Monday, October 8, 2012

The Fascist Left

Political-Religious Thought

We welcome back Lorna Salzman, who provides us with another timely article on the Left's real motivations and its ways of operating and thinking. Contrary to what some individuals think, the Left has nothing to do with liberal doctrines, or for that matter with the values of western liberal democracy. Salzman writes about the Left: " It has nothing to do with movements for human rights, women's rights, gay rights, social and economic equality, civil liberties or, most telling, democracy itself. On the contrary, those who take the trouble to examine the inspirations and roots of those who call themselves "leftists" will find an ideology in stark contrast to the notions of freedom and democracy."

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by Lorna Salzman

The term "Fascist Left" is actually a redundancy. The only "left" that exists, and has existed for a hundred years, is the one vilified by the right, which is to say anyone who tells the truth or doesn't support the right. What we have today, as exemplified by the pro-Palestinian, pro-Islamist anti-American grouping that takes its inspiration from Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Alexander Cockburn, Medea Benjamin and George Galloway, is not a new phenomenon by any means but a continuation of the totalitarian movement and body of thought that has infected liberal democracies from time immemorial, in particular the Stalinist era and the post World War II period. In this country we see the superficial signs of the disease in Political Correctness, multiculturalism and cultural relativism, ubiquitous in our university social studies departments and the blogs Counterpunch, countercurrents and truthdig, as well as the mass media like Huffington Post, Slate and Salon and of course The New York Times.

As a recent example, consider the following article, "Why Eric Posner is wrong about free speech," in The Daily Caller (September 26, 2012), by Robert Shibley, a staunch defender of the First Amendment, notably on campus:
University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner created an Internet sensation yesterday with an article for Slate in which he argued that the United States overvalues free speech. Posner argued that the reaction to the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video that has been indirectly blamed for causing the deaths of four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya, shows that other nations “might have a point” when they decide that free speech must “yield to other values and the need for order.”
Unfortunately but predictably, academics seem to be leading the charge against freedom of speech in the wake of the controversy over the video. University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Butler kicked off the effort with a USA Today editorial calling for the film’s producer to be jailed for angering people on the other side of the world. Posner, a law professor, adds more heft to the argument, but ultimately falls far short of making a solid case that American free expression should be made contingent on the religious beliefs of radical Muslims.
The choice of the term "left" is devious and deceptive. It has nothing to do with movements for human rights, women's rights, gay rights, social and economic equality, civil liberties or, most telling, democracy itself. On the contrary, those who take the trouble to examine the inspirations and roots of those who call themselves "leftists" will find an ideology in stark contrast to the notions of freedom and democracy. It is a long and unchanging history, one of totalitarianism, hate, violence, and intolerance, one that demands a complete submission to its tenets and vehement opposition to and slander of those who do not sign their loyalty oath. In this sense it is a secular version of Islam's shariah law, which mandates unquestioning observance in all aspects of daily life, not just religious worship.

Contemporary liberals and progressives are unfamiliar with the true nature of the left. For them, any person or group or movement that opposes war, capitalism or racism and which preaches peace and cultural diversity is considered to be on the left, regardless of its affiliations or true motives and objectives. The hallmark of leftism today is virulent anti-Americanism, the belief that American "imperialism" is the greatest oppressor of our times, responsible for all the world's ills and violence. It is curious, to say the least, that the basis for this conclusion was never arrived at during the reign of Joseph Stalin or during the freedom struggles of eastern Europe against communism.

It has always been a truism that indigenous resistance movements not taking orders from the Soviets and not controlled by communists are never supported by the Fascist Left. In Nicaragua, for example, the Sandinista revolution was one of strongly nationalist democratic socialism and thus was never supported by the communists there. None of the nine-member Sandinista directorate was a communist. Since then, only two of the original revolutionaries, Miguel D'Escoto Brockman and Daniel Ortega, have proven to be hard-line extreme leftists.

If one needs proof that the Fascist Left exists, that is easily provided. Here is a list of their heroes of the 20th century: Stalin, Ho Chi Min, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and above all Hamas and Hezbollah. For this we can thank Ramsey Clark and Noam Chomsky primarily, with cheerleaders like Chris Hedges, Medea Benjamin and George Galloway and the blog Counterpunch bringing up the rear and Ian Buruma sitting on the fence trying to see who will win so he can join them in a hurry. Anyone who does not know this history—and few liberals have taken the trouble to find out—can consult Paul Berman, Christopher Hitchens, Fred Halliday, Nick Cohen, Pascal Bruckner, Jonah Goldberg, and going back a bit further, Arthur Koestler, Raymond Aron and George Orwell, who reminded us of how the communists betrayed the partisans and anarchists in the Spanish Civil War.

Of special note in the Spanish Civil War is Claude Cockburn in Great Britain, who did his part too, under a pseudonym (Frank Pitcairn). He joined the Communist Party and wrote about the war for the Daily Worker, becoming essentially a Soviet agent himself and working closely with the foreign editor of Pravda against the anarchists and the anti-Stalin left and approving of the Stalin's infamous Moscow Trials that condemned numerous intellectuals to death. His venom was directed most egregiously against the anti-Stalinist leftist POUM, the Partito Obrero de Unificacion Marxista, and his efforts contributed to the arrest, torture and murder of many POUM members. His son Alexander Cockburn followed faithfully in his father's footsteps.

In France, the story is equally sordid. Everyone knows about the long list of French leftist intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Jean Cocteau who made their peace with the Nazis and in exchange for good behavior were allowed to live quietly in Paris during the war. One who did not stay in Paris and who spoke out was sociologist Raymond Aron. In his superb essay collection that exposes the perennial Fascist Left, Cultural Amnesia, Clive James writes of Aron's calling Sartre and many other writers to account for what was no less than a "widespread but tacit collaboration" with the Nazis. Said James about Sartre: "The sad truth was that he...owed his wartime fame as a writer and thinker to Nazi tolerance, for which a price had to be paid". Aron's book, The Opium of the Intellectuals, from 1955, enraged the French left endlessly, because it suggested, says James, that "the Communist version of socialism was a secular religion". Today the voices of liberal democracy in France are faint. What is the Socialist Party doing? Well, maybe the same thing that Clive James said about Sartre's purported underground activities during the Nazi occupation: "a secret meeting on Wednesday to decide whether there should be another meeting the following Tuesday".

The Fascist Left has found its most reliable ally against western liberal democracy in the radical Islamists; it is also one they mistakenly think can be recruited to THEIR anti-imperialist, anti-liberal philosophy. Which one of these—Islamists or Fascist Leftists—will prevail may not be known by the latter but the rest of us know with certainty that it will be the former. The Islamists are far more clever. They understand that the Fascist Left is a precious resource in recruiting all manner of paleoliberals over to the side of Islamism: abject liberal Jews, peaceniks, anti-Semites, the counterculture, black Americans, civil libertarians, centrist academics and intellectuals— in other words just about anyone with a gripe against the USA. That a good swath of this constituency has gone over to the dark side of Islamism already, as witness the liberal mass media, should give us all a good fright. The Fascist Leftists, being secularists and atheists, will of course be at the top of the lists for assassination when the Islamists get power (as Orwell said about the pro-Russian left during the Spanish Civil War).

That the battle to defend liberal secular democracy, the rule of law, our Constitution, civil liberties and gender equality has been abandoned to the right wing is disturbing but there is no other way to distinguish one's self from the position of the paleoliberals or decry the self-censorship of the liberal media. It may bother many of us to stand next to Tea Partyers,ultra orthodox Zionists, neo-conservatives and Republicans but for those with principles there is nowhere else to stand and no other place to bear witness to totalitarianism or defend democracy. Those critical of the totalitarian left will continue to be jeered as secret right-wingers, as the fate of people like Christopher Hitchens and Paul Berman proves. In truth they are the real defenders of liberal democracy.

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The author, a graduate of Cornell University, has been an environmental writer, lecturer and activist since the 1970s. Her articles on environment, energy, biodiversity and natural history have appeared in leading journals here and abroad, including The Ecologist, Index on Censorship, Resurgence, New Politics, and Business & Society Review. Her professional career began when David Brower, the leading conservationist of the 20th century in the USA, hired her as mid-Atlantic representative for Friends of the Earth, where she worked on wetlands, coastal zone and nuclear power issues for over a decade. In this period she was instrumental in the preservation of two key wildlife habitats (Swan Pond and Maple Swamp) in Suffolk County, NY.

Later she became an editor at the National Audubon Society's journal, 
American Birds, followed by directorship of the anti-food irradiation group, Food and Water. In the mid 1980s she co-founded the New York Greens, later the New York Green Party, on whose state committee she served for several years, and became active in the national green movement.

She worked for three years as a natural resource specialist in the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection, focusing on wetlands and coastal zone protection. In 2002 she was the Suffolk County Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1st CD on eastern Long Island, and in 2004 she was a candidate for the U.S. Green Party's presidential nomination. Her hobbies are mushroom hunting, classical music and birding around the world with her composer-husband Eric. They have twin daughters, one a pop composer and lyricist in NYC and the other a poet and writer based in England. They live in Brooklyn Heights, NY, and East Quogue, NY, and have lived for extended periods in Italy and France.


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Copyright ©2012. Lorna Salzman. All Rights Reserved. It is published here with the author's permission. More of her writing can be found at www.lornasalzman.com.

4 comments:

  1. Hannah Arendt, in THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM, devotes one-fourth of her book to the issue of anti-Semitism, which is a doctrine that is central to extremist beliefs. Interestingly, Stalin allowed Lithuanian Jews given visas by Sugihara to cross the USSR and continue to Japan. He allowed Polish Jews who escaped across the border to live out the war in Uzbekistan and other remote SSRs. He allowed Soviet Jews to flee to the east and survive. He saved more Jews from Hitler than anyone else, a fact few people know.. Yet he was an anti-Semite, and had he lived, he might have begun a new genocide connected with the Doctors' Plot.
    Israel got arms from Czechoslovakia, with Stalin's approval, during its War of Independence.
    The Left in America didn't become actively anti-Israel until 1967, and didn't become seriously anti-Semitic until the teachers' strike in New York in 1968. Here is something I wrote in 1969:
    http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/TheLeftSoft.html

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    1. Interesting article; the New Left, however, is hateful and hostile to both Jews and Israel and to the West. Given all its hates, it is not hard to understand why rational individuals suggest that the Left's primary emotion is hate.

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  2. Thank you Lorna for your incisive and perceptive history of the ideology of American and French leftism. I would add a caveat in regards to its persistent habit of seizing on the political and social movements that others build so that they can attempt to steer them. Internationally, today the habit is to disregard national movements such as the Kurdish struggle for Independence even while Baathist dictators like Hussein and Assad, are given a place of distinction as "anti-imperialists". Despite their role in the mass murders of national minorities and religious sects, the left chooses to ignore the historical evidence.

    In the U.S., it may be appropriate to use the term "faux-left" given the lack of any significant representation of workers (see the indicator of the loss of Mineworkers membershp at http://www.unionfacts.com/union/United_Mine_Workers), factory and industrial workers in particular. What has grown in its place is a new political alignment of state employees, college instructors, and social workers united behind a high tax political agenda to benefit members that seeks to usurp the historical heritage of the left and presuming to have assumed the political leadership of the working class. While they focus on public employees, they also are a major source of funds for the Democratic Party. They also have disregarded the real economic and political interests of agricultural laborers and now have abandoned them as indicated by the decline in union membership from "more than 70,000 in the 1970s to what officials say is about 27,000 today". http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110420/WIRE/110429987?p=2&tc=pg

    The voice resonates the base's aspirations. This is an article in itself. It does indicate that the voice of labor is not the voice of the faux-left.

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  3. Go get 'em, Lorna. Sartre was a collaborationist. Orwell and Koestler were formative for me. By the way, why no trials in Russian courts for Stalinist crimes? We may be in bed with some people who make us uncomfortable, Lorna, but what are we going to do? Norman Podhoretz once said it is necessary to ask what's in for the Jews.

    Dick

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