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.