Does opposing US imperialism and wars mean you’re not really an anarchist?
The answer is obviously “no”, but you wouldn’t think so if you took seriously a most peculiar attack which has been made against us, following on from recent articles on our site.
We weren’t initially even sure if the blog post from “cautiously pessimistic” was worth responding to, as it basically just regurgitates the same memes we were highlighting in the first place.
For instance, one of the main points in our pieces (here and here) is the way in which anyone critical of the neoliberal system and its imperial wars is being automatically accused of supporting states regarded as enemies of the USA.
It is not possible, according to this mindset, that someone could have moral objections to bombing civilians, shooting unarmed protesters or destroying the environment with fracking – anyone voicing such opinions must obviously be working for Putin or Assad.
So how did “cautiously pessimistic” choose to cleverly counter our comments on this phenomenon? By accusing us of “unswerving loyalty to the Russian and Syrian governments”!
Another important theme of our articles was the way that neoliberal imperialists like to hide behind an apparently left-wing, anti-fascist identity in order to attack actual leftists, anti-fascists and anarchists.
We have no idea who the author of the blog piece is, but in choosing the heading “In defence of anarchism and antifascism”, they clearly also want to be seen to be launching their attack from the radical high ground.
If we feel obliged to respond to the article, it is because of the deceit contained in that headline. Obviously neither anarchism nor anti-fascism need to be “defended” from our articles, because we are both anarchist and anti-fascist. What we object to is people who misuse these labels to camouflage pro-war neoliberal views.
Throughout the article, the author goes out of their way to suggest that being an anarchist is somehow incompatible with opposing imperialism.
The argument is a familiar one, but no less stupid for that. If you oppose empires, it goes, you must support nation-states. Therefore you are a statist and not really an anarchist at all.
It is purely on the basis of this rickety reasoning that the author allows themself to claim that we have abandoned anti-statism, discarded “basic anarchist principles” and seem “willing to ditch everything that makes anarchism distinctive, meaningful or coherent”.
Nothing could be further from the truth, as can be seen by reading our material. In our article What is real anarchism, for instance, we very clearly explain that the state is not only unnecessary but “is actually stopping us from living how we should be living. The state is a positive menace to human well-being.”
But the blog author is not going to let actual written evidence get in the way of their smear. Getting rather carried away with their own rhetoric, they melodramatically conclude: “Apparently Winter Oak think it’s necessary to destroy anarchism in order to save it.”
Destroying anarchism by criticising neoliberals and their war propaganda?
A lot of the article makes no sense at all. It seems to be aimed at people who are not actually going to read the whole thing, but will just skim through and come away with the vague impression that it has identified some sort of inner contradiction in our analysis.
The author fails to recognise the difference between mentioning somebody – simply commenting on the unfair way in which they have been attacked – and actually being a political supporter or associate of that person.
For instance, in another cunning bid to somehow prove that we are not actual anarchists at all, the author seizes on the fact that we mention Jeremy Corbyn in the articles.
Now, anyone who has actually read the contents of our website will know that we regard Corbyn, and the Labour Party, as reformists who will do nothing to challenge the existence of the industrial capitalist system.
What astonishes us, and what we try to highlight, is that even their mild form of social democracy is now considered beyond the pale by the neoliberal establishment and their mouthpieces.
There has clearly been a concerted campaign to discredit and destroy Corbyn and his supporters by pro-US, Blairite neoliberals, some of whom pretend they are attacking him from the left, when they are really doing so from the right.
Pointing this out does not mean that we always leap to an “automatic defence of Jeremy Corbyn”, or that criticising Corbyn is “off-limits” for us. How could that be? We are anarchists, not Labour Party people.
In general, the article seems to deliberately mix up what we have said with what other people have said. Readers not paying attention could end up imagining that we were somehow involved in the internal Labour Party controversies, for instance, or that we had expressed some kind of support for Assad or Putin.
The author also conveniently fudges important parts of our exposé of the fake left’s attacks on anti-capitalism.
For instance, the key thing about Alexander Reid Ross’s article on Syria in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz is that he criticises what he describes as “Labour’s tepid response to the Douma attacks and Corbyn’s rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”.
This is simply not an opinion that has any place on the left to which Ross claims to belong. He is not attacking Corbyn from an anarchist or anti-capitalist position, by accusing him of being statist, reformist or a sell-out. Ross is attacking him from a right-wing pro-war position, complaining that Corbyn is not going along with the “bomb Syria” policies promoted by the UK Conservative Party and the US government.
The blog author can’t actually bring himself to support Ross over this, so instead he veers off in a strange direction, declaring: “I don’t believe Ross being wrong on this issue discredits all of anti-fascism.”
Eh? Well, no of course it doesn’t! How could it? Who said it did? Not us, that’s for sure. We are ourselves part of “all of anti-fascism”. Why does he think that criticising Alexander Reid Ross is an attempt to discredit anti-fascism?
What really discredits anti-fascism, in our opinion, is to use it as a device to protect pro-war voices from criticism by the anti-capitalist left.
The blog author also plays down the significance of Caroline O, aka @RVAwonk, (whom Ross quotes in his article and describes as a “public scholar”), commenting merely that she “apparently has some dodgy neoliberal/establishment connections”.
It’s a bit more than that. On her Twitter account she identifies herself as Writer/Editor @Shareblue Media: “We tell real-world stories to give voice to the heroes fighting for American values”.
She is a great supporter of Hamilton 68, the surveillance project which claims to “track Russian propaganda” but in fact amounts to a McCarthyite system of blacklisting people whose views don’t please the neoliberal establishment.
As she tweeted on September 1, 2017: “Hamilton 68 is a great project. I’m hoping to see it expanded even more. I can see a lot of potential for it [to] grow.”
The significance, of course, is that Hamilton 68 is a propaganda project being run by the US state. Its aim is to counter criticism of US foreign policy by claiming that it all originates from enemy states, such as Russia or Syria, and thus is “fake news” which should be kicked off the internet.
Drawing attention to this US propaganda project does not amount to “unswerving loyalty to the Russian and Syrian governments”, even if Hamilton 68 and “cautiously pessimistic” would like you to think so.
There are other very odd accusations scattered across the blog post, such as the suggestion that by not writing about a particular court case in the USA we were “implicitly siding with Fox News, Max Blumenthal and his lawyers, and so with the whole weight of the state apparatus”.
“Implicitly” siding with the “whole weight of the state apparatus” by not writing about an American court case that we hadn’t even heard of? Guilt by omission and association at one and the same time? This really is desperate stuff!
Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress