meyssan [id=110-m12]
  • David Miller [id=111-m13]
  • Seumus Milne [id=112-m14]
  • Stefan Molyneux [id=113-m15]
  • Craig Murray [id=114-m16]

N–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Sharmine Narwani [id=115-n1]
  • Donna Nassor [id=116-n2]
  • Ben Norton [id=117-n3]
  • Forza Nouva [id=118-n4]
  • Paul Nuttall [id=119-n5]

O–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Eoin Ó Murchú [id=120-o1]
  • Ken O’Keefe [id=121-o2]
  • Carla Ortiz [id=122-o3]

P–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Marcus Papadopolous [id=123-p1]
  • Robert Parry [id=124-p2]
  • Rand Paul [id=125-p3]
  • Ron Paul [id=126-p4]
  • John Pilger [id=127-p5]
  • Jaap Plaiser [id=128-p6]
  • Jurgen Pohl [id=129-p7]
  • Gareth Porter [id=130-p8]
  • Theodore Postol [id=131-p9]
  • Casa Pound [id=132-p10]
  • Vijay Prashad [id=133-p11]

Q–Surnames-or-OrgNames

[No Entries]

R–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Michel Raimbaud [id=134-r1]
  • Sami Ramadani [id=135-r2]
  • John Rees [id=136-r3]
  • Paul Craig Roberts [id=137-r4]
  • Piers Robinson [id=138-r5]
  • Dana Rohrabacher [id=139-r6]
  • Kris Roman [id=140-r7]
  • Pierre-Yves Rougeyron [id=141-r8]

S–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Susan Sarandon [id=142-s1]
  • MP Jean-Luc Schaffhauser [id=143-s2]
  • Elham Shaheen [id=144-s3]
  • Pearson Sharp [id=145-s4]
  • Fares Shehabi [id=146-s5]
  • Alain Soral [id=147-s6]
  • SOS Chrétiens d’Orient [id=148-s7]
  • Richard Spencer [id=149-s8]
  • Jonathan Steele [id=150-s9]
  • Jill Stein [id=151-s10]
  • Rick Sterling [id=152-s11]
  • Maram Sulsi ‘Partisan Girl’ [id=153-s12]
  • “Swedish Doctors for Human Rights” (SWEDHR)/Marcello Ferranda De Noli [id=154-s13]
  • Le Club Suisse / Swiss Press Club [id=155-s14]

T–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Emily Thornberry [id=156-t1]
  • Hans-Thomas Tillschneider [id=157-t2]
  • Jürgen Todenhöfer [id=158-t3]

U–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • US Peace Council [id=159-u1]

V–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Beatrix Von Storch [id=160-v1]
  • Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) [id=161-v2]

W–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Sahra Wagenknecht[id=162-w1]
  • Roger Waters [id=163-w2]
  • Paul Joseph Watson [id=164-w3]
  • Ian Wilkie [id=165-w4]
  • Asa Winstanley [id=166-w5]
  • Ann Wright [id=167-w6]

X–Surnames-or-OrgNames

[No Entries]

Y–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Milo Yiannopolous [id=168-y1]
  • Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Yonan [id=169-y2]

Z–Surnames-or-OrgNames

  • Slavoj Zizek [id=170-z1]
  • Zwart Front [id=171-z2]

 

Ten Point Scale and Common Features of Assadism (By Kester Ratcliff).

assadApologist - Copy

Ten Point Scale of Assadism (By Kester Ratcliff).

[Posted by Lara Keller 17/9/18] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[From web page by Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

What it means to identify someone as an ‘Assadist’.

This is a progressive list of relatively less committed gradually through to the most committed Assadist statements. People who only repeat points 1–4 are more likely to be recoverable than people who are assert 4–9. Point 10 is where they clearly cross a legal line from nonfactual and morally repugnant to a criminal act of incitement of a crime against humanity (explained below).

  1. ‘There are no good guys left- there was a civilian uprising in 2011, but there are only Islamist jihadis now.’ (this claim debunked here)
  2. ‘It’s Assad or the Islamist extremists. The Assad regime is secular and the protector of minorities.’ (debunking)
  3. ‘Assad is the legitimate President of Syria, and the Russian and Iranian forces were invited by him so their intervention is legitimate, but any other foreign intervention to limit mass atrocities is illegitimate.’
  4. ‘There was no genuine civilian uprising or revolution, it was a foreign regime change conspiracy. Assad is resisting imperialism.’ (videos)
  5. ‘The Assadi-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian regime’s atrocity crimes are not real but are exaggerated or fictitiously created by Western propaganda.’
  6. Victim blaming — ‘the Syrian revolutionaries and political opposition, civilians and combatants, are to blame for rebelling against legitimate authority and they are ‘terrorists’ for rejecting the government.’
  7. ‘The Assadi-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian regime has not used CWs’ / ‘if they did it was justified’ (the latter is almost exclusively found in Assadist domestic propaganda in Arabic, see examples).
  8. ‘Al Qaeda and ISIS are supported or controlled by the West / by Israel.’
  9. ‘The White Helmets are fake humanitarian aid workers and are associated with / are terrorists.’
  10. ‘The White Helmets are legitimate military targets and should be attacked.’

The distinction between points 9 and 10 is abetment vs. incitement of a crime against humanity. Most Assadists say point 9, very few go as far as 10, but almost all associate themselves with one who does say 10, Vanessa Beeley.

Recently, Bashar al-Assad has also publicly announced in RT that the regime targets the White Helmets as “terrorists” — I think this is military targeting following propaganda, rather than propaganda following military targeting.

In listing these 151(171?) people as Assadists, I am not saying that they are all equivalent. It is not a 0/1 binary, it is a scalar variable. Especially for the milder cases, who might otherwise legitimately complain about being lumped together, I have tried to specify where I think they are on my 1–10 scale. But I think people who only repeat the milder points on the scale of Assadism and frequently associate with the more overt or extreme Assadists play an important role in mainstreaming and legitimising the more extreme people.

Common features (roots?) of all varieties of Assadism.

In my opinion the following four features are common to all varieties of international Assadism, from the far right to far left (the meaning of the distinction ‘right’/ ‘left’ breaks down when it is applied to Assadists).

1. Objectification.

Objectification (Naussbaum, 1995, p.257) of an imagined ‘Other’ group of people, reduced to blocs, moved by the hands of imagined more powerful agents, which are typically more like the self. Such imagination of other people is both expressed and transmitted in linguistic framing metaphors such as ‘chess’ or ‘international players’, i.e. game metaphorical framing of counter-revolutionary and genocidal mass atrocities, in which people are imaginatively reduced to ‘remote-controlled pawns’ (Maher Arar’s term). The form and perhaps the origin of this objectification is the Western-centricism that even when it is anti-Western still renders the Oriental, Arabs and Muslims, as imaginary objects rather than as persons with agency. [LK: The denial of effective agency by powerful external countries is the principal reason for the survival of the illegitimate brutal Assad dictatorship.]

Extract on Western-Centrism (“The Syrian Cause and Anti-Imperialism”):

objectification - Copy

2. Islamophobia / Anti-Muslim prejudice.

International Assadists, as much as I have seen, all share the trait of negative stereotyping of Muslims, or even all brown skinned people, as “jihadis” or “Islamist terrorists”. This is the most prominent common feature of all varieties of international Assadism; in some cases it’s more subtle, but I think it’s always there at least implicitly. Some of the far right Assadists call all brown skinned refugees and other migrants ‘jihadis’ (even Eritrean Christians), yet they are willingly blind to the Shia regimes and militias allied with the Russian regime and international fascist groups. In my observations, hardly anyone who says ‘Islamist’ is clear what even they mean by it; in most uses, it’s a label projected onto people just to demonise them.

The function of such stereotyping, and why it occurs so commonly in populist nationalist groups, is to create an imagined, idealised enemy group to negatively identify themselves against, and to lay the guilt of the internal differences, rivalry and conflicts of their populist nationalist community, which they ideologically presume must be united, onto a scapegoat group to be sacrificed, to take away the guilt of their community’s differences (Girard, 2001).

Leftist Assadists also identify ‘jihadis’ by signs such as — exclaiming ‘God is greater!’ (“Allahu akbar”), showing the one finger gesture of tawhid — testifying to the one-ness of God, having a beard while brown, or having a sticker of the Shahada on a vehicle’s rear windscreen (this was one of Vanessa Beeley’s ‘proofs’ that ‘the White Helmets are Al-Qaeda’), which of course are just signs of being Muslim, not at all particular to extremists or terrorists. I have never seen anyone who was interested negatively in ‘Islamists’ ever even attempt to define exactly what they mean by ‘Islamism’, since the term is more useful to them kept vague. [LK: Secularism inconsistently applied is a feature of far-left mindset]

Example of Islamophobia on Twitter (DR+MW have 1000s of followers):

deplorableRocky - Copy

3. Phobia of “mainstream media” and “experts”.

Assadists as far as I have seen commonly share the Populist strategy of cultivating distrust of the home society’s specialists and institutions, and rejection of ‘mainstream media’ (some Assadists literally call the mainstream media ‘lügenpresse’, echoing Hitler), accompanied by a willing credulity about the sources which are delegitimising the institutions of the home society and an unwillingness to consider whether those criticising are really more trustworthy or are actually even worse.

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[LK: Interesting their target is the only serious mainstream left-wing newspaper in the UK.]

Attacking the credibility of democratic institutions and specialists also creates an echo chamber — a group who distrust all outsiders, who only believe what members of their own echo chamber tell them, and who collectively attack any source of information that threatens their group identity. The Populist strategy can almost be defined as the process of generating an echo chamber.

Populism and echo chamber generating tactics (including ‘audience segmentation’) and conspiracism are inherently inter-related, because conspiracy theories’ main effect is to persuade the audience to reallocate trust and political authority away from the home society’s institutional specialists and to the new populist leaders (and their geopolitical backers), so almost all populists frequently use conspiracy theories in their legitimation narratives.

As C Thi Nguyen says, it is as difficult to leave or to recover people from a political echo chamber as to leave or to recover people from a religious cult — Escape the echo chamber: First you don’t hear other views, then you can’t trust them, then your personal information network entraps you just like a cult.

4. Authoritarianism.

‘Solidarity’ in Assadist ideology is imagined to mean solidarity with States, not people. Far right and left Assadists (even those who self-identify as anarchists) share an authoritarian and Statist attitude to political relationships — politics is what States do, not the collective decisions and actions of people. When they say ‘Syria’ they invariably mean the Assad regime, not the Syrian people. The only Syrians represented personally in international Assadist narratives are regime spokespersons, or subjected to implicit threats by their Mukhabarat minders to say only what they know is expected. It would be suicidal to say anything unexpected to someone on one of the regime-minded tours without being completely certain that they would not reveal any identifying information which could lead the Mukhabarat to find out who said it. Leila al-Shami develops these points fully in this article — The ‘anti-imperialism’ of idiots.

The Anti-Israel theme is frequent but not fully common, as far as I have seen. There are some otherwise seemingly centre-right public figures who are, at least – as a stance they must perform for their own political gain – pro-Israel. [LK: All serious anti-Assadists also appear to be anti-Zionists, but not of the rabid anti-Israel sense]

How or why people become useful idiots for violent tyrannical regimes is an hard and intriguing question I’ve struggled with for years. I assume that the difference between a useful idiot and an agent is a slippery scale, not a dichotomy. I think James Bloodworth has done a good and concise job of trying to understand how different types of useful idiots develop, here — Six types of ‘useful idiot’: The Seeker, Uptopian, Power Worshipper, Relativist, Stability-Fetishist and Nostalgist.


 

Definitions of terms and scope (Assadists Reference – By Kester Ratcliff).

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Definitions of terms and scope (Assadists Reference – By Kester Radcliff).

[Posted by Lara Keller 17/9/18 Updated 16/4/19] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[From web page by Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

[Start]

‘International’ — I’m categorising the propaganda circulating among Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Iranian and Russian direct participants, political or armed, in the war in Syria as ‘domestic’ propaganda, mainly to limit the scope because otherwise I would never finish this, but also because I lack the linguistic skills to research those directly myself. I hope some colleagues may join me to work more on that later. I have done a little bit of comparing and contrasting ‘domestic’ and ‘international’ sides of Assadist propaganda narratives here.

‘Assadist’ — I chose primarily this term rather than the narrower term ‘pro-Assad’, because some of the public figures in this list explicitly deny being pro-Assad but still persistently repeat core lines of regime propaganda narratives. I have used both terms, as distinct but overlapping categories—all pro-Assad people are Assadists (they repeat Assadist propaganda claims), but not all Assadists are in their own view pro-Assad; e.g. Joshua Landis denies being ‘pro-Assad’, however he persists in repeating some core elements of the regime’s propaganda narratives and in associating himself with Assadists.

‘Propagandist’=a source or a major repeater of propaganda claims. I include both sources and major repeaters as ‘propagandists’, because a) separating them would require an arbitrary definition of the boundary which would probably tend to let a lot of ‘sources’ perceived as sources by their followers off the hook, because they are really mostly just repeaters; and b) I believe that the habit of careless speech, including repeating propaganda, even if the person lacks a conscious intention to lie or cause harm, is morally culpable, because it is neglectful of moral duties to others in speaking about them.

Limitation: In this references directory I focused mainly on individual public figures who create or repeat propaganda, not corporate entities or media sites, mainly because others (1,2,3,4,5) have already worked more on network analysis of media sites already, as there are fewer of them and it is somewhat easier to collect the data, and because otherwise I would never finish.

Corporate Assadist propaganda example (3):

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Propaganda and disinformation I think can be defined as distinct phenomena, but with a large overlap. Disinformation is one way of doing propaganda, but not the only way. I think of disinformation as concealing false fact claims in a complex layered mixture of truths and falsities. Propaganda usually includes disinformation but also uses other unreasonable means of persuasion, coercion, and erosion of the public goods necessary to resist totalitarianism.

‘Propaganda’ in this context I think means mainly unreasonable persuasion tactics, but I consider the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency’s DIDI definition of ‘information influence activities’ (p.9) also highly reasonable.

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Reasonable means and attempts to persuade people are not propaganda.

Strategic communications can include propaganda, but strategic communications can also be entirely reasonable and ethical in its means as well as its objects. Strategically selecting which news to report can also be reasonable persuasion when the purposes of selectively reporting, the intention to persuade and the limited scope are fairly clear and upfront.

‘Reasonable’ in this context I think means acting with a basic minimum standard of respect for the people represented in news or opinion and for the audience, not objectifying and instrumentalising the subjects, and not trying to persuade the audience of points which they would probably not accept if they were presented with the same factual, causal or moral claims explicitly and with at least some evidence or proper reasoning. Propaganda, I would say, by definition, attempts to persuade people by hiding the most relevant and important factual, causal and moral claims among true but not logically relevant facts or with irrelevant but emotionally stimulating verbal padding.

It is true that the UK FCO has funded some Syrian civilian opposition media organisations, and that is strategic communications, but in general I don’t think media funded by a State or regime, even if it has broad strategic purposes, is necessarily ‘propaganda’ — e.g. cases where State funding of public broadcasting would not be propaganda — a) a functioning democracy requires at least a minimum degree of commonality of the public sphere, I think that is a valid fundamental reason for publicly funded broadcasting, and if, or to the extent that, it does not practice unreasonable, dishonest or coercive means of persuasion, it is not propaganda; b) post-conflict transition from a society subjected to totalitarianism for 40+ years, as in Syria or Libya, requires growing civil society institutions, including developing a genuinely free democratic media, and in that sense it is strategic to fund civil media in transitional societies trying to emerge from conflict, without the funders necessarily even aiming to persuade people of anything in particular.

‘Disinformation’ means a complex strategic combination of truth and lies, designed to seem more credible than simple misinformation. Disinformation always starts with an element of truth that is used as an anchor to make the lies mixed in seem more credible. ‘Disinformation’ is not the same thing as ‘misinformation’, which is rather simply false. Disinformation is always a layered mixture of truth and lies, so it is to be expected to find some truth in it. The difficult problem with disinformation is that readers need to be more knowledgeable about the specific subject than what they’re presented with in order to be able to pick apart the truths and lies as they’re woven together. Many people imagine they know enough to be able to filter disinformation programming for real news, but that is mostly a Dunning-Kruger effect. [LK: ie “usually we do not know enough to know we do not know enough”]

Examples may make it clearer than further abstract definition at this point —

Disinformation, e.g. — Da’aesh obtained about 12% of its military equipment when they captured Mosul and obtained weapons that had been supplied by the USA to the Iraqi army —this part is true (Conflict Armament Research report, Weapons of the Islamic State, 2017; and a brief summary of that report, by Joanne Stocker in The Defense Post), but quickly layered up with — ‘America (and regional allies) secretly instigated, supports and controls Da’esh’ — this part is false (references);

Propaganda, e.g. — “NATO’s Islamist jihadis” — this is concealing a moral judgement into the terminology describing people, rather than justifying that judgement reasonably. There is a grain of truth in each of the three terms used but overall the description is very misleading. To dissect exactly how much of this description is true and how much is factually false or an unjust judgement on the people it refers to requires a long, complicated discussion with another reference list(s), [LK: author’s links here all appear to be informed arguments against given propaganda example] but ‘a lie can be halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on’, so simple propaganda repeated often has a competitive advantage in the consumerist ‘marketplace of ideas’, which is also a competition for the commodity of attention, since information now is only valued inasmuch as it agrees with consumers’ subjective preferences, or if it is entertaining, without any sense of duty to be fairly objective about the Other. [LK: author elsewhere points to lack of interest in ordinary Syrians among consumers of pro-Assad propaganda, and so lack of interest in researching issue]

[End]


 

Who are the anti-Assadists? (By Kester Ratcliff).

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Who are the anti-Assadists? (By Kester Ratcliff).

[Posted by Lara Keller 17/9/18 Updated 16/4/19] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[From web page by Kester Ratcliff, Original Source = https://archive.fo/VQXiq]

[Start]

It’s a common trope of Assadist rhetoric to call anyone who criticises them an ‘ISIS sympathiser’ or an “Al-Qaeda troll” — I’ve even been called an “ISIS troll” while I still had Amsterdam Pride photos uppermost on my profile — obviously ‘deep cover’. Anti-Assad Syrians are mostly civilian non-combatants, mostly Muslim but not at all extremist, and often critical of the rebel armed forces too, but clear that Assad is primarily and mainly to blame for the war. How I got involved in all this was listening to Syrian refugees who I met while volunteering (1,2). My motive is my friends.

Most people perhaps are aware that there is a global info-war over Syria, but many consider it to be a two-way fight between the US and Russian empires and their client regimes and proxies. People or sources critical of the Russian regime and its client regime in Damascus’ actions are often accused of being “US stooges”, as if “competing narratives” are all there is, or all that matters.

Most people in the West have not met the people directly affected, and that is the biggest factor in the differences between the people outside the region who more or less consciously and explicitly support the regime and those who oppose it, along with most of the Syrian refugees who we have met personally. The obvious is sometimes worth pointing out — the Westerners who I know and who definitely support the Syrian revolution and are anti-Assad and Putin are all people who had extended close contact with Syrians who’ve escaped.

Despite claiming “anti-imperialism”, much of international left discourse about Syrians, and other people subjected to imperialist client regimes and forces, systematically ignores their voices, often in favour of authoritative voices more like themselves. As Hannah Arendt wrote in 1973, “the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.”

Syrians have photographed and documented the war in their country more than probably any previous human conflict has been reported directly by the people affected, and made an unprecedented effort to communicate, making the pattern of ignoring them all the more obvious and painful for them.

Yassin al-Haj Saleh, on the experience of being ignored and talked over by Western “anti-imperialists” about his own country and his own experiences …. The Syrian Cause and Anti-Imperialism.

If you shouldn’t trust these sources, who should you trust and listen to then? In general, ethically I believe we should always listen first and foremost to the people who are most directly or severely affected by an issue. In this situation, that means listening to Syrians, especially civilians who have no vested interests in lying (businessmen who are interdependent with the regime should be considered as regime spokespersons) and who are the main targets.

As a starting point, I have made this article ……. Confused about Syria? A recommended reading list, mostly from Syrians.

[End]