The idea of a political coalition that mixes self-identified communists with neo-Nazis may seem implausible at first. However, a February 19 rally in Washington, D.C., branded as an effort to “Rage Against the War Machine,” brought together dissident parts of the left and the right into common opposition to the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) role in Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Archive for category: #RedBrownAlliance #RedBrownPact
On 5 March 1953, Joseph Stalin, the gravedigger of the October Revolution, died. His regime had been characterised by monstrous repression, with a river of blood separating his dictatorial rule from the genuine traditions of Bolshevism established by Lenin.
It was also a reign marked by spectacular catastrophes, such as the famine of the 1930s and the needless loss of millions of Red Army soldiers in the first stages of the war.
Stalin died in fairly suspicious circumstances. The longer he held power, the greater his paranoia grew. By the 1950s, having instigated an antisemitic campaign against mainly Jewish doctors, Stalin was preparing for another mass purge. Fearing the ramifications for themselves, and for wider Soviet society, it is believed top figures of the bureaucracy may have hastened his end.
Yet how had the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 come to this?
On this day in 1953, Joseph Stalin, the man who spearheaded the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union, died following a stroke. In this video, Alan Woods explains how Stalin came to play this ignominious role.
🔗 https://t.co/pUOa9gr9S0 pic.twitter.com/UlygnaVOWu
— Socialist Appeal (@socialist_app) March 5, 2023
Origins of Stalinism
There is a perfidious lie that the regime of Stalin was a natural continuation of that of Lenin. This is false to the very core.
The regime established by Lenin and Trotsky was amongst the most democratic in history, basing itself as it did on the soviets. These were organs of the working class, peasants, and soldiers, which reflected the mood of the masses far more accurately than any parliament.
The soviets provided direct representation, and established the right of recall. This meant that deputies who were out of tune with the masses could be replaced. This was a far cry from the totalitarian dictatorship of Stalin.
So how was it that this brutish figure came to usurp the October Revolution and roll back many of its gains?
To understand this, we must look at the situation in which the fledgling workers’ state found itself.
From the outset, the young workers’ state faced enormous challenges. These undermined the basis for a healthy regime of workers’ democracy.
The October Revolution provoked horror and dread amongst the ruling classes of the world. Immediately, the young Soviet republic was invaded by 21 imperialist armies, who supported the efforts of the counter-revolution in Russia. This plunged the country into a bitter civil war.
The civil war – along with WW1 before it – completely shattered industry. In 1920, the production of iron ore and cast iron fell to 1.6% and 2.4% of their 1913 levels. The output of industrial commodities stood at just 12.3% of their pre-war level. Similarly, agriculture was ruined, with the 1921 harvest producing just 37.6 million tons of various crops – just 43% of the pre-war average.
Isolation and backwardness
Perhaps the most crucial consequence of the civil war was the direct impact it had on the working class. The war itself claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers. Many of those who survived migrated to the countryside, so desperate was the breakdown of society in the towns and cities.
By the end of the war, the working class had been decimated, and the material conditions required to maintain genuine workers’ democracy had been further eroded.
The industrial collapse undermined one of the major conquests of the October Revolution – the eight hour day. In order to produce even the most basic articles of consumption, workers had to work 10, 12, or even 14 hour days, and had to forgo their weekends.
In short, the time necessary for workers to engage in the soviets simply didn’t exist. As a result, workers’ control in society, industry, and politics was impossible.
Moreover, the historic backwardness of Russia meant most workers were illiterate, and consequently were unable to take part in the management of industry.
In all regards, a healthy regime of workers’ democracy was impossible. This was the material basis for the cancerous growth of a bureaucracy in the Soviet Union.
Even more decisive was the isolation of the revolution. Lenin and Trotsky correctly saw the October Revolution as the beginning of the world proletarian revolution. Yet tragically, the revolutions that did spring up in the years after 1917 – in Germany, Hungary, Italy, and China – were all defeated.
The responsibility for many of these defeats rests with the reformist leaders, who consciously betrayed them. Yet in a number of them, Stalin also played a decisive role, as we shall see.
As a result of the delay of the world revolution, there existed a deep contradiction within the USSR. On the one hand, the working class was incapable of running society. But on the other hand, the bourgeoisie had been defeated and capitalism had been overthrown.
It was from this vacuum that a permanent layer of functionaries emerged: the former managers and administrators of Tsarist Russia. These opportunistic, well-to-do ladies and gentlemen formed the basis of the bureaucracy. And as their weight in society increased, with the revolution isolated and the working class exhausted, Stalin would increasingly come to embody the bureaucracy’s interests.
The bureaucracy crystallised around Stalin in part because he was almost their living embodiment. He held a narrow, bureaucratic outlook. He was a competent organiser. And he was ruthlessly ambitious.
This bureaucratic caste was keen to maintain and increase its own power and privileges. This meant ending the upheaval of revolution, establishing order, and maintaining the status quo.
It was for this reason that Stalin would come to champion the ‘theory’ of ‘socialism in one country’, which provided a cover for abandoning socialist internationalism and the goal of world revolution.
In the eyes of the short-sighted, parochial bureaucracy, world revolution was unrealistic and undesirable. Instead, they wanted to strike deals with capitalist regimes. These careerists had what they wanted from the revolution, and wanted it to go no further.
‘Socialism in one country’, in reality, meant socialism in no country. At first, it reflected a general cynicism from Stalin that the workers couldn’t take power and transform society outside of Russia.
This was seen in his approach to the extremely favourable situation for revolution in Germany in 1923. “In my opinion, the Germans should be restrained and not spurred on,” Stalin wrote. Given the inexperience of the German communists, this advice was fatal, and the revolution was defeated.
Similarly in the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27. Stalin’s complete lack of faith in the Chinese working class led him to pursue a completely opportunist alliance with the bourgeois Guomindang party. This led to a disastrous policy of the young Chinese Communist Party subordinating itself entirely to a bourgeois nationalist party. The end result was the smashing of the Communist Party by the Guomindang and the defeat of the revolution.
These defeats of the working class internationally further demoralised and isolated workers in the Soviet Union. This, in turn, emboldened and strengthened the bureaucracy. But it was not the only layer of Soviet society that was encouraged by these reversals of the world revolution.
In 1921, the Bolsheviks had been forced by the isolation of the revolution to adopt the New Economic Policy (NEP). This meant reintroducing market relations in the countryside, in order to incentivise peasant proprietors to produce more food.
The problem was that the policy disproportionately benefited the kulaks – the rich peasants. They had larger landholdings, which allowed them to produce agricultural goods more efficiently. This meant that they could profit more from selling their surpluses.
The trade between peasants and the cities, in turn, was facilitated by so-called NEPmen – a class of petty merchants and speculators who spied an opportunity to make a quick buck.
These layers were naturally hostile to Soviet power, and sought the restoration of capitalism.
Trotsky and the Left Opposition had consistently warned against this threat. Stalin, meanwhile, leaning on Bukharin’s Right Opposition, had encouraged the kulaks to ‘get rich’, in order to develop the economy.
The ramifications of this policy came to the surface by around 1927. The kulaks began to withhold grain, and the threat of starvation in the cities loomed once more. And Stalin, the crude empiricist that he was, suddenly made an about face in 1929 – breaking with Bukharin and calling instead for the liquidation of the kulaks as a class.
Stalin began to adopt huge swathes of the Left Opposition’s programme. But did so in a crude, distorted, caricatured manner. This created huge problems.
Industrialisation was massively accelerated, to the point of adventurism. Infamously, Stalin even called for the first five-year plan to be completed in four years. Crucially, these measures were combined with the most brutal suppression of the Left Opposition itself.
Trotsky and the Left Opposition were the proletarian vanguard. But this proletariat had been drained by events. In a physical sense, they’d been devastated by war. In 1917, there were 3,000,000 industrial workers in Russia. By 1920, this figure had fallen to 1,240,000. Politically, meanwhile, workers had witnessed defeat after defeat on the international plane.
The clash between Stalin and Trotsky was ultimately a struggle of living social forces. The exhaustion of the working class thus enabled Stalin to exile Trotsky to Alma Ata in the Kazakh Soviet Republic, before exiling him from the USSR altogether in 1929.
Alongside this, there was a wave of expulsions of anyone hostile to Stalin’s policies. His grip on power – reflecting the strengthening of the bureaucracy – became absolute. As Trotsky put it:
“In its struggle against the Left Opposition, the bureaucracy undoubtedly was dragging behind it a heavy tail in the shape of Nepmen and kulaks. But on the morrow this tail would strike a blow at the head, that is, at the ruling bureaucracy…As early as 1927, the kulaks struck a blow at the bureaucracy, by refusing to supply it with bread.”
This crisis accelerated Stalin’s Bonapartist grip. The bureaucracy was petrified that it could be overthrown from the left or the right. In Stalin, this bureaucratic caste saw a strongman who could defend their privileged position from these acute threats.
Many a sneering liberal has tried to claim that socialism inevitably leads to the kind of bloodletting and horrors that Stalin oversaw. Yet this entirely misunderstands who this violence was directed at, and for what reason.
The chief target of Stalin’s purges were the Old Bolsheviks themselves – anyone who had a connection with the October Revolution.
So it was that, of the Bolshevik Central Committee that led the working class to power in 1917, only Stalin and Kollontai were still alive by 1940. Most were murdered by the GPU (the Soviet Union’s secret services) at Stalin’s behest. Even the total capitulation of figures like Kamanev, Zinoviev, and Radek did not save them.
True enough, many of the victims of the purges were bureaucrats themselves. Does this suggest that, in a hamfisted way, Stalin was striving to defend workers against the bureaucracy?
In reality, layers of the bureaucracy were targeted for the same reason that a doctor might recommend an amputation: to cut off the part to save the whole.
Stalin leaned on the workers to strike blows against the most rotten elements of the bureaucracy: those whose voracious greed threatened to stir the workers and topple the entire edifice; those whose ambition represented a threat to Stalin’s position and to the bureaucratic machine as a whole.
So it was that over a million perished – not to establish socialism, but to preserve the rule of a parasitic caste of functionaries.
The purges were a culmination of what Trotsky characterised as the ‘Thermidorian reaction’ in the USSR.
Basing his analysis on the analogy of the French Revolution, Trotsky concluded that what had occurred in the Soviet Union was a political counter-revolution from within.
Having overturned the old order in October 1917, the working class had subsequently lost political power. Nevertheless, the social conquest of the revolution – the nationalised planned economy – remained.
This was comparable to the process of the French Revolution. Robespierre’s Jacobin faction, the most revolutionary section of the movement, was deposed by more conservative elements from within the revolution.
Eventually Napoleon Bonaparte seized power. In 1804, he proclaimed himself Emperor, undoing the political gains of the republic. Yet Napoleon did not restore feudalism in France. Instead, he based his regime on the new capitalist relations that had been established by the revolution.
Similarly in the USSR, Stalin based himself on the nationalised planned economy. Representing the bureaucracy, however, he had politically usurped the working class. Socialist property relations remained, but many of the gains of the revolution were rolled back.
The most obvious expression of this was the complete annihilation of workers’ democracy inside the Soviet Union, in favour of the rule of the bureaucracy, alongside the counter-revolutionary role played by Stalinism internationally.
Zigzags and catastrophes
Stalin never really grasped the Marxist method. Indeed, the Old Bolshevik Yeveny Frolov claimed that “Stalin struggled to understand philosophical questions, without success”. Instead of applying dialectical materialism to problems, he adopted a crude empiricism approach – with disastrous consequences.
This first manifested itself with Stalin’s adherence to the New Economic Policy. He viewed its relative success – in comparison to the previous period of ‘war communism’ – as proof that there was no need for a change of course.
