Podcast: against the ‘red-baiting’ calumny


In Episode 188 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg deconstructs the accusation of “red-baiting” employed by the tankie pseudo-left to deflect criticism of funding sources directly linked to Chinese and Russian state propaganda networks. Before such revelations made the New York Times, they were reported by bloggers and researchers themselves on the radical left. And some progressive voices and international socialists have repudiated the smear that any such examination of money networks linked to authoritarian regimes is “red-baiting.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

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  1. Podcast transcript: against the ‘red-baiting’ calumny

    Transcript from CounterVortex podcast of Aug. 26:

    I must respond to this insidiously sinister statement from CodePink, The People’s Forum and like groups entitled “McCarthyism is Back and Together We Can Stop It,” accusing opponents of the savage-capitalist fascistic regimes in Russia and China of “red-baiting,” and cynically exploiting completely legitimate concerns about anti-Asian racism.

    It was sparked by revelations in the media of financial ties between CodePink and the international propaganda network of the Chinese Communist Party, CCP, about which more later. And it is accruing signatures from like tankie groups—that is, those who support Russian tanks, and Chinese warplanes—and some deluded individuals.

    I’m just going to start out by reading one passage that made my blood boil:

    Similar to the old “Red Scare” and McCarthy periods, when scores of organizations and leaders like WEB Du Bois, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King Jr and others were attacked with fact-less accusations, today, prominent organizations and individuals, including CODEPINK, The People’s Forum, and Tricontinental Institute have been targeted, with smears and accusations propagated by outlets like The New York Times.

    To which I reply: Emma Goldman!? Who had to leave Soviet Russia because she opposed Lenin’s consolidating dictatorship, and wrote a book about it, My Disillusionment in Russia, which particularly protested the Red Army aggression against the Ukrainian anarchists! Beyond chutzpah! We’ve already deconstructed at length the cynicism of tankie exploitation of Martin Luther King on our podcast of January 13, 2023, when these same groups held a pro-war rally in Times Square—that is, in support of Russia’s war aims, although billed as against US aid to Ukraine—on MLK’s birthday.

    And the accusations against CodePink are not “fact-less,” as we shall see.

    OK, all this concerns an article in the New York Times on August 5, following money that has flowed to CodePink and other groups in its orbit back to tech billionaire Neville Roy Singham, who has close ties to China’s ruling elite and who is married to CodePink co-founder (and former Democratic Party political advisor) Jodie Evans. And it notes how as this has become a significant source of funding, CodePink’s political line has become shamelessly pro-CCP. From the text:

    Code Pink once criticized China’s rights record but now defends its internment of the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs, which human rights experts have labeled a crime against humanity.

    These groups are funded through American nonprofits flush with at least $275 million in donations.

    But Mr. Singham, 69, himself sits in Shanghai, where one outlet in his network is co-producing a YouTube show financed in part by the city’s propaganda department. Two others are working with a Chinese university to “spread China’s voice to the world.” And last month, Mr. Singham joined a Communist Party workshop about promoting the party internationally.

    Funny, YouTube is actually blocked in China, so this isn’t about internal propaganda, but cultivating useful idiots in the West and the outside world,

    We should note that, as is often the case with big exposés in the corporate media, this revelation is really the fruit of much research by activists and commentators on the left.

    The anti-fascist group Fashbusters back in December 2021 got the ball rolling with a blog post entitled “Does Goldman Sachs Fund the People’s Forum, PSL, Codepink, AIPAC, and Vijay Prashad’s Tricontinental?” OK, PSL is the deceptively named Party for Socialism & Liberation, one of the sectarian tankie factions. AIPAC is not the famous Israel Lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but the ironically named Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees (same acronym)—basically, the Bashar Assad lobby, which gives grants to journalists who take a line sympathetic to the genocidal dictatorship in Syria. And digging by Fashbusters found that Singham used the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund to funnel money to these groups.

    Next, researcher Alexander Reid Ross, author of book Against the Fascist Creep, who we interviewed on our podcast of April 4, 2021, ran a piece in New Lines Magazine January 18, 2022, co-written with the magazine’s senior editor Courtney Dobson, entitled “The Big Business of Uyghur Genocide Denial”—uncovering a network of nonprofits funneling millions of dollars into supposedly left-wing platforms that blatantly take Beijing’s side on the genocide allegations. And they’re all connected to Neville Roy Singham.

    And then the New York Times story of August 5, 2023: “A Global Web of Chinese Propaganda Leads to a U.S. Tech Mogul: The Times unraveled a financial network that stretches from Chicago to Shanghai and uses American nonprofits to push Chinese talking points worldwide.” Hed and subhed.

    Another quote from the story on how this network is insidiously coopting progressive organizations:

    Several times a year, activists and politicians from across Africa fly to South Africa for boot camps at the Nkrumah School, set in a popular safari area.

    They come to learn to organize workers and left-wing movements. Once on campus, though, some attendees are surprised to find Chinese topics seeping into the curriculum.

    At a recent session, reading packets said that the United States was waging a “hybrid war” against China by distorting information about Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Xinjiang region where Uyghurs were held in camps.

    Our comrades at the Oakland Socialist website did some deeper digging into Singham’s intrigues in South African left and labor politics, and reproduce an open letter from some militants of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) denouncing his corrupting influence in that union. “An Open Letter About the Capture of NUMSA – Time to Fight Back and Save NUMSA from the Capitalist – by Concerned Members, Shop Stewards and Staff.” Check it out, online at OaklandSocialist.com.

    Also online there is an “Open Letter to Code Pink” issued December 1, 2018 by various individuals associated with the Alliance of Middle East Socialists and like-minded groups, protesting CodePink’s frequent junkets to Iran, which are coordinated with the murderous anti-woman regime.

    So it was actually dissident and critical voices on the left that brought this nexus to light initially.

    But now that it’s been in the New York Times, the righties are indeed getting belatedly on the bandwagon. It’s very curious that the American MAGA right is just as soft on Russia and the Putin regime as the so-called “left,” but really doesn’t like China—possibly because China, unlike Russia, for obvious reasons can’t really position itself as a defender of white supremacy, a card which has served Putin very well.

    So of course this asshole has to make everything worse…. Sen. Marco Rubio is asking the Justice Department to investigate Chinese funding of CodePink and “Other Far-Left Groups,” as the National Review headline puts it.

    Now for starters, Rubio going after these charlatans will only give them more of a cachet with the “left,” and loan legitimacy to their whining about “red-baiting” and “McCarthyism.” And interestingly, they, Rubio and National Review, are playing along with the perception that these groups that are rallying around fascistic regimes are “far-left.” They absolutely are not—I’m the far left, muthafukkas, not you. More about this later.

    But the particular irony here is that China is indeed starting to catch up with Russia in cynically playing both sides of the Western political divide, and cultivating ties to the far right, at least in Europe if not yet in the US. An August 11 story from Deutsche Welle: “China courts Germany’s far-right populist AfD.” From the text:

    The far-right populist Alternative for Germany party rejects a values-based foreign policy, just as much as it rejects NATO and the US. That approach has attracted the attention of Beijing.

    A high-ranking three-member delegation from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party recently traveled to China—on an official invitation. AfD co-leader Alice Weidel and her Bundestag federal parliamentary colleagues, Petr Bystron and Peter Felser, spent almost a week in Beijing and Shanghai at the end of June.

    The AfD has positioned itself in opposition to the German government’s critical policy toward China. Berlin’s China Strategy, published in mid-July, for example, was denounced by Bystron, the AfD’s foreign policy spokesperson, as the “attempt to implement green-woke ideology and US geopolitical interests under the guise of a strategy for German foreign policy.”

    So, great. CodePink Women For Peace is on the same team as Alternative für Deutschland. This is what I mean by hippie fascism. Go have a love-in, fellas.

    Now I acknowledge that this DW account is very light on the details of exactly who extended this “official invitation” and who these AfD nudniks met with in their time in China. But the matter certainly merits more research, which I hope will be forthcoming.

    But Iran and Russia have long been points of convergence for the far-right and the pseudo-left in the West. Alexander Reid Ross writes in his piece, “The Big Business of Uyghur Genocide Denial,” that in 2014, Medea Benjamin, one of Code Pink’s founders, “attended a conference in Tehran that also included German neo-Nazi Manuel Ochsenreiter.” And apparently Ochsenreiter is also linked to both AfD and the Russian-backed so-called “separatists” in the Donbas. And was accused of ordering a so-called “false flag” arson attack on a Hungarian social center in Ukraine in 2019, an apparent bid to draw Hungary into the war on Russia’s side. From DW January 15, 2019, “AfD worker accused of ordering arson in Ukraine.”

    A Bundestag employee of the Alternative for Germany party has been accused of ordering a firebombing in Ukraine. Manuel Ochsenreiter denies all accusations, but he is known to have connections to pro-Russia separatists.


    Now this is all so ironic in multiple ways.

    First, to call this basic follow-the-money investigative work “red-baiting” and “McCarthyism” and a “Red Scare” is an insult to the people whose lives were ruined in the McCarthy era, who were blacklisted and denied employment; and the actual radical left organizations that had their offices raided by federal agents and were effectively repressed in the Red Scare, like the Wobblies, and the revolutionaries who had their homes raided or were deported, like Emma Goldman.

    Secondly, whatever the illusions of Medea Benjamin and Marco Rubio, the regime in China is not “red,” not any more than that in Russia. Both regimes are savage-capitalist, ultra-nationalist, and, as I will argue shortly, headed toward actual fascism if they haven’t already arrived there.

    Third, there’s an obvious absurdity to circling the wagons around gazillionaire Roy Singham while engaging in lefter-than-thou posing and deflecting any criticism by calling it “red-baiting.”

    A further irony is that we’ve all been conditioned by Noam Chomsky and FAIR, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, to obsessively examine the funding sources of media, and it’s become a rather predictable trope in online left discourse… Someone posts something inconvenient to your propaganda from the New York Times or whatever, and the response is, “Well, that’s the corporate media, what do you expect them to say?” But if the New York Times runs something convenient to your propaganda, then the response is, “See? Eventhe corporate media admits…. bla bla bla…” It works either way. Brilliant, eh? C’mon admit it, you’ve heard both these lines. That really gives the game away, doesn’t it?

    But when the New York Times itself does a little of the Chomsky-FAIR routine on a group on the supposed “left,” examining their funding to see how it might have influenced their political line—then they’re all like, “Wah wah, red-baiting!” Ah, shaddup.

    And how has it influenced their political line, in fact? That’s rather self-evident.

    Back in February, CodePink protesters interrupted a hearing of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, called to discuss the so-called spy-balloon fiasco and the growing tensions over Taiwan. The signs the protesters held before they were removed by Capitol Police read “China is not our enemy” and “Stop Asian hate.”

    Now both of these slogans are so deeply cynical because they are appealing to and exploiting people’s genuine and warranted alarm at ugly anti-Asian xenophobia, which is of course very much in evidence these days, and has repeatedly turned deadly from coast to coast.

    Let’s examine the first slogan, “China is not our enemy”—akin to that which we discussed in last week’s podcast as popular on both the MAGA right and the pseudo-left, “Russia is our friend.” This one at least is a little less openly stanning. Yeah, no—in a certain sense “China is not our enemy.” But this is playing the obfuscatory pronoun game. Who is “we”? And who is China? All 1.4 billion Chinese nationals? Maybe “China,” quote-unquote, isn’t the enemy of “we” Americans—but Xi Jinping and the CCP and the ruling elite in Beijing are surely the enemy of the Uyghurs, the Tibetans, the Hong Kongers, and the Taiwanese. And I submit that if by “we,” we mean progressive people around the world who oppose ethnic persecution, they should be our enemy too. And, as I’ll argue later, these same rulers are also the exploiters and oppressors of the broad masses of Han Chinese.

    And the second slogan, “Stop Asian hate”—that’s a slogan that really emerged from the grassroots. There are murals in Chinatown here in New York City, painted by local community groups I have total 100% respect for, reading “Stop Asian hate.” And every time I see those murals, I’m encouraged. But to wed this slogan to a slogan essentially, in its intent, in support of the ultra-oppressive Chinese state is to play into the ugly propaganda that would tar all ethnic Chinese, the 5 million or so in the United States and I suppose the 1.6 billion worldwide, as all suspect and potential agents of the CCP. They, CodePink, are doing exactly what they accuse their critics of! If you are going to rally around the regime that is oppressing the people of China, please keep “Stop Asian hate” out of it, thank you.

    Now, up till recently, it has mostly been Russia that has been cultivating both the MAGA right and the so-called anti-imperialist “left” in the West, and the accusations of “red-baiting” been aimed at those who have called out this sinister alliance.

    And I’ve been responding thusly, not that anyone ever listens to me….

    For starters, the Cold War is over, or at least the last more ideological Cold War is over; Russia is not communist, not even in name; Russia is capitalist to the core; Putin is a fascist not a communist, a Great Russian chauvinist who has long been instating a social-reactionary program at home (now actually becoming an outright dictatorship), in league with loyal capitalist oligarchs, reviving czarist paramilitary outfits like the Cossacks and turning them into mercenaries for his imperialist wars (plural: Ukraine, Syria, now West Africa). Putin hates Lenin, sees him as an enemy of Russian nationalism, has brought the remains of Anton Denikin, leader of the anti-Bolshevik White Russian resistance, back to Moscow to be reinterred with honors. He glorifies the empire of the czars, and has encouraged a personality cult around Peter the Great… What does opposing this regime have to do with “red-baiting” or “McCarthyism”? Absolutely nothing. A completely empty accusation. And all you guys who are spreading Putin’s war propaganda, about how the invasion of Ukraine was “provoked,” and Ukraine should capitulate and cede territory, are doing so in league with Tucker Carlson, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Elon Musk, Marine LePen, and the Trumpian and neo-fascist right generally. So where Russia is concerned, you can take your accusation of “red-baiting”… and shove it.

    Now, with the People’s Republic of China it is slightly complicated by the fact that China is still ruled in the name of a Communist Party and purports to be socialist, and as Xi has consolidated his personalistic dictatorship, as opposed to the party dictatorship that had obtained since Deng Xiaoping, he’s also adopted Mao-nostalgic rhetoric and imagery. But this was, as we’ve discussed before, unambiguously exposed as very empty and transparent in 2018, when workers attempted to form an independent union at Jasic Technologies, a privately owned manufacturer of welding equipment in Shenzhen, and were of course fired. And Marxist and Maoist students, mostly from Peking University, began to organize in their support, and several were arrested, and there was what the students decried as a “white terror” at the Peking University campus. Most notorious was the case of Yue Xin, who was then 22 years old, and in addition to being involved in activism in support of the Jasic workers, had also accused the Peking University authorities of tolerating sexual harassment. And Yue Xin was disappeared—seemingly detained extrajudicially and held incommunicado at a unknown location. I believe that her whereabouts remain unknown even today, although she did briefly reappear about a year after her arrest to make an obviously forced confession and recantation that was released on video. All extremely chilling.

    And all of this as Xi Jinping was emerging as the new Maoist-style “paramount leader,” pushing through constitutional changes that allow him to be president for life. And the CCP constitution was amended to officially enshrine “Xi Jinping Thought,” supposedly building on Mao Zedong Thought just as Mao built on Stalin and Lenin and Marx and Engels. Well, I say that Xi Jinping Thought is Mao in rhetoric, and Augusto Pinochet in practice.

    And China has really been moving toward this, although much more rapidly under Xi, since the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989, when China’s tentative inkling of a democratic opening came dramatically to an end—but absolutely not the transition to capitalism, which only gained velocity in the following years.

    And this was anticipated by the late William Hinton in his 1990 book on Deng Xiaoping’s capitalist conversion, The Great Reversal. Hinton of course is most famous for the book Fanshen, published in 1966, a “documentary of revolution,” as he called it, which chronicled the land reform program in the 1940s in a village in Shanxi province. Now, Hinton was obviously a partisan of the Chinese Revolution and had a rather uncritical view of Mao Zedong, which I do not share. Just need to make that clear. Nonetheless, his view of the massacre is very instructive. In the very opening words of The Great Reversal:

    June 4, 1989, stands as a stark watershed in China’s modern history. The slaughter of unarmed civilians by units of the Peoples Liberation Army as they blasted their way to Tiananmen Square illuminated the “reform” era as nothing else could. It lit up, like a bolt of cosmic lightning, the reactionary essence of China’s current leading group.

    This essence was known to many in China and to some abroad long before the lightning struck in June 1989, but most members of the Western media and academic world were too mesmerized by China’s reform rhetoric and market progress to apprehend the reality of the events unfolding before their eyes. Since privatization matched their prejudices and a consumption boom confirmed its validity, they preferred not to look too closely at the underlying currents of economic dislocation, infrastructural decay, environmental degradation, social disintegration, cultural malaise, and rising class antagonisms that threatened to unravel the fabric of Chinese society.

    Mao Zedong was far more astute. More than twenty years ago during the Cultural Revolution, he exposed Deng Xiaoping, Yang Shangkun [who would, interjecting here, serve as president when Deng was so-called paramount leader], and most of their “hard line” colleagues as capitalist roaders. He accurately predicted that if such persons ever came to power they would transform the Communist Party into a revisionist party and finally into a fascist party and then the whole of China would change color.

    The surprising thing is not how accurate Mao’s prediction turned out to be, but rather how quickly it materialized in history.

    The opening passage of The Great Reversal: The Privatization of China 1978-1989 by William Hinton, Monthly Review Press, 1990.

    So… Was the Tiananmen massacre in spite of China’s capitalist transition, as is popularly assumed in the West, or a function of it? Was it a “red terror,” as is popularly assumed by both the regime’s defenders and detractors? Or, on the contrary, was it a white terror—a terror of anti-communist reaction? I say that the subsequent generation of massive capitalist conversion reveals it as the latter.

    On June 4, 1989, China’s rulers proved to the world that they were willing to slaughter their own citizens in the interests of “stability.” They were rewarded with massive investment, as Chile was after Gen. Pinochet’s similar demonstration of September 11, 1973. And the horrific conditions at the Guangdong factories that produce hi-tech gadgetry for Apple at minimal labor costs are the clearest evidence why this demonstration worked.

    In the years after the massacre, despite brief and weak sanctions in the immediate aftermath, US investment poured into China. In the 1990s, China received “most favored nation” status from the United States, made permanent in 2001, the same year China was allowed to join the World Trade Organization. Essentially, China’s rulers were rewarded by the West for the massacre.

    Now, a generation later, it seems like some in the West have had a rude awakening, as China is today rapidly building its military power and challenging the West, at least for control of its immediate backyard, so to speak, what in Beijng’s official parlance is called the “First Island Chain,” including the South China Sea and Taiwan. But what’s happening now is really the culmination of Deng’s longterm strategy.

    Deng’s famous slogan was “hide your strength, bide your time,” which in retrospect is revealed to mean using Western capital to build Chinese capital, and eventually be able to vie for Great Power status on the global stage. Today, more than a generation after the Deng era, China has built up enough economic power for its national bourgeoisie, in Marxist terms, which is synonymous or near-synonymous with the upper echelons of the CCP, that they feel they are now approaching the ability to challenge the US and the West in the struggle for global primacy. So Xi, in contrast to Deng, is clearly now challenging the West rather than wooing it. But he is equally capitalist. The New Cold War between the US and China is unburdened of the ideological baggage of the first Cold War. It is a plain old rivalry between capitalist Great Powers.

    Biden is sort of playing to nostalgia for the first Cold War by casting it “democracy” versus “authoritarianism,” but you certainly can’t pretend that it has anything to do with capitalism versus communism or socialism.

    And now, with both the military threats to Taiwan and the mass internment of the Uyghurs, the People’s Republic of China is adopting two other elements of fascism—territorial revanchism, and demonization and persecution of an internal ethnic “other.”

    So it is now beyond a mere fascistic Pinochet-type state. Xi Jinping Thought, in practice (at least), is, like Putinism and Trumpism, an updated variant of actual fascism, with concentration camps and all the trappings. And this is the regime that CodePink and its cohorts are shilling for.

    Let’s examine some other examples of that shilling.

    There’s a petition on the CodePink website, “Tell Congress China Is Not Our Enemy!” The petition scolds Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen for having had the temerity to host then US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in Taipei in August 2022. Pelosi’s visit, the petition says, “crossed China’s redlines and escalated tension in the Taiwan Strait.” So this is conceding to China the right to impose “redlines” on Taiwan’s behavior, loaning legitimacy to the chauvinist line that Taiwan isn’t a “real” country, but a breakaway province of China—the same kind of annexationist stance Putin has toward Ukraine and Bibi Netanyahu has toward the West Bank.


    A few months later, Tsai’s party lost the election. In early April, after meeting with Speaker McCarthy in the US, Tsai was protested by the people as soon as her flight landed.

    Wow, that’s a lot of distortion to pack into two sentences. OK, we should make clear here that the “election” in question, that of November 2022, means Taiwan’s local elections—Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party continue to rule on the national level. And local elections in Taiwan are certainly less linked to the question of relations with China than national and presidential elections. But note the even worse distortion here…. “the people” protested Tsai Ing-wen as her plane arrived back in Taiwan after her US trip? “The people”?

    So a handful of protesters at the airport, it looks like maybe a coupla hundred at the most, constitute “the people” of Taiwan? Really? The protest only seems to have even been reported on by Chinese state media, where the video footage on CGTN is shamelessly hyped up with lurid and dramatic background music. And it was evidently organized by such entities as the Chinese Unification Promotion Party, a pro-Beijing fringe party in Taiwan with a reputation for intimidating pro-independence activists. Not exactly “the people.”

    And dig this headline from Newsweek on April 5, during Tsai’s trip: “China Offers Protesters $400 Each to Disrupt McCarthy-Tsai Meet—Report.” Quote:

    A senior diplomat at China’s consulate in Los Angeles is coordinating demonstrations to try to disrupt a private engagement on Wednesday between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, according to Taipei’s Liberty Times newspaper.

    The work is being personally overseen by Li Chunlin. The deputy consul general hopes to mobilize “more than 1,000 people” with individual payments averaging $400, the publication wrote on April 4. The Liberty Times cited information obtained by Taiwanese and American intelligence agencies.

    Now I don’t know if this is true or not, but it’s naive to dismiss the notion that mainland money is being used to buy astroturf protests in Taiwan. “The people,” eh?

    OK, back to the CodePink petition… Listen to this blatant piece of annexationist propaganda:

    The US is losing credibility by claiming that China wants to attack Taiwan, when it views Taiwan as part of its territory.

    My god, they actually wrote that! So if China attacks Taiwan, as it is threatening to more and more openly by sending warplanes and missiles into the Taiwanese side of the strait, it wouldn’t really be an attack because Taiwan is already Chinese territory—is that what they mean? If so, that’s pretty sinister and twisted.

    And more from the petition:

    The US already has almost 300 military bases surrounding China. In January 2023, the Marine Corps opened a new base in Guam.

    “300”? “Surrounding”? Really? Uh, will you please look at a map? Guam is some 2,000 miles from China, and while the US certainly has forces a lot closer than that, in Japan and South Korea… uh, do you really think the US has military bases in Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Kashmir, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberia? Really? That is simply hallucinatory. The US certainly does not have “military bases surrounding China,” and if you think it does, you either need to consult a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word “surrounding,” or consult an atlas and get a better sense of the geography. Because that claim is transparently and obviously bogus.

    It should also be noted that the new Marine base on Guam is to house troops who have been transferred from Okinawa—which is much closer to China! So what is being portrayed as an encroachment toward China’s shores is actually a retreat! A reversal of reality.

    OK now, am I happy that Tsai Ing-wen met with McCarthy or even Pelosi? No, I think it’s tragic that the threat of Chinese aggression has forced Taiwan’s leadership to look to US imperialism for protection. That’s a really good reason to oppose Chinese aggression—as well as Taiwan’s right to self-determination, of course. Oh yeah, that.

