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Curious friends… October 13, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Reading how Richard Spencer et al had a ‘flash mob’ rally at Charlottesville which lasted all of, count ’em, fifteen minutes at the Robert E Lee statue, I was struck by this…

On Saturday, the protesters gathered at Emancipation Park near a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee. Spencer posted a video on Twitter showing the protest, in which opponents of the removal of the statue chanted “You will not replace us” and “We will be back”.

The Post reported that the crowd also chanted: “The South will rise again. Russia is our friend. The South will rise again. Woo-hoo! Wooo.”

The reference to Russia is intriguing isn’t it? Given nazism’s fairly clear cut thoughts as regards Slavic peoples one has to wonder just what brew and stew of noxious beliefs Spencer et al hold. Or is it that the proximate issue of white supremacy in respect of African Americans makes any racial ‘ideological’ constraints moot?

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1. GW - October 13, 2017

Identarianism is more current on the racist right than old-style Nazism. The theory goes that the world should be carved up into a plurality of ethnically pure cantons rather than that one master-race should take over the lot.

At least that’s the theory – it sounds like a recipe for war between conflicting master-races to me :-(.

Anyhow – this version is very popular in gangster-capitalist Russia (
presumably the ‘Slavic’ canton ) – where extreme levels of anti-semitism and Islamophobia are essential ingredients. The top-gangster in the Kremlin continuously flirts with identarianism, as does the Russian Orthodox church.

The alliance between US white-suprematists and this aspect of Russia is really not all that surprising.

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2. gendjinn - October 13, 2017

Have you seen enough instances these past few months of the differential in how the police manage these Nazi/right wing marches/protests as compared to other marches/protests? Have you seen the last month in St Louis or heard about the evening they first arrested all the camera operators of journalists, then all the journalists and then they went to town on the protestors while there was no one recording?

Have you heard how DeAndre Harris who was beaten by a group of Nazis in Charlottesville has now been arrested and is charged with assaulting one of his attackers?

Watch the documentary 13th amendment. Slavery never ended in the US, the police & judiciary are now the slavers. So please, tell me about the good slavers that must exist out there because I’m dying to hear that argument from a socialist.

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yourcousin - October 13, 2017

Dude,
Are you seriously still having this argument? You do realize you’ve been having it with yourself right? I’ll never understand how bombast is somehow equated to ideological purity or commitment.

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2017

I’m genuinely curious gendjinn what your comment has to do with the OP.

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gendjinn - October 13, 2017

Really?

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2017

The OP is about the manner in which neo-fascists in the US are talking about Russia. I’m not sure I see the connection between the topics of policing and the topic of neo-fascists shouting pro-Russian slogans. The other odd thing is that in your comment you strike a very confrontational tone as if somehow people on here are at fault in some way. I don’t get that either.

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gendjinn - October 13, 2017

Tone? C’mon now. ‘Sides, you know on the internet and in text tone easy to misconstrue, especially in the haste to reply while avoiding spelling/factual/html errors.

As if YC wasn’t responding without saying anything?

So look, imagine we’re in a pub half jarred and grinning while all this is being said. Cuz that is how I approach commenting online. Had enough flame wars in my misspent youth, waste of time.

Here’s my response to why they are connected.

1. The structures are created to be authoritarian, racist and violent: see the 13th documentary & The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal except for blacks who are three fifths of a person.” You’ve got to start believing people when they tell you who they are the first time.
2. Infiltration of police by militia and nazi groups.
3. Routine violation of law and constitution by police that goes unpunished for example in the ongoing protests in St Louis. DAPL has another slew of examples. The unending slaughter of unarmed minorities is another aspect of this problem.
4. The US prison population has exploded, creating a pool of slaves for example Louisiana, don’t miss the “good ones” dogwhistle. This is widespread, the governors mansion in Arkansas under the Clintons is an easy area to get reports on because of their enemies but this practice goes on pretty much everywhere. If they are not working for the state directly, they are working private businesses for less than Foxconn workers.
5. After 9/11 the militarization of the police ramped up (Obama put some limitations in place late in his term that have now been undone) & gave them permission to go after Muslims. They did. From our experience with the north we know what happens to a police force that is problematic that is then let off the leash on certain groups. There are no good ones there. They either left or are being harassed out – plenty of examples of this in youtube reporting. Try and find reports of whistleblowers being treated better than Serpico though. Not so easy.

You cannot talk about the problems of the right in the US without addressing the fundamentally racist, authoritarian and violent criminal justice systems of police, court and prison. That employ the legal system to strip minorities of their constitutional rights by convicting them of a felony. The overlap in the Venn diagram populations are too significant. The manner in which the police manage events by the right as compared to events by the left are stark. Youtube’s search function will give you all the evidence you could ever need.

So. Again. Until these fundamentally broken interlocking systems are addressed none of this will be addressed. Until then you are discussing a symptom, not the disease.

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gendjinn - October 13, 2017

Perhaps some dramatic markup: Gendjinn flung his arms wide, pint sloshing to the lip of the glass but not cresting, and like the veritable martyr Christ skewered on his cross of suffering, lamented to the sky “So please, tell me about the good slavers that must exist out there because I’m dying to hear that argument from a socialist.”