Neglecting to analyse the NEP in an all-sided manner, such as its impact on class formations, he failed to see the latent political danger that it carried: strengthening market relations and emboldening the kulaks and petty traders.
Empirically, Stalin later drew the conclusion that private capital accumulation in agriculture was not the way forward. Consequently, he did a volte-face, launching a campaign to forcibly collectivise agriculture and liquidate the kulaks as a class.
No consideration was given to whether collectivisation was possible; whether the country’s industry could furnish peasants with the machinery and resources required to make collective farming successful.
As a result, the policy led to a total and utter catastrophe in agriculture, provoking a famine that killed millions, and leaving a lasting scar in the countryside.
Stalinism can be defined as the bureaucratic (mis)management of the planned economy. From this flows the political dictatorship required to protect the power and privileges of the bureaucratic caste. But did this system die with its boss?
In his ‘Secret Speech’ in 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev attempted to pin the blame for all the horrors and catastrophes of the preceding decades onto Stalin and his ‘cult of personality’.
Stalin had placed emphasis on developing heavy industry at a blistering pace, at the expense of consumer goods and housing. This meant that living standards were still much lower in the USSR than in the West.
By the 1950s, this was preparing a social explosion, particularly as the bureaucracy furnished itself with limousines and dachas. According to historian Roy Medvedev, wage differentials between top bureaucrats and workers stretched to as much as 100-to-1.
Under Khrushchev, therefore, economic concessions were granted from above in order to prevent political revolution from below.
Between 1955-58, the average factory wage was raised from 715 roubles a month to 778. Meanwhile, official prices remained fixed, and some were even cut. Shorter hours were introduced for young workers, without a loss of pay, alongside longer holidays.
Given the decades of accumulated discontent, particularly in the satellite states of Eastern Europe, it did not take long for these concessions to encourage a movement from below.
As French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville perceptively noted: “The most dangerous moment for a bad government is generally that in which it sets about reform.” And so it was for the Soviet bureaucracy.
In October 1956, revolution broke out in Hungary. Workers and students were resentful of totalitarian rule, Soviet domination, and the deteriorating living standards that flowed from this. Indeed, disposable income for Hungarian workers in 1956 was two-thirds of what it had been in 1938 – a consequence of the Soviet Union draining the country through post-war reparations.
Contrary to the claims of the Stalinists, however, this was no counter-revolution. The manifesto under which the revolution was fought was issued by Péter Veres, the president of the Writers’ Union. The second demand of this read:
“The social and economic system of Hungary should be socialism built up by democratic means in accordance with our national characteristics. The 1945 agricultural reform and the public ownership of factories, great industrial enterprises, mines and banks, have to be maintained.”
Even more instructively, the revolution saw the formation of democratic workers’ councils – i.e. soviets. Yet what was the response of Khrushchev and co? It was to send in the tanks and brutally repress the Hungarian Revolution.
As Ted Grant put it at the time: “If the Kadar government really represented the masses and not the counter-revolution in Stalinist form, it would have based itself on the soviets or workers’ committees, as Lenin did in 1917.”
Stalin’s death, therefore, heralded no qualitative change. Stalinism remained in place, with tragic consequences for the working class, in Russia and internationally.
The bureaucratic monolith, which Stalin had stood at the head of, eventually came crashing down in 1991 – just as Trotsky had predicted in his masterpiece Revolution Betrayed.
This was Stalin’s real lasting legacy: to pave the way for capitalist restoration in the land of the October Revolution.
In marking the anniversary of his death, our role – as the philosopher Spizona once stated – is neither to weep nor to laugh, but to understand.
Today, disgusted by capitalism, a new generation is turning towards communism. Our task is to organise and educate these class fighters in the genuine ideas of Marxism, and to prepare for the revolutionary upheavals that impend.
By Pepe Escobar – Feb 22, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s much awaited address to the Russian Federal Assembly on Tuesday should be interpreted as a tour de force of sovereignty.
The address, significantly, marked the first anniversary of Russia’s official recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, only a few hours before 22 February, 2022. In myriad ways, what happened a year ago also marked the birth of the real, 21st century multipolar world.
Then two days later, Moscow launched the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine to defend said republics.
Cool, calm, collected, without a hint of aggression, Putin’s speech painted Russia as an ancient, independent, and quite distinct civilization – sometimes following a path in concert with other civilizations, sometimes in divergence.
Ukraine, part of Russian civilization, now happens to be occupied by western civilization, which Putin said “became hostile to us,” like in a few instances in the past. So the acute phase of what is essentially a war by proxy of the west against Russia takes place over the body of Russian civilization.
That explains Putin’s clarification that “Russia is an open country, but an independent civilization – we do not consider ourselves superior but we inherited our civilization from our ancestors and we must pass it on.”
A war dilacerating the body of Russian civilization is a serious existential business. Putin also made clear that “Ukraine is being used as a tool and testing ground by the west against Russia.” Thus the inevitable follow-up: “The more long-range weapons are sent to Ukraine, the longer we have to push the threat away from our borders.”
Translation: this war will be long – and painful. There will be no swift victory with minimal loss of blood. The next moves around the Dnieper may take years to solidify. Depending on whether US policy continues to cleave to neo-con and neoliberal objectives, the frontline may be displaced to Lviv. Then German politics may change. Normal trade with France and Germany may be recovered only by the end of the next decade.
Highlights of President Putin’s Speech 1 Year Into Military Operation in Ukraine
Kremlin exasperation: START is finished
All that brings us to the games played by the Empire of Lies. Says Putin: “The promises…of western rulers turned into forgery and cruel lies. The west supplied weapons, trained nationalist battalions. Even before the start of the SMO, there were negotiations…on the supply of air defense systems… We remember Kyiv’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons.”
