First released 28 November, 2019. Available here.
Transcription crowdfunding project here.
Ani White: We’re on the line to Peter Soeller from the blog Fashbusters. Peter is an anti-fascist activist from New York City, they’ve been organising for a decade participating independent media projects like Global Revolution TV, covering Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the resurgent antifascist movement under the Trump regime. They founded Fashbusters in May of this year .
Peter, can you tell us about Fashbusters?
Peter Soeller: Yes, Fashbusters is a new anti-fascist blog that a group of us founded this year to deal with explicitly third-position and, what you would call, Red-Brown intersections between tendencies on the left and what we’re seeing; this new white supremacist alt-right movement. So far we’ve put out a few articles that deal with this Dirtbag Left community. We’ve also put out articles about rape scandals within the I.S.O. and articles about the alt-right media network in Canada.
Derek Johnson: What is the alt-left, the anti-IDpol left, and the Dirtbag Left?
Peter Soeller: Alt-left is a term that came about around 2016-2017. Before it gained a more popular connotation it was used to describe anti-fascism which is interesting, as a dismissal comparing the alt-right and the anti-fascist movement. But more recently alt-left has come to refer to an actual reactionary left-wing tendency. A bunch of articles have been written about it already, it mainly describes third-position tendencies and national Bolshevism and authoritarian tendencies. This linkage between authoritarian socialism like Stalinist parties in the West with more nationalist parties in Europe and the US.
Derek Johnson: So this would include Strasserites and such?
Peter Soeller: Yeah. By third-position I basically mean those that seek to move beyond the right-left spectrum, combining the collective aspects of the left and socialism with the authoritarian nationalism of the right. There’s a defunct party in the U.S. founded by Matthew Heimbach called the Traditionalist Workers Party and that, historically, has been the most visible formation of a third-position Red-Brown party in the U.S. But more recently it’s referred to this loose network between more hard-left Stalinist parties like Workers World Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation with European far-right parties and specifically Syrian national parties and Russian nationalist parties.
Ani White: I feel like we missed Dirtbag Left.
Peter Soeller: I forgot to explain. So that’s the alt-left, then there’s this other tendency called the Dirtbag Left and that refers to a group of podcasters and comedians and revolves around this podcast called Chapo Trap House that started in 2016. It was seen as this left-wing, leftists against the centre type idea that eschewed social justice rhetoric and identity politics in favour of being very vulgar and cruel to the powers that be, so to speak. But what we’ve seen more recently with this Dirtbag Left tendency is that they seem very hyper-focused on just attacking liberalism while providing cover for the far-right and also emphasising the vulgar aspects of their humour. So using misogyny to describe liberal and centrist democratic figures, using slurs, making really vulgar jokes about that but all in the vein of the left. A lot of these Dirtbag Leftists, they voice support for the DSA [the Democratic Socialists of America] as well as Bernie Sanders. It doesn’t mean those organisations or Bernie are right-wing people or anything, it’s just this type of reactionary mindset.
Derek Johnson: So why do you think so many Dirtbag podcasts come out of Brooklyn?
Peter Soeller: A good number of these people, especially Chapo Trap house, they’re all white middle-class men so it comes with that.
Ani White: I’d say a few white middle-class women.
Peter Soeller: Yes, there’s some white middle-class women as well. The emphasis I guess is they have the same grievances that the right does in terms of being ‘an embattled white identity’. The other aspect of the Dirtbag Left, which is the most reactionary, is the anti-identity politics left, or what we’d call on the internet edgelord left or StupIDpol.
To back it up a bit, edgelord left refers to podcasts such as Red Scare and Cum Town, and yes, that’s the name of it. These are podcasts that deal a lot less with politics and more about just about the ultra-vulgarity of their reactionary beliefs. They critique Me Too, they’re anti-feminist, they don’t believe in white supremacy, they think that’s a joke, they’re very much into using symbols associated with the alt-right such as Groypers and Pepe the Frog memes. From those podcasts there’s a fanbase community developed online called StupIDpol and this is part of the website Reddit, it was a subreddit called r/StupIDpol. These are basically all the fanboys and replyguys that are obsessed with these edgy podcasters and we noticed a lot of overlap with them and 4chan. StupIDpol’s origins are like LeftyPol, the quote-unquote “left-section” of the politics forum on 4chan. LeftyPol isn’t that different from the right-wing pol forum.
Derek Johnson: Already a sewer.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, it’s already a sewer so just in terms of the commonality of the memes and the trolling and the behaviour it was very obvious that this clique of people came out of that tendency or there’s a lot of overlap. There’s a few people associated with that particular section of the Dirtbag Left who basically their politics overlap straight-up with the alt-right. They’re pro-border control, pro-policing, against anti-fascism, against anti-racism, like I said before they don’t believe white supremacy is even real.
Derek Johnson: I tend to think that people who say that actually are believers in white supremacy.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, there’s people that are true believers in this and that’s what’s interesting. What makes them left or what has caused them to be accepted within left-wing circles is they have vocal support for Medicare for all, for healthcare access, and nominally socialist ideas like that. Another linking factor that makes leftists susceptible to them is their belief in class first ideology or class reductionism; the idea that class is the only analysis through which you can view the world and everything comes down to that. They don’t mean it in a class warfare, class struggle, Marxist or anarchist analysis of that when they’re talking about class they’re specifically talking about this mythological white male hardhat wearing type union guy, that old image of the white working class, that mythos. It’s basically the same critique that you’d have the liberal centre make of the socialist movement writ large but taking it and believing it. This idea that the working class is all just white men who like to crack racist jokes all the time; the hardhat type stuff. It’s really weird because it doesn’t really have a basis in actual organising.
Ani White: A good example of this was in Red Wedge magazine, they did a critique of Angela Nagle where they talked about ‘workerism without workers’ and used the phrase “able-bodied workers”. I saw Nagle responding to that and she said, “well yeah, of course, we support able-bodied workers. It’s able-bodied workers that are going to change things!” It’s like, have you ever been to a picket line?! A real picket line has got people with a range of abilities or a range of, I guess you could say, identities. This conception that it’s all the myth of the able-bodied white male worker, it’s not actual class politics, it’s workerism without workers, the idea that just calling for Medicare For All is a class first politics. A picket line has to involve things like accessibility measures, so I agree there’s this total myth.
Peter Soeller: That’s the thing I noticed immediately when I saw these people, it was that they were talking about things like where I went to actions, I went to strikes, I went to that stuff. Especially being based in New York City of how you could talk about the working-class as this homogenous white idea!? It’s just totally divorced from reality because it’s not what the working-class is writ large. They pull up statistics in terms of the U.S. being 80% or 75% white, and this type of mass-data to explain this shit. But for years I’ve been involved, I’ve been doing this stuff for over a decade at this point and I had never come across this type of thing. They’re basing it in myth. I don’t think these people have actually met working-class people or organised with them. Then this goes to your question of why are they all based in Brooklyn?
Derek Johnson: I’ve noticed that this focus, that sounds very much like the beltway media and the Democrats, where they’re saying that language of the white working-class. Like we were talking about, that is a mythical thing in politics and in existence because the reality, and this is why I think that class reductionism and anti-identity politics stuff really sticks out, is because the majority of the working-class in this country is Black, people of colour and women. To refocus politics back to white men, using the Trump election as an excuse as if the SJWs took it too far and now Trump got elected as the backlash, which is not true. This idea that Trump was overwhelmingly elected by the white working-class which is not true because the majority of his voters make over $40,000 per year. So what’s the point then of an electoralist strategy that is based on catering to racist and bigoted white men who are never going to come around to left-wing or socialist ideas just to ‘own the libs’. I just find this very strange and one of the main people who started this argument or put it into a book was Angela Nagle and her book Kill All Normies. How would you characterise Angela Nagle and what role has she played?
Peter Soeller: Angela Nagle’s interesting in that she was one of the first people to have her book on the alt-right published. I think it was March 2017, before Mark Bray, before Alexander Reid Ross, before all the other authors which became a cottage industry of analyses of fascism, she was on the jump with that. So this book comes out, Kill All Normies, and it was billed as this analysis of internet culture and she painted it as Tumblr vs 4chan. Saying ‘the left was all SJW PC woke people arguing people online with all these 4chan people and then that bled into the streets’. She does link it to Gamergate which I think is interesting because a lot of people didn’t want to link it to Gamergate and there’s a link there. But she accepts the premise that all this stuff comes down to is culture wars and this type of thing. The premise of her book was pretty much, she pins the rise of the alt-right on the Tumblr social justice warriors.
Ani White: The Tumblrites, yeah, the subculture war.
Peter Soeller: ‘The left is responsible for the right because they took things too far. They created a cancel culture type atmosphere that caused alienated white men to become reactionaries.’ It’s this type of idea where if you call someone a fascist enough they’re going to become a fascist, which is really bizarre. What I noticed was that this book and this author was promoted heavily within these podcasting circles. So full disclosure, I started doing a podcast myself with Radio Free Brooklyn at the end of 2017 and throughout of the first half of 2018 and through that process I was able to meet these Brooklyn podcasters. I’ve never met Chapo, I didn’t get that close to the celebrity but I’ve met some of the others, and low and behold, everyone’s favourite author when talking about the topic of anti-fascism was Angela Nagle. It was really weird for me. All the other antifa writers reject her analysis – that’s not where this comes from. It wasn’t until…
Ani White: On that note, where do you think it does come from, the alt-right?
Peter Soeller: What it comes down to is Angela Nagle blames the rise of fascism on social justice warriors which is really bizarre because most other people see it as a reaction to perceived progress that was made under … what it comes down to is there was a Black president and that was the biggest no-no. As much as Obama was fucking mediocre and didn’t do shit and wasn’t a communist or any of that type of thing, it was a betrayal for the psyche of American society which is this white supremacist settler-colonial state. It’s like, ‘I can’t believe they let a Black guy run the show’. That’s really what that rage and reaction comes from. Black Lives Matter, it’s a reaction to Black Lives Matter as well.
The interesting thing that Trump did was take the lack-lustre populist language of the 99% that came out of Occupy and mixed it with the Blue Lives Matter reaction to Black Lives Matter and that was interesting in terms of tracing a third-position because then suddenly you have progressive and liberals and leftists claiming that Trump was anti-war or along that regard. It was like, ‘Trump is against NAFTA’.
Derek Johnson: We’ll get to taunt with Russia and Putin.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, yeah, all these myths. There’s myths. If anything Trump’s increased drone strikes and escalated wars – he’s not even doing drone strikes he’s using manned aircraft. Afghanistan’s even worse than it was under Obama and Bush. It’s all based in myth and people keep pushing that idea. So that was an interesting aspect of seeing the third-position rise of fascism, that he was able to link those things together and the fact that so many people went along with it is why I think the rise of this nationalism is. It also deals with failures in neoliberalism and austerity. This isn’t an American phenomenon, it’s happening worldwide and there wasn’t that type of Tumblr culture that exists in other countries. How do you explain fascism in the Philippines? Or how do you explain fascism in countries that are nominally socialist or countries that don’t have that history? What you’re seeing is a rise of neo-nationalism where different heads of state around the world realise they can do whatever the hell they want. You see that with President Xi in China, Putin in Russia, Assad in Syria, even in nominally socialist countries, Ortega in Nicaragua. It’s predicated on neo-nationalism and figuring out a way of managing the world while it goes through this crisis.
Sorry, it’s not as sexy as an answer as just saying ‘yeah, the left wanted people to say their pronouns so it turned everyone into a Nazi’.
Ani White: *laughs* Yeah, ‘someone asked me to call them ‘they’ and therefore I decided that white people should be the superior race etc’.
Peter Soeller: Another good way to look at it is, there’s another anti-fascist author, Mike Isaacson, who wrote a blog post about Angela Nagle that said that ‘Angela Nagle’s analysis is like she read the book Settlers and sided with the white people’. The Settlers analysis of how America works with the white working-class but still siding with the white people in that scenario. So again it’s this homogenous white working-class.
Derek Johnson: The labour aristocracy.
Peter Soeller: Throughout 2017 and 2018 Angela Nagle is lauded within these Dirtbag podcaster circles as this great thinker. I went on podcasts to talk. I was invited on podcasts as a J20 defendant and as an anti-fascist because, you know, I felt tokenised in a way, like ‘here’s our token fringe lefty’, again showing the social democracy aspect of their ideology. They’re looking at me like I’m some fringe lefty because I’m more far-left than them. It’s really a ridiculous type of analysis, but they bring me on to talk about anarchism and anti-fascism, and then after the shows, we’d talk about different authors we like and I like Alexander Reid-Ross and they would always be like, ‘you know who’s a good author? Angela Nagle, she really gets to the point.’ I think what Angela Nagle did to these people is give them an excuse to hate liberals for a really weird reason which is, the problem liberalism is its defence of capitalism, not the fact that they have progressive values. They’re viewing anyone with progressive values as being neoliberal or capitalistic and that was the link that linked it together there. So this went on from 2017 to 2018. The mask comes off in October or November 2018 when Angela Nagle publishes an article in a conservative magazine called ‘The Left Case Against Open Borders’ where she pretty much lays out border control and coming up with the whole it’s a Koch Brothers conspiracy idea, that open borders and bringing in all these immigrants is going to drive down wages.
Ani White: And standing explicitly for closing borders as well.
Derek Johnson: This attack on open borders that comes out of these groups. Ironically Bernie Sanders said that first; he has a very long bad history of xenophobia when it comes to labour politics and things like NAFTA, going back to when he was a congressman, way back then.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, I know, Bernie Sanders was one of the first people to say that, because, again, he has weird views on things. He says “Communist China”. He doesn’t have a good analysis on certain things like that so that’s why I’m not surprised he said that. Bernie doesn’t have a good analysis of different forms of socialism, for good or bad. Even, he describes Hugo Chavez – I mean, dude’s not a saint – but he describes Hugo Chavez as “a dead communist dictator”. Chavez wasn’t even a communist. Then he’s calling capitalist China communist and then he’s saying socialism is Norwegian social democracy. It’s a really weird analysis, it doesn’t seem like the dude actually comes out of socialist movements, and if he did it’s been so long since he’s been in those street movements that he’s totally divorced from those years. Anyway, that’s Sanders.
So Nagle becomes a pariah for this article. Everyone lashes out, or so we thought. She’s basically quote-unquote “cancelled” within the larger left for publishing this article. A lot of people I was friends with broke with her too, but not everyone broke with her. Bhaskar Sunkara writes a defence of her, he’s very vocal in defending her, being like ‘I don’t agree with Nagle on everything but it’s atrocious that we’re just going to excommunicate her from the left.’ Then Chappo Trap House still interviews her; Amber Frost from Chappo Trap House. A little bit about Amber, she’s an OG DSA member, by that I mean she’s been in the DSA. for over a decade. She participated in Occupy, she wrote for The Baffler a lot. I forget the guy’s name, the founder of The Baffler, he wrote that…
Derek Johnson: Isn’t that the guy that wrote the book about ‘What’s the Wrong with Kansas?’?