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2017

YC didn’t write the first comment above, so why drag in a discussion that hasn’t been engaged with previously as if he did? Isn’t that upping the heat unnecessarily?

Secondly, you write…

“You cannot talk about the problems of the right in the US without addressing the fundamentally racist, authoritarian and violent criminal justice systems of police, court and prison. That employ the legal system to strip minorities of their constitutional rights by convicting them of a felony. The overlap in the Venn diagram populations are too significant. The manner in which the police manage events by the right as compared to events by the left are stark. Youtube’s search function will give you all the evidence you could ever need.
So. Again. Until these fundamentally broken interlocking systems are addressed none of this will be addressed. Until then you are discussing a symptom, not the disease”

By the same token one could write that one couldn’t understand the nature of neo-fascism in the US without addressing the development of European far-right thought in the 1980s and 1990s and its influence on international neofascism. Or the role of masculinity in US society as exemplified in its most extreme forms. Or how unemployment in the rust belt has seen young people radicalised by the right. And all would be equally irrelevant. Or rather they’d be all equally irrelevant to the subject at hand. And no one is talking about the ‘problems of the right in the US’, we’re talking about the attitude of the neo-nazi right to Russia.

As to the points you make 1 through 4, none of those – all of which are significant and severe problems come close to being slavery (bar perhaps the issue of prisons) which is how you framed your initial comment on this thread.

The problem with using very loaded rhetoric – ‘police are slavers’ ‘slavery never ended’ is that it’s so clearly open to critique that it’s not really very much use. Abysmal racially charged policing is different and distinct from slavery. Police, even racial policing, are different and distinct to slavers. And by the by, you’ve changed your argument re policing from last time. Then it was corrupt, etc. Now its slavers. That’s a hell of a change – and if you didn’t think polices were slavers last time why think they suddenly are now, and if you did why didn’t you mention it?

My worry is that by using such exaggerated language very specific and important terms are robbed of their accurate meaning. Policing in the US is hugely flawed, there’s no one here who would argue that it wasn’t. But if police are slavers, if slavery “never ended” in the US, then by implication the US is a slave state.

But that’s not something that Amnesty or any human rights organisation would argue (and with all due respect if that is the case then why would you still be there?) for the simple fact that it isn’t true. One could make a solid argument that South Africa under apartheid was close to a slave state, but it wasn’t quite there. But the distance between the US and South Africa is enormous – even with all the problems that there are in relation to racism and policing. And it’s key to keep in mind that slavery is not the same as repression. Northern Ireland under Stormont was repressive, it wasn’t slavery. It wasn’t close to slavery.

Amnesty argues in its latest report for example that there is ‘excessive use of force’, that ‘black men are disproportionately victims of police killings’ , that the use of ‘heavy duty riot gear and military weapons to police demonstrations raises concerns in terms of right to peaceful assembly’. They talk about ‘heavy responses’ to peaceful protests. There’s issues relating to prison conditions and the death penalty. Mention is made of racial aspects of the use of the death penalty.

Now, in that 2017 Amnesty Report there are eight mentions of slavery internationally and the US is not one of them. And that’s because in international law and human rights thinking such terms have very specific meanings.

Again none of this is to suggest for a moment that widespread discrimination against racial minorities doesn’t exist, or that policing is deeply flawed and compromised and part militarised, or that there are political and other constraints that are used.

But upping the ante and attacking people when they reject your analysis seems a bit… I don’t know, unnecessary.

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gendjinn - October 15, 2017

Please watch the documentary the 13th or read the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and get back to me. I have now pointed you at this evidence several times and each time you a) reject the statements & b) refuse to look at the evidence.

Or you could just read the language in the 13th amendment itself. This is not up for debate. That slavery as an institution never ended in the US is the literal truth.

Or you could just watch the video I provided of the Louisiana police literally stating their requirements for slaves.

Or you can continue to insert your head in the silica.

What you cannot do is later deny you were told the truth of the situation in the US. No different to those who stuck their head in the sand over the UDR, over the UDA, over the RUC, over the British Army in the north of Ireland. Things are much, much worse in the US and you have been told why the system is so inimical to minorities in the US.

But you want to shoot the messenger without ever looking at the evidence supplied. At least read the 13th amendment text, it’s less than a paragraph. Or you can just dismiss me as hysterical again. Even when I point out that RTE lied to you over the St Louis murder by cop, RTE reported a gun found in the car when it was proven the cop planted the gun (his DNA on it, none of the driver’s). RTE just reported a gun was found, leaving out that it was planted.

When the British Army murdered 14 in Derry, Dublin burned the British Embassy. Would you feel comfortable saying what you said to me, to them?

The same mindset, systems of government and institutions that permit these abuses of their own citizens have even less restraint overseas – Vietnam, Iraq, and on and on and on. The sickness cannot be addressed, until the sickness is addressed.

You have now dismissed these statements and refused to look at ANY of the evidence supplied. Even the US constitution. Again.

Again more worried about “tone” and “confrontation”.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2017

Please watch the documentary the 13th or read the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and get back to me. I have now pointed you at this evidence several times and each time you a) reject the statements & b) refuse to look at the evidence.