Putin made it clear, once again, that the element of trust between Russia and the west, especially the US, is gone. So it’s a natural decision for Russia to “withdraw from the treaty on strategic offensive weapons, but we don’t do it officially. For now we are only halting our participation to the START treaty. No US inspections in our nuclear sites can be allowed.”
As an aside, of the three main US-Russian weapons treaties, Washington abandoned two of these: The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was dumped by the administration of former president George W. Bush in 2002, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was nixed by former president Donald Trump in 2019.
This shows the Kremlin’s degree of exasperation. Putin is even prepared to order the Ministry of Defense and Rosatom to get ready to test Russian nuclear weapons if the US goes first along the same road.
If that’s the case, Russia will be forced to completely break parity in the nuclear sphere, and abandon the moratorium on nuclear testing and cooperation with other nations when it comes to the production of nuclear weapons. So far, the US and NATO game consisted in opening a little window allowing them to inspect Russian nuclear sites.
With his judo move, Putin returns the pressure onto the White House.
The US and NATO will not be exactly thrilled when Russia starts testing its new strategic weapons, especially the post-doomsday Poseidon – the largest nuclear-powered torpedo ever deployed, capable of triggering terrifying radioactive ocean swells.
On the economic front: Bypassing the US dollar is the essential play towards multipolarity. During his speech, Putin made a point to extol the resilience of the Russian economy: “Russian GDP in 2022 decreased only by 2.1 percent, estimates of the opposing side did not become reality, they said 15, 20 percent.” That resilience gives Russia enough room to “work with partners to make the system of international settlements independent of the US dollar and other western currencies. The dollar will lose its universal role.”
On geoeconomics: Putin went all out in praise of economic corridors, from West Asia to South Asia: “New corridors, transport routes will be built towards the East, this is the region where we will focus our development, new highways to Kazakhstan and China, new North-South corridor to Pakistan, Iran.”
And those will connect to Russia developing “the ports of the Black and Azov Seas, it’s necessary to build logistics corridors within the country.” The result will be a progressive interconnection with the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) whose principals include Iran and India, and eventually China’s mega-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
China’s plan for global security
It’s inevitable that apart from sketching several state policies geared towards Russia’s internal development – one might even compare them to socialist policies – a great deal of Putin’s address had to focus on the NATO vs. Russia war till-the-last-Ukrainian.
Putin remarked on how “our relations with the west have degraded, and this is entirely the fault of the United States;” how NATO’s goal is to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia; and how the warmongering frenzy had forced him, a week ago, to sign a decree “putting new ground-based strategic complexes on combat duty.”
So it’s no accident that the US ambassador was immediately summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs right after Putin’s address.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Ambassador Lynne Tracey in no uncertain terms that Washington must take concrete measures: among them, to remove all US and NATO military forces and equipment away from Ukraine. In a stunning move, he demanded a detailed explanation of the destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, as well as a halt to US interference in an independent inquiry to identify the responsible parties.
Keeping the momentum in Moscow, top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi met with secretary of Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, before talking to Lavrov and Putin. Patrushev remarked, “the course towards developing a strategic partnership with China is an absolute priority for Russia’s foreign policy.” Wang Yi, not so cryptically, added, “Moscow and Beijing need to synchronize their watches.”
The Americans are doing everything to try and pre-empt the Chinese proposal for a de-escalation in Ukraine. China’s plan should be presented this Friday, and there’s a serious risk Beijing may fall into a trap set by the western plutocracy.
Too many Chinese “concessions” to Russia, and not as many to Ukraine, may be spun to drive a wedge between Moscow and Beijing (Divide and Rule, which is always the US Plan A. There’s no Plan B).
Sensing the waters, the Chinese themselves decided to take the offensive, presenting a Global Security Initiative Concept Paper.
The problem is Beijing still attributes too much clout to a toothless UN, when they refer to“formulating a New Agenda for Peace and other proposals put forth in Our Common Agenda by the UN Secretary-General.”
Same when Beijing upholds the consensus that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Try to explain that to the Straussian neo-con psychos in the Beltway, who know nothing about war, much less nuclear ones.
The Chinese affirm the necessity to “comply with the joint statement on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races issued by leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states in January 2022.” And to “strengthen dialogue and cooperation among nuclear-weapon states to reduce the risk of nuclear war.”
Bets can be made that Patrushev explained in detail to Wang Yi how that is just wishful thinking. The “logic “of the current collective western “leadership” has been expressed, among others, by irredeemable mediocrity Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general: even nuclear war is preferable to a Russian victory in Ukraine.
Putin’s measured but firm address has made it clear that the stakes keep getting higher. And it all revolves on how deep Russia’s – and China’s – “strategic ambiguity” are able to petrify a paranoid west flirting with mushroom clouds.
Campism generally splits the world into two antagonistic orders, or great ‘camps’ – in simplistic terms, it is the split between the camp of capitalism and the camp of socialism; the great Cold War rivalry between the United States, its NATO allies and (neo)colonies, versus the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics and its Iron Curtain More
The post Campism and the War in Ukraine appeared first on CounterPunch.org.
Antifascist researcher Spencer Sunshine offers a critical look at ecofascism and Peter Staudenmaier’s book, Ecology Contested.
The increasing embrace by White Supremacists of environmentalism, which they use to justify their racist ideologies—dubbed “ecofascism”—is on the lips of many today. This has been driven by its mention in the manifestos connected to White Supremacist massacres in El Paso, Texas and Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019; between the two, 74 were murdered. Additionally, the new interest paid by fascists in Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, also shows rising interest in this trend.
Because of this, historian and anarchist Peter Staudenmaier’s book is a timely reminder that ecofascism is not just not a new problem, but also one that provides a bridge between the far-Right and the Left and anarchists. His book is a call, in the best radical environmental style, to blockade that bridge and stop fascists from entering radical circles.
