Pseudo-left ‘monsterphilia’ hits bottom

A blog with the ostentatiously idiotic name of the AntiMedia (as if all blogs were not, by definition, part of "the media") unintentionally reveals how the current "leftist" (sic) vogue for monsterphilia—exalting dictators and war criminals as paragons of order and stability, if they affect even the most transparent anti-US posture—actually means an embrace of values utterly antithetical to everything the left has traditionally stood for… 

Before the French Revolution and its Reign of Terror, Louis XV predicted, "After me, the Deluge." Before being overthrown, Libya's secular dictator tried to warn the West of a new Reign of Terror, essentially foretelling, "After me, the Jihad."

This was disclosed with the recent release of phone conversations from early 2011 between Muammar Gaddafi and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The West was then gearing up to use unrest in Libya as a pretext for military intervention and regime change. Gaddafi desperately tried to convey through Blair the folly of such a war, pleading that he was trying to defend Libya from Al Qaeda, which had set up base in the country. He said:

"They have managed to get arms and terrify people. people can't leave their homes… It's a jihad situation. They have arms and are terrorising people in the street."

Gaddafi's warning went unheeded, and NATO, led by the U.S. and France, launched an air war that toppled Libya's government. Later that year, Gaddafi (himself a brutal oppressor, like all heads of state) was forced out of a drainage pipe, and then beaten, sodomized, and shot in the street by a mob. His corpse was then draped over the hood of a car…

Since then, Gaddafi has been proven tragically right. As Libya descended into civil war and failed-state chaos, jihadi groups connected to Al Qaeda conquered much of the country. Libya underwent the same American "liberation" that had already befallen Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia—and would soon be visited on Syria and Yemen.

Now, there are many things that could be said about this egregious passage. We also noted Qaddafi's play to the West as an anti-terrorist bulwark—the kind of thing that used to be seen as a cynical propaganda strategy back when the left typically opposed dictators, or at least those who appealed to Western leaders. We could point out that the "left" has its own love-hate relationship with jihadism; e.g. the jihadists in Syria now being baselessly portrayed as CIA creations are exactly the same ones that "leftists" were so recently rooting for in Iraq. We could point out that the notion that it was NATO's "air war that toppled Libya's government" completely denies any role for the Libyan people and their revolution—betraying a kind of perverse patriotism or imperial narcissism that makes it all about us. We could call out the dishonesty of conflating the arbitrary invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 with an air campaign in support of an indigenous uprising in Libya in 2011. We could point out that this touching concern for the extrajudicial execution of Qaddafi squares poorly with the blithe unconcern for his victims—or those of the greater monster Bashar Assad, who is now carrying out a systematic "extermination" of detainees in his areas of control, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Indeed, "leftist" commentators consistently sought to cover up Qaddafi's crimes in the spring of 2011, even as he openly threatened "rivers of blood." Today's Qaddafi-nostaligists engage in unseemly gloating over the chaos in Libya, more interested in indulging their schadenfreude than actually trying to extend any solidarity to the Libyans—or even understand what is happening in the country. They certainly do not acknowledge how Qaddafi's suppression of civil society for 40 years bears responsibility for the collapse that followed his fall. Far less do they show any concern for the secular and pro-democratic forces in Libya, who need our solidarity today just as they did in 2011.

But all those are small and incidental points compared to the historical analogy employed by the writer of this openly reactionary spiel, one Dan Sanchez. The actual origin of the terms "left" and "right" goes back to the French Revolution. So two centuries later it has actually come to this. The "left" is today so thoroughly suspicious of revolution that is acceptable to invoke Louis XV as a favorabe figure, and implicitly embrace the "stability" of his oppressive rule as favorable to the "terror" of Jacobins. The contemporary "left" is no longer worthy of the name. It can now be officially considered the pseudo-left. It still employs anti-war rhetoric, opposes the West, and thinks of itself as the "left." But its actual politics are anything but: reactionary, anti-democratic, counter-revolutionary.

Just a few days ago, we had to call out Counterpunch for actually running a piece by Bouthaina Shaaban, official public relations advisor for the genocidal regime of Bashar Assad. This has elicited little outrage, and "leftist" friends and Facebook "friends" continue to happily share material from Counterpunch as if it were a legitimate source. 

This is partially a reaction to the "color revolutions" that were encouraged (not created) by the West to remove unfriendly regimes, and to the neocon hubris that in the Bush era sought to bring down virtually every Arab government. This has driven much of the "left" into a convergence with the rival paleocons—that faction of the policy elite that prefers "stability" under authoritarian regimes. We even had to call out such liberal icons as Dennis Kucinich for embracing this kind of politics. Most of the left now suffers from a depraved police state fetish that glorifies dictators and views any protest or resistance as foreign-inspired subversion—ironically the precise propaganda long employed against leftists in the United States! ("Go back to Moscow!") With the new Ukraine revolution, "leftists" again made the same error. Rather than seeing a revolutionary process fraught with contradiction, even (Heaven forbid!) a dialectical struggle, the whole affair was dismissed as astroturf or even a fascist uprising. This ironically drove many leftists into the hands of the annexationist Russo-fascists, leading to the utterly depressing phenomenon of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism!

Are we the only ones who feel completely through the looking glass here? As we have had too many reasons to ask in recent years: Remember when the left used to fetishize balaclavas and Molotov cocktails? Today it seems to more often fetishize police uniforms and truncheons. (Or, in the case of Libya and Syria, heavy artillery.) What's up with that?

Another contributing factor to this pathology is the correct perception that we have a greater responsibility to protest atrocities carried out with our tax-dollars and in our name. But this logic is only valid in assigning a priority to what we protest. It is today interpreted to mean that we must maintain hermetic silence on any atrocities not committed by the US and its most obvious client states such as Israel. Worse, it has warped into an analytical double standard whereby any such atrocities must be forgiven and justified. Of course, this is completely counter-productive. By loaning active propaganda to the atrocities of Qaddafi or Assad (in his case, actual genocide at this point) or Putin, we lose all moral credibility to hold US imperialism to account.

And if this error was perhaps forgivable in the Cold War, when "leftists" cut slack for Stalin and his Kremlin successors, it is no longer so. First, the damn Cold War is over, and one would hope the left would learn from its mistakes of that era. And the Soviet Union, whatever it ultimately deteriorated into, was in fact born in a revolution, and its leaders purported to lead a "Socialist bloc." Qaddafi and Assad came to power in military coups (the latter actually inheriting a coup-installed regime from his father in monarchical manner), their regimes more informed by fascism than socialism.

At least in the Cold War, the left, for all its errors, could legitimately be called a left. Today's post-left is a pro-fascist pseudo-left.

  1. Oh, and don’t forget anti-Semitism

    If you look at the comments on the AntiMedia page where the story we critiqued appears, you will find that the very first one (with 25 "likes"!) is…

    Gary Blake
    Gaddafi was taken out for only one reason …. Lybia did not have a Zionist Rothschilds World Bank ….. PERIOD!

    Note that he can't even spell Libya. And if you go to this fool's Facebook page, it is full of hippie peace-and-love imagery, and his banner is even the "Co-Exist" emblem, with the world religious symbols. That says it all. Clueless hippies embracing fascism—probably without even quite realizing it.

  2. Jeffrey Sachs peddles Syria conspiracy theory

    Another case in point. Jeffrey Sachs, the now supposedly repentant author of "shock treatment" economics in Latin America and the former East Bloc, has a Hillary-bashing piece in the supposedly "liberal" Huffington Post now being avidly forwarded by Bernie Sanders supporters. It peddles a completely fictional and myopically US-centric view of what has happened in Syria over the past five years…

    As every knowledgeable observer understands, the Syrian War is not mostly about Bashar al-Assad, or even about Syria itself. It is mostly a proxy war, about Iran. And the bloodbath is doubly tragic and misguided for that reason.

    Not about Syria? The height of imperial arrogance. And not about Assad? Tell that to the Syrians, Jeffrey. Oh, we forgot. They don't matter in the imperial accounting. Apparently, "every knowledgeable observer" does not include the Syrians!

    [Clinton] joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and right-wing Israelis to try to isolate, even defeat, Iran. In 2010, she supported secret negotiations between Israel and Syria to attempt to wrest Syria from Iran's influence. Those talks failed. Then the CIA and Clinton pressed successfully for Plan B: to overthrow Assad.

    When the unrest of the Arab Spring broke out in early 2011, the CIA and the anti-Iran front of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey saw an opportunity to topple Assad quickly and thereby to gain a geopolitical victory. Clinton became the leading proponent of the CIA-led effort at Syrian regime change.

    In early 2011, Turkey and Saudi Arabia leveraged local protests against Assad to try to foment conditions for his ouster. By the spring of 2011, the CIA and the US allies were organizing an armed insurrection against the regime. On August 18, 2011, the US Government made public its position: "Assad must go."

    Again, the Syrians themslevs don't matter. They are not even bit players in their own drama. It is all about the Great Powers and their machinations. The protest movement that began the Syrian Revolution in March 2011 is completely invisible to Sachs, except inasmuch as it served the geopolitical interests of outside powers. This used to be exactly the kind of thinking that the "left" rejected. What happened?

    1. Stephen Kinzer embraces monsterphilia

      Yet more blame-the-victim bullshit on Syria is provided by Stephen Kinzer in the Boston Globa, with the hilariously ironic headline "The media are misleading the public on Syria." (So Kinzer and the Globe are not part of the "media"? Interesting thesis.) Kinzer shamelessly trumpets the outright lie that the "Syrian Arab Army, which is led by President Bashar Assad, is the only force on the ground, along with their allies, who are fighting ISIS." In other words, identical crap that one sees on Counterpunch—whose self-deluded readers ironically think they are getting some kind of radical "alternative" to the much-maligned "MSM." Utterly pathetic.

      1. Stephen Kinzer called out on monsterphilia

        Idrees Ahmad on Medium has a much-welcome take-down Kinzer's Assad-shilling bulshit, aptly entitled "Aleppo is our Guernica — and some are cheering on the Luftwaffe." Ahmad noted some really sick shit from Kinzer that we missed:

        This article was a sequel to another, published three days after Russia started a series of attacks on MSF-run hospitals, which was boldly titled: "On Syria: Thank you, Russia!" In it Kinzer prescribed that "Russia's policy should be ours: prevent the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s government, craft a new regime that would include Assad or his supporters, and then work for a cease-fire." However, to accede to the opposition’s demand for a cease-fire, he insisted, would be to "guarantee continued war". In a subsequent TV interview, Kinzer lauded the foreign policy wisdom of Donald Trump.

        How does it feel to be on the same side as Donald Trump, Counterpunch readers?

  3. From the Memory Hole: Syria, 2011

    Look at this amazing footage on Facebook of an anti-Assad demonstration in Latakia, Syria, 2011. This is how the Syrian Revolution started: secular, pro-democratic, hopeful, joyous, unarmed. All of you who failed to loan it any solidarity at the time, or enabled calumnies about it all being CIA astroturf, bear responsibility for the current disaster.

    You know who you are.

  4. More peacenik pro-fascism

    Oh, this is rich. The Thomas Merton Center, "Pittsburgh's Peace and Social Justice Center," is plugging on its Facebook page a talk on "The Role of Turkey in the Imperialist Intervention in Syria," featuring some hack from the pro-Assad (and poorly named) Party for Socialism and Liberation, and stating: "We will take a detailed look into the role that has been played by Turkey, a NATO member and a US ally, in the imperialist attempt to overthrow The [sic] government of Syria." The page is adorned with a peace sign and a dove with an olive branch.

    Isn't that cute? A peace sign and a dove as they spew about "the imperialist attempt to overthrow The [sic] government of Syria" (as if the overthrow of the genocidal regime would be a bad thing, and as if the Syrian people have not been trying to overthrow it for five years now), and give the floor to a pro-fascist pseudo-left faction. Clueless idiots accomodating utter evil and thinking it is all peace, luv and good vibes. Not that we haven't noted this phenomenon before.

    And Thomas Merton would shit, by the way.

  5. Et tu, Robert Kennedy Jr?

    Robert F. Kennedy is the latest stateside "progressive" to turn Assad regime shill, it appears. Moscow's state media outlet Russia Today is recycling his claims about how the Syrian insurgency was fomented for the supposed pipeline conspiracy—as if the oil companies and/or CIA could create a revolution out of thin air. As if there had been no peacefull, secular pro-democracy movement in Syria that was drowned in blood by the Assad regime. Utterly disgraceful. More of his recycling of regime propaganda can be read (of course) on the ironically named Popular Resistance—a publication all too eager to betray actual "popular resistance" in Syria! The most sickeningly ironic line in that piece is Kennedy's admonition for us "to look at history from the Syrians' perspective"—followed by the standard litany of US adventures and interventions in the Middle East. This from the same publication that consistently ignores the voices of actual Syrians fighting what has now become a genocidal regime! What towering arrogance. For the "Syrian perspective," we are not to turn to Syrians, but to a patrician blue-blood of the US political elite.

    And this is the contemporary American "left."

  6. ‘Leftists’ snitch out Syrian to Homeland Security….

    Each time we think the American "anti-imperialist" (sic) "left" (sic) has sunk to an unimaginable low, it manages to out-do itself. The Eternal Spring blog (seemingly dedicated to supporting the Arab Revolution, in spite of everything) reports:

    As has been reported in some (not nearly enough) media outlets, the head of the Syrian Civil Defence (Syrian volunteer rescue workers also known as the “White Helmets“, estimated to help saved more than 40,000 lives) Raed Saleh has been recently barred from entering the US to collect a humanitarian award won on behalf of the organisation.
    Now it has emerged that an American citizen has come out and claimed credit for Saleh’s barring and deportation, boasting that he had organised a “report campaign” of Saleh to the US Department of Homeland Security prior to his arrival – falsely reporting that Saleh was a member of “Al-Qaeda”. The American’s name is Scott Gaulke (Twitter Handle: @Navsteva), a pro-Assad, self-proclaimed left-wing “anti-imperialist” activist.

    The incriminating tweets follow.

    If you needed any more evidence that the "left" now represents values diametrically opposed to those it has traditioanlly represented… well, there you are.