Or you could just read the language in the 13th amendment itself. This is not up for debate. That slavery as an institution never ended in the US is the literal truth.

Slavery as an institution did end in the US. Any serious analysis suggests

Or you could just watch the video I provided of the Louisiana police literally stating their requirements for slaves.

Or you can continue to insert your head in the silica.

What you cannot do is later deny you were told the truth of the situation in the US. No different to those who stuck their head in the sand over the UDR, over the UDA, over the RUC, over the British Army in the north of Ireland. Things are much, much worse in the US and you have been told why the system is so inimical to minorities in the US.

But you want to shoot the messenger without ever looking at the evidence supplied. At least read the 13th amendment text, it’s less than a paragraph. Or you can just dismiss me as hysterical again. Even when I point out that RTE lied to you over the St Louis murder by cop, RTE reported a gun found in the car when it was proven the cop planted the gun (his DNA on it, none of the driver’s). RTE just reported a gun was found, leaving out that it was planted.

I’d be interested where you can say I have called you hysterical. But you have over weeks insulted people on here for their supposed faults in not agreeing with your suggestions . There’s no serious analysis of these issues that doesn’t as I’ve said before accept there are huge problems in respect of policing, race, elections etc in various parts of the US. There’s also no serious analysis that suggests slavery as an institution exists in the US.

Now you say we’re the equivalent of slavery supporters or anti-nationalists. Seriously gendjinn, there’s a level of insult and frankly absurdity in your rhetoric that’s near enough impossible to deal with.

When the British Army murdered 14 in Derry, Dublin burned the British Embassy. Would you feel comfortable saying what you said to me, to them?

The same mindset, systems of government and institutions that permit these abuses of their own citizens have even less restraint overseas – Vietnam, Iraq, and on and on and on. The sickness cannot be addressed, until the sickness is addressed.

You have now dismissed these statements and refused to look at ANY of the evidence supplied. Even the US constitution. Again.

Again more worried about “tone” and “confrontation”.

I’ve pointed you to serious human rights organisations that analyse and work against slavery etc and they don’t believe slavery – whatever the very real repression of minorities through policing etc in parts of the US – exists there or that those repressions constitute slavery.

Here in this state there’s a discussion running about the attitude of Irish Americans to slavery whereby some of them (and white racists) downplay the African American experience by pretending that Irish were enslaved when in fact they were forced into indentured servitude. Both the latter and slavery were grim and appalling, but slavery was worse because of specific features. Slavery has specific features. Other repressions have specific features. Saying one is the equivalent of the other is problematic in the extreme as well as being inaccurate because it is seized on by racists to minimise the historical experience of African Americans. That is obviously not your goal but by making statements that are so clearly incorrect,and open to critique is pointless but more than that it undermines the very real and valid points you do make in relation to policing etc being oppressive. You can knock yourself out saying one is the equivalent of the other, but they’re not and nothing you say will make them so.

But again, if you seriously believed slavery was an institutional aspect of the US you’d leave. I know I would. Or I wouldn’t go in the first place. So either you don’t care about living in a state with slavery (which I don’t believe is the case because you are a sincere and committed person in opposition precisely to racism etc) or you don’t believe it is slavery and you’re just using this as a stick to beat up people who disagree with your analysis on the internet.

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gendjinn - October 13, 2017

I dunno. You always seem to bite without making any substantial point.

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3. CL - October 13, 2017

“from the streets of the Old South to European capitals… neo-fascist parties have found a new friend in the Kremlin….
In The Future is History, Gessen argues that nationalism and reactionary ideology arrived through the backdoor of a Soviet system that had never really collapsed…

Anton Shekhovtsov, …in his impressive Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir…. argues that overtures by Russia to far-right parties, and the eagerness of the latter to be co-opted, has been driven by — of all things — a mutual search for recognition and legitimacy….
https://www.ft.com/content/edb595d8-aeba-11e7-beba-5521c713abf4

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4. FergusD - October 13, 2017

So Putin is responsible for the rise of the far-right across Europe and the US as well as fixing the US election for Trump. Vlad is quite a guy! And all it takes is a few Facebook ads apparently.

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2017

Well, not responsible, but as with his warm welcome for a certain Le Pen at the Kremlin it is not difficult to see how he is willing to stir the pot as it suits him. In any event, isn’t the OP about the response of fascists in the US to Russia and how strange that is given the traditional race war rhetoric (and reality) of Nazism (against Slavic peoples)?

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EWI - October 15, 2017

In any event, isn’t the OP about the response of fascists in the US to Russia and how strange that is given the traditional race war rhetoric (and reality) of Nazism (against Slavic peoples)?

That was before they acquired some of the strong-man trappings of fascism, or course. In their worldview, it’s all based on survival of the fittest. You’d see the same gangster mentality among Trump’s circle, incidentally – all’s fair once you’re ‘strong’ enough to be one of the circle. Show weakness, however…

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5. FergusD - October 13, 2017

I think Putin would welcome any govt in the “West” that he thought would benefit Russia. I am not sure how much he is interested in the right in Europe per se, while being undeniably a supporter of a certain kind of gangster capitalism (as long as they are his gangsters) in Russia. My comment was more about the continuing line in the US and Europe that Putin is some kind of svengali, manipulating politics to his whim via hacking, social media and maybe even black magic.

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2017

Agreed some of this is overstated, but there does seem to be some evidence of Russian (albeit how high up the food chain it goes) interference in the last US election. But all that aside, and it’s not as if the US hasn’t done likewise, I am always concerned by leaders of states who overtly stand with fascists and neo-fascists. That is strong enough reason to consider Putin a problem.

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yourcousin - October 13, 2017

https://www.rferl.org/a/28737901.html

The above link is for a podcast featuring the author of the book that CL mentioned. Very good and informative.

And I get incredulity about the seeming “miracles” Putin is able to “accomplish”. But I would posit it’s not that Putin can tailor events to his whim so much that he can sow chaos or cause trouble. It just so happens that some things seem to have gone “his way” although a closer look would actually reveal a Russian economy in decline, an unpopular war in Syria with growing casualties (including a general), subsidizing a rebellion in Ukraine at a time when he is slashing budgets in his other Oblasts. Sacking multiple governors as well.

Indeed even though Trump and Brexit have “gone his way” Putin is still tethered to the likes of Assad, NK, and Iran. The deals made with China are very much lopsided to China’s favor and China is very much the senior partner. Hell even the Zapad exercises reveal a strain between Russia and Belarus.

So yeah Putin courts who he thinks is useful, from Die Linke to Jobbik. It’s not black magic, hell it’s not even particularly good strategy, but it has been some masterful tactics before the bill came due.

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6. FergusD - October 13, 2017

Out of interest and re: Russia’s involvement in everything this take on the Israeli claim of Kapersky/Russia hacking the US National Security Agency is interesting:

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/10/everyone-hacked-everyone-hacked-everyone-spy-spin-fuels-anti-kaspersky-campaign.html

I notice the German Secret Service has said it found no evidence of Kapersky acting as agents for Russian spies and continues to use Kapersky anti-malware software:

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/1.816838

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7. CL - October 13, 2017

Despite the focus of part of the MSM on the conspiracist notion that Trump defeated Hillary with Putin’s help there is no evidence that this happened, as Glenn Greenwald and Misha Gessen have pointed out. However the mutual admiration and ideological affinity between Putin and the far right needs to be explained.

Putin “anticipated the global populist revolt and helped give it ideological shape….
Trump’s analysis of the world does converge with Putin’s….”
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/03/its-putins-world/513848/

“Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization.”
http://buchanan.org/blog/putin-preeminent-statesman-times-126734

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FergusD - October 13, 2017

Is it not just “mutual admiration” (for a “hard man” with a nationalist agenda) and a common gripe with the “decadence” of the modern world as you say. I would think Putin’s embrace of nationalism and traditionalism was in response to the chaos following the collapse of the USSR, the intense Western interference in the former USSR at that time, expansion of NATO etc and his own political instincts. This chimed with quite a lot of Russians, much like Trump does, hit by capitalism red in tooth and claw. Similar kind of nationalist response to somewhat similar circumstances elsewhere, USA, UK, e.g. a real or perceived decline in national power and prestige by those brought up to value such things.

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Starkadder - October 13, 2017

“However the mutual admiration and ideological affinity between Putin and the far right needs to be explained…”

The Russian far-right of late Tsarist times were bellicosely anti-semitic and authoritarian.

This spilled over into other countries- most infamously, Baltic German Alfred Rosenberg read Tsarist-era anti-semitic books as a student, which influenced his later Nazi work. Henry Ford was introduced to the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” by Boris Brasol, a Russian émigré and former member of the Black Hundreds. Ion Mota, a member of the Romanian Iron Guard, also translated and popularised the “Protocols in his country.

Add to this the Slavophile tradition which argues Russia should be strongly differentiated from the West. In Putin and co.’s view, this means rejecting feminism, Church-State Separation, and especially LGBT rights, and it’s unsurprising that the far-right now admires Russia and sees it as a model.

And it’s not just Western ultra-rightists who admire Putin- in India, the fascistic Hindu Sena also love Vladimir P :

https://www.scoopwhoop.com/Day-Before-His-SwearingIn-Hindu-Sena-Held-A-Raj-Tilak-Ceremony-For-Donald-Trump/#.6ekgyxt1a

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2017

Very true Starkadder. The Black Hundreds were anti-left, anti-Jewish.

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Starkadder - October 13, 2017

“The Russian Roots of Nazism :White Émigrés and the Making of National Socialism, 1917–1945” by Michael Kellogg has info on the links between Tsarist reactionaries and the Third Reich, while “How Russia Made the Modern World” by Steven G. Marks has a chapter on far-right Russian émigrés and their links with fascism.

Seems despite their hatred of Slavs, the Nazis had no problem working with Russia anti-Semites. Marks points out the former Black Hundred
Gregor Schwartz-Bostunitsch was a close ally of Himmler.

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2017

I wonder was that a class thing – that the emigre’s were from a ‘higher’ class position and the Nazi’s waved some of them through.

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CL - October 14, 2017

The notorious protocols were a concoction of the Tsarist secret police but I’m not so sure that Tsarist links to fascism throw much light on Putins’s politics.
The Soviet Union lost 20 million defeating fascism and nazism.
Neither Trump nor Putin are fascists;. they are authoritarian, rightwing, populist nationalists so its not surprising that they have an ideological affinity with one another.

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yourcousin - October 14, 2017

The Soviet Union was just fine with Fascism as long as it was pointed west. That is always worth remembering.

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yourcousin - October 14, 2017

Again the “expansion of NATO” is a red herring. Because the subtext of that argument is that Russia still has veto over said countries foreign policy. And that the very countries who have been repeatedly invaded by Russia in the 20th century cannot enter into a defensive alliance that would offer them protection against just that. It’s kind of like NATO is health insurance but former Warsaw Pact countries have a pre existing condition that makes them ineligible.

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CL - October 14, 2017

“But the specter of an ideologically coherent and organizationally united Populist International — one that already controls Moscow and Washington — wrongly suggests that right-wing populism is an unstoppable electoral force.

In reality, liberal democrats are still much more united, ideologically and organizationally, than the right-wing populists.”

There is certainly no ideologically coherent international populism. Populism is so closely associated with nationalism that differences from country to country are inevitable. And there are those who deny that Putin is a populist, that he is a member of the elite. But then so is Trump, and Bersusconi.

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8. makedoanmend - October 13, 2017

Nonwithstanding all the analysis, the assertion that US white supremacists, given voice (it seems to me) by the very individual attributes Trump ascribes to himself, are seeking legitimacy beyond their own narrow prejudices by identifying with a wide range of groups across the globe. Most of the contact is tenuous, to say the least. Many powerful sources in the West, as it declines both economically and politically on the international stage, seek to find some modern day Goldfinger-Nero-Hitler master baddy combination in which to corral and distract the dissatisfied of local populations. The entire daily non-stop anti-Russian opinion pieces we are subjected to rings, at best, of cheap Chatham House propaganda and hysterics. (And it doesn’t hurt that Russia is a source of vast natural resources that the “West” would like to bring to market; their own privatised markets.)

If one wishes to seek out features of a totalitarian state, look no further than one’s own backyard. The UK, for example, is one of the most highly surveilled societies in world history, and the neoliberal capitalist state has given itself virtual freedom to build a national dossier bank on anyone they wish. We have only to look at the “peculiar” dealings against those charged with offences against certain personages recently to see how our own state isn’t exactly a bastion of democratic idealism nor operation. And as for creating wars, death, suffering and carnage on the global scale, the West is unsurpassed.

Sure Russian and Putin are not very kosher (understatement). But what is these days? I suggest we deal with our own houses first before seeking to tell other how they should arrange theirs.

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2017

Agreed a lot of this is tenuous, and again the OP was about how give the anti-slavic complexion of fascism all this seems weirdly contradictory – though no surprise there in relation to the far right.

That said, isn’t there a difference between telling people how to arrange their houses and acknowledging the reality of what those people are. It’s not for me to tell Russians what they should do, or demand Putin do x or y. But I would note that Putin has met a range of supposed ‘ex’ fascists and extreme nationalist etc (and anti-Russian voices in the west didn’t invent that) and I think it’s reasonable to draw ones own conclusion from that about what his politics are or indeed how they might impact more closely on us (which is of course another factor, none of this is in isolation). And the necessity to keep him at arms length. After all, how would we react say to Merkel, May or Varadkar meeting with Le Pen or equivalent and what would our analysis be on foot of any such meeting? I don’t think Putin is a fascist. I do think it’s troubling that he doesn’t mind consorting with far-right extremists (and his party has made no bones about that either).

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makedoanmend - October 13, 2017

Thanks for the reply.

Your point about the Putin’s meeting with far right extremists is valid, of course. It’s troubling. But it is not the cause of right wind extremism in the West, nor I would suggest is Russia fostering a right wing rebound in the West. The Merkel, May and Vadakar syndrome of neoliberal economics has done more to foster the rise of the Le Pen’s of this world than Putin the Impaler could hope to achieve, but he might have to deal with the consequences.

I see a Putin and a Russian government (of many people) willing to meet anyone who wields power (or has the potential to do so) in the West or in any other geographical orbit as a matter of state diplomacy, especially in light of Western hostility. Meeting doesn’t imply condoning the actions of others. It means he wants to see what he’s dealing with in the West in particular. At one time the Germans were masters of real politic in international matters and even met with and made agreements with commie Russians.

What I see now in the West in particular is a complete lack of statecraft. Merketet al seem to rely on domestic PR riffs and facile MSM opinion pieces to craft their foreign affairs. We only have to look at the weakness of the UK negotiations, negotiators and understanding of international agreements to see how far standards have dropped in a relatively short historical time span.

Putin has to deal with a perceived existential threat. There was a Gaurdian article not all that long ago that reported something along the lines of ‘the UK was sending troops to the Russian border in order to stop Russian aggression.’ Most people just don’t get the irony of that statement any more.

State craft is not domestic policy. You deal with what you’re presented. It is pure power relations. And as the West declines, it wants to hold Putin and the Russians (or the Chinese or the Iranians, etc.) to standards it wouldn’t follow itself. The West invades other countries with impunity murdering hundreds of thousands and then lectures the rest of the world about their domestics policies, cultural norms, or foreign relations.

Hell, shite Western democracy seems to have driven Russia and China into each other arms, and every passing year Western dis-diplomacy seems to cement that relationship. When one looks up inept in the dictionary, Western diplomacy is cited as an example.

If the West wants to wield a significant influence in the world beyond its current disastrous military neo-colonialism, it would need to do so through domestic example and a hard headed realism of what can be achieved through peaceful diplomacy. Unfortunately, it lacks both.

The current desire by our mogul owned MSM to print unending and mostly unfounded anti-Putin-Russian opinion pieces is nothing more than distraction from the West’s decline, imho.

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yourcousin - October 14, 2017

“nor I would suggest is Russia fostering a right wing rebound in the West.”

That is exactly what is happening though. Not metaphorically or figuratively, but literally.

“Putin has to deal with a perceived existential threat.”

Putin may feel like EU trade agreements are an existential threat, but that doesn’t make it so. There are a lot of people here in America who feel like they’re, “losing their country”. I don’t doubt their sincerity but it certainly does not justify their actions even if it does contextualize them.

When we argue about “Western decline” we’re not talking about entering into a more just multi polar world. Just the opposite. We are talking about bi polar/trip polar spheres of influence where things like democracy (both economic and political), human rights, environmental regulation etc are all very much negotiable because Chinese, Russian, African folks are not entitled to the blessings of liberty due to “cultural norms” and “what aboutism”.

If you look at the foreign loans that the Chinese make, they are everybit as predatory as the IMF.

Also I looked up “inept” and could not find Western Dimplomacy listed, but I did only check Websters and the OED.

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CL - October 14, 2017

The Downfall of the Occident has been going on for quite a while. Spengler’s influential book was published almost 100 yrs ago. Its still in print.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decline_of_the_West#Others_influenced_by_Decline

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makedoanmend - October 14, 2017

I’m sorry but I’m not convinced by your statements,

Maybe Putin the Impaler and the Russians are fostering a world wide far right wing conspiracy. I just haven’t come across a body of factual information to underpin that assertion.

Nato’s aggressive posturing on Russian borders is factual. The Russians have called for diplomacy – the West has reacted with a shit storm of MSM innuendo and numerous “war games”.

The vast majority of my comments with WBS were in the context of diplomacy and international statecraft and should be viewed in that context. Russian could, indeed, aide and abet right wing nutters in foreign countries in order to create internal instability. (And still, there is no factual evidence to back this statement.)

It’s not as if the US, UK and EU don’t to try to “influence” other nations populations across the globe with similar tactics albeit under different terms of reference.

As for your last statement. I suppose a ha ha is in order.

[As a general aside to the Web at large, I worry that so a large fraction of the Western populations think that the West is special and can dictate international affairs. Whilst I have no time for Putin, his policies or general attitudes, he is a head of a nuclear state. Also, Russia has some divergent and legitimate international concerns whatever its internal political status. That the West has turned to confrontation aligned with cartoonish depiction of foreign leaders in order to solve international problems is rather worrying.)

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makedoanmend - October 14, 2017

comments above to yourcousin

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2017

And likewise thanks for yours makedoandmend, genuinely appreciated.

But I do wonder if Russia isn’t fostering (far – which is really what we’re talking about) right wing rebound in the West (and is that quite the right term because what west are we talking about, the US is distinct from Europe etc) not because of particular ideological affinity (though having said that Russia doesn’t have a left wing government either) but because why else would Putin and United Russia be so coddling of Le Pen etc? It’s not for domestic consumption in Russia. And that immediately is an intrusion into the politics of our states (in the sense of European) and building linkages and connections with frankly the worst political elements in our states as well (United Russia has agreements with Lega Nord etc).

Moreover if what you suggest is correct and Russia is merely acting in the face of hostility from Western states – a bit overstated I’d have thought that given that Russia has actually reasonably strong links with many of those states – why would they self-identify with still marginal but utterly toxic political elements in them? Surely making links with oppositions, actual credible oppositions would make a lot more sense?

And rmeeting at state level does involved some condoning since these aren’t involuntary, Puntin isn’t forced to meet Le Pen, anything but. He surely isn’t meeting the AC of the WP or whoever. It’s entirely a choice on his part. Putin isn’t ‘presented’ with the FN or whoever. He has multiple options for peaceful diplomacy.

And I’m unsure why we should wave away this when we don’t with Berlusconi or whoever.

Then there’s the thought that hostility between Russia and the West is totally overblown on both sides. Commercial, trade and other links contiunue apace as do joint projects etc. There’s no real threat from Russia to the Baltics and likewise no real threat of any incursion on Russian territory from NATO.

There’s a further thought too. The constriction of democracy in Russia isn’t unreal, the annexation of Crimea wasn’t unreal either, the sense of Russia believing the Ukraine was its near abroad or whatever and having a right to determine what took place there wasn’t unreal either. One can accept that there are entirely negative dynamics in regard to the West(s) and contradictory ones too while also accepting that Russia has considerable agency as the regional power and legacy attributes of a global one.

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CL - October 14, 2017

Professor Stephen Cohen “For several years… has argued that the new Cold War is more dangerous than its 45-year predecessor, which, it is often said, “we barely survived.” …
https://www.thenation.com/article/the-new-cold-war-is-already-more-dangerous-than-was-its-predecessor/

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yourcousin - October 14, 2017

MDAM,
“I just haven’t come across a body of factual information to underpin that assertion.”

That’s why linked to the podcast and referenced the book that I did. It literally does just that. And not in the sense that the far right only exists because of Russia, but they are fostering a right wing rebound.

I would point out that that you are the only one using caricatures. I know you’re doing it ironically, but it adds nothing to the arguments being made.

I see a Putin and a Russian government (of many people) willing to meet anyone who wields power (or has the potential to do so) in the West or in any other geographical orbit as a matter of state diplomacy, especially in light of Western hostility. Meeting doesn’t imply condoning the actions of others. It means he wants to see what he’s dealing with in the West in particular

I agree that “Putinology” is a waste of time and energy. The relationship between the far right and Russia is far more in-depth than just a social mixer.

At one time the Germans were masters of real politic in international matters and even met with and made agreements with commie Russians.

I would hope you’re not referring the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, because that’s how it first appeared to me.

The working group of the Normandy Four would counter your claims that Europe/the West are absolutely inept at statecraft. I would argue their biggest flaw is allowing Russia to have it both ways in being treated as mediator when they are in fact a prime belligerent in the situation. Ineffectual though it may be it is operating on an “adult” level, if that makes sense.

And in fairness there was very much a strong contingent in Germany that argued for a realpolitik approach and were fine with Russian annexation of Crimea and the Donbas invasion. They were severely undermined when Russia blew MH-17 out of the sky. And that speaks volumes to my mind because as long it was Ukrainians dying it wasn’t worth getting worked up over but once real Europeans started dying it couldn’t be ignored.

What I see now in the West in particular is a complete lack of statecraft. Merkel et al seem to rely on domestic PR riffs and facile MSM opinion pieces to craft their foreign affairs. We only have to look at the weakness of the UK negotiations, negotiators and understanding of international agreements to see how far standards have dropped in a relatively short historical time span.

I would argue that Merkel has very much been restrained and professional in how she has dealt with Russia. To conflate the EU response to Russia (and lets admit it is primarily through the Ukrainian lens as that has been the focal point for the last couple of years) to the Tory Brexiteers is a stretch. But I would ask that if you are going to make such a claim as saying that Merkel is as inept as say Johnson then provide some evidence please.

There are many good sources of information about Russia and Russian government/politics etc. if one is even able to modicum of foot work. To argue that all information is biased/skewed or otherwise “facile” is buying into this idea of postmodern nihilism where there is bullshit overload.

Two off the top of my head are:

https://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/

and

http://seansrussiablog.org/

As to the argument that Russia being a nuclear armed power and then throwing up whataboutery about Western hegemony is off point. No one here is arguing that say Western interventions are good in and of themselves or that “we” are exceptional.

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9. deadmanonleave - October 14, 2017

There are strong arguments on both sides here, and the fact that I can’t jump down on one side or other worries me. When people miscommunicate and misunderstand, and control scary weapons and armies, the chances of a screw up are at least as scary as a demagogue like Trump or Putin deliberately doing something.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2017

Yes, and I’d be the first to argue that the engagement with Russia post-USSR was abysmal at many times. I also think opportunities were missed early on with Putin.

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10. sonofstan - October 14, 2017

This struck a chord:

We drove some 5,000km in western Russia, saw quite a lot of these villages and small towns. It’s a disaster. You can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism – public space has been dismantled, the roads are a mess, there are few shops left, the people are on their own.

“Funnily enough, it reminded me of what I’d seen in the southern US states. Of course, the level of development is better there, but I had this feeling of nothing being up to scratch. I remember laughing out loud when I was driving there and listening to Obama saying, ‘We have the best infrastructure in the world.’ It’s utterly ridiculous. That has nothing to do with communism, but I think it does have to do with neo-liberalism, the purest form of it – which we do not have in the western European continent.

From this:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/14/on-your-marx-meet-modern-day-communists-

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yourcousin - October 15, 2017

I can’t believe I’m doing this but…I went digging for that quote from Obama. This is all I could find from googling that quote in the Guardian.

“But we can do better. We can build better — and we have to. We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the next generation of cargo ships. We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare. (Laughter.) We’ve got leaky pipes that lose billions of gallons of drinking water every single day, even as we’ve got a severe drought in much of the West. Nearly half our people don’t have access to transit at all. And I don’t have to tell you what some of our airports look like.

Building a world-class transportation system is one of the reasons America became an economic superpower in the first place. But over the past 50 years, as a share of our economy, our investment in transportation has shrunk by 50 percent. Think about that. Our investment in transportation has been cut by half.

You know what other countries are doing? European countries now invest twice as much as we do. China invests four times as much as we do in transportation. One study recently found that over time, we’ve fallen to 19th place when it comes to the quality of our infrastructure — 19th place.”

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go and take a shower after defending Obama.

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/05/14/remarks-president-building-21st-century-infrastructure

I am definitely open to someone finding the actual quote, I just can’t.

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11. CL - October 15, 2017

“Putin’s Russia is a far-right political system characterised by authoritarianism, nationalism and populism – all these characteristics are intrinsic to the European extreme right, so co-operation between them seems like a natural process…
The Kremlin’s cooperation with the European extreme right, while reflecting the ideological affinity between the two parties, is a marriage of convenience for Putin who would be ready to dump his partners when he no longer needs them to implement his political and economic agenda.”-Anton Shekhovtsov
https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/anton-shekhovtsov/kremlin%E2%80%99s-marriage-of-convenience-with-european-far-right

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2017

I think that is very true. Isn’t the problem being that he seems to think it is fine to ally with them. And then there’s another issue I mentioned above. None of those parties appear able to break out fo the 10-15% bracket, nothing to be sneezed at but they’re simply not at the races as the dominant or even governing parties in almost any EU polity one can think of. And if that’s the case they’re kind of rubbish proxies for Russian soft influence – and I think it betrays a fundamental lack of understanding on Putin and his advisors part as to the nature of EU polities too that they think this is a sensible move. Or an opportunism about short term political trends that doesn’t speak of a longer strategic vision. Tbh and I generally are the idea of Russian omniscience is massively overrated it all seems a bit second rate and casting around for whatever tools are at hand to lever a fraction more influence or and I think this is more likely to seem to have influence during the past couple of years when Le Pen seemed more likely to make it (though again even there that was a very very long shot).

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CL - October 15, 2017

Yet just not too long ago Trump’s win and Brexit were inconceivable. Much concern about populist nationalism was expressed at the recent IMF meetings in Washington. So far the neoliberal extreme centre holds. But TINA is now in question by an upsurge from the extreme right.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2017

That’s true, but systems seem to be fairly resilient. And there’s a further problem that is true of the left as well as the far right. Brexit and Trump are kind of one-offs. Where is the next real scope for an EU Exit? Or the election of a far right leader to an EU state (we have two possible candidates already in situ but I’m talking about more clearly neo-nazi/post-fascist types than our pal Orban and the Polish crew). And that hast to happen not once or twice but multiple times. So again strategically unless Putin et al think neoliberalism of which they are de facto champions is collapsing and they’re immune to that then what’s the plan?

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CL - October 15, 2017

All kinds of anomalies, confusions, and inconsistencies are emerging,-morbid symptoms. Dugin, the Russian fascist celebrated Trump’s election but denounced him when he bombed Syria. Bannon having been ousted from the white house everyday announces that he is making war on the establishment. The populist nationalist victories of Trump and Brexit have thrown politics in UK and US into turmoil. Further developments are unknown.
There is always a danger that populist nationalism will regress into its close relative, fascism.

“‘Voting is under way in Austria in a snap election tipped to see conservative Sebastian Kurz, 31, become the European Union’s youngest leader and form an alliance with the far right”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/15/austria-set-to-elect-youngest-eu-leader-in-move-to-the-right

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2017

I would strongly share your fears in that regard CL.

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CL - October 15, 2017

“A trip by the top leadership of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) to Moscow, to sign a five-year working agreement with the United Russia party of Russian president Vladimir Putin, has sparked a political firestorm back home….
“Austria and Russia are part of the same paradoxical international alliance of nationalist parties.”
https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/136356

“Projections from the SORA polling organization had the People’s Party led by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz receiving 30.5 percent of the vote and the euroskeptic Freedom Party 25.9 percent. Both parties focused their campaigns on concerns about immigration and Islam.”
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/15/austria-election-results-projections-show-austria-tilting-right.html

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CL - October 15, 2017

‘The Legatum Institute’s Transitions Forum is pleased to welcome Anton Shekhovtsov as a Visiting Senior Fellow for 2015.’
http://www.li.com/news/anton-shekhovtsov-appointed-as-visiting-senior-fellow-to-the-legatum-institute's-transitions-forum

‘In 2007, Chris Chandler, the billionaire behind Dubai’s Legatum Capital, launched the Legatum Institute, and staffed it with senior Bush Administration neocons’
https://pando.com/2015/05/17/neocons-2-0-the-problem-with-peter-pomerantsev/

Curiouser and curiouser.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2017

Legatum are bizarre.

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12. yourcousin - October 15, 2017

But getting “their” people in power is not really the point. Russia never expected Trump to win anymore than anyone else did. The expectation would have been for a hamstrung Hillary who came into office too weak and preoccupied with domestic politics to bother with Russia. I don’t see it too differently anywhere else either. Russia doesn’t “need” Jobbik, it already has Orban, it is nice to be able to apply pressure on him from the right as needed. And the reality is that as detestable as Hungarian fascists are, they are indeed still European and can easily be massaged into the role of European international election observers. Even if they do wear shirts that say, “Crimea is Russian. Carpathia is Hungarian.”

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