    What particularly irks me about CodePink and other groups in their network like World Beyond War, who we discussed last week, is their obnoxious hippie aesthetic. I mean, the more sectarian tankie factions like Workers World have this hard-left, humorless image, with their 1930s time-warp aesthetic and black sans-serif block letters. While CodePink has this real friendly, California hippy-dippy, crunchy-granola, peacenik aesthetic, with peace sings and images of children and pastel colors. As they are shilling for the worst regimes on the planet. This is what I call hippie fascism, which unfortunately is not as much of an oxymoron as it superficially seems.

    Another group in this same network, also mentioned in the Times story, is No Cold War. Their online statement is entitled: “A New Cold War against China is against the interests of humanity.” Again, a subtly manipulative title that superficially sounds pretty good but is actually very insidious. Note that it reads “against”—not “no Cold War ‘with’ China” but against China. As if all the aggression were on the part of the US, and the People’s Republic of China were just an innocent victim, as it threatens Taiwan with warplanes and missiles. And this construction conflates the interests of the Chinese state with those of “humanity.” If only we could develop a sharp Chomskyan eye for propaganda when it comes to looking at the rhetoric from our “own” side! 

    OK, now let’s briefly review some of the criticisms of the “McCarthyism is Back” statement to have emerged from within the left. There is one on the Foreign Policy in Focus websiteby Dan La Botz and Stephen Shalom, entitled “We Oppose McCarthyism and Apologizing for China: Here’s how to oppose Cold War rhetoric and still be an internationalist who supports democracy and human rights.” It’s not a bad statement, but the headline is slightly problematic. I take issue with both the words “McCarthyism,” which it isn’t, and “China.” The problem isn’t the 1.4 billion people of China, but the dictatorship they suffer under. And this, unfortunately, is a very critical distinction in the current intellectually polluted atmosphere.

    A better statement is offered by the Taiwanese writer and activist Brian Hioe on his website New Bloom: “‘New McCarthyism’ Petition Illustrates Western Leftists’ Failure of Internationalism.” I will briefly quote a passage:

    It proves highly ironic that many of these groups have lashed out at critics in the past with the claim that they are funded by the NED or CIA to try and delegitimize them, but when it turns out that they themselves receive significant funding from a shadowy tech multimillionaire, they feel little need to account for such accusations.

    Well said, Brian. Yeah, ironic indeed.

    Another international statement on this affair is from a seemingly new group called Socialist Middle East, which appears to be very Trotskyist, which I am not. But their headline is very refreshing and I heartily applaud it: “The Aim of Socialism Must Be to Emancipate the Human Race from the Inhumane and Reactionary Forces of Multipolar Imperialism!”

    Very good! Exactly! This whole naive and utopian view of so-called “multipolarism,” also much in evidence in all the tankie enthusiasm for the BRICS summit in South Africa this week, needs to be critiqued and repudiated. This notion that we have to support the up-and-coming imperialism of China and the resurgent imperialism of Russia, merely because they oppose the entrenched and globe-spanning imperialism of the US, is a grave error and an obvious betrayal of anti-imperialist principles. And especially given the ultra-reactionary nature of the regimes in power in Russia and China, cultivating illusions about these regimes ultimately undermines our own ability to oppose the consolidation of homegrown American fascism in the form of MAGA and Trumpism, which is the primary and urgent task of progressive forces in the US at this moment. Because we could be going right back into a fascistic situation here in the United States next year.

    And the “peace” of fascistic powers dividing the world into spheres of influence is not the peace that I want to see, thank you very much.

    This has been Bill Weinberg with the CounterVortex. Check us out online at CounterVortex.org, where everything I’ve been ranting about is all blogged up, hyperlinked and documented. Support us on Patreon. CounterVortex is not being funded through “nonprofits flush with at least $275 million in donations”! We remain a struggling shoestring operation and need more Patreon supporters to keep going with the podcast at this level of activity. Sign up for just one or two bucks a week, which comes to about what a damn Starbucks latte costs per month. Just do it: Patreon.com/countervortex.

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    Cross-post to the Oakland Socialist