Since the early 1990s Staudenmaier has been associated with the Institute for Social Ecology (ISE). The school was co-founded in 1974 by anarchist theoretician Murray Bookchin, and is best known for promoting what he dubbed social ecology—a fusion of Hegelianized Marxism, classical anarchism, and ecological thought. But ISE members have also been some of the earliest to warn anarchists about the danger of Red/Brown politics, especially in the radical environmental movement.
For example, Staudenmaier co-authored the 1995 book Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience with Janet Biehl. His half was one of the first treatments in English documenting the “green wing” of the original Nazi Party, clearly showing how the fascist embrace of environmentalism has a long history and impeccable pedigree. But—especially in the context of Bookchin’s occasionally injudicious, and sometimes downright vicious, attacks on rival radical environmental currents—Ecofascism was controversial when it was published. Today it stands as a prescient warning of what was to come.
(The term “ecofascism” itself is muddy because of the different ways it’s invoked. Staudenmaier, following the clear understanding of different far-Right factions which antifascist work requires, uses it to refer to genuine fascists who embrace environmentalism. Other leftists use it to refer to all right-wingers who oppose environmentalism. Meanwhile, many conservatives use it to smear environmentalists themselves!)
Ecology Contested is yet another warning about the thriving postwar ecofascist currents. In the increasingly crowded field of writings about this subject, Staudenmaier’s book stands out by its focus on the relationship between the Left and Right on environmentalism, but also anti-tech and animal rights politics. He does so by showing their overlapping theoretical, but also in some cases existing political, relationships. Like his 1995 book, Ecology Contested is sure to ruffle feathers. Some may even see it less as a warning of potential right-wing incursions and more as an attack on their own politics.
The five essays in this anthology were written over a period of two decades. The first and last ones, “The Politics of Nature from Left to Right” and “Blood and Soil Revived: Ecological Politics on the far-Right,” provide copious examples of the history of these ideas on the far-Right, from the 19th century on. He focuses on the notion of “blood and soil,” one of the main Nazi ideas the Alt Right later embraced (it was famously chanted in 2017 at Charlottesville) and which remains popular today.
In support of this, he documents a dizzying array of groups, spanning many decades and countries, which have embraced ecology and/or animal rights. Just some of these include both pre-and post-war Nazis and sympathizers in Britain and Germany (including Nazi agriculture minister Richard Walther Darré); crypto-fascist “National Anarchist” Troy Southgate; Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (formerly Front National) in France; Casa Pound in Italy; the Nordic Resistance Movement in Sweden and Norway; and Golden Dawn in Greece. Last, U.S. groups include the multiple organizations in the Tanton Network, which influenced Donald Trump’s administration; the White Order of Thule; and Richard Spencer’s AltRight.com.
But still there are so many more examples. He does not address how a formerly imprisoned Earth Liberation Front activist, “Exile,” became an Evolian fascist. And he only mentions Dave Foreman, one of the founders of the radical environmental movement Earth First!, in the footnotes. Foreman embraced anti-immigration politics and was pleased about the mass deaths of Ethiopians during a major famine in the 1980s.
Staudenmaier’s short “Disney Ecology” from 1998 is aimed at misanthropic environmentalists who see nature as wild and pure, and humans as a cancer. Staudenmaier argues that this is a colonial viewpoint, a view that is widely acknowledged today. Rather than an ‘untouched’ wilderness discovered by Europeans, almost all of the areas seen this way had previously been occupied by indigenous people, who in turn formed and shaped the land—at least until their genocide.
But more importantly, the piece places front and center the nub of one of the book’s main arguments: Staudenmaier holds that notions of a purity that must be defended is a theme found on both the Left and the Right, and as such can link the two in disturbing ways. The answers he offers to the criticisms he makes here, and elsewhere in the book, all draw from social ecology. And so, depending on their own attitudes about this theoretical perspective, readers will likely find them either compelling or annoying
Social ecology sees humans and the natural world as inescapably intertwined. Following this insight, Staudenmaier argues that philosophically separating humans and nature makes for a wrong-headed theory at best, while at worst harmonizes with fascist views. The answer to all these problems is the neo-Hegelian dialectic which drives social ecology: If humans can acknowledge this reciprocal relationship, they have an opportunity to self-consciously create a social and ecological politics that brings (what only appear to be) two separate spheres into harmony.
The longest essay in Ecology Contested, “A Revolution Against Technology,” was written in 2005 and revised in 2019. (In the interest of transparency, I provided feedback on the original version). It plumbs the intellectual origins of Ted Kaczynski, dubbed the Unabomber, who was imprisoned after engaging in a bombing campaign based on apocalyptic, anti-technological politics. Living in a remote cabin in Montana, between the 1970s and ’90s his bombs killed three people and wounded about two dozen.
Staudenmaier wrote his investigation into Kaczynski’s thought at a time when there was a wide breadth of speculation on it. The reason for this uncertainty was because Kaczynski carefully hid his intellectual progenitors in his manifesto, “Industrial Society and Its Future,” which the New York Times published in return for him agreeing to stop his campaign.
The essay correctly dismisses the argument that the origins of Kaczynski’s thought are either in pure nihilism or leftist criticisms of modern industrial society. In particular, Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, one of the most popular books in the 1960s New Left and similar in approach to Bookchin’s early works, is defended from these accusations. Staudenmaier admits that there is “little direct evidence about what Kaczynski may have read,” and therefore “such hypotheses remain speculative.” Nevertheless, he places the origins of the manifesto’s ideas in the anti-tech and anti-modernist strains of German far-Right thinkers associated with the Conservative Revolutionaries, who directly preceded the Nazis. Of these, the primary culprits fingered are Ludwig Klages, Oswald Spengler, and Friedrich Georg Jünger, who together forwarded a “reactionary critique of civilization.” Staudenmaier claims that there are “too many telltale signs…to ignore Kaczynski’s debt to right-wing thought.”
Ultimately, Staudenmaier, like the others who tried to make sense of Kaczynski, was unable to decipher his theoretical pedigree—and for good reason. In a 2021 article, “The Unabomber and the Origins of Anti-tech Radicalism,” Sean Fleming relied on previously unavailable archival material to identify three main influences, two of which came out of left field. Fleming concluded that the “Manifesto is a synthesis of ideas from three well known academics: French philosopher Jacques Ellul, British zoologist Desmond Morris, and American psychologist Martin Seligman.” Ellul was the least surprising, and Staudenmaier did consider him as a possible influence, writing that wrote that his arguments were a “clear precursor” to Kaczynski. (However, Staudenmaier concluded that the differences between the two made the relationship inconclusive.)
Nonetheless, the evidence Staudenmaier marshaled to support his argument about the influence of reactionary politics remains important. Although Kaczynski occasionally called himself an anarchist, Staudenmaier foregrounds the right-wing nature of much of his thought, based on his own statements. This is especially important as Kaczynski has gained a following in the last few years among ecofascists, despite his own denunciation of them. According to Graham Macklin and Joshua Farrell-Molloy, ecofascists are drawn to him because his ideas reflect their interest in an anti-tech, völkisch worldview; a rejection of a modern decadent society through the use of violence; and anti-leftist views. He is frequently praised in writings and made into memes.
Staudenmaier foregrounds how Kaczynski sounds every bit like today’s Republicans who denounce an illusory notion of ‘antifa,’ using it as a catch-all to include everything from Nancy Pelosi to (post) insurrectionist anarchists. Kaczynski denounces the Left as a whole, a label which he says encompasses “socialists, collectivists, ‘politically correct’ types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists, and the like.” Staudenmaier points out that he also condemns “sexual perversion” and reserves “a special animosity for feminism.”
Staudenmaier also takes this opportunity to tie Kaczynski to three strands of anarchist thought he opposes: Stirnerite individualism, anti-leftism, and primitivism. Supporters and sympathizers who are named and shamed include Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (AJODA), Bob Black, and of course John Zerzan, who championed Kaczynski after his arrest.
So while Staudenmaier’s speculative piece does not stand as intellectual history, it explains much about why Kaczynski’s thought has been embraced by a new wave of very online fascists. Here, Staudenmaier is convincing that, at least on social issues, Kaczynski easily has more in common with the ecofascist crowd then, say, anarcho-primitivists like Zerzan, who—and this is a good thing!—show their leftist origins by embracing feminism, sexual liberation, and anti-racism.
The book’s most contentious piece is undoubtedly “The Ambiguity of Animal Rights,” a critique of animal rights/animal liberation (he uses the two terms interchangeably), which received pushback even inside the ISE. The heyday of these politics among anarchists was in the 1990s, soon before the essay’s original publication in 2003. Staudenmaier recognizes this, and starts by taking great care to separate his intellectual critique from his respect for his comrades, including fellow social ecologists.
The piece is hampered by an uneven kitchen sink approach. Staudenmaier is critical of animal-rights narratives, describing them as politically confused. He condemns elements within the milieu for being liberal, self-righteous, anti-humanist, colonialist, racist, classist, Western elitist, parochial, and—perhaps the ultimate insult—phylumist (the privileging of animals with a central nervous system).
The essay would have been a much stronger if he had left most of these out and concentrated on two approaches. The first, as with the other essays, is his marshaling of historical examples of how fascists, including the Nazis but also latter day groups, embraced animal rights.
(My personal “favorite” of these was his recounting of the “hardline” subgenre of straight-edge hardcore; it brought back a flood of repressed memories of the Dayton, Ohio scene in 1993 and 1994. Hardline insisted on veganism, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, homophobia, and opposition to abortion; those in the scene also played terrible music and sported even worse fashion. It was rumored that hardline kids would roll drunk people leaving Dayton bars. True or not, it was definitely in the spirit of their approach.)
The second of approach which I found the most compelling was that animal rights draws a problematic line by attributing rights to certain animals while ignoring smaller living creatures like micro-organisms, as well as things that are commonly seen as ‘non-sentient,’ like trees, rocks, rivers, and ecosystems. From an ecological perspective, Staudenmaier rightfully points out the interconnection of all animals and organisms, a pillar of social ecology. Yet his answer falls short because he doesn’t present how social ecology would theorize or resolve the concerns of animal rights activists.
Overall, this short book—I read it in about five hours—is strongest as a warning about fascism’s environmental wing and its appeal to those outside its ideological quarters. It conclusively provides numerous examples for the unconvinced, and contains important warnings for activists who are not right-wingers but are enamored by figures such as Kaczynski. In particular, Staudenmaier’s careful discussion of the similarity between Kaczynski’s ideas and far-Right thought is illuminating, and even the animal rights essay raises a few good points. Last, Ecology Contested shows that Bookchin’s influence today is not solely limited to Rojava and direct democracy. As Staudenmaier so clearly illustrates, it extends into the realm of antifascism as well.
photo: Daniel Lincoln via Unsplash
Several neo-Nazis that attended and helped organize the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, VA, claim they are in communication with the organizers of the ‘Rage Against the War Machine,’ rally in Washington DC, which is bringing together various pro-Putin trolls, far-Right grifters, and conspiracy theorists.
According to a livestream from the “Patriotic Socialist Front,” which includes long-time neo-Nazi organizer Matthew Heimbach, former member of Vanguard America and Ohio National Guardsman, Shandon Simpson, and the leader of the group, “Andrew,” the organization plans to travel to the ‘Rage Against the War Machine’ rally in DC, fly a “National Bolshevik” flag, and also table at the event. During the livestream, Simpson states that Heimbach, “has had more communications with some of the people involved…”
Neo-Nazi, Shandon Simpson
Matthew Heimbach has been involved in white supremacist politics for around a decade, after getting involved in the emerging Alt-Right after joining Youth for Western Civilization in college. Heimbach embraced both the Greek Orthodox church and the Strasserite wing of the German Nazi party, formed the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), and held build an alliance of Ku-Klux-Klan, neo-Confederate, and neo-Nazi groups called the Nationalist Front.
“Andrew,” leader of the Patriotic Socialist Front (PSF)
The Nationalist Front played a key role in the violence that took place during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where Heimbach was scheduled to be a featured speaker. Shandon Simpson can even be seen in photos from the rally to be standing next to James Alex Fields, Jr., who would later in the day ram his car into a group of marchers, murdering anti-racist counter-protester Heather Heyer and injuring many more.
Simpson at Unite the Right standing behind James Alex Fields, Jr. Fields would go on to murder counter-protester Heather Heyer.
Three years later in 2020, Simpson generated headlines when it was revealed that he was part of a deployment of national guard troops activated to be used against Black Lives Matter protesters following the police murder of George Floyd. Simpson’s white supremacist views were made public and he was pulled from the front lines. According to Unicorn Riot:
The soldier’s white supremacist affiliations have been reported by the Associated Press as well as Jared Holt, an investigative journalist at Right Wing Watch. According to Right Wing Watch, the Ohio National Guard “stated the member was part of Company C, 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment.” The white supremacist soldier has also been tied via Jared Holt’s reporting to a YouTube channel operated operated under the alias ‘Zoltanous HN‘.
A message on a Telegram chat channel tied to the ‘Zoltanous HN’ YouTube channel shows that the man behind the ‘Zoltanous’ persona indicated he suspected he would be reported on in the news. He also commented with enthusiasm about “my unit” being “activated” with “real ammunition” alongside a call for ‘RaHoWa‘, a neo-nazi slang term that is short for “racial holy war.”
Simpson advocates “Racial Holy War,” after announcing he will be sent in with the national guard to police Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
And while Simpson dreamed of carrying out a “racial holy war” against the millions of people who rose up in the face of police violence in the United States, Heimbach openly called for the full on genocide of Jews. On a podcast in 2017, Heimbach stated:
Exterminationism toward the Jews is the only way to do it. Cause they will plant a seed anywhere, like in Antarctica if they have to. If we don’t get them all they will come back. Like they have to fucking go, every God damn one of them. The international Jew and the local Jew, I don’t care if he runs a fucking bagel shop, he’s got to go.
In 2018, Heimbach attacked his father-in-law and fellow white supremacist, Matthew Parrot, after Parrot confronted him for having an affair with Parrot’s wife – and Heimbach’s mother-in-law. Parrot is also the biological father of Heimbach’s wife, Brooke, who Heimbach then attacked in front of his own child, after she also confronted him about the affair. Heimbach soon found himself in jail for domestic abuse, his second violent assault after attacking a young African-American woman at a Trump rally while a group of neo-Nazis screamed racial slurs.
Fascist Matt Heimbach has been trying to get inside East TN Democratic Party circles by saying he’s part of DSA. He’s not, and every East TN Dem should be on notice that this man is a fascist and will promote racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism https://t.co/04hOiASBHD pic.twitter.com/ukSYrodVB3
— Chattanooga DSA🚂🌹 (@dsa_chatt) August 14, 2018
Following Heimbach’s imprisonment, the TWP quickly fell apart and some on the fascist far-Right disowned him. When Heimbach got out of jail, he attempted to join a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), but was quickly removed. He then attempted to re-brand himself as a “former” white supremacist and began working with the much discredited group, Light Upon Light (LUL), however while online, Heimbach continued to post in support of fascist leaders, anti-Semitism, and white racial nationalism. Around this time, Heimbach famously did an interview with “libertarian socialist” folk-singer David Rovics, where, in a dramatic retelling of his origin story, argued that anti-white sentiment on the Left thrust him into the arms of open white supremacists.
By late 2020, Heimbach had begun to brand himself as a “National Bolshevik,” an ideology that attempts to mix together Stalinism and Hitler’s national socialism and anti-Semitism. In June of 2021, Heimbach was also outed when he attempted to worm his way into speaking at a “Medicare for All” rally. Heimbach also began producing a YouTube show entitled, “National Bolshevik Radio,” alongside a member of Patriot Front, a re-brand of the neo-Nazi group, Vanguard America.
As one report on It’s Going Down wrote:
According to the same podcast Heimbach worked on throughout 2020, he expressed a desire to bring together third positionists, Strasserites (left-wing neo-Nazis), and National Bolsheviks. On social media, Heimbach has also continued to praise the works of fascist and Holocaust denier David Irving and hold up ultra-nationalist, fascist, and anti-Semite Corneliu Zelea Codreanu as an ideological hero.
[Heimbach has] never addressed the violence committed by himself and other [TWP] party members, which includes: multiple antifascists being stabbed in 2016 in Sacramento by members of his organization; the murder of Heather Heyer at Charlottesville (the killer supported a member of an umbrella organization that Heimbach led); his association with neo-Nazi groups like Atomwaffen Division who advocated terrorism and have been linked to five murders; and his knowledge about Highlander Civil Rights Center arson—not to mention his own open embrace of exterminationist politics, including calling for the murder of all Jews. This is to say nothing about his own history of domestic abuse which became so toxic that even other neo-Nazis wanted nothing to do with him.
On the recent Patriotic Socialist Front livestream, Heimbach expressed similar sentiments: wanting to build a coalition including far-Right fascists, neo-Nazis/national socialists, and “Patriotic” socialists such as himself. Whether Heimbach is calling himself a national socialist, a Strasserite, Patriotic socialist, or National Bolshevik – doesn’t really matter, the views are almost identical: they all call for an authoritarian, fascist state, ethnic and racial nationalism and separation, stanning Putin, China, and North Korea, promoting anti-Semitism, embracing patriarchy and the “traditional family,” and hatred of the LGBTQ community in the name of “Christian values.”
YouTuber Jimmy Dore at the far-Right ‘Defeat the Mandates’ rally in Los Angeles.
And if Heimbach is looking for allies among the “Rage Against the War Machine” crowd, he’s come to the right place. Alongside washed-up YouTubers like Jimmy Dore and crusty politicians like Ron Paul, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, and Tulsi Gabbard, the rally will feature speakers from the Alt-Right adjacent Mises Caucus of the Libertarian Party, a musician associated with the Oath Keepers militia, followers of the fascist and anti-Semitic LaRouche movement, “journalists” with the pro-Russia outlet, GrayZone, and promoters of “MAGA Communism” and the pro-Putin group, the Center for Political Innovation (CPI), which recently dissolved after former members came forward documenting abuse at the hands of the group’s leader, Caleb Maupin.
As Daily Kos wrote:
[W]hen you run down the list of speakers, it’s hard not to notice that the supposed “left-wing” voices scheduled to appear onstage are all part of a faction of self-described progressives who, in the name of establishing their credentials as “independent thinkers,” have embraced a variety of far-right talking points ranging from the war in Ukraine to COVID-19 denialism. The rest of the roster is filled out with extremist demagogues associated either with the far-right Lyndon LaRouche cult or the antidemocratic “Patriot” movement that formed the nexus of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In a nutshell, it’s a roster designed to promote a “coalition of the left and right,” ostensibly against war—but not against the Russian invasion that is its cause in Ukraine. Each of the speakers, in fact, has a record of extremism that ultimately supports far-right causes.
None of those involved in the ‘Rage Against the War Machine’ rally have anything to do with supporting and organizing social movements from below – in fact, many of them are outright antagonistic to grassroots social struggles and have actively worked to attack them. These people also aren’t “anti-war” – many are pro-Putin! Those taking the stage in DC are united insofar as they are interested in growing their online audience and followers, largely by tapping into the wider currents already established by Qanon, COVID-19 denialism, and the Trump movement. For months, people like Jimmy Dore and Max Blumenthal have already been testing the waters by appearing at rallies promoting COVID-19 disinformation and appearing on Tucker Carlson. “Rage Against the War Machine” is just one more logical step for a set of “Left” grifters attempting to establish themselves among the far-Right, in an effort to maintain an audience and revenue stream.
Center for Political Innovation (CPI) holds up Russian and Chinese flags, along with the pro-invasion “Z” symbol.
Real organizing among poor and working people takes work, as does building actual coalitions and relationships with people in our schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces. Looking back at anti-war movements in the past, we can learn from port blockades which stopped the shipment of weapons, counter-recruitment organizing at schools, and mass protests that targeted war profiteers. We can also work to support troops who refuse to fight and those in Russia and beyond who are fighting the war machine on the front-lines. The eruptions of the past six years already give us a grand toolbox to pull from and we should continue to be on-guard against anyone who claims that forming alliances with fascists, white supremacists, and conspiracy theorists will get us anywhere.
To challenge the war machine, we need a mass movement that is broad and inclusive. Agreeing on all issues should not be required.
We urgently need to spark a mass mobilization antiwar movement in North America. There have been good antiwar demonstrations in recent months, but they have been very limited. We need to rapidly expand tenfold.
The Rage Against the War Machine initiative, which is organized by a diverse group of anti-war forces, could do just that. The demands and overall speaker list are very good.
For example Demand 1 is “Not one more penny for War in Ukraine”. They explain “The Democrats and Republicans have armed Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars in weapons and military aid. The war has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions, and is pushing us toward nuclear WW3. Stop funding the war.”
Demand 2 is “Negotiate Peace.” They explain, “The US instigated the war in Ukraine with a coup on its democratically-elected government in 2014, and then sabotaged a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine in March. Pursue an immediate ceasefire and diplomacy to end the war.”
The speakers list contains many eloquent voices for peace and against a militarist foreign policy. There are former members of Congress including Cynthia McKinney, Tulsi Gabbard, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul. There are peace activists such as Anne Wright and David Swanson. There are journalists such as Chris Hedges, Garland Nixon, Scott Horton, Max Blumenthal, and Kim Iversen. Former Green Party candidate Dr Jill Stein will be there. So will Dan McKnight from the veterans group “Bring our troops home.” And there are many more speakers.
Most of those who support the Rally believe it is crucial to broaden the movement and that means allying with others who may have different views on other issues.
The Rage rally focus is on ending the Ukraine war, disbanding NATO and stopping the slide toward nuclear Armageddon. Should they have included other issues such as abortion, trans rights, gay rights, immigrant rights? I have helped organize rallies where those issues were included, but believe it is a mistake to insist on this. The antiwar movement needs to quickly reach way beyond the Left. That means vastly broadening our reach and uniting with some people who think differently about other issues.
The capitalist system is flexible. Having women, people of color and nonconforming gender individuals in key positions does not threaten the system. The war machine continues, as does the grotesque income inequality, severe poverty and institutional racism.
To challenge the war machine, we need a mass movement that is broad and inclusive. Agreeing on all issues should not be required. To make this a demand, and to de-platform anyone who does not agree, is counterproductive. It weakens the antiwar movement and keeps us isolated.
We need to advance our common cause by working together with people who think differently on some issues. We can probably learn from them as they learn from us.
The ruling elite is content when the mass of working people are divided and fighting over racial, cultural and social issues. What threatens the ruling elite is the possibility of a mass movement demanding a change in US foreign policy of aggression, sanctions and wars. What threatens the ruling class are demands for improvement in the lives of all working people.
The Occupy Movement demand to support the 99% against the 1% was clear, accurate and uniting. Similarly, the demand to change US foreign policy and dramatically reduce the military budget has the potential to appeal to a broad majority of Americans.
The current slide toward a catastrophic war between the US and Russia makes it urgent to build a broad movement to oppose militarism and the war machine.
There needs to be a resurgence of energy and activism across the country. Let’s make this weekend’s Rage Against the War Machine as big and successful as possible and do more in the coming months.