First released November 20, 2019. Available here.
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Ani White: We’re on the line to Daphne Lawless, in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Daphne would you like to introduce yourself?
Daphne Lawless: I’m always not sure how to introduce myself, but I’m a writer, musician, a political activist, a goalkeeper, an electric bike rider, and the mother of a rambunctious toddler. I’ve been called an acerbic left-wing theorist but I prefer to think of myself as a meme-pool chlorinator. And I’m part of the editorial group of Fightback, Australasia’s very best radical left quarterly magazine, and everyone should get a subscription to that right now.
Ani White: We’ll head straight in then. What do you understand by Red-Brownism?
Daphne Lawless: The most simple way to put this is that Red-Brownism is fascism that disguises itself as socialism or communism. Now, people sometimes had trouble grasping that idea because they think of fascism and communism as polar opposites, which in the real world they should be. But people have a wrong idea about what fascism means. Fascism doesn’t just mean a dictatorial government or white supremacy, although it usually includes both those things, fascism is a right-wing mass movement, a movement which is usually based on the downwardly mobile middle class and the really, really poor and alienated who have nothing to lose. And in that sense it has a similarity to socialism that it’s a movement against the ruling class, but a socialist movement will aim to organise the working class and get them to see their universal interests against the capitalist class. But on the other hand, a fascist movement tries to mobilise people around threat and privileges, like it will try to mobilise them around white skin privilege or Christianity or nationalism or homophobia, transphobia, that kind of thing. And the other thing that’s important to understand about fascism, is not only it’s a mass movement but the bad kind of mass movement, but it’s anti-rational, fascism rejects logic, rejects science, to a large degree, in favour of gut-instinct, in favour of action, and in favour of violence. Therefore, when we talk about fascist ideology we have to be careful, because fascists don’t really believe in their own ideology. Fascist movements – I think of them as parasites as well as chameleons because they tend to use whatever ideologies are popular in the society that they’re arising and use them as camouflage to sneak into the mass movement. In the way that Hitler’s party cynically put the word ‘socialist’ into National Socialist German Workers Party because socialism was popular in ’20s Germany. So Red-Brown politics is fascism which disguises itself as socialism.
Another variation that you might want to talk about another time is eco-fascism which you could call a Green-Brown politics. But a Red-Brown movement will use socialist language, will talk about being for the working class and opposing capitalism. But they don’t mean by the same way that socialists mean. By ‘workers’ they mean – in Western countries – white cishet workers from traditional cultures and religions. And when they say ‘capitalists’ it specifically means capitalists who aren’t part of that ethnic or cultural in-group. The classical fascist idea is that capitalism, in general, isn’t bad, it’s Jewish capitalism that’s the problem. In Aotearoa/New Zealand we often get the variation that it’s Chinese capitalism. So, Red-Brown politics is appealing to the poor and the downwardly mobile within the majority cultural groups, by appealing to their cultural chauvinism, nationalism, religious bigotry, as opposed to actual socialism which appeals to their common class interests. So, Red-Brown politics is the wolf in sheep’s clothing to put it in a very brief way.
Ani White: Yes,
you mentioned we might want to deal with eco-fascism in a future
episode, and we are looking to do one on populationism. We’re
starting from the premise of ‘Thanos was wrong’ and comparing an
eco-socialist approach with a populationist thought or Malthusian
So in terms of Red-Brownism, what’s the contemporary form? How’s it spread in this conjuncture and who’s spreading it?
Daphne Lawless: Well, in my articles I’ve used the metaphor of Red-Brown ideas as spreading like a virus – a zombie plague. Now, under capitalism there’s always small reservoirs of the disease, to use this metaphor – loyal fascist subcultures. In normal times these are your typical skinhead bonehead gangs or your Hitler cosplayers with their shiny jackboots and stuff like that. More recently we’ve found it online in the form of nihilist forums like 4chan and the various copycats of that. But a crisis, and I think we’re pretty clear that neoliberal capitalism has been in crisis particularly since the great recession of 2008. So in situations like this, a fascist virus can break out and spread among the general populations if it finds a kind of a camouflage, if it finds a way to present itself if it appeals to public common sense. And the public common sense since 2008 is that there’s something dreadfully wrong with the globalised capitalist system that has built up over the last twenty years. Average people understand that the idea that neoliberal globalisation has only benefited a small international upper-class layer, whereas most ordinary people have suffered, lost their livelihoods, in some cases, lost their communities.
In the current situation, you might expect socialism to be able to step-up and take advantage of that but I think there’s been a kind of a political vacuum on the left. A political vacuum [that] goes back to the fall of the Soviet Bloc in the late ’80s. Whether you supported the Soviet Bloc or opposed it, or had a kind of a nuanced position around it, the existence of the Soviet Bloc was the compass by which the Western left up to 1989 oriented themselves. But suddenly one of the superpowers fell over overnight and you were left with the United States lead Western Empire – or, sorry, the Western Military Alliance is more correct to say – being dominant around the world and using it to push out and increase liberal globalisation. The problem is that the left in this period had taken quite a few intellectual shortcuts. Before 1989, well, before the 1970s capitalism was basically a closed border system with fixed exchange rates, import controls and every little capitalist country was more or less isolated from the other countries. And in those situations social democratic parties, labour parties and/or trade unions could get themselves in the position of power within that system. Now, neoliberal globalisation in the ’90s wiped that out. Well, not so much wiped it out but knocked holes in it. So you’re in a situation where these old ideas of what workers’ solidarity would look like on a national basis no longer worked. So the left failed to come up with an alternative vision of what the next step beyond neoliberal globalisation might be. We haven’t figured out what a socialist working-class globalisation might be.
For most of the past 20
or 30 years, the left has been one big ‘no’. I think that’s actually
the slogan of the movement around Seattle, ‘one big no, many yeses’.
But the problem is that you were anti-imperialism,
anti-globalisation but there was a complete lack of clarity of
what might fill that void. What is really important, that I really
want to hammer home, again and again, is there are two critiques of
neoliberal globalisation. There is a left-wing one and there’s a
right-wing one. My belief is that much of the movement of the last
few years has ceased to be able to tell the difference. So, in the
absence of an organised and competent working class on a global
scale, it’s common sense, it’s scare-quotes ‘obvious’ that the
organising against neo-liberal capitalism should appeal to things
like nationalism, to tradition, to suspicions of intellectual elites
because those things are anti-neoliberal. And those are all things
that the socialist movement spent most of its history fighting about.
But when you push yourself in a position where anything that you can
hit neoliberalism with is a good weapon then why not pick up
these nationalist and backwards ideas? So, basically the answer to
the question ‘why is Red-Brown politics spreading?’ It’s because
neoliberal globalisation has been discredited in the minds of many
working people but instead of a project of working-class
self-organisation, people were just grabbing onto any anti-neoliberal
ideas and not making a distinction between the left and the right.
Another aspect in this, of course, is to some degree Red-Brown forces are being promoted by state actors, for example, Russia. Not that Vladimir Putin is a convinced Red-Brown or anything, but his interest in busting up the global neoliberal rules based orders, fomenting these kinds of dissidents in the Western countries is in his state interest. You get that phenomenon where RT and the other state media in Russia have given airspace to dissidents in the West, dissidents in America and it doesn’t matter if they are far left or far right dissidents. They just want to get people on the air who can rark up resentment in America. The people hang out in green-rooms and the chat to one another on these things. So, Russia are promoting this definitely, I don’t care what Glenn Greenwald says about it. Russia is definitely promoting this. But it’s pushing at an open door because the left in the West has lost the ability to tell the difference between the Red and the Brown and Red-Brown politics are the natural outcome of that.
Derek Johnson: Yeah, I noticed after Battle of Seattle – which was around the times I myself was getting more into radical politics – after the ’99 -2000 or so era, I saw how a lot of people in the anti-globalisation left were warning that fascists and Third Positionists were trying to infiltrate the different movements. And trying to, like what you’re saying, make these arguments against globalisation that were really hidden arguments against globalism and ‘the Jews’ and making these nationalist arguments especially hidden behind the idea of localism. There was a good movement at a point, that came out of the Social Forums, where people actually came up with a positive program of alter-globalisation.
Daphne Lawless: World Social Forums, yeah.
Derek Johnson: That was going for a while and debt-relief and all these things, but it kinda then drifted back into what you’re describing, probably after 9/11 or after that, and it’s like that whole focus on anti-globalisation or alter-globalisation just kind of faded to the background.
Ani White: Yeah, I think Adbusters is a good example where they ran some anti-Semitic material. But then crucially during Occupy, where obviously they played a founding role, the founder actually explicitly advocated that the Occupy movement and the Tea Party movement should unite. Which is explicitly advocating a Red-Brown alliance, like that’s a true Red-Brownist strategy.
Daphne Lawless: I was just saying, yes, that Occupy vs the Tea Party and you’ve seen that recently with Red-Brown figures like Caitlin Johnstone, the Australian blogger. I don’t even know where she came from but she’s been calling for an alliance of the radical left with the alt-right, with people like Mike Cernovich. And *sighs* I despise that lady in particular because she managed to brainwash Roger Waters into believing Assadist propaganda and I’m very grumpy about that. Yeah, yeah! Roger Water credits like Caitlin Johnstone with opening his eyes to the fact that White Helmets are gassing people was.. oh, whatever nonsense Roger believes. He’s a disturbed old man.
Derek Johnson: I haven’t been able to listen to his music since then. I’m a big fan of Pink Floyd. And he *sighs* yeah.
Ani White: I’ve had to eliminate Morrissey. I haven’t quite eliminated Roger Waters but I’m quite grumpy with him.
Daphne Lawless: His last album, his new solo album, is actually pretty good but I can’t listen to it anymore because of that.
Derek Johnson: *laughs* Alright, so Daphne you’ve written a lot on the concept of Conservative Leftism. Can you explain that thesis?
Daphne Lawless: Well, when we’re talking about Red-Brown, Conservative Leftism is the first stop, it’s the top of the slippery slope and Red-Brown politics is the bottom of the slippery slope, to put it that way. Conservative Leftism, as I was talking about before, it’s leftism which is so one-sidedly anti-neoliberal that it adopts social conservative ideas because they are anti-liberal, so it appeals to social conservativism, to nationalism, to anti-intellectualism, to Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism [TERFism] and that kind of thing. So, to use a metaphor from Trotsky, it’s the scratch that leads to the gangrene of Red-Brown, so it’s like the opening of the door, as it were.
Derek Johnson: So it might as well be the same as Red-Brownism?
Daphne Lawless: No, no, no, no, no. Nah. I mean the thing is, it’s a dialectical process – quantity turns into quality. So it’s the first step. You don’t want to call it the same thing because some people have gently suggested that I’m like one of those paranoid people in a zombie movie who runs around shooting everybody ’cause I think they’re a Red-Brown. And that’s a danger, that if you begin to think that Conservative Leftism is the same thing. There’s a difference between appealing to nationalism and appealing to white ethnonationalism. It’s a whole spectrum. At some point, quantity turns into quality.
Derek Johnson: It’s a distinction and a difference, okay..
Lawless:Yeah, yeah. Bernie Sanders isn’t a communist for the same
reason a Conservative Leftist isn’t a Red-Brown.
Ani White: One way you’ve put it in the past is that it’s not the same but it offers no intellectual defence against Red-Brownism. So a good example would be, a few years ago we had the movement against the privatisation of power, or extended privatisation of power, in New Zealand and that wasn’t in any way a fascist movement but it had sort of nationalist ideas. They refused to exclude fascists from their events. So again, it offers no defence against fascism even though I’d say that was more sort of broadly social-democratic consciousness. A lot of Māori people were involved for example, I don’t think it was a white nationalist movement by any means.
Daphne Lawless: Yeah,
it’s the top of slippery slope is the metaphor I like to use. It
opens the door.
You get this thing in New Zealand – overseas people might not be aware of this, but there is a fellow in New Zealand called Brian Tamaki, now he’s a Māori televangelist who has his despicable fundamentalist Christian cult which has on certain occasions attempted to branch into right-wing politics. And right now his wife has set out a new political party which, basically, it’s got a fascistic program but a lot of people get confused about that because Tamaki’s church and his politics are also very much about Māori pride and self-belonging. I don’t know, for Americans you might think of certain factions in the African-American movement who’ve drifted into racist or very right-wing attitudes. But the problem in New Zealand is that a lot of people on the left – especially people who are Māori on the left – give Brian Tamaki the time of day basically because he’s making all these noises about ‘Māori people have to stand up’, you know, ‘men in the community have to stand up and take responsibility for this’.
Hone Harawira who is a left-wing Māori activist, you would call him a definitive Conservative Left Māori activist because he’s very much pro-poor but he’s also very socially conservative. He actually wanted to have a prohibition against tobacco at one point. He’s a big friend of Brian Tamaki and Hone’s no fascist but he will defend Brian Tamaki and say ‘oh, why are you just excluding this stuff?’ That’s the way Conservative Leftism opens the door to Red-Brownism, the scratch becomes gangrene, you slide down the slippery slope. If you accept these left-right alliances eventually you are not going to be able to tell left from right anymore and that’s the confusion in which actual fascism grows.
Ani White: So you got onto the question of overdiagnosis or the question, ‘are we just blasting chunks out of the living?’ Do you have any more comments on that?
Daphne Lawless: Well, I’ve been accused of being a Red-Brown. *laughs* That’s quite funny because … there are a lot of unhinged people in the social media discourse around the ongoing war in Syria. And I found myself agreeing with people who say that socialists who are supporting the Assad regime, they’re going down the tankie Red-Brown path. But then I’ll say I don’t support Western military intervention because that would just make everything worse. Then I get turned around and [they] say ‘Well, what are you? You’re a Red-Brown just like all the other leftists!’ And you just have to go ‘Yeahhh’. Which is why I think the concept of Conservative Leftism as the larval phase of the problem is useful as a distinction – you’re opening the door but you haven’t gone through it yet. So it’s good to keep distinctions in there.
Ani White: There’s another criticism that was made by a New Zealand podcast, actually someone that we’re going to be hosting on this episode, Tyler, and he argued that Conservative Leftism is more regionally specific. So he thought what you describe is actually really useful for understanding things that occur in New Zealand which has sort of a tradition of nationalist social democracy and some sort of weird ‘Little New Zealand’ ideas. He argued that that’s less relevant in the USA and that these are regionally specific things rather than this trans-national Conservative Leftism. So how do you respond to that?
Daphne Lawless: Well, I don’t agree with that at all because you can see that large numbers of… I wouldn’t say Bernie Sanders himself, but the Bernie Sanders’ campaign themselves want to appeal to a nationalistic social democracy. Even though the United States doesn’t have an institutional tradition of that that doesn’t stop the ideas flowing up. You can see a lot of the people who back Bernie Sanders, you might also talk about about the Dirtbag Left people, the Chapo Trap House people and the StupidPol Reddit, specifically those guys, they are replicating Conservative Left talking points in real-time on United States social media. They talk about how ‘the working people’ – the Trump fans, that’s who they think are the working people and that’s part of the problem – would happily vote for Medicare For All and forgiving student loan debt if only the left would stop making these wild comments about having freedom of movement across borders and supporting gay people and trans people. In other words, they’re saying ‘well, if we throw the most vulnerable workers under the bus then maybe the more privileged workers will want to join the socialist project’. These are more or less identical – and Ani can most probably confirm this – to the things that Conservative Left bloggers like Martyn Bradbury or Chris Trotter put around in New Zealand.
Derek Johnson: Yeah, I was just gonna say that started a lot here, on YouTube there was a lot of people years ago, where the first wave was people who were part of the so-called skeptic movement, then they would start calling themselves anti-SJW and they would call the leftists, they would call the rest of us ‘regressives’ for not hating on Muslims. So then it became actually an alt-left, where originally that was something that somebody, some centrist that supported Hillary Clinton or somebody else, had written about that in a blog. Originally that was an epithet that was even used by Trump when he refused to take responsibility for Charlottesville and eventually a lot of these anti-SJW people on YouTube they were trying to come up with a name for themselves so eventually they settled on alt-left. And I had tried to tell people that, ‘you know, there is an alt-left out there’, people would say, ‘oh no, it’s just that blog, it’s just Hillary supporters inventing propaganda to slander the left’. And, no, it actually became a self-fulfilling prophecy of people who were anti-SJW liberals who became this alt-left.
But, what were you gonna say Ani? You said you knew about some blogger?
Ani White: Yeah, so you were talking about Martyn Bradbury, and he, for people who don’t know, he’s basically the most prominent, now, left blogger in New Zealand so he has the most popular blog which is The Daily Blog. He puts out all sorts of horrible shit. When the Labour Party started attacking people with so-called ‘Chinese surnames’, he got into this thing that China is colonising New Zealand and now Pākehā [European New Zealanders] are gonna understand what colonisation is like. What was funny is then a week later when it didn’t work out for Labour in the polls he attacked them for their opportunism and using this Sinophobia, when he had blatantly gone to an even worse extreme than they did. But also when the Green co-leader made this anti-immigration comment, and then eventually because of pressure from inside the party he apologised for it, Martyn Bradbury attacked him for apologising and said that that was the party appealing to the middle class. As if migrant workers are somehow more privileged than other workers. It’s this sort of idea of the liberal elites against the white working class, which is definitely opening the door to fascism even if I wouldn’t necessarily say that he was one.
So how do you respond to those arguments that we have to appeal to the left-behind white working class, that that’s the strategy?
Daphne Lawless: Well, of course, we have to do that, we have to appeal to the whole working class, but appealing to them as white rather than as working class is the Red-Brown move. I mean, socialists believe that universal class solidarity is the only thing that can sustainably improve the lives of all working people and solidarity means explicitly rejecting misogyny, racism, homo and transphobia, religious bigotry, and all the other things. The problem with left-behind white workers, the kind of people who voted for Trump – they didn’t vote for Trump because they honestly thought he’d give them back jobs – they thought that he would put the minorities, the uppity women folk, the queer people back in their places. So they could feel better about themselves, so they could have a reformed privilege. We wanna [appeal] to all workers but if a section of white workers, left-behind, even if they’re really poor and struggling don’t want to hear the message of universal class solidarity because they refuse to confront the way that racism and bigotry sabotages class solidarity then you’ve got to say, like Public Enemy, ‘I can’t do nuttin’ for ya man’. You’ve got to start building with the people who want to work now. The definition of backwards opportunist politics is allowing the class movement to be slown down to the most backwards and bigoted people. If you start by organising the advanced workers, the people who are really ready to hear the message of universal class solidarity then, if you do it right, there will be space for the Trump voters to join but they are going to have to deal with their own need to hold on to the psychological wage. It was W.E.B. Du Bois who talked about psychological wage, wasn’t it. Giving that up is the price of universal class solidarity.
Derek Johnson: ‘The Wages of Whiteness’, yeah. I find these class reductionist arguments very, very troubling because this is structural white supremacy and these are appeals to white supremacy. It ignores that in North America the working class is majority Black, people of colour and women. But they act like the baseline generic working class person is just some white man or rural white man. It’s ahistoric and definitely out of touch with current reality and class breakdown.
Did you have any other comments on that question before we go on to the next question Ani?
Ani White: Yeah, just about Trump’s base. It’s about 25%, right? It’s about the 25% that’s most economically privileged, so this idea of it being the ‘left-behind’, I think the left-behind is the about 50% of people who aren’t voting, who are the most impoverished and disproportionately working class. So yes, I’m sure there are some people in that 25% we can maybe appeal to on a class basis but I wouldn’t say it’s where we start, we start with the other 75% who are people who are either progressive and liberal or who are actually disenfranchised. Which is not primarily Trump’s 25%. He didn’t gain any significant share overall compared to any previous Republican candidate. So if you look at the share of the vote it’s quite steady, the last few Republican candidates. It’s just that it’s declined with the Democrats since Barack Obama. Of course there’s this – people were really concerned about this electoral calculation of the Obama voters who switched to Trump but they’re very much a minority. But it’s just this whole swing state fixation, there’s this electoralist logic that this particular minority of white workers is apparently the most crucial demographic when you’ve got like 75% of the working class to not vote for Trump.
Derek Johnson: That’s a very good point because the average Trump supporter / Trump voter of that 25%, they make over $40,000 a year and up. There are people few and far between in the Appalachias, the suburbs and the rural areas et cetera that were middle class, working class and below that voted for Trump hoping he would bring jobs back to the factories. But those people were the minority of his voters and then the rest was, again, those rich petit bourgeois people and the billionaires and the religious right, which was [the] other coalition who got behind him. And again the largest group was non-voters during that last election, so really more people didn’t vote.
Daphne Lawless: Can I pop in to say something that somebody was talking about – it might have been Ani – about … the Conservative Left Red-Brown spectrum, you might call it. The people they hate the most are the liberal elites. They don’t mean, necessarily … when they talk about that they’re not talking about liberal billionaires who are the real liberal capitalists or CEOs. They’re talking about movie-stars, academics, writers or TV, media people, all those people who are the middle class. The best way I’ve found to explain how Conservative Leftism starts is it comes from those sections of the middle class who haven’t done well out of neoliberalism trying to start a movement against their rivals. The rivals … because neoliberalism has, for all its many and varied forms, also brought in with it the language of diversity, the language of tolerance, the language of, you know … it’s rainbow washing. Just like having token queer or trans people in there. But it’s still better, it is an advance on the total invisibility that it was in capitalism from the ’70s before. You have to remember that there was a reason that, the 1960s were the high point of social democracy and managed liberal capitalism worldwide and there’s a reason people rebelled against that. There’s a reason not only workers rebelled against it, but young people, the hippies, and the punks rebelled against it because it was stultifyingly conservative and based on fixed borders and very, very traditional institutions and bureaucracies. People wanted to break out of that. The reasons neoliberalism became hegemonic is because it appealed to that idea that people wanted freedom. Of course, under neoliberal capitalism the freedom that you get is the freedom to starve, the freedom to live under a bridge, the freedom that a stray cat has.
But people aren’t going to go back into the closet because they’re going to be told ‘oh but everybody had a job back in the old days’, that’s really not how it works. In New Zealand the Conservative Leftists like Trotter and Bradbury just go on-and-on-and-on about the Norman Kirk government of the 1970s which was the high point of social democracy in New Zealand. But you can’t go back to that. This whole thing … it goes to the question of populism. Ani and I have talked before about the difference between left-wing and right-wing populism. I think the essential thing is a left-wing populism building a class base of the middle class and the working class and various other people against the real elites, the capitalists. Whereas the basic move of right-wing populism, of which fascism is an end case; is the most extreme case, is that elites are organising the working class against the middle class. The classic example of this is Louis Napoleon, the original Napoleon’s nephew, got himself elected president of France in 1848 and so many people were frustrated with all the capitalist politicians bickering and stabbing themselves in the back, that there was real mass support when Louis Napoleon did an auto-coup and declared himself Emperor Napoleon III. He had regular referendums where the people would say ‘Yeah, you go for it Your Imperial Majesty!’. So before fascism came along, Napoleon III was the ur-case of this sort of right-wing populism where the elites organised the people at the bottom against the people in the middle. That was what Karl Marx talked about in his book ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon’. The Conservative Left / Red-Brown spectrum today is that same move, this whole idea that riling up the bottom of society, the downwardly mobile society against the elites. But the right-wing populism version isn’t the media elites, isn’t the actual capitalist elites, it’s the middle class elites and the actual capitalists are in the background going, ‘Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Go get it!’. So that’s an important way to remember the difference between the left-wing and right-wing populism. Not that left-wing populism is unproblematic.
Derek Johnson: That’s an excellent point because this neoliberal Colours of Benetton seemed to have started in the ’90s under the Clinton administration. I’ve seen in the last ten years an embrace among these people that has coalesced in these types of leftists; an attack on neoliberal diversity and making the same arguments against multiculturalism. Now it’s drifted into ‘all multiculturalism or identity politics is neoliberal distraction keeping us away from class reductionism’. I think you’re speaking to that quite well. It’s a cute little trick there that’s happened and it re-centres and it refocuses class politics again on cis white men.
Daphne Lawless: Well that was the second wave – the Bill Clinton / Tony Blair as opposed to the Thatcher / Reagan / Pinochet administration. The Labour government we had in New Zealand in the 1980s was a real forerunner of the that because brought in extreme neoliberal economics, privatise everything, deregulate everything, float the dollar, let the corporations sell off state assets. Then on the other hand, they were the ones who refused American nuclear warships to come into our harbours which disrupted the military alliance with the States. They recognised the Treaty of Waitangi with the indigenous people, they legalised homosexuality, so New Zealand was ahead of the curve in that regard.
Ani White: Another thing there is that Thatcher called feminism a cancer, so the first wave of neoliberalism, if you look at Thatcher, Reagan and Pinochet was strongly socially conservative. I agree, it appealed to this very nebulous idea of freedom. But really the alliance between social liberalism and neoliberalism, it’s only ever been a partial, occasional, tactical alliance. The New Zealand Labour Party did that. They had this diverse neoliberalism and certainly later on the Third Way; Tony Blair, Clinton, they also did that to a degree but it’s not this permanent or inherent alliance between socially progressive politics and neoliberalism. That’s just something that sometimes neoliberal actors have latched onto. It’s like you said, it’s about hegemony and hegemony involves alliances. It means that to achieve a certain political project you maybe make some concessions or form some alliances to get there. And the left has seemingly lost that sense that these alliances are contingent, or at least some people then brought into this idea that somehow diversity is the problem or globalism is the problem. Because we had the centre liberal, rather than the centre right party bring in neoliberalism which is basically why, as you get more into New Zealand history, Muldoon who was the last Keynesian, famously, and also viciously socially conservative, you’ve actually had some Conservative Left types who’ve explicitly harked backed to Muldoon who was National Party. He was the right-wing party, but they’ve harked back to Muldoon as the last Keynesian.
Daphne Lawless: Which is so ironic because I honestly think Muldoon was the closest thing New Zealand’s ever come to Trump, except Muldoon had half a brain.
Derek Johnson: The next question also, as we’ve been talking with zombies and everything, I’ve called them Pod People from the very beginning, because I just love Body Snatchers movies so much. Like a nihilistic horror movie with the Body Snatchers taking over the whole town little by little and there’s always a lot of gaslighting dedicated to none of this actually occurring no matter how obvious the examples. People just like ‘what Red-Brown?’ Is that just an example of troll culture invading our politics or something more sinister?
Daphne Lawless: Troll culture is pretty sinister in and of itself. Go back to Walter Benjamin who was a leftist philosopher in the 1930’s. He characterised fascism as politics being reduced to aesthetics. Hitler came in in Germany and he was promising revolution, social awakening, and what you got as the same old capitalist elites in power only you had more flags and parades and marches and more aesthetics going on. I think that is very similar to nihilistic troll culture of the 4chan variety because it’s about shock value above everything else, which means an aesthetic. That’s an aesthetic turned into politics. So I would suggest that of course troll culture hasn’t all turned out of these fascist slogans and imageries, because Stalinist slogans and imagery are equally good for shocking people. But I do think that troll culture is the basis of a lot of this extremely aesthetic politics whether it takes on fascist or tankie forms. It’s despairing about anything ever really changing in the world. It’s just, ‘we’ll fly a different coloured flag and we call each other comrade and that makes things better’. That’s how you can get into situations where these people will be the defending the current People’s Republic of China, which on the inside is pretty much neoliberal economically speaking.
As to the gaslighting, a lot of that is due to – I think it’s an ego defense. It follows a logic of ‘fascists are bad people. I’m not a bad person therefore I can’t be fascist or I can’t be influenced by fascism’. It’s very undialectical to use that Marxist jargon word again. It’s based on this fixed binary and it doesn’t understand how things can change into other things even so quickly that you’re not looking. But you can watch this in real time, I was just watching the other day these unhinged individuals the Austin Red Guards actually invading meetings of opponent groups and starting fistfights. There is another group on the American left that did this in the 1970’s and that’s Lyndon LaRouche’s organisation. Back then they considered themselves to be some kind of communists, some kind of Trotskyism. But that was the dividing point after they’d started actually going in with two-by-fours and baseball bats and smashing up meetings of other communists. That’s when they started making hard alliances with the hard right and the Ku Klux Klan and became a full-blown Red-Brown organisation.
You can’t have these idealistic politics which suggest that if you wave a red flag or, god help you, if you wave a black flag then you’re immune from what Alex Reid Ross has called The Fascist Creep. If you lie down with Nazi dogs you’re going to get up with swastikas. Nobody’s immune unless you recognise the problem and you recognise the drift and you actively avoid it.
Derek Johnson: We have noticed that many liberal activists and Green Party members in North America have repeated Alex Jones level tropes about false flags, while more realistic but false versions are present among the broader far left regardless of sectarianisms. Whether it could be a Maoist, a Stalinist, Trot, Anarchist, or whatever, we’re hearing this same thinking. We saw that with chemical attacks in Syria and bizarre claims, as you’ve mentioned, of the White Helmets faking bomb scenes, that they pulled civilians out of [rubble] on film sets of all things. That seems to be the role of the conspiracy theories in Red-Brownism and especially when it’s weaponised by Assadists and Russia.
Can you go further into conspiracy theories as a concept, their role?
Daphne Lawless: Well, my answer to that goes to quite a dark place. I’m sorry I am going to have to come out with it, that we have to think about what the historical roots of Holocaust denial are. Holocaust denial is a project to make fascism mainstream again. I mean, your average person out in the suburbs, or wherever, might not have any politics but they know genocide is a bad thing. They know that mass murder of civilians, especially little kids, is a bad thing. So for Hitler-style fascism to ever get big again, they’ll have to try to define the holocaust out existence. Alex Jones tried to deny the poor little kids at Sandy Hook out of existence, because that makes it look bad for his whole fanatical defence of white radicals being allowed to keep as many guns as they can eat. It always is about the rights of white people to bear arms when it comes out of Alex Jones. But what you have from the radical left and the liberals…
Can I just stop. When you say the Green Party in North America, do you mean Canada as well? Because I thought that they were less full of unhinged people than the Green Party in the USA?
Derek Johnson: They had a couple people that were outed as neo-Nazis and neo-Nazi adjacent, and pushing neo-Nazi conspiracy theories. I see leftists claim the famous picture of that rescued little Syrian boy in the ambulance seat was a faked photo, and he was a “crisis actor”, just like Alex Jones would say about Sandy Hook. Why is the Western activist left falling for and spreading the same fantastic false flag denialist narratives as the far right?
Daphne Lawless: Yep. Well I call that shitting in the meme-pool basically and what is quite interesting is the whole thing about conspiracy theories is it actually joins in with the whole thing about how contemporary state propaganda coming out of Russia is. Russian state propaganda isn’t trying to push any particular lie. It will push like twenty different lies. That’s how it will have radical leftists and outright fascists on RT, and it doesn’t matter what they’re saying, as long as they are poking holes in quote “the official narrative” from all directions. And that’s how all conspiracy theory works and I’ll tell you what also works – scientific creationism of the fundamentalist Christian way. They don’t try to make a theory that makes sense about how God created the earth in six days because that’s not supposed to make sense. They just try to poke holes in Darwinism.
Derek Johnson: Creating and weaponising doubt.
Daphne Lawless: Yes, weaponising doubt, or as Hannah Arendt said, ‘the totalitarian, the fascist subject is characterised by a mix of gullibility and cynicism’, and she talks about how the people will go along with whatever lie the great leader tells them and when it’s revealed as a lie they’ll say something like, ”So what? He had to a lie to fool the hated enemy”. And you are seeing that in real time with Trump in the United States at the moment.
It boils down to the point that therefore nothing is true, you just like try to destroy science, destroy rationality. Boil it down to ‘nothing is true, therefore everything is true, therefore I can believe whatever I want’. But, as I say, your average person out in the suburbs has an issue with genocide. So the problem with the left in the West in the last 50 years is it’s absolutely been centred around the idea that the United States and Western alliances military interventions are the worst that happens in the world. But a lot of people, as in World War II, will support a military intervention if they think genocide is on the line. This is how in the late 1970’s you had a pretty left-wing theorist, some of you may have heard of him, by the name of Noam Chomsky saying ‘these American lies about the Khmer Rouge doing genocide – I don’t believe them. It just sounds like propaganda to me.’ To his credit, I think he’s pulled back from that a bit now, but the same thing happened in the 1990’s. The people who were at the cutting edge of the Red-Brown movement back then… I am talking about the people who are now Spiked in Britain. They were saying the genocide of the Bosniac people was a lie, and in the same sense it was the same thing. If these terrible crimes against humanity are true, people might want to support Western military intervention, therefore they can’t be true. If you’ve fallen into gullibility and cynicism to that point, then you’ll just be able to say, ‘I don’t really care if it’s true, I’m just gonna say that it’s not true just so that the interventionist narrative doesn’t get a go.’ That’s exactly what these people; what Roger Waters and unfortunately quite a few people in New Zealand and the United States left do when they suggest that White Helmets or the Syrian rebels gassed themselves to get sympathy.
Derek Johnson: I’d also like to mention exactly what you are talking about with making the Holocaust denial mainstream again, was something we talked about on a previous show about conspiracy theories and how there’s the connection between pushing the Flat Earth stuff as making it easier to believe in Holocaust denial and making the connections between those.
Daphne Lawless: Yes, the thing about a conspiracy theory is that it can’t be defeated by rationality, because… the theory can’t be disproved by contrary evidence or lack of evidence, because that’s just part of the conspiracy. So a conspiracy theory is an idea that’s been made proof against logic and rationality. So it’s quite close to a religious belief in that matter. Conspiracy theories are anti-socialist in that, as opposed to Karl Marx’s socialist analysis which suggested that capitalist structures take on a life of the own; that the logic of the system requires people act like this, conspiracy theories pit bad guys against good guys. So the essence of all fascism is rejecting rationality based on the Triumph of the Will, ‘I’ll believe what I want’. When their politics don’t fit with reality they prefer to change reality rather than their politics. That’s the first step down the path into Red-Brown I think.
Derek Johnson: Also, how does this campist anti-imperialism of fools – as I was early to call it as well, and I am glad that other people are calling it that, it caught on – how does that and the anti-war politics of the Western left give way to this nationalism and to programmatic unity with fascists?
Daphne Lawless: Well there has always been the problem… For all my sins, I come from a Trotskyist tradition and the Trotskyist tradition has always had the distinction between what you call political and military support. Which is a nuanced position where you can say, ‘in this war or this struggle, we endorse, we hope one side wins even though we have many, many problems with this one side’. So the classic example is, ‘we hope that North Vietnam wins the Vietnam war even though we have many criticisms of the North Vietnamese State’. Or that, ‘we support a United Ireland even though we have many criticisms of the Provisional IRA’. That kind of thing. But that’s kind of hard to keep in your mind so you get the very bowdlerised version. Part of it is the simplistic not distinguishing between political and military support. Sensible people, I hope, would suggest that in 2003 you can be totally against the Iraq War but offer no political support to Saddam Hussein, but a lot of people didn’t get that memo. That’s one issue of campism that is a very, very brain-dead way to go about things which suggests that anybody who the West don’t like must be a good guy. So you get these people today talking about the wonderful social benefits of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya which comes in great surprise to any actual Libyans.
But there is another aspect and that’s that campism is based on despair of the ability of the working class in the United States and in the West to do anything. Some of the most articulate “tankies” in New Zealand have outright said of there’s no chance for socialism, or socialist revolution, until the United States and the Western Military Alliance have been stripped of their global hegemony. But that’s a stage-ist approach that means that right now the actual people in the West fighting against, or any people, fighting for their lives is less important than Russia or China or India or Iran or whoever getting a leg up on the United States. So that boils down into sheer anti-nationalism. I like to call it reverse-nationalism, just like I was saying before, some people, Orwell talked about people who couldn’t cheer for a King and Country so they cheered for Jo Stalin and the red flag. Now you’ve got these people on Twitter who think the height of internationalism is putting the goddamn flags of Syria and North Korea in their Twitter name.
As to ethnostates, that’s quite interesting because leftists have only gone part way down the slippery slope. People who are Conservative Leftists, or tankies but not Red-Browns, would say they oppose ethnostates. But they they’ll turn around and go, ‘Well, China’s not a ethnostate. Syria’s not an ethnostate.’ Then they have to say, ‘What concentration camps for Muslims in XinJiang?’ So you’re back into that denial. The point where it goes into total Red-Brownism is the idea that I’ve seen raised that you can’t have working class unity and solidarity without ethnic homogeneity. That’s the point where degenerating socialist thought meets fascist thought.
Derek Johnson: A third germ causing this plague that you mentioned is Islamaphobia and West-centrism. Can you explain more?
Daphne Lawless: There has been a problem in the Western left. West-centrism goes back to this idea that nothing can be done until Western military hegemony is removed from the world, which basically suggests that anything that happens like workers uprisings in China, in Iran or freedom struggle in Hong Kong or whatever, that everything is a CIA psyop.
Derek Johnson: I think in Romania as well, there was a colour revolution there too and that was like “Ohhh, it’s the CIA behind this!”.
Daphne Lawless: Everything becomes seen through that. Everything is based on West vs the Rest.
Derek Johnson: Yeah, I think this was one of the first times the left was against a working class revolution against the fascist dictator here in the Syrian revolution. This is very bad. I think it was because at first there was support for the Arab Spring, but once it got to Libya and Syria the left turned on it. And all of a sudden was pro-Gaddafi and then pro-Assad. Assadists always portray him as this secular guy and always ignoring that the Ba’athist Party is fascist and he is a fascist dictator. When people refer to it as a regime or him as a dictator, people act like that is regime change propaganda by the West and that’s very frightening.
Daphne Lawless: There is also this kind of cultural blindness. A lot of Western-leftists, I think you mentioned it yourself before, that when the skeptic movement turned into anti-SJW, alt-right, the people around Richard Dawkins revealed themselves as quite reactionary.
Derek Johnson: Christopher Hitchens, they kind of went his way.
Daphne Lawless: Hitchens, yeah! …Marx’s criticism of religion was based on the 19 century role of the church in Europe. The relationship of Islam’s popular movement in the Middle East, in India, all over the incredibly diverse Muslim world is completely different.
Derek Johnson: I think the problem here though is the leftist scene is anti-clerical, especially for anarchists, and antireligious and everything but I’ve seen online arguments just even recently and seen the toxic influence of New Atheists. There is this attack on Islam and ignoring the role of racialised Islamophobia, in its place in the War on Terror, and how that’s different than just criticising fascist Christians here in America or elsewhere, and how that aids oppression and war. Also, there is this expectation from Western-leftists that leftists in the Middle East are somehow gonna be secular and atheists, as if if they had any kind of religious or cultural Muslim background that that is somehow sinister. I find that very troubling and, as well, it ignores there are Christian, Jewish and Muslim anarchists and leftists going way back, the whole way.
Daphne Lawless: The Western left has inherited this idea that Islamism is uniquely bad and terrible and, basically, anybody who claims Islam [or] any political movement that claims in Islamic background is reactionary. What this goes through is the Cold War politics of the 1980’s when of course the United States were backing many of the resistance movements in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation, many of whom were Islamist although the Taliban didn’t emerge until ‘90s. Also, I think I read somewhere that some of the Islamic resistance to Israeli occupation is deliberately preferred by the West because they were scared of the communist occupation.
Derek Johnson: PLO was pushed aside in favour of the more radical groups and some of the groups that are like Hamas. There’s even proof of Hamas and – I can’t remember the other group at the moment – being funded even by the West and by England and Israel. And that’s kind of come back to hit them. And also the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was funded by England and American Intelligence Services.
Daphne Lawless: The Muslim Brotherhood, yes. Well of course, intelligence services have got their hands into everything. My classical example would be the god-damned Kaiser gave Lenin a whole bunch of gold and a free train ride back to Russia in 1917. So everything’s got imperialist tentacles in it. My point is that the Western left because of ignorance of how religion actually functions in non-Western countries have tended to assume that all Islamic groups are cat’s paws of American Imperialism, down to the point where they basically actually say, ‘ISIS was something knocked up by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to destabilise poor innocent Assad. The thing about it is that Islamism is a huge spectrum. At one end of the spectrum you’ve got ISIS / Daesh – I would call them actually Islamo-fascists if that word wasn’t ruined by the way Christopher Hitchens used it. At the other end you’ve got a very left wing, like Ali Shariati who was an Iranian radical under the Shah’s regime. He was one of the inspirations for the Iranian revolution, although of course, the conservative clerics got to it afterwards.
So you have got this quite backwards Islamophobic or even racist attitude on the left that Islam is a particularly bad and horrible part of religion. In the West we don’t have that much difference understanding that Christianity can be used to support fascism or has supported radical movements, like the famous Catholic Worker movement in the States for example. This has led over to the conflict in Syria where a lot of people were sucked in by the fact that Assad wears suits, and Assad’s wife went to university in Britain, and she dresses like a Western lady. It is the same kind of racism that the Israeli states rely on – the idea both Assad and Bibi Netanyahu run the line for their Western supporters that, ‘We are the bulwark of civilization against the Islamic hordes’. They say regime changes as if it’s a bad thing! We’re revolutionaries, aren’t we? Aren’t we supposed to be in favour of regime change?
It goes back to, I think 2000 when there was the uprising in Serbia that got rid of Milosevic. I remember at the time reading the Western leftist magazines and, ‘Yes! People power overthrew the nationalist tyrant! Go for it! Go for it!’ But then few years later the narrative of colour revolutions started to come up the idea that, ‘oh, this isn’t a real uprising, this is something that’s cooked up by the United States to get rid of uncomfortable non-Western governments on the sly’. I am not whether sure it came straight out of Russia but I really started to hearing it after the Ukrainian uprising in 2004, so that might have had something to do with it.
That leads me to something I was just reading recently about the YPG, the Kurdish Militias in North Eastern Syria. Those people are quite sincerely secular, but they are kind of a small layer on top of the broader Kurdish population. And what I’ve heard is that when the Western media are going to a Kurdish town and their zones, the militias are gonna go in there before and tell all the women to take their head scarfs off before the Western media get there because they know the value of appearing to be of secular feminist ideas. Because many people of the West have this great cultural imperialism going on to Muslims.
I might as well just answer that another crazy aspect, especially of Western ideas to religion, is some people have the attitude that, ‘Well, the Abrahamic religions are uniquely bad but, for example; Buddhism is a peaceful kind.’ And then you see what Buddhist movements are doing in Sri Lanka or Burma and they can’t understand it. Religion can be used for good or evil, but the left’s incomprehension of non-Western cultures, combined with Islamophobia that we’ve inherited from – not only comes from our own Western background but from the Cold War propaganda of the Russians, who were really desperately trying to discredit the resistance in Afghanistan, and a little bit later on resistance in Chechnya. It climbs into this refusal, this insistence that all the good guys have to look and dress and act like Westerners which, that’s not socialism, not universal solidarity. That’s a step down the road into Red-Brown politics.
Derek Johnson: We are getting towards the home stretch here. I want to ask, what is the ‘Querfront’? Am I saying that correctly?
Daphne Lawless: ‘Querfront’, that’s a German term. It just means cross front. It means a left-right alliance. So, the classic example of a querfront today is Brexit. You’ve got the right-wing populists are running the things, but you’ve got this small contingent of leftists who really think you can’t have socialism unless Britain gets out of the EU, and these leftists are being pulled increasingly to the right. If you haven’t checked it out, you might want to look at a guy called Paul Embry. He was a leader of the firefighters union in Britain and he’s always been very, very pro-Brexit but he’s been increasingly sucked in by these social conservative ideas and he’s actually praising now the Polish Law and Justice Party, who are the right-wing anti-liberal conservatives in Poland. That’s the problem of these cross fronts, they almost always lead to the left being sucked in the rightward directions because, let’s face it, the right have got the corporate funding at the moment.
Derek Johnson: The Western left was already – as we’ve been talking about – having an Assadist and a Putinist problem dividing it, and now we’ve had Trump’s betrayal of Kurdish groups like the YPG, to Turkey causing the YPG to strategically reconcile with Assad and take Russian aid. And that has created a risk, of course, of genocide for the Kurds and new heightened level of Arab – Kurd division that’s gonna play into the hands of all of these imperial powers. I see this as again, the carving up of WW1, just like we are in this situation because of the original carving up of the regions, and now Trump has handed both Putin and Erdogan this victory that puts supporters of Kurdish independence in this strange spot, where now anarchists and antifa are effectively forced to support the fascists, Assad and Putin. Is this kind of a repeat of how the events leading to the rise of Hitler kind of ended the original antifa groups?
Daphne Lawless: I would deny that anybody is forced to support Assad and Putin. I think it’s an absolute tragedy what’s happening on both sides of the conflict in Syria. Basically both the Kurds had to reconcile with Assad as the lesser evil, and the Syrian Arabs have ended up being cat’s pawns of Erdogan, for exactly the same reason. But I have to go back to the point of military versus political support … because the Kurds have been forced to hold their noses and do a lesser evil deal and reconcile with the Assad regime, Western leftists don’t have to follow them in that. You have to have critical support for people in struggle. I don’t think you can blame them but anybody on the Western left who would turn around and say, ‘Well, this means Assad is the good guy’, they need to be informed of what happens in Assad’s jails where nobody ever comes out of. They actually crucify people in those jails some days. There’s no future for Iran under Assad, even if Assad takes control of the entire territory of Syria again. He’s always gonna be propped up by Russia, and he’s got no state under him any more. It’s all the Russian army and Iranian militias and Hezbollah coming over from Vietnam. That place is all going to be all pile of shit for the foreseeable future. It’s really, really tragic.
Derek Johnson: I was thinking originally how Antifascist Action was increasingly Stalinist or at least controlled by a Stalinist group and then they were fighting with the Iron Front and then by the end it was too late because now Hitler [rose] into power and they all got screwed.
Daphne Lawless: I totally agree with that. What happened was nobody took Hitler seriously basically because I don’t think Stalin was a very schematic thinker and Hitler wasn’t part of a schema, and so when the fascists rose in Germany Stalin could only see, ‘Ah, haha! Here’s a shitty stick to beat the social democrats with’. Coincidentally, that’s also what the German ruling class thought, ‘This crazy little Austrian corporal with the stupid moustache. We’ll use his movement to beat up the left with’. And we see what happened in practice.
Derek Johnson: We lost Rosa Luxemburg and Karl.
Daphne Lawless: Well, of course that was long before Stalin and the Third Period and all that. But that is the whole point, that on the left, everybody knows that the conservatives cynically decided to use the fascists as a stick to beat the left but that’s also what the communists did as well. A lot of people don’t know that Stalin actually funded a Red-Brown party in Germany after the war. There was an organisation called the Socialist Reich Party which started up, and were obviously Nazis with a funny hat on, but they were funded by Russian intelligence after the war just to stir up shit in the Western zones of occupied Germany. Partly the problem with the drift towards Red-Brown politics is the zombie plague, as I’ve talked about, is these ideas to catch on because they seem more realistic at the moment, to believe in the power of Chinese People’s Liberation Army than it does the power of the working class. But also sometimes it’s just spread cynically by people who think this is great. You see this in the left at the moment in the United States, a lot of those people think Trump is great because he is in great stick to bash the Clinton’s and Obama’s with. Some of those people, the Michael Tracey’s, I honestly think if Trump came out for Medicare For All and he became a consistent isolationist, they would be wearing the red hats.
Derek Johnson: Same thing with Jimmy Dore who’s now been outed for taking over, what’s that, $2,500 from a pro-Syria, pro-Assad propaganda group? As well as Keith Johnstone and several other usual suspects that we always hear about stanning for Assad.
What are some of the other factions? Some of the leftists I’ve seen some people actually cheering for Erdogan going in.
Daphne Lawless: *laughs* Well, those people are mainly like neoconservatives or what you may even call B52 liberals. The people who I see who are pro-Erdogan tend to be the kind of people who supported the Syrian uprising, but have supported them like from this whole Western liberal point of view. They think the big problem is that the Americans didn’t bomb the hell out of Damascus and invade or, for that matter, that the Americans aren’t invading [and] bombing the hell out of Moscow and invading. Those kinds of people, the people who have been so disgusted with Assadism on the left that it turned against the left altogether.
Derek Johnson: So what is to be done, with all of this?
Daphne Lawless: Well, what is to be done in a general sense is worldwide proletarian revolution *laughs* but what can we do right now as members of this rather isolated political subculture which is being taken over by these zombie ideas? We have to organise around some kind of program, and number one part of that program is insisting on politics which are based on analysis of what is, rather the common sense of society, or memes that are charging around the internet and kind of look like fun. We also need to stand for consistent internationalism, no support for any capitalist state, or state capitalist regime, against another. Support for all working and oppressed people in struggle. Support for the whole working class regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion. We have to reject the idea that supporting minor capitalist states against the West benefits that agenda in any way. I think we need to be firm that Red-Brown politics is poison, like any other form of fascism and needs to be deplatformed.
And lesser of forms of the problem, like campism, like Conservative Leftism, which aren’t the same thing but they need to be strongly fought politically. They need to be debated. What I’m not suggesting is a new sect or spit of anything like that, but we need an end to this kind of fake left unity which means that everybody who calls themselves left or socialists is accepted (Ha! Ha! Why not national socialists for that matter?) and that we shouldn’t argue with one another. In the current really low point of global working-class organisation, Conservative Left and even Red-Brown ideas look more realistic in the here and now. Which is why they can suck people in, if they don’t have the intellectual defences to suggest that only universal solidarity is going to get us where we want. What you have in these groups where you’ve got internationalist socialists and campists, but there is this whole thing like, ‘Oh no, we can’t fight one another because that’s that stereotype of leftists all splitting with one another like Life of Brian, Judean People’s Front’. But if you don’t go that way, then you get a mushy centrist platform which doesn’t actually say anything, because it’s not drawing the sharp lines and making the sharp distinctions.
If we’re talking about the metaphor of the zombie plague, if you want to stop an infection, a plague, you don’t need to start shooting people. You just need to quarantine the people who are most effected, the ones who are too far gone, and you need to give treatment to those in whom the infection is just beginning. By treatment, here I mean comradely debate combined with unity in action. Honestly, I think the biggest problem in the current subcultural left in Western countries is that we’ve lost the idea that that’s possible – that you can call out your comrades when they say garbage that is leading them down a bad path, but you still link arms for common action on what you do agree with. So I think we’ve got to do, the only thing we can do right now with our current forces, is to try to fight for that! Why would I wound his body with bullets when I can set his soul on fire with a slanderous synthpop song?