Peter Soeller: ‘What’s the Matter With Kansas?’ And ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?’ is also rooted in this white working-class idea. ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?’ published in 2004 was about this idea, ‘why do white working-class people vote Republican?’ and analyses all this stuff. We know now that if you look at Republican, the quote-unquote “flyover states”, a lot of Republican Red State dominated stuff is all aristocratic. They basically have a history of controlling that stuff that goes all the way back to the ’60s during the first realignment back then, the Southern strategies. They have a stranglehold on those politics and through gerrymandering it’s really easy to control a state like that. Even in New York you have stuff like that, like Staten Island is strictly Republican, there’s a very Republican borough within the city, and this is liberal New York City, you know what I’m saying?
Derek Johnson: I think part of this argument is, to couple it with a class reductionist argument, is to then say, well the explanation then is not white supremacy – which is why they’re backing these policies that are against their own self-interests – but actually it is. Because the whole point – and Chomsky’s made this point in the past – that white voters overwhelmingly support democratic socialist things like free healthcare, national healthcare etc. but they don’t want it to be expanded towards Black people.
Peter Soeller: It’s a very ethno-nationalist type of mentality, it’s weird to appeal to that. So Amber Frost comes out of The Baffler and that type of mentality, of this white working-class and she is unapologetically class-first, like militantly class reductionist to the point where she’s openly ablistic and this causes a lot of backlash within the DSA. The DSA’s disability caucus even put forth motions to have her removed from the organisation, of course, none of this goes anywhere. Amber Frost is one of the heroes of the StupIDpol subreddit and the edgelord left. They love her, they love her vulgarity, they love that she’s able to destroy her critics. So the fact that she’s one of the most reactionary in terms of her social views and she’s a member of the flagship podcast of the Dirtbag Left, Chapo Trap House, kind of puts us all in the perspective of what’s going on here.
Derek Johnson: I was going to ask, what would be the role of the Jacobin in this because you mentioned that Sunkara really supports her?
Peter Soeller: Well, let me finish one more thing, I want to talk about Spiked because one thing I liked linked Amber to that. So Amber Frost did an interview in coordination with Anna Khachiyan of the Red Scare pod, which is the most reactionary of the Dirtbag podcasts. So her and Anna did an interview with Spiked magazine called ‘Meet the Anti-Woke Left’ and in it they pretty much just put forth their whole ideology of class reductionism and against antifa and against acknowledging racism is real in Spiked magazine.
Ani White: They said the USA is not a white supremacist country.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, that’s what they said.
Derek Johnson: Okay, before you go on can you explain Spiked magazine because I think that has a sordid history as well?
Peter Soeller: Spiked magazine used to be called Living Marxism before they were sued and had to change their name because of the Bosnian genocide denial. So Living Marxism is part of the Revolutionary Communist Party in the UK, not to be confused with RCP in the U.S. which is a completely different organisation or RCPs anywhere. It’s very common – calling yourself a revolutionary communist party’s actually pretty common. But the Revolutionary Communist Party in the U.K. is a historically weird Trotskyist sect. A lot of its members are very much into this ‘own the libs’ type of mentality of always attack the centre, to the point where it got very third-position and reactionary. Transphobia’s rampant among their members and it just has that history of it. Angela Nagle’s actually connected to that, she comes out of that same type of tendency so then you’re beginning to see where all of this comes from ideologically speaking. So RCP founded Living Marxism as a magazine, they got in trouble for doing genocide denial in the ’90s and then they rebranded as Spiked magazine. Now Spiked, they will have interviews with Amber Frost and Chapo Trap House and then the next article will be about white pride and having a rebirth in white pride identity and being proud that you’re white. That’s very fashy in terms of its mentality. The fact that you would accept doing an interview with Spiked magazine is more or less like doing an interview with Quillette or anything else that we know is explicitly reactionary.
Derek Johnson: Or like Taki magazine or whatever.
Peter Soeller: I’d say Spiked is more close to writing for alt-right.com if we’re going to be honest.
Ani White: I think Spiked’s whole thing is whatever will upset liberals and they’ve explicitly abandoned, as you say, pretending to be Marxists but basically it’s anything that’ll upset liberals whether or not it’s right.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, exactly, it’s like that at this point. Why is Amber Frost, why are quote-unquote “leftists” and “socialists” doing interviews with this magazine? And not just doing interviews with this magazine but specifically doing interviews about being anti-woke? Or against social justice? Or this type of mentality?
Ani White: Especially since they’re no longer really pretending to be left, they’ve abandoned pretending to be socialists anyway so there’s no longer even that cover. I think there’s this dichotomisation of what they imagine to be identity politics and class politics. I just wanted to mention on the border politics stuff, so Angela Nagle coming out against open borders and this idea of migrants driving down wages. There’s a book by Justin Akers Chacon called Radicals in the Barrio, which is basically about the role of the Mexican and Latin American working-class about a century ago, early 20th century, and the role in terms of radicalising and playing a foundational role in terms of the left and the trade union movement. There’s a whole history of that, of migrants in general, playing a very radical role through til today. Latin American workers are often very organised. So it’s a complete misconception of what working-class politics is, that actually amnesty for migrant workers is a working-class demand and there’s not this dichotomy between addressing racism and militant working-class strategy. Instead, they’re just flirting with essentially ethno-nationalism.
Peter Soeller: So yeah, that’s the Dirtbag Left in a nutshell and that’s Amber Frost’s role in it. But to get back to Derek’s question, of where does Jacobin come into this? This is the interesting part – Bhaskar Sunkara writes this book called The Socialist Manifesto and he goes on a book tour with Amber Frost throughout the United States going to different cities to promote his book. Like Amber, he doesn’t agree with the more reactionary social views but like Amber, he believes in this type of class first social democracy, that we have to organise around class unity as its baseline, that’s its central focus. Bhaskar has started to spout some stuff, where he’s done some Tweets recently where he’s talking about “white supremacy” and putting it in scare-quotes as in it’s not a real thing. So you can see it bleeding over there and the point of convergence between this reactionary Dirtbag tendency and then Jacobin’s material organising is within the Bread and Roses Caucus, formerly known as Momentum within the DSA. What this caucus is, it’s a leadership caucus, it’s a convoluted history. I could send you some links to help you explain it better, you could post for your listeners. But basically, this caucus was a leadership caucus of mainly Jacobin people that wanted to organise around this class first identity. Its planks were centralising class as a central focus and focusing on electing Bernie Sanders, that’s it’s main planks, and getting Medicare For All passed. They wanted to sideline all other organising activities within the DSA such as tenants organising and antifascist organising. They were surprisingly hostile to anarchist and antifascist formations within the DSA that they’ve actually butted heads with the Libertarian Socialist Caucus and other formations within the DSA that don’t subscribe to this specific type of focus.
Ani White: Can you talk about that in terms of are there better parts of the DSA, how would you characterise that?
Peter Soeller: Yeah, so the DSA’s a very large organisation, a lot of different caucuses and tendencies. There’s a DSA Communist Caucus which is more like general communism, they try to shy away from Leninism because they don’t want to be seen as Tankies. A lot of them aren’t, they kind of come out of a more Eurocommunist tradition and leftcom traditions as well. They’re against the Jacobin caucus. And then there’s the Libertarian Socialist Caucus, which is basically the anarchist caucus of the DSA, so people focused on mutual aid and horizontal structures. So they basically butted heads with this class first social democracy faction called Momentum / Bread and Roses because of their singular focus on just electoralism and because they wanted to funnel all energy towards just canvassing and organising and putting forth this class first identity. So it’s not to say that the DSA’s bad as an organisation in its entirety because you can’t possibly say something about something that’s so diffuse and has so many different chapters. Most of the on-the-ground work is done by locals, not necessarily the national organisation but actually the most problematic part of it would be this Jacobin leadership. The fact that so many of the people from this leadership caucus are Jacobin editors or Jacobin contributors and they then go onto these podcasts, the media wing aspect of it, the Dirtbag Left, that’s where Amber comes in and Chappo and they promote it. It’s kind of like this cycle, this feedback loop where you can see a small cadre of people wanting to pull the strings of the organisation in a certain direction.
Derek Johnson: Like an echo chamber, like how the Republicans started in the ’90s.
Peter Soeller: LSC wanted to focus on doing anti-fascism and tenant organising and mutual aid health clinics. Not just – cool, Medicare for all, we should definitely have that – but how do we also help people in the here and now. We can’t rely on politicians to save us and that type of idea. We can’t rely on, even if Bernie is elected, that this will ever come to fruition because of just the hostility and bureaucracy of that type of sphere. LSC’s whole focus was how we build the society we want to live in now. A lot more focused on classic anti-globe era organising of Food Not Bombs style stuff and union organising as well. The DSA’s very heavy on union organising which, again, doesn’t seem to be a focus of what this particular caucus wanted to do.
Derek Johnson: Yeah, there’s a lot of overlap in DSA membership and IWW membership. Jacobin has always had a very contentious and dismissive attitude towards the IWW, especially the prison organising through IWOC that IWW has been doing and it took a lot of pushback on the Facebook page against an editorial by one of the writers at Jacobin who was attacking prison abolitionism because far more people were in the DSA, that were readers of Jacobin, were pro-prison abolitionist and they kind of had to measure their responses from that point forward and stop shitting on prison organising.
Peter Soeller: It just seems like a weird thing because for the longest time it was just normalised within certain circles that that’s a baseline understanding – you want to abolition prison, you want to open up the borders, you want to provide a redistribution of wealth for the people. The fact that redistribution of wealth isn’t even a term that comes up in Jacobin anymore. It’s really weird that this would be the route they’d want to take because a lot of people joined DSA because a lot of people in terms of the bump they always talk about after Trump got elected, they talk about the DSA bump how everyone wanted to join. Because most people joined it because they wanted to build socialism here and now as in oh my god, the fascist just won. we’ve got to build something to resist and help each other if we’re going to get through this.
Derek Johnson: Yes, that’s only rational and that makes sense and that’s actually a good sign that so many people reacted positively and proactively to that and we saw all these different marches. But the response to things like The Women’s March and all these things turned into crapping on ’em because they’re centrists or liberal or something. I feel that the effect that the Dirtbag Left media and a lot of these attitudes has had has been to depress protest against Trump. After J20 and after all this, things have been normalised and I’m glad to see all the new protesters, Never Again out of the Jewish community and people doing the anti-ICE protesting. But I feel like a lot of this could be much bigger if not for Nagle and many of these people being anti-immigrant ahead of this and ahead of Trump’s policies and dividing the movement now. Because really at this point, just like in every other country, there should be millions of people in the streets right now calling for Trump to step down just like for the president in Lebanon. But if anyone were to bring it up they would just say, oh you’re pro-Hillary or you’re pro-Democrats to be anti-Trump instead of looking at that this is a fascist president here who has fascist street gangs and militias on his side, the police and the military on his side and people are still downplaying that he’s a fascist and all the other connections.
Many people are unfamiliar with Aleksandr Dugin and Duginism yet they vocalise. Can you explain Duginism and Dugin?
Peter Soeller: You’re getting at a very key point and strategy which ties into Duginism and this analysis of how to create a chaos structure, or type of structure where nothing is true and that everyone feels hopeless so they don’t react. So basically when Trump first got elected there was an energy, there was a mass movement and it was weird how you could see Hillary supporters and black-clad anarchists in the street together for the first three months after he got elected, before the inauguration. It was a really interesting time. Yes, there were some points of contention between tactics and non-violence. You know, the classic stuff, but there still was that general spirit in the street of ‘oh we gotta oust this guy ASAP, he’s a fascist’. But then the media wing kicks in where this type of derision towards the liberal outrage, which was justified. I wasn’t really a fan of Hillary Clinton but, my god, I’m not going to support Trump, and if they want to resist they have a right to resist and everyone should be resisting this guy. So 2017 was about deriding the liberal centre. 2018 was then about deriding the left opposition within the DSA. So what it all comes back to is what you were saying – stop protesting and get to canvassing. Stop with organising material street actions and doing stuff on the ground and start trying to getting Bernie elected. It brought it back to this electoralism and this reformism where any deviation from that was seen as ‘counter to the movement’ or ‘you’re not a socialist, you’re a liberal’. All these terms came out like shitlib.
Derek Johnson: And radlib.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, all this stuff came out and it goes back to what you were saying. It was always targeted no matter who, if they were a liberal or an anarchist or whatever, it was was always targeted at people who wanted to protest, who wanted to do actions, who wanted to be in the streets, who wanted to oust the government through other means other than an election.
Ani White: Yeah, sorry, I just wanted to say a thing on liberalism. They’re just so denunciatory of liberals but then their entire strategy is electoral. I think there’s a case of protesting too much there.
Peter Soeller: The Dugin strategy is about using the left to destroy the centre for the benefit of the right and that’s when people woke up to what was going on, circa 2017. The media group I was a part of were some of the first people to catch on to it, with the whole Russiagate stuff. Because they worked for those organisations, they worked for those media organisations and they saw the convergence and the whole point was, get people to always punch at the Democrats and don’t talk about what Trump is doing.
Derek Johnson: It’s like hippie punching.
Peter Soeller: Yeah and it was weird. I felt kind of betrayed almost when I found out about it. When you first find out, holy shit, what they hell is going on?, you feel kind of betrayed. It’s like, oh my god I’m being used. I don’t like the Democratic Party. I’m not a fan of it. I think it’s not a good way to organise. But like you’re saying, that’s the only way that these Jacobin types want to organise was through that. I guess there’s a critique to be had of what you can call quote-unquote “woke capitalism” and that goes back to Debordian type analyses of Spectacle and recuperation. So the problem of woke capitalism is the capitalism part and using left-wing imagery and iconography to justify that. Whereas the Dirtbag Jacobin approach seems to be attacking the woke aspect *laughs* while reaffirming the capitalism. So then again it’s strange.
Derek Johnson: I find that strange, yeah.
Peter Soeller: If you’re going to critique liberalism for this false consciousness of wokeness, or this false consciousness of being progressive. Call them out for what they’re actually doing in terms of, are they supporting prisons and border controls and that type of thing? But when the critics are also supporting those same things and their critique of liberals isn’t resting on their support for capitalism or those failures but rather that ‘oh Democrats care about Black people’ or ‘Democrats care about pronouns’ or that type of shit. Then it begs the question, oh my god, this isn’t a left critique.
Ani White: Or just kind of soft social democracy.
Derek Johnson: Yeah, wokescold has become a word of both the left and the right. It’s become very similar to the right critique of multiculturalism and then it becomes like a left-wing conspiracy theory that neoliberalism created multiculturalism to keep us occupied or distracted away from class reductionism and focusing on class and everything. This is a very reactionary take and it’s very right-wing and the timing of people picking it up was very interesting. Again I find it very interesting that so many people vocalise Duginist talking points of attacking the left or even attacking liberals to the benefit of fascists, when we should see that fascists are always the true enemy. You don’t have to uphold liberalism or work with liberals or say liberals are great to be anti-fascist and I find it very troubling that basically, it’s just about owning the libs at all costs, even if that means liberal democracy collapses and fascists take over and then they kill us all. So what was the point there?
Peter Soeller: There is a refusal to acknowledge that Trump is bad. I hate to make it so reductive and simplistic but that’s what it comes down to, there is a refusal to acknowledge.
Derek Johnson: Yeah, especially that first year.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, it’s like, if Trump is fucking up it’s because the Dem’s made him. You see that kind of contrarian talking point with the likes of Glen Greenwald where you’ve got to find a way where it’s the Democrats responsible for this because they didn’t do x, y and z. The whole impeachment debate when it comes down to, oh, the Dem’s aren’t doing enough but they’re doing it too fast or they’re not doing it at all. It’s all focused on one party that’s not in power or the party in power which is fascistic. I would call the GOP fascist and white supremacist at this point definitely.
Derek Johnson: At this point, yeah, it’s a fascist death cult.
Peter Soeller: The fact that it didn’t concern people, like as a radical leftist that you wouldn’t be concerned that fascists were taking over the country, it just kind of boggles me. It put me into this depressive attitude where I didn’t really want to engage but then you realise that’s also another aspect of the Dugin strategy. Of those who can piece this stuff together, it’s focused on this old Russian tactic of playing the field and putting your eggs in multiple baskets and muddying the field so nobody really knows what your true intentions are, what your true beliefs are. That’s why Russia will fund both a Stalinist party and a neo-Nazi party and everything in between, just muddy the field and create chaos, so when people try and analyse it they just get overwhelmed or depressed or feel like they can’t really do much.
Derek Johnson: When people vote they don’t know, are we voting for a patsy of the other party or is this person actual? Is this controlled competition or are they real?
Peter Soeller: The goal for these people in terms of what we’re talking about, the Duginist strategy, the goal isn’t to impose a one-world national Bolshevik government. That’s not the goal. The goal is to just have a bunch of different ideological ethno-states that adhere to one form of authoritarianism or another. It doesn’t really matter what the hell they are, what they call themselves, but as long as they’re all in agreement in terms of controlling the borders and having ethnic cleansing and that type of shit. My god, China’s doing it in the name of communism!
Derek Johnson: *laughs*
Peter Soeller: China’s doing neoliberal structural adjustment programs in Africa in the name of great prosperity and communism. It’s weird, you know, when Europe did the same thing in the name of capital.
Derek Johnson: Yes, because even Putin doesn’t really believe in this mythology.
Ani White: This is a kind of jump but do you there is a valid left critique on identity politics? What’s your take on that?
Peter Soeller: Yeah, like I was saying before with the whole woke capitalism thing. So this goes back to Guy Debord, of Society of the Spectacle, the Situationists, and their analysis of recuperation. Capitalist hegemonic culture can assimilate certain radical and revolutionary ideas – the classic example is the Che Guevara t-shirt – and feed it back into the marketplace so that you think that buying is rebelling. That idea of, oh look, I have my little rebel identity. There is that strategy. You actually saw that with Black Lives Matter the organisation lead by Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza who actually come out of FRSO, which is the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, which has ties to a Tankie party. So it’s all interesting, but that aspect of FRSO was actually more in line with the Democratic Party in terms of creating that type of Al Sharpton type National Action Network controlled opposition mentality. The radical Black youth were kind of in opposition to Black Lives Matter the organisation. Most people didn’t even know that there was an organisation, they just took to the streets because they didn’t like cops. You can see that there’s always that strategy of trying to recuperate radical… a pressure valve, so to speak. The point is always to recognise it as such. You’re both fighting in the streets against the same thing. I guess if I was going to have a critique of the Women’s March or certain factions – for me it’s always factions in organisations because it’s always a cadre of people – Linda Sarsour kind of played that role, before she was in the Women’s March she was in the Justice League. She played that role in Black Lives Matter as well, I’m going to talk to the city, I’m going to talk to the Major, we’re going to do this pressure valve. The critique is the reformist aspect; the working with the people that want you dead, compromising with the police, that was the aspect of critique there. But the critiques themselves of white supremacy – what is it that the radical Black youth and Linda Sarsour agree on? It’s that cops should stop killing people. That’s where the point of convergence is between radicals and liberals. Where we differ is how to get there or what we think the solutions are.
Derek Johnson: We believe in abolishing the police and I’ve noticed Jacobin has been very dismissive of that as well.
Peter Soeller: Yes, we believe in abolishing them. Yes, the point is that they’re attacking liberals for caring, that’s the thing. They’re attacking liberals for caring, for giving a shit, yet supporting the liberal policy of, not just compromise, but authoritarianism. When I talk about the two ends of the equation, the woke and the capitalism, they’re supporting the capitalism and attacking the wokeness. Whereas we’re supporting the wokeness while attacking the capitalism.
Ani White: It seems to me a lot of these people ignore some of the best Marxist theory we’ve had over the last thirty years like work on social reproduction, gendered social reproduction and racial capitalism. Do you agree and if so how can we integrate that kind of analysis into our work?
Peter Soeller: Well, I miss the anti-colonial aspect as well. After Standing Rock that kind of went to shit because the Indigenous critique of ‘The United States’ is just on a whole ‘nother level that throws all of this stuff out the window. You can’t even talk about Marxist strategies and shit without getting to the root of the ‘US’ as this settler-colonial state that just destroys culture and imposes its own will on stuff, because when you get to that aspect, a Bernie Sanders social democracy is not compatible with decolonisation or strategies like that or even Black liberation strategies.
Derek Johnson: It’s like intersectionality has bridged this gap and moved the left beyond 1930s or 1920s class reductionism and there’s pushback against it.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, I think we need to get back to that because that’s what gave me hope in the mid-2010s at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and the radical mentality of it; a Fanon-type anti-colonial mentality to it of we can destroy the settler-colonial state and build what we want. The goalposts have shifted in the wrong direction. I noticed the rhetoric has changed significantly. In 2015 ‘abolish the police’ was being written about in The Nation. On MSNBC they did a roundtable about it – abolishing the police. This was 2015. 2018, abolish ICE. It gets to a very specific organisation. And now we get onto 2019 where people are like, actually, closed borders but left-wing. That for me is very sinister, we were on a path of rhetoric that seeped into the mainstream which is very, very radical, very revolutionary. It’s just been watered down each step of the way as we’ve gone into the Trump era and I don’t know how intentional that is, I can’t speak to the cultural progression of that or how we got to that part. Maybe it has something to do with the whiteness muddying the waters as something gets more mainstream.
Derek Johnson: *laughs* Yeah, well put. That tends to be my thinking as the commonality across all the groups that are having this problem where it’s replicating over and over, whether it’s this rape culture or this white supremacy in this continuation of class reductionism against intersectionality. Really the commonality is all these people pushing this, for the most part, are white with the exception of Adolph Reed Jr. and it’s very interesting that he’s the prophet to all those people.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, I know, that’s some classic alt-right tactics right there, Jesus Christ. We’re going to be on and it’s just so it’s easier to talk about how racism is a distraction. It’s the same type of fucking tokenisation.
Ani White: Yeah, it’s hilarious irony when people will critique identity politics and then you raise a problem with Adolph Reed and people say, ‘well, he’s Black so you can’t criticise him for supporting racism.’ It’s like, ‘I thought you were against identity politics? If you’re against identity politics why does it matter who the person speaking is? Isn’t that like one of the central premises of identity politics, that who is speaking…’
Peter Soeller: When it came to the anti-feminist arguments within the Dirtbag Left, the anti-feminist arguments came from Amber, Khachiyan and Dasha Nekrasova, it came from the women of the movement.
Ani White: Well Amber propagates a lot of the most reactionary stuff, I think. She gets away with a lot through Chapo, she’s one of the worst people on Chapo.
Peter Soeller: She gets away with way too much. The thing is when it comes to Red Scare Anna and Dasha have already been pariahed because they’re too obvious. They’re way too obvious. Anna Khachiyan will go straight-up and Tweet, she’ll Tweet slurs and shit! Amber doesn’t do that. Amber’s not even online, as far as I know. She’s not even on social media so she can’t get to that type of thing. But I think she’s more reactionary than the others or at least it’s just weird how she’s able to get away with things that the others haven’t been able to and I still can’t really put my finger on the exact reasons why. Maybe it’s because she’s been in the scene so long. I don’t know.
Derek Johnson: That’s not surprising.
Ani White: I also think there’s an element of we’re against identity politics except when it suits us, as a cover.
Derek Johnson: And being white, white supremacy is identity politics, white nationalism is identity politics. Just evil identity politics. *laughs*
Peter Soeller: Actually, yeah, I should just point out the fact that in terms of the podcasters based in Brooklyn and Jacobin being based in Brooklyn, Bhaskar Sukara being based in Brooklyn. That aspect of it, it’s so disheartening for an organisation that’s across the nation. I’ve heard stories of chapters in Fresno California; they’re not getting resources from national because all the resources have to go to the NYC DSA. It’s really messed up when you think about it, they’re kind of starving the local chapters in communities that aren’t big cities, that need the help because they don’t have as large of a network.
Derek Johnson: Yes, we’ve seen the same issue in different organisations across the board. Peter’s seen this in the DSA, other people I know in the DSA have seen this kind of stuff. A lot of us have seen this in the IWW where there’s just a very small vocal minority of class reductionists who’re doing the exact same things you’re describing when you’re describing all of the different things that the Bread and Roses Caucus was fighting against. