Bill Weinberg, on the hard left's strange soft-spot for Putin:
With many Democrats denying the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency on the basis of evident Russian manipulation of the election, it is a bitter irony that the most popular “progressive” voices are rushing to exonerate Moscow of meddling. Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, and Jeremy Scahill are among those effectively seeking to exculpate Vladimir Putin, demanding the CIA show its “evidence,” as if this—and not preparing to resist Trump—were the urgent priority. It also ignores the reality that Trump’s toeing of the Moscow line on Syria, Ukraine, and NATO (not to mention his fawning praise of Putin) strongly points to a quid pro quo....
What explains this sinister convergence of the supposed “left” and the Trump-Putin right? Three explanations come to mind—and they each reveal very muddled and dangerous thinking.
The first is enemy-of-my-enemy thinking, the notion that we must support any side opposing or opposed by the United States at a given moment. This is always an error—it has led “leftists” into such criminally idiotic positions as denying the Bosnia genocide. It makes no sense, whatsoever, in the current context. The United States has not really opposed Assad (with more than increasingly equivocal words), and Trump is no longer an “outsider,” but the U.S. president—openly calling for complete betrayal of the Syrian rebels and giving Putin a free hand in Ukraine.
The second is a Cold War-nostalgist Russophilia that yearns for the days when Moscow claimed to lead world socialism. But, this too gets the political context nearly backwards. If slavish adherence to the Moscow line was an error even back then, it is far less forgivable today. Putin’s nascent dictatorship is far closer to fascism than to communism. Russia’s brave and lonely anti-war dissidents are persecuted, along with feminists and members of the LGBTQ community. The Duma has just passed legislation decriminalizing domestic violence.
The third is the most sinister, and compelling, explanation: the emergence of what is called a “Red-Brown” politics in Europe—namely collaboration between the left and fascists against the West. Nearly eighty years after the Hitler-Stalin Pact, elements of the left are again making peace with fascism. It takes but the most cursory grasp of history to understand what a grave error this is. The Hitler-Stalin Pact did not work out too well, as the German dictator betrayed his Russian counterpart with a surprise invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. However oleaginous Donald and Vladimir may be at the moment, it is easy to imagine the new American demagogue deciding to turn Moscow into a nuclear crater, because Putin made an unflattering comment about the size of his fingers.
There are a few tendencies long at work on the left that make it vulnerable to Red-Brown politics. One is the idea that the liberals are the “real” enemy because they are more insidious than the hard right, and lull the masses into complacency—always a fashionable posture of hard-left machismo. Another is that, after the Iraq disaster, fear of “neocons” has driven much of the left into hands of paleocons (that faction of the policy elite that prefers “stability” under authoritarian regimes) and even the neo-fascists with which they overlap. It is no surprise, for example, that that soft-on-fascism Pat Buchanan, reigning patriarch of paleoconservatism, currently has a piece on his website asking, “Is Putin One of Us?” Pat praises the Russian strongman for his “moral clarity” in opposing the decadence of the West.
This backlash against the neocons and their hubristic dreams of Washington-directed “regime change,” has led to an ironic “leftist” suspicion of authentic revolution. In Iran in 2009, as in Serbia in 2000 and Ukraine in 2014, and even in Egypt in 2011, many “leftists” in the West saw only Washington conspiracies in popular revolutions to bring down oppressive regimes. While people across the Arab world put their lives on the line under the slogan “the people want the fall of the regime,” self-declared progressives in the West only saw “regime change.”
We can only hope that a taste of actual authoritarian rule in Trump’s America will serve to shake some leftists out of their enthusiasm for dictators.
The curious leftist denial of Russian involvement in the election, or indeed of any Russian malevolence, can be seen in the comments to this Guardian CiF piece earlier this week by Hillary's campaign manager Robby Mook, about Putin's anti-Western agenda. What hacking? Where's the proof? And anyway the US is always interfering in other countries....
Also...David Corn - The Mysterious Disappearance of the Biggest Scandal in Washington - why aren't we hearing more about what is, surely, the worst election-related scandal since Watergate?