Future of Europe: Can the EU resist a far-Right, nationalist takeover?

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Future of Europe: Can the EU resist a far-Right, nationalist takeover?

[Source= https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/10/future-europe-can-eu-resist-far-right-nationalist-takeover/ , UK Telegraph, by Peter Foster, 10/9/2018, links to the next 5 articles in the series at the end of this article.]

[ Posted by Lara Keller 9/10/18 Updated 19/4/19] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

“With Brexit now less than a year away, the European Union finds itself under assault from a new populist revolution. This six-part series examines the major challenges facing the continent. From immigration to defence, economy to enlargement and, indeed, to the very meaning of democracy itself: ‘The Future of Europe’ is now at stake….”

It could be called the most conservative village in Poland: a clutch of low houses 100 miles north-east of Warsaw, where even the shop and tiny, two-seat hairdressing salon have a crucifix hanging above the door.

People have been settled in Kobylin-Borzymy since the 1400s, but this village in Poland’s old east only gained fame in October 2015 when it voted more overwhelmingly for Poland’s nationalist-conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) than anywhere else in the country.

Some 85 per cent of the villagers cast their votes for a party that promised a mixture of cash handouts for the poor and an unapologetic defence of Poland’s “thousand year-old Christian heritage” against a rising tide of liberalism and uncontrolled migration.

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[With anti-immigration populism now spreading north to Sweden and south to Italy, and with neither Warsaw nor Budapest showing any signs of backing down in the East, the EU is in a quandary.]

This, then, is that “other” Europe – monocultural, conservative and deeply Christian – that the multicultural, liberal and secular Europe had assumed would quietly fade away after the Soviet empire crumbled and its satellite states voted to join the EU in 2004.

But history did not “end”, as Francis Fukuyama predicted. Instead over the last decade in Europe it has been reawakened with a vengeance.

First, the 2008 global financial crisis, then the 2011 eurozone debt crisis and finally the 2015 migrant crisis have all worked to drive a wedge into the heart of the European project, reopening an ancient ideological fissure that now threatens to cleave the union from east to west.

Poland’s government is facing a formal investigation in Brussels for failing to uphold the “rule of law” while Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, revels in his role as cheerleader for a new brand of “illiberal democracy” that defends Christian Europe from a Muslim “invasion”.

With anti-immigration populism now spreading north to Sweden and south to Italy, and with neither Warsaw or Budapest showing any signs of backing down, the western half of the European Union is now openly wondering: what shall we do with these turbulent nations?

The great migration divide.

More than the financial crisis, it was the long lines of men, women and children from the Middle East and Africa pouring through the western Balkans in October 2015 and congregating in Budapest’s Keleti railway station that reopened Europe’s east-west divide.

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[Migrants march from Budapest’s Keleti station to the Austrian border in 2015, many were met with violence Credit: AFP/Getty.]

For nationalist leaders such as Mr Orbán [in Hungary], Jaroslaw Kaczyński in Poland and Robert Fico in Slovakia the migrants were a convenient political tool, cast as a menacing physical expression of what separates the two Europes.

There are no migrants or liberals in Kobylin-Borzymy, whose skyline is dominated by a massive twin-towered church, built in 1904, bearing testimony to the enduring political and social power of Catholicism in Poland.

For residents of places like this, it was not just Angela Merkel welcoming Syrian refugees that shocked and concerned them, but the liberal, multiculturalist assumptions that underpinned that decision.

“For us, it just seemed completely unbelievable that Germany would throw open the borders to people who are totally different, from Africa or Syria and Iraq,” says Wojciech Mokowski, the mayor of Kobylin-Borzymy, whose sparse office contains yet another crucifix.

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[Kobylin-Borzymy mayor Wojciech Mokowski reflects many in his constituency in his rejection of multiculturalism Credit: Piotr Malecki for The Telegraph.]

“What did they expect would happen? That people would just mix together? These people, we know they just don’t want to mix.”

That is a view widely shared throughout Eastern and Central Europe, says Bogdan Zielenski, the local PiS district chief, who argues that the EU needs to accept that countries like Poland and Hungary have fundamentally different experiences of multiculturalism than the West.

“This does not mean we are not European,” he adds, “Poland has always looked to Rome, not Constantinople. But we have no colonial past like the Western countries, we just have no experience of this. The EU has to accept the need for diversity”. [LK: see far-right concept multipolarism]

Money doesn’t talk.

That fundamental difference in outlook between East and West persists despite the EU working hard to narrow the economic gap, transferring billions of euros from richer western and northern countries in the form of farm subsidies and structural development funds.

In economic terms, time has certainly not stood still in Kobylin-Borzymy since Poland joined the EU 14 years ago. But in many respects questions of value and national identity have not moved on.

When Western powers tried to force migration quotas on the East in 2015, the rebellion from Warsaw and Budapest allowed politicians to highlight differences on other value questions including gay marriage and abortion, and even – now – the definition of democracy itself.

In Kobylin-Borzymy, the impact of the EU cash is plain to see. Traditional Soviet-era wooden houses are being replaced by modern two-storey concrete homes with brightly coloured roofs, often paid for with money saved by residents who left to work in Sweden, Britain or Germany.

At regular intervals the main street echoes to the thunder of trucks laden with building supplies and milk-tankers doing the rounds of still small, family-owned dairy farms with about 25-30 cows that attract EU subsidies of 25,000 złoty (£5,100) a year.

Even so, villagers and their leaders are adamant that they will not sell their souls (a phrase not used lightly in these parts) for EU cash.

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[Kobylin Borzymy, where voters overwhelmingly backed the PiS (Law & Justice) party during the elections in 2016 Credit: Piotr Malecki.]

“People feel the West is trying to interfere in our internal affairs. They don’t know us, but they want a say over us,” says Leszek Mezynski, 61, local politician and a medium-sized farmer with 25 cows.

“We look up to the West and see how modern it is, but we see it is also without values. So if we have to give up our values to join the West, that leads us down a blind alley. Economy alone is not enough for society to exist.”

An elderly woman tending the flowerbed in front of her farmhouse puts it more bluntly.

“The EU has brought a lot of good, but now they keep picking on our government in Brussels,” says 77-year-old Krystyna Danikowska , who seems to parrot many of the lines she hears on Radio Maryja, a popular Christian radio station on which Polish government ministers appear almost daily.

“Other countries want us to abort babies and have gay marriages, and I pray to God that never happens. We believe in God and the Holy Catholic Church,” she says defiantly.

Poles apart.

Away from Poland’s liberal urban enclaves, there is also a sense that when it comes to values the goalposts have moved since EU accession. In 2004, when Poland voted to join the European Union,  Kobylin-Borzymy was one of only three areas that voted to stay out, for fear of surrendering Poland’s distinct national identity.

As part of its joining papers, Poland signed up to Article 2 of the Treaty for the European Union, which binds EU members to respect democracy, the “rule of law” and concepts such as “pluralism”, “non-discrimination” and “tolerance”.

But the evolving definition of those concepts in an era when Ireland votes 2:1 to legalise abortion, and gay marriage is viewed as a human right puts a keener edge on Europe’s East-West divide.

Hungarian diplomats now speak openly of developing the “Hungarian model” of democracy, the latest phase in the “cultural counter-revolution” that Mr Orbán promised in 2016, while in Poland PiS is seeking to revise the constitution explicitly to “protect” Poland from liberal advances.

As the Bulgarian thinker Ivan Krastev observed in After Europe, the assumption that the European project was on an inexorable path to “ever closer union” now feels like a strange 1990s delusion.

“When we joined the EU, multiculturalism and gay marriage were not on the agenda,” says Mr Mokowski, the Kobylin-Borzymy mayor. “We were told that on these matters the view of the national government would stand above that of the EU. Now that is apparently not so.”

Here to stay.

The notion that Christian Europe is under threat has allowed politicians like Mr Orbán and PiS’s ageing chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczyński, to foster a siege mentality over migration and social values, harnessing those issues as a potent political force.

The language demonising migrants and Jews is deeply discomforting, and reminiscent of the darkest parts of Europe’s recent past.

Mr Kaczyński once warned of migrants carrying “parasites and protozoa”, while Mr Orbán openly peddles anti-Semitic tropes, conjuring images of the “wandering Jew” in his battle with the liberal Hungarian-American financier George Soros.

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[Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban.]

“We are fighting an enemy,” Mr Orbán told one election campaign earlier rally this year, “not straightforward but crafty, not honest but base, not national but international, [one who] does not believe in working but speculates with money, does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world.”

The language shocks, but the uncomfortable reality for Brussels is that Europe’s new nationalist governments are popular at home because of it, and they are using their political power to further entrench control over the media and the apparatus of state.

At the same time, a growing EU economy fuelled by quantitative easing, coupled with populist economic policies such as Law and Justice’s programme handing parents 500 Polish złoty for every child, are creating mini investment booms that help to ensure re-election.

In Kobylin-Borzymy’s hairdresser’s, the political value of PiS’s “500+” programme is clear. “Now at the end of the month I don’t worry if I am going to run out of money,” says Marlena Sikorska, a mother of two children, aged nine and two. “I can buy nappies or milk or clothes for the kids without borrowing off my mother.”

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[Victor Orban remains popular among the locals in Kobylin-Borzymy’s hairdresser’s Credit: Piotr Malecki.]

It is not a surprise, then, that Mr Orbán won a landslide majority in this year’s parliamentary elections while [Poland’s] PiS, which was the first party in the post-Communist era to win an outright majority, continues to ride high in the polls. There seems little immediate prospect of a return to the social democracy of the 1990s and early 2000s.

What to do?

The question that now faces the founder members of the European project is how to deal with these “illiberal” Eastern democracies whose message, particularly on migration, is starting to resonate more widely across the union.

Until recently it was common to hear senior EU diplomats play down the threat posed by Mr Orbán, describing him as a “pragmatist” whose attacks on Brussels would always be limited by his need to keep investment flowing and protect Hungary’s economy. Not any more.

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[Italy’s Eurosceptic new interior minister Matteo Salvini, has promised to work with Viktor Orban to ‘change the EU’. Credit: Luca Bruno/AP.]

Now, says one senior German foreign ministry official, Mr Orbán appears “determined to export his ideas”, most recently making common cause with Italy’s new populist coalition where Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Lega party, is pushing hardline anti-immigration policies.

These in turn are backed in Vienna, where the far-Right Freedom Party (FPO) now sits in coalition with Sebastian Kurz’s centre-Right Austrian People’s Party. It is not lost on officials in Brussels that in 2000, when the FPO went into government in Austria for the first time, put sanctions on Vienna and more than 150,000 Austrians took to the streets to protest. Now the FPO enters government with barely a murmur of dissent.

In Sweden, the far-Right Sweden Democrats command 18 per cent of the vote after riding a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, and in Italy the hard-Right Mr Salvini openly makes common cause with Mr Orbán against the liberal Emmanuel Macron.

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[Jimmie Akesson of the Sweden Democrats celebrats after his nationalist party turned the general election on its head. Credit: AFP.]

Even Germany, where the hard-Right Alternative for Germany made major gains in last year’s parliamentary elections, is not immune. The interior minister, Horst Seehofer, from the Christian conservative Bavarian CSU party, openly rebels against Mrs Merkel, echoing the calls in Budapest and Vienna to shut the borders.

Against this backdrop of open division, old Western Europe now faces three choices when dealing with opposition from the east: it can either “confront” it head on, look to “accommodate” it or – in the spirit of the classic EU fudge – it can try to “check” their growing influence and then play for time.

Confront.

For liberals like Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of ALDE, the main liberal grouping in the European Parliament, the only way to tackle what he says is the “threat” from Poland and Hungary is to confront it head-on.

“The situation in Poland and Hungary is serious and worsening. Those who defend liberal democracy and the rules-based international order have an obligation to speak out against rule of law-backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe,” he says.

The Verhofstadt argument is that without action now against Hungary and Poland, the EU will undermine its own legal foundations by simply appeasing them.

“This is a battle about the character of our society and the EU itself; whether or not we are able to preserve the EU as a space of freedom and democracy, kept together by rule of law, or not,” he says.

The difficulty is that for the residents of places like Kobylin-Borzymy, Mr Verhofstadt’s version of the EU is not their EU. Forcing Western definitions of “tolerance” and “pluralism” on the East risks deepening the divide, not closing it.

Still, Mr Verhofstadt has his supporters in the European Commission. Frans Timmermans, the EU first vice-president, has been leading calls for Poland to be punished under Article 7 for reforms to the legal system that the Commission says undermine the independence of the judiciary.

But Article 7 is a very blunt instrument. It could ultimately lead to Poland being stripped of its EU voting rights, but such a draconian sanction can only be taken by a unanimous vote of member states – which Mr Orbán has already promised will never happen on his watch.

Internally in Brussels, there is therefore political opposition at the highest levels, reportedly including Jean-Claude Juncker himself, against picking what is seen as an unwinnable fight which will only serve to advertise, and not fix, the EU’s divisions.

It is not even clear that there is a two-thirds majority among EU member states for enforcing Article 7 proceedings against Poland, with eastern states uniting in defence of Warsaw, the British likely to abstain and some Baltic states nervous about such an attack on another member’s sovereignty.

Check.

A softer approach would be to try to check the ambitions of leaders like Mr Kaczyński and Mr Orbán before they run out of control.

One option is to file more legal cases against policies that break EU law, as in a 2012 case that was taken against the Hungarian government for mandating the early retirement of hundreds of judges, in a move that was widely seen as an assault on the judiciary.

The weakness is that such cases take a long time to mount and are often of limited impact, since governments can pay fines or simply find alternative legal ways of achieving the same goal.

More draconian is the suggestion, backed by some Western capitals, to link the payment of EU funds to good behaviour and the adherence to the “rule of law”.

The problem with this idea, even its supporters acknowledge, is that there is a strong risk it will backfire, handing political ammunition to the likes of Mr Orbán and Mr Kaczyński to stoke up nationalist sentiment.

In Kobylin-Borzymy, the idea of withholding EU funds seems obviously counter-productive. “That will be a big mistake,” says Mr Zielenski, the PiS district chief, “Many people would become disillusioned with the EU and they would go to the arms of even more Right-wing parties, like the League of Polish Families. People will become afraid the EU wants to punish us for being Catholic, too.”

Accommodate.

For the French president, Mr Macron, as he outlined in his seminal Sorbonne speech, accommodation might ultimately mean the creation of an inner and outer Europe that enables “the driving ambition of some while allowing others to move ahead at their own speed”.

For liberals and federalists, accepting the idea of an outer Europe would spell the beginning of the end. Learning to live with illiberal democracies would be to accept that the advance of liberal social democratic values is neither inexorable nor axiomatic to EU membership.

But while liberals like Mr Verhofstadt warn that the EU’s “political paradigms” are now shifting away from liberal democracy to nationalist illiberalism, for the populist Right this is a joyous statement of fact, not a cause for alarm.

It is also, liberals warn, being aided and abetted by a grand hypocrisy in the heart of the EU’s own centre-Right political establishment.

The attempt to censure Poland for backsliding on democracy is undermined by the fact that, according to Freedom House’s latest democracy rankings, Hungary (and Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania) score far worse than Poland when it comes to defending democratic norms.

The only difference between Poland and Hungary is that Mr Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party is a member of the powerful centre-Right European People’s Party (EPP) grouping in the European Parliament, which affords him protection from censure.

This piece of hypocrisy is clear even in faraway Kobylin-Borzymy. “The elite sees Poland as a naughty child, but there are other, naughtier children than us in the EU, and they don’t get punished,” says Mr Zielenski, the PiS district chief.

As the EPP splits over whether it is safer to keep Mr Orbán inside the tent or kick him out, Mr Verhofstadt urges the grouping to confront the Orbán cuckoo in their nest.

“Each of the current EPP member parties need to ask themselves whether they want to be part of a decline to illiberalism by continuing to provide political cover for Orbán and his allies, or make a stand before we pass the point of no return,” he says.

Whether that happens will partly be determined by next May’s European elections, which are shaping up to be a battle royale between the liberal forces of Mr Macron’s En Marche party and the conservative wing of the EPP, which includes the CSU [German more conservative “Christian Social Union”] chairman, Mr Seehofer, who has made common cause with Mr Orbán over migration.

Put another way, says Andrew Duff, a former [UK] Liberal Democrat MEP now at the European Policy Centre, the May 2019 European elections will polarise around Mr Macron and Mr Orbán in a battle “for and against liberal democracy and ever-closer union”.

Prosperity and security are key.

That fight will not, of course, be settled in a single round. Europe faces a decade of grinding east-west conflict whose outcome will ultimately be determined by the EU’s wider ability to generate prosperity and deliver security in the face threats from migration, Russian meddling and a crumbling transatlantic alliance, say regional analysts.

For now the illiberal vision of Central and Eastern Europe countries feels in the ascendant, but long-time watchers of such countries, including Otilia Dhand at Teneo Intelligence, caution that democracy has always ebbed and flowed in the east.

In the past, populist movements have tended to collapse under the weight of their own contradictions, over-promising and under-delivering to the point where the voters reject them. For now, she argues, direct East-West confrontation is likely only to feed the siege mentality that sustains them.

The real crunch for Brussels, Ms Dhand predicts, will actually come in the next major economic downturn and whether this time the European Union can play the role of saviour – rather than source – of that crisis when it hits.

“The last three European crises in 2008, 2011 and 2015 have all exported problems to eastern EU countries after initially bringing prosperity and the hope of a better future,” she observes. “Sooner or later they will hit another crisis. They always do. Then old Europe will have its chance.”

Next parts of Europe Future Series in the UK Daily Telegraph:

[The article above is  a copy] 1. Future of Europe: Can the EU resist a far-Right, nationalist takeover?, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/10/future-europe-can-eu-resist-far-right-nationalist-takeover/

2. Future of Europe – defence: can the EU actually protect itself against Russia?, 11/9/18, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/11/future-europe-defence-can-eu-actually-protect-russia/

3. Future of Europe: EU’s liberals are losing their grip in the struggle to solve its migration crisis, 12/9/18, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/12/future-europe-eus-liberals-losing-grip-struggle-solve-migration/

4. Future of Europe: Can the EU save a lost generation left fighting for its life in an economic maelstrom?, 13/9/2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/13/future-europe-can-eu-save-lost-generation-left-fighting-life/

5. Future of Europe: is the EU’s dream of expansion to the east dead?, 14/9/2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/14/future-europe-eus-dream-expansion-east-dead/

6. Future of Europe: Why in Emmanuel Macron the EU has its greatest saviour – and biggest liability?, 15/9/2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/15/future-europe-emmanuel-macron-eu-have-greatest-saviour-biggest/

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Fascist racism in Czech regional elections shows the path to dictatorship.

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[ Posted by Lara Keller 6/10/18 ]

Fascist racism in regional elections in struggling regions of the Czech republic revealed by UK’s C4 Far right in Czech Republic: the politicians turning on Roma. They are not only turning on the Roma which is bad enough. The language is vague and is about difference. Speaks of the “rabble”, and the “maladjusted”. Turning people into problematic objects. These objects can then be more easily destroyed, socially by being contained as a threat, or biologically by being murdered, or both. In one poster the “others” also include the “homeless”.

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The highly respected Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit (who works actively against Zionist racism) would see this as contradictory:

“My central claim is that humiliation typically presupposes the humanity of the humiliated. Humiliating behavior rejects the other as nonhuman, but the act of rejection presupposes that it is a person that is being rejected.“ (The Decent Society, Margalit 1998, pp 109)

If only everyone was a philosopher worried by contradiction. Western countries, like the Czech Republic, turning to racism show a possible path to authoritarianism.

  1. Identify sections of the population as surplus, describe them humiliatingly as problematic objects.
  2. Attempt to clean up the problem up, by constraining and humiliating them.
  3. Provoke and facilitate acts of destruction by the so called surplus population.
  4. Justify further oppression in the name of security.
  5. Identify more surplus people.
  6. Repeat………
  7. Install a fully authoritarian government, to protect the. minority from the enraged surplus population.

Some people claim that this process requires a severe mismanaged economic crisis like the Great Depression, or a society that is deeply divided and so can easily provide a ready made detached group of oppressors. The truth appears to be that people can easily be convinced to turn against each other, if they see no economic future, see no effective progressive political leadership and live in modern societies in small isolated groups. The truth appears to be that there are wealthy elites inside democracies and outside them (esp Russia-China) queuing up to turbo charge this decay.

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The far-right influence in pro-Kremlin media and political networks. Author Alexander Reid Ross.

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The far-right influence in pro-Kremlin media and political networks. Author Alexander Reid Ross (8/2/2018).

[ Posted by Lara Keller16/4/18 Updated 21/4/19 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Source= https://louisproyect.org/2018/03/19/the-far-right-influence-in-pro-kremlin-media-and-political-networks/ ]

[Start Article]

In an editorial published on Monday, January 15, Russia Insider, one of the most important pro-Russia news and analysis hubs in the West, declared, “hostility to Putin’s Russia is largely a Jewish phenomenon.”

Penned by founding editor, Charles Bausman, the 5,000-word editorial drew positive responses from a number of important sources. Alt-Right.com announced “Russia Insider Decides to Go Alt-Right,” while Unz.com proclaimed that Bausman had “named the Jews” and far-right Congressional hopeful Paul Nehlen called it an “excellent article” and “a useful jumping off point for the ‘discussion’ we must have[.] The ensuing attention and compliments indicate the prevalence of far-right politics amid pro-Kremlin media and political networks.

Bausman’s antisemitic screed first lists well-worn euphemisms used by antisemites in lieu of naming Jews, including ‘Zionists’, ‘elites’, ‘global elites’, ‘globalists’, ‘neocons’, ‘liberal interventionists’, ‘the war party’, ‘the Israel lobby’, ‘the deep state’, ‘bankers’ and ‘new world order’. [see Note 1]

Indulging his theory, Bausman blames Jews for the Bolshevik terror, remarking that “much of the Bolshevik leadership was Jewish, in particular, Trotsky,” along with members of the secret police. He claims “cursory evidence” supports this theory, adding that “Henry Ford was heavily influenced by this view,” and “the German National Socialist movement became radically more antisemitic in reaction to this interpretation.” [see Note 2]

The antisemitic conspiracy theory alleging that Jews used the Soviet Union to undermine the Russian “ethnos” is prominent among so-called “National Bolsheviks” — fascists who insist that an ultranationalist version of the Soviet Union would restore ethnic Russianness through a return to traditional society. Leading “National Bolshevik,” Aleksandr Dugin, has spearheaded influential initiatives to support Kremlin-centered “geopolitics” oriented toward a “Eurasian” spiritual empire stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Dugin has featured as a prominent figure among the pro-Kremlin far-right, including the alt-right, as well as news sites like Fort-Russ, RT, and Russia Insider.

Continuing in this vein, the editor of Russia Insider declares, “We follow the Alt-Right media and republish the occasional article, and they are invariably very popular on Russia Insider — largely, I think, because they are offering a fresh point of view, and talking about vitally important issues others refuse to address.” Bausman praises, in particular, racist alt-right podcasts like “Fash the Nation” and Richard Spencer’s “Alt Right Politics.”

Bausman’s editorial prompted a cautiously complimentary letter-to-the-editor from Gilbert Doctorow, a retired Brussels-based businessman who writes for Consortium News and cofounded the revived American Committee for East-West Accord (ACEWA).

Doctorow has been featured as a writer for Russia Insider since the site’s early days in 2014, penning such articles as “Twilight of the Gods: George Soros in Brussels,” and Bausman’s antisemitic editorial clearly reflected on Doctorow’s own career. In response, Doctorow wrote to Russia Insider, “for the sake of argument I will concede to you [Bausman] the point that Jewish controlled media have been a big factor in the hate-Russia mania that sweeps America today.”

“The overriding point that I wish to make here is that the anti-Russian rant from Jewish politicians and media moguls are only one of several contributing factors to the Russia-bashing that is going on,” Doctorow continued.

Arguing that Jews abandoning the Soviet Union in the late-19th Century and again in the 1970s held a grudge against Russia for their own inability to climb the financial ladder in the U.S., Doctorow’s letter proceeds, “In the big picture, the Jews are only one of several ethnic-religious groups or nationalities who left what was the Russian Empire or the Soviet Empire, and have been making trouble for Russia ever since. Therein lies the problem.” Doctorow’s letter concludes, “I stress that the issues raised in your [Bausman’s] editorial essay are serious and demand multi-disciplinary and multi-sided examination.”

The American committee.

In 2014, Doctorow agreed to help jump-start the long-dormant American Committee for East-West Accord (ACEWA) with original member, NYU and Princeton University professor emeritus and contributing editor of The Nation, Stephen F. Cohen. Originally a group of academics, leftists, politicians and business leaders supporting Nixon’s policies of détente with Russia, the ACEWA’s new manifestation currently includes on its board such prestigious figures as Chuck Hagel, former ambassadors Jack Matlock and William vanden Heuvel, and Senator Bill Bradley.

From the start, the ACEWA afforded Doctorow the pretext to bring far-right and left-wing politicians together for public gatherings. On December 2, 2014, Doctorow launched the European branch of the ACEWA at the Brussels Press Club with a Round Table that included two left-wing members of the European Parliament and far-right Front National MEP Aymeric Chauprade
[better alt link= Aymeric Chauprade].

Then Marine Le Pen’s advisor on international relations, Chauprade had recently returned from Crimea where he served as an election “observer” for the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections led by Belgian fascist Luc Michel and joined by fascists Enrique Ravello and Valerio Cignetti. Far-right monitoring group Berliner Osteuropa-Experten called the ACEWA’s European launch, “a little Querfront
[better alt links= Berliner Osteuropa-Experten and Querfront].

Registering as an ACEWA lobbyist in the European Union on March 1, 2015, Doctorow hosted another Brussels Round Table the next day featuring co-author of the controversial text, The Israel Lobby, John Mearsheimer, as well as editor and publisher of The Nation, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and her husband Dr. Cohen. [see Note 3]

The YouTube video of Mearsheimer’s speech appeared with a bullet-point summary on Russia Insider, which declared, “We owe a special thanks to Gilbert Doctorow, our invaluable RI [Russia Insider] contributor and moderator of this round table, for providing us with the video material.”

Two weeks later, Doctorow flew to Washington, D.C., for the U.S.-Russia Forum as a representative of the ACEWA. There, in the Central Hearing Facility (Room 216) of the Hart Senate Office Building, immediately following a speech from Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Doctorow appeared on a panel with Cohen and Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to decry anti-Putin sentiment.

After a short coffee break, the audience returned to the illustrious room to see Katrina vanden Heuvel moderate a panel on alternative media featuring the late Robert Parry of Consortium News, which is apparently Russia Insider’s fiscal sponsor. In the next time slot, Bausman took to the podium to give a presentation boasting of Russia Insider’s three million views per month during its first six months of existence. Today, both the homepage and the speakers’ page of the Russia Forum’s website feature Basuman’s photo in the banner image.

That September, Doctorow was back in Belgium, where he chaired another ACEWA Round Table featuring contributions from EU politicians and such academics as Richard Sakawa, a participant in Russia’s elite Valdai Discussion Club, and The Israel Lobby’s other co-author Stephen Walt. [see again Note 3]

As the U.S. presidential campaign of 2016 heated up, the ACEWA argued that Trump proposed a “new détente-like relationship” with Putin’s Russia, while deriding Clinton’s platform. On July 12, Doctorow’s branch of the ACEWA screened a film against the anti-corruption Magnitsky Act at the Brussels Press Club featuring a Q&A with the film’s director, Andrei Nekrasov, as advertised on the ACEWA website.

Following Trump’s election, Doctorow’s signature appeared on a letter published in TheNation with Noam Chomsky, whom he had criticized in a 2014 Nation article for being too slow to embrace Putin’s Russia, and four prestigious members of the European political community calling for a new détente in Europe. Doctorow left the ACEWA around March, 2017 to pursue other interests. He has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Ongoing relationships.

Until January 19, 2018, the ACEWA’s website carried some 66 articles by Doctorow crossposted from websites like Consortium News and the Washington Times. The most recent piece from Doctorow was posted at ACEWA less than a month before time of writing. As of January 19, 2018, however, Doctorow’s content appears to have been scrubbed. Nevertheless, the overlap between articles posted by ACEWA and Russia Insider remains significant, and Consortium News remains one of the 14 sites shortlisted under the ACEW’s “additional resources.”

In a phone conversation with Hatewatch, Cohen said that he “kept up a personal correspondence with [Doctorow] about things that interest both of us, mainly Russia,” and that Doctorow resigned from the ACEWA “because he found it constraining,” not due to any “specific policy disagreement” or “anything personal.” According to Cohen, antisemitism never arose as an issue in his experience with Doctorow or in Doctorow’s role regarding the ACEWA.

However, along with his confab with Chauprade at the ACEWA’s launch in Brussels, Doctorow’s writings while representing the ACEWA indicate that his relationship to the far-right remained relatively consistent, insofar as he supported neo-Eurasianist geopolitical strategy against the North Atlantic as a ballast of national interest against the “tyranny” of “universal values.”

Doctorow’s piece published at Consortium News on June 3, 2016, for instance, lauds a former-member of Poland’s fascist Association for Tradition and Culture “Niklot” named Mateusz Piskorski as “an outstanding spokesman of the minority view and founder of the Zmiana (or Change) party.” According to researcher of far-right networks, Anton Shekhovtsov, Zmiana is an attempt to “combine Polish right-wing and left-wing extremists,” and one of its leaders, Bartosz Bekier, also heads up Poland’s fascist Falanga.

Also a veteran of the far-right Self-Defence party, Piskorski’s European Center for Geopolitical Analysis is connected to Dugin’s Eurasian Youth Union, a relationship consummated as early as 2004 during Piskorski’s efforts to “oversee” elections throughout Eastern Europe. More recently, he joined Chauprade in Michel’s fascist-laden, Russia-funded Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections, overseeing the illegal Crimean “referendum.”

James Carden, editor of the ACEWA’s website, stated by email, “The ACEWA, its website, and Stephen F. Cohen have had no direct relationship with Russia Insider and/or with Charles Bausman.” However, Doctorow’s relationship with Russia Insider while operating as ACEWA’s European coordinator belies this denial, as exhibited by the video that appeared on Russia Insider of ACEWA’s Round Table with special thanks to Doctorow.

Far-right and pro-Putin networks.

As the diagram below shows, when the site metrics search engine Alexa runs an audience overlap comparison using only Russia Insider, their apparent fiscal sponsor at Consortium News, Bausman’s friend at pro-Russia site, The Saker, and ACEWA-linked magazine, The Nation, three different audience clusters emerge: (1) a largely direct Russian propaganda cluster; (2) a mostly U.S.-based cluster of conspiracist sites and syncretic left-right geopolitics sites; (3) a more mainstream cluster of sites thought to be far more credible than the latter two.

ross_diagram - Copy

Doctorow’s activity as a writer and political operative indicate a capacity to triangulate a syncretic left-right movement against liberalism based on trans-national connections between media and politics. However, he, Consortium, and Russia Insider intimate the broader problem that the conduits of “geopolitical” ideology from Russian media to pro-Russian sites and the U.S. mainstream can serve as a Trojan horse for fascist tendencies and sympathies.

Pro-Putin networks like RT and Sputnik, which have played host to far-right commentators like Dugin, Richard Spencer and German neo-Eurasianist Manuel Ochsenreiter serve as vehicles for far-right ideologies laundered into US news and commentary sites under the auspices of geopolitical commentary. Unfortunately, the Left has not launched a serious effort to disconnect from collaborations with far-right groups in the context of networks that support and are often supported by Putin’s Russia. This situation has caused influential bodies like the ACEWA to facilitate the growth of transnational, far-right politics and, more specifically, the fascist neo-Eurasianist movement.

[End Article]



Note 1
The author is quoting directly from Charles Bausman’s article. It is true as the author states that “antisemities” use “Zionists” and “Israel Lobby” to mean “Jews”.

It should be noted there are at least four ways the terms “Zionism” and “Israel Lobby” are used and abused:

1. There are then many far-right groups who use “Zionist” and “Israel Lobby” to mean “Jews”, and then make wild Anti-Zionist statements because they are basically Anti-Semitic and cannot directly abuse Jewish people. [This is the way Charles Bausman is using these terms.]

2. Many Zionist groups state wildly that “Zionism” and “Israel Lobby” are only ever used to mean “Jews” and being Anti-Zionist means being Anti-Semitic, which is mostly mere rhetoric to divert attention from Israeli oppression of Palestinians. [Assume this is NOT the opinion of the author.]

3. Pro-Palestinian groups use “Zionism” and “Israel Lobby” to describe real entities, which they have legitimate reasons to accuse of being racist.

4. There are other far-right groups who are pro-Zionist and are uncritical of “Zionism” and the “Israel lobby”, because they are Islamophobic and approve of Israel as a powerful modern country implementing racist policies.

Any article that appears to be pro-Zionist and that is also critical of the racism of far-right groups will be seen as contradictory. Any such article can then be too easily and wrongly dismissed as pro-Zionist hyperbole. [LK 16/4/18]



Note 2
The author does not give a direct link to the article in russia-insider.com. This article is repeated on many other far-right website and blogs. The “It’s Time to Drop the Jewish Taboo” by Charles Bausman article starts with a plea against political correctness and quickly moves on to an insane highly selective diatribe against a phantom all powerful “Jewish Lobby” that it claims wants to destroy Russia and the World. Here are some of the links to this article:
https://russia-insider.com/en/its-time-drop-jew-taboo/ri22186
https://www.veteranstoday.com/2018/01/18/its-time-to-drop-the-jew-taboo/
https://www.defendevropa.org/2018/other-news/time-drop-jew-taboo/
http://themillenniumreport.com/2018/01/its-time-to-drop-the-jew-taboo/
https://www.theburningplatform.com/2018/01/18/its-time-to-drop-the-jew-taboo/
[LK 16/4/18]



Note 3
Unsure what the author is saying about Professor John Mearsheimer and Professor Stephen Walt 2006 book “The Israel Lobby”. This appears a measured academic work that presents the “Israel lobby” in the US and elsewhere as a powerful interest group, rather than some all powerful conspiracy. On the other hand John Mearsheimer has given limited praise to Gilad Atzmon’s book “The Wandering Who” as “fascinating and provocative”. Unsure if John Mearsheimer is comparable to the extremist self-hating antisemitic Gilad Atzmon. Professor Stephen Walt has expressed reasonable criticism of Israel. He has however written a puff piece about Gaddafi’s Libya, and promotes non intervention in Syria. Both these academics belong to the so called “realist” amoral school of international relations. The author describes Doctorow as creating a “Querfront” (cross extreme right-left political front). Doctorow’s ACEWA front appears to be pulling in US academics and journalists on the political edges of the mainstream rather than extremists as such.
[LK 16/4/18]


The Internet Research Agency: behind the shadowy network that meddled in the 2016 Elections. Author Alexander Reid Ross.

Evgeny Prigozhin - Copy

The Internet Research Agency: behind the shadowy network that meddled in the 2016 Elections.Author Alexander Reid Ross (21/2/18)

[ Posted by Lara Keller 6/4/18 Updated 21/4/19 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Source = https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/21/internet-research-agency-behind-shadowy-network-meddled-2016-elections ]
[Web Archive = https://web.archive.org/web/20180312114400/https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/21/internet-research-agency-behind-shadowy-network-meddled-2016-elections ]

[Start Article]

Special counsel Robert Mueller, Jr., indicted 13 agents from the Saint Petersburg based Internet Research Agency last Friday, but the shadowy figures behind the organization remain obscure.

Tracing those involved leads to an intriguing web of far-right paramilitary groups, think tanks and institutes directed by a trans-national, far right network of oligarchs, politicians and media figures.

The Internet Research Agency was founded and led by Evgeny Prigozhin, a catering industry mogul known by some as “Putin’s chef.” Prigozhin met Putin as his financial success through the St. Petersburg gambling business brought increased influence and lucrative state contracts. Two years after conceiving of the Internet Research Agency during the protests of 2011, Prigozhin opened the “Kharkiv news agency” in opposition to the 2013 Euromaidan movement.

Prigozhin is also tied to the conception and funding of a semi-private military company called “Wagner” known to have operated both in Ukraine and Syria under Dmitry Utkin, a man notorious for his “adherence to the aesthetics and ideology of the Third Reich.” Wagner Private Military Company is said to be co-sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defense and to have participated in the military occupation of Crimea. The U.S. sanctioned Prigozhin in 2014, stating, “a company with significant ties to him holds a contract to build a military base near the Russian Federation border with Ukraine.”

Analysis by U.S. Strategic Command from 2015, revealed that Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency was an important site in a larger network. Its $1.25 million per month budget and some 80 employees helped its “Translator Project” act as a force multiplier for a host of pro-Kremlin sites, articles, and people linked to syncretic think tanks and institutes bridging far-right interests from Russia to the U.S. as an extension of “hybrid warfare.”

Perhaps most interestingly, the Translator Project allegedly set up fake far-right and left-wing groups like “Secured Borders,” “Blacktivist,” “United Muslims of America” and “Heart of Texas,” advertised them, and deceived hundreds of thousands of people into joining them. In one astonishing case, unwitting members of a Russian troll page were led to stage an armed, Islamophobic protest in Houston.

The strategy: managed nationalism and hybrid warfare

A clue as to the strategy of the Internet Research Agency can be found among the leading members under indictment. Around the time their employee Anna Bogacheva allegedly visited the U.S. in 2014 to gather intelligence, she registered a PR firm called IT Debugger with Mikhail Potepkin, a former leader of the violent, far-right youth brigade, Nashi.

Developed along with several other youth brigades linked to the Kremlin during a short period between 2004 and 2005, Nashi formed part of what then-First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration Vladislav Surkov called “managed nationalism.” Concerned about a possible “Color Revolution” in Russia, Surkov hoped to simulate an opposition movement and keep the public under the Kremlin’s control.

“Managed nationalism” and Surkov’s analysis of “network structures” paved the way for a strategy penned in 2013 by Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of the Armed Forces of Russia. Now known as the Gerasimov Doctrine, The New York Times called it “RT, Sputnik, and Russia’s new theory of war.” In Gerasimov’s words, “The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures—applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population.”

By the time Hillary Clinton received the official nomination of her party, strategy papers produced by the Kremlin-linked think tank Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) had specifically called on the Kremlin to dedicate such “applied methods” to “a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama,” according to Reuters.

An Elite Club”

Longtime political operator in the Russian far-right, Aleksander Dugin, has worked for most of the past three decades to develop syncretic, left-right cooperation among anti-liberal opposition groups throughout the world. His influence on, and involvement in, “managed nationalism” and the Gerasimov Doctrine is consistent with his agency in the network that influenced the 2016 elections.

Shortly after Gerasimov published his doctrine, Dugin’s efforts came to a head. He sent his associate Georgiy Gavrish a memo listing a number of pro-Russia political leaders on the European far right and left. Intent on making Moscow the “New Rome” of a spiritual empire of federated ethnostates from Dublin to Vladivastok and stretching south to the Indian Ocean, Dugin’s main aspiration lay in consolidating support networks for the Kremlin and developing ideological unity for his “Eurasianist” geopolitics.

Dugin’s efforts produced a “think tank” called Katehon with influential board members including a senior member of Putin’s Yedinaya Rossiya party and Leonid Reshetnikov, then the leader of the RISS. Reshetnikov is infamous for complaining in February 2016 that WWII was “orchestrated” by “the upper crust of the Anglo-Saxon elite” and is believed by officials to have sponsored a coup attempt that October to prevent Montenegro from joining NATO.

Another member of Katehon’s board, Lyndon LaRouche associate Sergei Glazyev, co-founded the far-right Rodina (Motherland) Party with Dugin, which in 2014 to 2015 led conferences and coordinating groups including members of the racist “alt-right”” and the U.S. left that helped prepare the networks Dugin sought.

At the helm of Katehon’s board sits Dugin’s associate Konstantin Malofeev. Known as the “Orthodox Oligarch” for his far-right political positions and proximity to the Russian Orthodox Church, Malofeev was sanctioned by the U.S. for allegedly bankrolling the pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea where Wagner Company operated. Aleksandr Borodai, the first prime minister of the Donetsk Republic, and Igor Strelkov, its first minister of defense, served as Malofeev’s former PR man and security chief, respectively.

The U.S. connection

Many of the crucial connections between the Katehon network and the Western far-right can be found through their mutual commitments to the anti-LGBQT hate group, World Congress of Families. When Stephen Bannon delivered a speech on the merits of Dugin and fascist occultist Julius Evola in June 2014 to high-level members of the World Congress of Families in the Vatican, he effectively endorsed the guiding “Eurasianist” spirit behind Katehon.

Bannon’s speech came in the middle of a four-year period during which Robert Mercer paid him to work for an anti-Clinton group. Also the primary funder of Breitbart News, Mercer was a member of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP), which supported Trump staunchly during the 2016 elections and is heavily involved in the World Congress of Families.

The CNP has a long history of bridging U.S. and Russian far-right interests, dating back to when its founder Paul Weyrich and executive committee member Robert Kriebel helped launch the career of pro-Russia lobbyist Edward Lozansky — a man who would take a leading role in feeding the troll armies of the far right nearly 30 years later.

Deeply connected to the U.S. far-right, Lozansky founded a dubious think tank eventually named the American University in Moscow “on the same floor as the Heritage Foundation.” Through his organizations, Lozansky has hosted conferences and an annual event known as the World Russia Forum. Featuring speakers like Chuck Grassley, Jeff Sessions and Dana Rohrabacher, the World Russia Forum and Lozansky’s Russia House enjoy a high profile inside the Beltway of Washington, DC. However, there is a more obscure side to the Russia Forum and its related American University in Moscow.

Lozansky’s syncretic fellows

Lozansky’s American University in Moscow has become a crucial hub for the cultivation of editors and journalists behind key “fake news” sites propagated by the “Translation Project.” The list of “Fellows” at his institution is a rogues gallery of syncretic pro-Kremlin spin doctors:

Other pro-Kremlin Fellows listed by Lozansky’s American University in Moscow, Darren Spinck, James Jatras and Anthony Salvia are partners in pro-Kremlin groups like the American Institute in Ukraine and the PR group, Global Strategic Communications Group, which sold its services to Rodina during a period when Rodina’s deputies signed a petition to ban Jews from Russia and the party was proscribed from the Duma elections for virulently racist campaign ads.

Aside from contributing to Global Independent Analytics with Armstrong, Jatras also served as a witness for the defense at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic and is featured on a number of YouTube videos posted by Katehon.

The red-brown creep

Lozansky has a long and extensive relationship with Dugin, hosting him at influential conferences in 2004 and 2005, along with red-brown propagandist Aleksandr Prokhanov, Rodina leader Dmitri Rogozin, and other éminences grises of the U.S. and Russian far-right.

In September 2008, Lozansky joined Dugin for a conference with far-right figures such as fascist creator of the European New Right Alain de Benoist, Duginist Israeli far-right leader Avigdor Eskin and Israel Shamir, a holocaust denying antisemite who would later become the Russian emissary for Wikileaks. Within a few weeks, Dugin and Lozansky appeared together on the TV program “Three Corners” for a discussion on the merits of “soft power.”

“In our world (we are talking about the information space) ideas can also play a bigger role,” Lozansky cautioned, “even more important than guns and missiles.”

A week after the Crimea crisis touched off in April 2014, Lozansky’s heavy frame was hunched over a long conference table across from Dugin in a cramped, stuffy conference room. They were discussing the role of media in the “New Cold War.”

The next September, Lozansky moderated a roundtable discussion at the World Russia Forum to consider a “Proposal to Establish ‘Committee for East – West Accord.’” Co-moderated by American University in Moscow Fellow Gilbert Doctorow, the roundtable featured leading Duginist Andrew Korybko, as well as a number of professors from U.S. and Russian institutions. The U.S. side of the Committee would be spearheaded by professor and contributing editor of The Nation, Stephen F. Cohen, along with an influential board including former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former ambassadors William vanden Heuvel and Jack Matlock.

That month, Cohen’s associate Doctorow helped editor Charles Bausman create the antisemitic website Russia Insider. Soon after, Doctorow joined alternative journalism site Consortium News, which accepts tax-deductible donations for Russia Insider as a fiscal sponsor. Doctorow and Lozansky went on to write three articles together in the Washington Times. Russia Insider features a contact form to get in touch with Lozansky through their website. However, when Hatewatch wrote to Lozansky using Russia Insider’s contact form, we received no response. Within 24 hours, Lozansky’s website, RussiaHouse.org, mysteriously went dark.

An information shell game

While the Kremlin’s propagandists disseminate half-truths, distortions and lies, they rely on sites like Consortium News, Russia Insider, Global Independent Analytics and The Duran to adopt their narratives and “launder” them so that “the original source… is either forgotten or impossible to determine,” according to expert on the far right Anton Shekhovtsov’s latest book, Russia and the Western Far Right. This project utilizes what national security site War on the Rocks calls “‘gray’ measures, which employ less overt outlets controlled by Russia, as well as so-called useful idiots that regurgitate Russian themes and ‘facts’ without necessarily taking direction from Russia or collaborating in a fully informed manner.”

By election season, the network of “less overt” sites had developed behavior patterns and positions spurred on by the troll factory: they supported the illegal Crimea referendum, denied the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and denigrated Syria’s humanitarian White Helmets. They also often operated as connectors to far-right sites like Breitbart News and conspiracy-theory site, Infowars, which crossposted more than 1,000 RT articles between 2014 and 2017 and published two interviews with Dugin last year.

Such apparent unity of action and intent may have also occurred because the “fake news” sites boosted by the Translation Project have significant audience overlap, as well as institutional crossover. For example, the syncretic site 21stCenturyWire crossposts stories from Consortium News and features interviews with its founder, the late Robert Parry. Created by former Infowars associate editor, Patrick Henningsen, 21stCenturyWire’s archived stories trade in antisemitic Soros and Rothschild conspiracy theories and a battery of Kremlin-supported stories maligning the White Helmets in Syria.

Regarding 21stCenturyWire’s stories, analytics engines found “evidence of coordination of timing and messaging around significant events in the news cycle” among “many known pro-Kremlin troll accounts, some of which were closed down as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the US election.” Given its Kremlin support, it is unsurprising that 21stCenturyWire hosts an alt-right podcast called Boiler Room, as well as an interview with Dugin, himself, while publishing Korybko as a “special contributor.”

There are many more similar sites on the web and, despite the indictments of 13 members of the Internet Research Agency, the echo chamber of cutouts, fake profiles, front groups and conspiracy sites that duped hundreds of thousands of people across the political spectrum shows no sign of relenting. In the 48 hours before time of writing, Russia Insider, 21stCenturyWire and Duginist site Fort-Russ were all trending domains and URLs on the Russian “botnet.” Only an informed public will be able to take down the crisis of “fake news” and its illiberal progenitors.

Alexander Reid Ross is a Lecturer in geography at Portland State University. His latest book Against the Fascist Creep was named one of the Portland Mercury’s best books of 2017.

Patrick Simpson and Grant Stern contributed research for this article.

[End Article]

The multipolar spin how fascists operationalize left wing resentment.

multipolar - Copy

The multipolar spin how fascists operationalize left wing resentment.

[ Source= The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment. By SPLC ]

[Posted By Lara Keller 17/3/18 Updated 22/4/19]  anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

(This article was originally posted on Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog but was taken down after threat of litigation by Max Blumenthal. It is reproduced here in full. Source= Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist, The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment, from removed SPLC post. March 15,  2018.)

[Start Article]

During his recent tour of Europe, disgraced former Trump strategist Steve Bannon declared “Italy is in the lead.”

Amid the historic resurgence of the Italian far right that returned right-wing populist Silvio Berlusconi to prominence, Bannon fantasized about “the ultimate dream” of unifying the anti-establishment Five Star Movement with the far-right League (formerly the Northern League) through a populist movement. Bannon’s international vision of nationalist populist movements is locked into the Kremlin’s geopolitical ideology of a “multipolar world.”

The League is tied through a cooperation pact to Putin’s Russia, and its deputy in charge of relations with foreign parties, Claudio D’Amico, explicitly called for a “multipolar world” in Katehon, a think tank created by fascist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin. Following the ideological line Dugin put forward in his text, Foundations of Geopolitics, Katehon calls for uniting a “Eurasian” bloc in constant struggle against “Atlanticist” countries. For Dugin, the “21st century gamble” is to create a “multipolar” confederation of “Traditionalist” regional empires united under Russian sovereignty that will overthrow the “unipolar” empire of “postmodern” democracies.

Shortly after Putin’s election in 2000, the Kremlin released a set of foreign policy guidelines calling for a “multipolar world order” against the “strengthening tendency towards the formation of a unipolar world under financial and military domination by the United States.” Escalating with the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004, the Kremlin’s production of soft-power networks throughout Europe and the United States involves- think tanksloansforumspropaganda outlets and cooperation agreements with far-right parties like the Austrian Freedom Party and the League. From Russia to Iran to Western Europe and the U.S., this international movement uses conspiracy theories and “gray material” to warp the political spectrum into a populist referendum along “geopolitical” terms set by fascist engagées.

Red and brown polarities.

As a recent major report on syncretic networks exposed, the modern fascist movement’s obsession with geopolitics emerged in force amid the post-Cold War antiglobalization movement. In 2002, a front group formed out of the U.S.-based Workers’ World Party known as the International Action Center joined forces with the Assisi-based “Campo Antimperialista.” As Duginists infiltrated the Campo, opening a journal called Eurasia that garnered the influential involvement of Campo participant Costanza Preve, the International Action Center continued their cooperation.

Soon, a similar Russian group called the Anti-Globalist Resistance began to repost the Campo’s dispatches. Sharing support for Milosevic with the Campo and the International Action Center, the Anti-Globalist Resistance emerged simultaneously with the same tendency to fight globalization by linking far-right to hard-left. In 2008, they brought the Campo to Moscow for the third “All-Russia Anti-Globalist Forum,” introduced by long-time U.S. fascist Lyndon LaRouche [alt better link Lyndon LaRouche]. The next year’s conference included Duginist leaders like Leonid Savin and retired General Leonid Ivashov [alt better link Leonid Ivashov], along with LaRouche and Holocaust denier Israel Shamir.

As their work continued, the Campo and Anti-Globalist Resistance drew more anti-globalization activists into their syncretic orbit. In 2012, a group came together at a Campo Antimperialista event in Assisi and developed what would become the Syria Solidarity Movement. The movement’s steering committee came to include top figures from groups from the U.S. hard left, including the Workers World Party, its affiliate, ANSWER and a spinoff of the latter group called the Party of Socialism and Liberation.

After changing their name to the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, the group drew people from the Syria Solidarity Movement’s network to a conference called the “Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Building a Multipolar World” in 2014. A delegate from the International Action Center attended, along with delegates from another Workers World Party front group called United Anti-War Coalition, including an editor with the Black Agenda Report named Margaret Kimberly. Among the conference’s other attendees were Michael Hill of the neo-Confederate League of the South and the Texas Nationalist Movement, as well as the far-right Republika of Srpska and National Bolshevik Italian Communitarian Party.

The following year, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia met with a purported Cherokee Nation elder named “Mashu White Feather” and a representative of the Uhuru Movement, also connected to the Black Agenda Report. They then organized a state-funded conference that drew members of the fascist Italian group Millenium [alt better link Millenium], Mutti’s associate Antonio Grego, and a leading member of the far-right Rodina party, as well as representatives of separatist groups like the Texas Nationalist Movement and the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party. The now-notorious troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, would later invite the Texas Nationalist Movement to join an armed, Islamophobic protest launched by the fake “Heart of Texas,” while also inciting counter-protestors.

This network map shows the flow of movement building from parties to front groups to participation in and creation of syncretic coalitions.

The Syria connection.

The Syria Solidarity Movement lists on its steering committee a host of syncretic figures like DuginistNavid Nasr and an Australian representative of the fascist-modeled Syrian Social Nationalist Party affiliateMussalaha. Before a report revealed her associations with Global ResearchRon Paul and the right-wing British Constitution Party, conspiracy theorist Vanessa Beeley held a position on the steering committee as well.

As an editor at the alt-right-associated conspiracy theory site, 21stCenturyWire, Beeley’s repeated conspiracy articles attempting to link the White Helmets to al Qaeda and George Soros earned her a visit with Assad in Damascus and senior Russian officials in Moscow; however, they have been thoroughly debunked. A defender of right-wing Hungarian president Viktor Orban, Beeley promotes antisemites like Gilad Atzmon and Dieudonné, even speaking at a conference hosted by the latter in partnership with notorious Holocaust denier Laurent Louis. Regardless, the Syrian Solidarity Movement and the associated Hands Off Syria Coalition recommend Beeley’s work.

Along with members of the Syria Solidarity Movement, delegates who attended the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia’s “Multipolar World” conference sit on the Hands off Syria Coalition’s steering committee. Showing its commitments and affinities, in January 2016, the Hands Off Syria Coalition published a “Multipolar World Against War” statement signed by the leader of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Alexander Ionov.

Similarly, the Hands Off Syria Coalition website publicizes self-described Marxist, Tim Anderson, who has an interesting record of attending far-right conferences. In 2015, Anderson attended the far-right Brandherd Syrien Congress, and the next year he was at Defend Our Heritage’s Leura Forum, chaired by a leader of far-right party Alternative for Germany. Following that, Anderson’s pet project, Center of Counter Hegemonic Studies, convened a conference that brought in Paul Antonopoulos, an editor for the Duginist website Fort Russ.

The Hands Off Syria Coalition advertises Anderson’s book, The Dirty War on Syria, which is published by syncretic conspiracist site Global Research. Multiple “Research Associates” of Global Research sit on the “scientific committee” of the Campo-linked Duginist journal Geopolitica, and the site lists as its “partner media group” the Voltaire Network. Publishing LaRouchite and Duginist articles, the Voltaire Network boasts the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs as its Vice President. One of the Voltaire Network’s leading contributors is Mikhail Leontyev, an associate of Dugin who has moved from prominent media personality to the role of spokesman for Russian state oil company, Rosneft. The Syria Solidarity Movement publishes Voltaire Network articles by founder Thierry Meyssan, a contributor to Campo-linked journal Eurasia who associates with Holocaust deniers and open fascists, among others.

Hands Off Syria Coalition steering committee member Issa Chaer joined Meyssan on a panel at the Second New Horizons conference in Iran in 2012. Conference speakers that year included World Workers Party member Caleb Maupin, Alt Right journalist Tim Pool, Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett, and Duginists like Voltaire Network associate Mateusz Piskorski, German editor Manuel Ochsenreiter, Leonid Savin, and Claudio Mutti the leading fascist infiltrator of the Campo Antimperialista. The banner image for last year’s New Horizon features Aleksandr Dugin.

Multipolar propaganda.

According to the metrics search engine BuzzSumo, most of the leading articles with the terms “multipolar world” and “multi-polar world” in the title come from an interconnected network of sites, including Global Research, The Duran and Sign of the Times. With an estimated six million unique daily views per month, the biggest and most influential in this network is the Russian state-run media site Sputnik News.

Billing itself as pointing “the way to a multipolar world that respects every country’s national interests, culture, history and traditions,” Sputnik frequently publishes PiskorskiOchsenreiter, Mutti’s fellow Campo infiltrator Tiberio Graziani, commentator Andrew Korybko and Fort Russ editor Joaquin Flores. Furthermore, Sputnik has joined RT in consistently using dubious sources affiliated with the Syria Solidarity Network to attack the White Helmets and throw doubt on the Assad regime’s war crimes, for instance its use of chemical weapons.

A syncretic hub on Sputnik, anti-imperialist John Wight’s podcast, “Hard Facts,” promotes the same figures associated with the pro-Assad network in the West, including Beeley, Anderson, and Nasr. Perhaps most interestingly, Wight also hosted trans-national far-right figure, Edward Lozansky during the 2016 election and again early the next year.

With more than 30 years of involvement in the U.S. and Russian far right, Lozansky is perhaps most known as the creator of the American University in Moscow. Boasting a number of Fellows involved in pro-Kremlin media outlets like The Duran, RT and Russia Insider, the American University in Moscow appears to be an ideological center in the concerted social media campaign associated with the Internet Research Agency to boost anti-Clinton, pro-Kremlin propaganda in the U.S. Lozansky also hosts conferences with known fascist ideologues and an annual “Russia Forum” featuring far-right politicians and left-wing media operators from Russia and the U.S.

During both of his pro-Putin, pro-Trump interviews with Lozansky on “Hard Facts,” Wight advocated “a multipolar alternative to the unipolar world,” insisting, “we’re talking about a struggle for a multipolar world to replace the unipolarity that has wreaked so much havoc since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.”

The most important anti-imperialist hub on Sputnik, however, is hosted by Brian Becker, whose fellow party member and brother sits on the steering committee for the Syria Solidarity Movement. The leader of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Becker regularly hosts Fellows of the American University in Moscow on his Sputnik podcast, “Loud & Clear.”

“Loud & Clear”‘s Lozansky-affiliated guests include far-right PR man Jim Jatras, Mark Sleboda of the Dugin-founded Center for Conservative Studies, the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams and Alexander Mercouris of the syncretic conspiracist site, The Duran. The program also provides a platform to a variety of explicitly far-right guests, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, antisemite Alberto Garcia Watson, alt-right figure Cassandra Fairbanks and militia movement leader Larry Pratt.

Aside from marginal guests, Loud & Clear can bring on some heavy hitters. During his two appearances on “Loud & Clear” in late 2017, bestselling author Max Blumenthal called the red-brown radio show “the finest public affairs programming” and declared, “I am increasingly turning to RT America for sanity.” No stranger to Sputnik, Blumenthal also went on “Hard Facts” that August, claiming that notorious ISIS militant Mohammed Emwazi was ushered into the Syria conflict by the CIA via a “rat line” from Saudi Arabia.

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This Venn diagram suggests that certain syncretic groups exist as containers for the intersection of right and left wing groups, ideologies.

Highway to the Grayzone.

Around the same time he went on “Loud & Clear,” Blumenthal appeared on Tucker Carlson‘s FOX News show to defend RT — his second time on the far-right show that year. Blumenthal’s RT appearances have been praised by white nationalists like Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., who murdered three people outside of a Jewish Community Center in 2014, so his courting of the right on FOX drew considerable backlash.

Two months later, Blumenthal offered up a staunch defense of “Russia’s position in the world” to author Robert Wright in an interview on bloggingheads. Admitting that Putin’s Russia remains far from left-wing, Blumenthal justified support for the country’s authoritarian conservative government as “part of the multipolar world.”

“If you believe in a multipolar world,” Blumenthal told Wright, “you believe in détente, you believe in diplomacy.” He specifically mentioned Becker’s Party for Socialism and Liberation and groups like it, arguing that they “tend to get all the major issues right regardless of their ideology or agenda.”

Blumenthal was not as clear of a spokesperson for Kremlin geopolitics before he appeared at the same RT gala as disgraced former National Security advisor Michael Flynn and the Green Party’s Jill Stein in December 2015. During that occasion, he joined a panel called “Infowar: Will there be a winner” alongside Alt Right anti-Semite Charles Bausman of Russia Insider. A month later, Blumenthal’s pro-Kremlin position crystalized with the founding of the Grayzone Project.

Grayzone is a collaborative project also featuring journalist Benjamin Norton, who cosigned the Hands Off Syria Coalition’s points of unity statement along with Beeley and others. After going on “Loud & Clear” with Duginist Mark Sleboda and Infowars regularRay McGovern, Norton plugged the Party for Socialism and Liberation on a podcast episode titled “Hands off Syria.” With other Grayzone contributors, Norton has been criticized for downplaying war crimes and helping publicize false theories about rebels contaminating Damascus’s water supply.

When reached for comment by email, Norton retorted, “I know your goal is to outlandishly smear anyone who opposes US imperialism and is to the left of the Clintons as a ‘crypto-fascist,’ while NATO supports actual fascists whom you care little about.”

Grayzone is perhaps best known for Blumenthal’s controversial two-part article attacking the White Helmets, which brought accusations of plagiarism from Beeley. Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek had, Beeley insisted, “pumped me for information on the [White Helmets] and then Max wrote the article.”

While Blumenthal may have repeated some of Beeley’s theories, Beeley cannot be seen as a credible source. Regardless, Khalek has since used a questionable interview sourced from Beeley as evidence that the White Helmets “were deeply embedded in al Qaeda.”

Grayzone recently announced their move from independent news site AlterNet to The Real News Network, a left-wing site with a penchant for 9/11 truther inquiries. Neither Blumenthal nor Khalek responded to efforts to reach them for comment.

Right uses left.

Through its amplification of an interlinked, multi-centered network organized around institutions like Lozansky’s American University in Moscow and the Voltaire Network and conferences like Moscow’s “Multi-Polar World” and Tehran’s “New Horizons,” syncretic networks associated with Dugin’s Eurasianist ideology have combined distortions and ambiguities into a geopolitical narrative meant to confuse audiences and promote authoritarian populist opposition to liberalism.

The “gray measures” used to deny the Kremlin’s influence operations may seem dubious when delivered through channels like Sputnik that are, themselves, political technologies of far-right political influence. When cycled through “narrative laundering” of secondary and tertiary networks enhanced by trolls and coordinated influence operations, however, propaganda is “graywashed” of its dubious sources and presented as cutting-edge journalism.

As shown with Figure 3, think tanks like Katehon and connected Russian Institute for Strategic Studies develop strategies for media spin and online promotion through influence groups and botnets. These think tanks engage in feedback loops with Russian state media channels and linked syncretic news sites, amplified through social media with the help of botnets, and eventually reaching more legitimate sources often freed of their dubious sourcing. The results are explored by a recent study from Data and Society called Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online: “Online communities are increasingly turning to conspiracy-driven news sources, whose sensationalist claims are then covered by the mainstream media, which exposes more of the public to these ideas, and so on.”

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A conceptual model made in Vensim intended to present the workings of “Graywashing.”

The problem with multipolarism, aside from assuming polarity as a useful prescription, may be that it supports not the emergence of Russia as a world power but the rise of the Kremlin’s authoritarian conservative political ideology. In this, multipolarists tend to support other authoritarian regimes and movements from Iran to Syria to Italy. Although anti-imperialists may believe that these measures land them on the right side of history, taking stock of the fascist movement suggests that the strategy of opposing a liberal order through red-brown populist collaboration makes the left a willing accomplice.

[End Article]


Incoherent Moral Hypocrisy of Separatism from Catalonia, Scotland to Singapore.

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Incoherent Moral Hypocrisy of Separatism from Catalonia, Scotland to Singapore.

[Posted by Lara Keller 1/11/2017 Updated 19/4/19 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

Like the painting of “not supporting the Syrian Revolution” as a sort of anti-imperialist progressive movement, in a less important sense, the support for Catalan Independence Separatism is being promoted abroad as “true democracy in action”. Both these rhetorical obscenities are essentially incoherent, immoral and deeply hypocritical.

A recent article by Ian Jack in the UK Guardian Newspaper is useful in discussing the Catalonian Independence movement (see https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/28/britain-caught-brexit-storm-scotland-england-stick-together ). It states that a think tank called “These Islands” has been set up to argue against Scottish Independence and to keep the UK united.

Nigel Biggar is a prominent member of this think tank – a retired professor of moral and pastoral theology from Oxford University – he states there are 3 criteria for a morally just separatist movement:

1. Are the grievances of the separating nation serious?
2. Are the grievances long standing rather than temporary?
3. Are the grievances current rather than historical?

Examining each of these in turn as they apply to Catalonia:

1. Not Serious = Catalonia is the wealthiest region in Spain. All of Spain has enjoyed democracy and freedom of speech since Franco died in 1975.

2. Temporary = Spain endured a financial crisis in 2008 and a subsequent recession that the economy is now slowly recovering from. The conservative People’s Party have been in power since 2011, and has pursued an unjust policy of austerity, but this is bound to change as governments change.

3. Not Current = Dictatorship died with Franco over 40 years ago. The Spanish Civil War was 80 years ago.

The real core grievance appears to be that Catalonia pays more in tax to Madrid than it receives in government services. In all countries richer areas support poorer areas. There is much made of Catalonian culture. Chauvinistic comments about non Catalan Spanish being lazy (echoes of German attitudes to indebted Greeks here) or revulsion to bull fighting as if Spaniards are all obsessed with it outside of Catalonia.

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The Catalan independence movement is a very broad coalition. It claims the cake of independence can be eaten twice. The poor Catalans will get much better services and austerity will end, while richer Catalans will get lower taxes and live like their contemporaries in Denmark. The assumption is that Catalonia can easily exist without the Spanish economy, rather than the reality that the region has done well out of the Spanish economy and is integrated into the Spanish economy.

I have not seen any convincing arguments that Catalan Independence is about democracy. It is about a large minority (38%) in a prosperous region trying to unilaterally reset the borders of continental Spain that date to 1561, with probably unrealistic economic self advantage as the real core  reason.

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If we discard morality, then the other motive for separatism is plain self-interest. The Scottish Independence lobby site IndependentScotland.org, gives the self- interested case for a profitable separatist movement in “10 Reasons to vote YES for an Independent Scotland” (see http://www.independentscotland.org/articles/14270/why-vote-yes-for-scottish-independence.htm ). Naively optimistic points 4 and 5 get to the heart of matter, “4.Securing Oil Funds in North Sea” and “5. Scotland has the resources and finances”. Point 5 is helpfully illustrated by a barrel of cash, and a link to the libertarian comedian Dominic Frisby (no seriously) article in the UK Independent Newspaper “Why an independent Scotland could become the richest country on Earth” ( https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-an-independent-scotland-could-become-the-richest-country-on-earth-9096120.html ).

According to the CIA survey mentioned in Frisby’s article the top 10 wealthiest countries by income per capita (in Purchasing Power Parity terms) in 2016 were Liechtenstein, Qatar, Monaco, Luxembourg, Singapore, Brunei, Kuwait, Ireland, Norway and United Arab Emirates. Frisby also slips in the assertion that small countries have a higher level of equality.  He puts this success to the common factor which is their small population size, and subsequent lack of bureaucratic exploitation. So small and separate is not only beautiful but prosperous and equal as well. Frisby touches on the obvious problem with this argument that the United States is wealthy, but counters that it has been wealthier when states were more autonomous and the dollar was on the “gold standard”.

This article is empty rhetoric: (1) Income per capita has nothing to do with equality, it is just an average calculated by dividing national wealth by population. None of these countries in the list apart from Norway have a reputation for income equality. (2) There are many small poor countries. (3)  Statistically the top section of any list is not necessarily indicative of patterns that apply to the whole list. The top are likely to be exceptionally lucky. Clearly a large country is going to be an average of the fortunes of its many regions.

A deeper more interesting problem with the argument of small countries being wealthier due to self-made merit is more interesting.  Most of the top-ten small wealthy countries are either tax havens or oil-gas producers. They exploit the stricter tax regimes of other countries, or the hydrocarbons under territory then can lay claim to. For example Norway and the UK claim oil rich areas of the North Sea beyond their territorial waters, which could be argued to belong to Europe as a whole. Ireland has become a multi-national’s tax shelter, where many companies in Europe have relocated their headquarters to Ireland, because it has very low corporate tax rates.

Singapore is another country on the list, that is used to promote the advantages of separatism, having broken with Malaysia in 1965. It is also promoted as the superiority of benign dictatorship over democracy. A strange choice for the self-confessed libertarian Dominic Frisby. Singapore is a mainly ethnic Chinese city state off the coast of Malaysia.

Emerging from the colonial rule of the British Empire and separation from Malaysia, Singapore had the geographical advantage of being a strategically placed port on a major shipping route, and the business advantage of being part of an established large regional ethnic Chinese trading network. Independence also coincided with the beginning of globalization and the transfer of manufacturing by Western companies to the Far-East.  Singapore also developed extensive oil refining facilities as Asian demand for oil products soared. The truth is that Singapore was doing well in 1965, and was in a perfect position to take advantages of changes in the economics of the region.

Critically it was established by the long-term competent relatively benign (rather than the usual exploitative corrupt) dictatorship of Lee Kuan Yew, that actively discouraged corruption to create a stable legal system.

The problem with Singapore is that it is a dictatorship that is run for the benefit of a clique. Lee Kuan Yew famously described ordinary citizens as “digits”. This regime composed of the disingenuously named ruling “People’s Action Party” and the multi-national business elite. Effective opposition does not exist because critics are bankrupted for “defamation” and if this does not silence them they are imprisoned . It is a wealthy country, but most native Singaporeans do not share in it. It is one of the most expensive places to live in the world and also one of the most unequal.

There are positive lessons that can be learned from Singapore for the so called “liberal” Western democracies, but these are not the things promoted by the regime and its apologists. The regime is described by informed detractors as a “stingy nanny state”. An active state means the acute housing shortage caused by limited land has been tackled by extensive social housing. Pollution and congestion has been greatly reduced by a combination of rationing the number of cars and organizing abundant public transport. Public health is actively promoted, resisting the overabundance of junk food and alcohol that undermines the West. For example alcohol is 2 to 3 times more expensive in Singapore than neighboring countries.

There are essentially three classes in this “stingy nanny state”. The “servant class” of ordinary native Singaporeans who endure a highly competitive work environment together with being squeezed by expensive social housing, and the high charges and patchy coverage of other state services. The  native Singaporean population is declining, because the birth rate is very low and emigration is increasing. The “peasant class” of foriegn migrant labour is now reaching  around a third of the population. They keep wages low, and do not have any rights. Then there is the “elite class” composed of the ruling party, highly talented and educated Singaporeans, and foreign professionals who often take permanent resident status. China is looking to Singapore and the regional hinterland it exploits, as a model of a stable and exploitative class structure to emulate. China already treats much of its population like foreign migrant labour, only allowing temporary residence in industrial cities.

Conclusion:

Separatism is a false reactionary road. Small is not necessarily beautiful, equal or successful. The real progressive challenge in Spain for Catalonians and other Spaniards is to change the Spanish Government. The same applies to the Scotland and the rest of the UK. The real progressive challenge in Europe for all ordinary Europeans is to reform the economic structure of the European Union. Where Germany, it’s wealthiest state, is destroying the EU tree it is complacently sitting on. If Europe was better at distributing its resources, then there would be less pressure on component countries to distribute resources between its component regions. The West needs to be wary and selective of what lessons it takes from states like Singapore and China.


 

Why a history of democracy is no reason for complacency.

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Why a history of democracy is no reason for complacency.

[Posted by Lara Keller 21/6/17 Updated 23/4/19] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa, “The Signs of Democratic Deconsolidation”, Journal of Democracy, January 2017. See: http://journalofdemocracy.org/article/signs-deconsolidation , http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/FoaMounk-JoD-28.1-PRE-PRINT-VERSION.pdf There is a sharp decline in those responding “essential” to the statement “live in a country that is governed democratically” across age groups in the West. In the US for example, approximately 75% of those born in the 1930s against 30% for those born in the 1980s. The authors give this stark timely advice: “In countries where populists are already in power, by contrast, those citizens who retain a deep commitment to the core values of liberal democracy must recognize that their countries’ past stability is no reason for complacency.” (See also https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/world/americas/western-liberal-democracy.html)

Figures taken from article “The Signs of Democratic Deconsolidation”:

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Mad Logic Of UK Brexit.

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Mad Logic Of UK Brexit.

[ Posted By Lara Keller 25/1/17 Updated 19/4/19 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

The people of the UK are being fed the line that the EU will want to protect it’s extensive exports to the UK after Brexit, so it will be keen to provide a trade deal that allows it the current high level of UK exports to the EU. The problem with this is that UK has left the European Customs Union so EU tariffs against World Trade no longer apply. This is good if you wish to negotiate bilateral trade deals with non European countries. But this means that the UK must allow non-European countries low or no tariff access to the UK markets. So Europeans will have to accept falling exports to the UK, while the UK exports freely to Europe. While other European countries demand the regulation free advantage that the UK will then have. This is wishful illogicality.


Stopping Rise Of Authoritarianism In The West.

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Stopping Rise Of Authoritarianism In The West.

[Posted by Lara Keller 4/12/16 Updated 24/4/19] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

1. Populism.

Respectable consensus on the rising tide of populism in the West is that there is no need to panic. Experts focusing on each country threatened, usually by far-right populism, explain that these radical parties are either tools of the existing parties or will have to govern in the normal way.

These ideas are widely expressed about the US president-elect Donald Trump: “Trump will turn out to be a normal right wing republican president.” “Trump will be dependent on the Republican establishment to be able to govern.” “Trump will have to adapt to reality when faced with the complications of the real world.” Obama is touring the world calming the nerves of world leaders, and subtly warning that any strong “overreaction” to the Trump presidency would more likely lead to their worst fears becoming true.

The same kind of calming statements are applied to the rising aggression of Russia’s and China’s foreign policies. We are told that: “Russia has a diminished economy, about size of Spain, which cannot maintain Putin’s imperialistic posturing.” “China’s economy is dependent on ever increasing world trade, and needs this to deal with simmering social pressures and mountains of corporate debt.”

Today the far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer is set to become the next Austrian president [5/12/16 update: only 46% voted for the far-right candidate, so no need to worry (ironic) ]. Next year’s April presidential election in France will be between Marine Le-Pen and Françoise Fillon. Given the disarray of the socialists, the French public will be given a choice between the chauvinistic promises of the far-right Front National, and the hair shirt austerity of Fillion’s centre right UMP. Currently Fillion is well ahead of Le Pen in the polls about this probable run off. A political insurgency is possible for Le Pen, because a despondent nation has little appetite for Fillon’s message of “spend less and work harder”. With Russian money Le Pen will have the funds to get her false hopeful and hateful messages out to the French people, and so extend the reach of the French far-right. [25/4/17 update: the second run-off presidential election was between the far-right Le Pen and the insurgent centrist Emmanuel Macron. Le Pen only received 33.9% of this vote, so no need to worry (ironic) ].

In March next year [2017] Geert Wilders Freedom Party is set to be the largest single party in the Dutch House of Representatives. He will still need to form a coalition with at least two other parties to form a government. His party has managed to be an informal partner in an earlier coalition between the centre right VVD and CDA. [17/3/17 update: Geert Wilders’ PVV party came second with 13.1% of the vote, behind the largest party Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party at 21.3%. The VVD flirted with much of the PVV’s xenophobia during the election. The Netherlands has a PR system with many parties. ]

The UK is set to leave the European Union after the Brexit referendum vote last June. Italy’s populist Five Star Movement is working hard to defeat the referendum on constitutional reform being held today [update 5/1/2017: 59% did vote against reforming the Italian constitution, so starting the path to possible Italexit]. The current Italian government has vowed to resign, which will lead to an election and a new coalition led by the Five Star Movement. This new government will introduce a referendum on leaving the European Union, which appears likely to result in Italy leaving.

In Germany the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has come from nowhere to poll 15% of potential votes in the German Federal Elections next August. They may do better after the expected upheavals described above. It is unlikely AfD would be part of the governing coalition, but they will be able to limit the government’s room for manoeuvre by gaining support from criticism, of any necessary actions to strengthen the European Union. [update 25/9/17 the far-right Afd achieved 13% of the German federal election results, and came third.]

2. Democracy in Decline.

There are plenty of reasons to panic when the pieces are considered as a whole. The truth is that since the end of the Cold War authoritarianism has lost any pretense to being cloaked in the ideologies of the extreme left and right. We have today a naked authoritarianism which seeks to undermine representational government everywhere. No grand conspiracy is needed, just the reality that corrupt authoritarian governments, can use each other’s support to enrich themselves and secure their power.

There is also a disturbing and widely reported study by Monk and Foa in the “Journal of Democracy” this year. The number of people born in the 1980s (ie: in their thirties) who feel it is essential to live in a democracy has fallen to nearly 25% in the US and Britain. This means that in principle only 25% of the population in their thirties would actively fight to defend democracy in their own countries, let alone abroad. The figure for Holland is 30%, Sweden is 60% with an average of 40% in Europe for this age group.

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Support for democracy is in decline, and this will continue to plummet sharply in the near future if nothing substantial is done.

3. Ignoring Arab Democratic Uprising.

An alarming symptom of this is the apathy ordinary people in the West have shown towards the “Arab Democratic Uprising” in Europe’s neighbouring region of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Few Western progressives have taken a factual knife to the soft underbelly of rhetoric that has successfully smeared this uprising. The line that real effective Western support for this uprising is a continuation of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions is widely accepted. Intervention in Libya and Syria is criticized for lack of success, while few point out that there has been a chronic lack of support from the West. Lastly it is widely ignored that these uprisings are also fighting a strong counter revolution financed by regional dictatorships desperate to ensure the failure of representative government in MENA.

Instead these uprisings are described as chaotic, lacking vision and motivated by extremism. The old colonial line is unconsciously trotted out, about it taking hundreds of years to create the culture and institutions needed for democracy, and that the West has some monopoly of these. The truth is that the sins ascribed to the “Arab Democratic Uprising” are really the sins of progressives in the West. We lack organization, lack vision and hold unreflectively to an extreme ideology shared by the majority of society. An ideology we call “individualism”, with its unquestioned paradoxical obsessions.

In the name of “populism” and “freedom” growing sections of Western societies seek to empower authoritarian political movements financed by elites. Whose aims are to create authoritarian governments, who rather than tackle the excessive power of elites, can only offer to redirect resources away from maligned minorities.

These authoritarian governments will in turn support and encourage each other. The global economy sits on a pinnacle of unsustainable debt (corporate, government and private) and ecological destruction (climate change, resource misuse, population growth). Solving the inevitable further major economic upheavals and pursuing urgent green “revolutions”, requires international partnership, which is less likely in a world of authoritarian governments. The economic and ecological crises then in turn fuels more authoritarianism making the crises deeper in a self-perpetuating feedback loop.

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4. Binning the Western Extremism.

A decisive shift in progressive politics is needed. There is clearly an extremely urgent need to advert this turn to authoritarianism. A new economics that (like Keynesianism before it) finds innovative ways to thrust “society” (and ecological necessities) into the overly private world of “business”. Large scale government led “war like” campaigns are now essential to defeat economic, ecological and social threats in specific critical areas. Cutting out the use fossil fuels, enabling more national non-monopolistic self sufficiency and providing an effective social safety net that meets basic needs of food, health, security and housing. Successful societies need to erode but not demolish the boundaries of private property and enterprise. A system where visible income is taxed by the state, but wealth and income can be effectively hidden in “tax havens” is not sustainable. In the same sense businesses cannot be both “moderate” organizations and surviving parts of anarchic brutal markets.

Extreme ideas of excessive individualism, collectivism, anarchy or hierarchical organization need to be binned. It should be obvious that extreme politics leads to societies dominated by destructive barriers, it is just where these barriers are built that changes between the types of system. Even anarchistic societies give rise to cliques who build barriers around themselves, and indulge in chauvinistic fantasies of their entitlement.

A movement built on representative government, empowerment and the erosion of barriers is needed. New inspiration flows from activists trying to shift MENA societies away from authoritarian kleptocratic government run by elites. The West needs their ideas and spirit to prevent the victory of authoritarianism in Europe and the United States.

We should be aware that it is now reasonable and allowable to panic, and that we are all becoming Syrians now in some essential sense, and have only the hope comfort of solidarity.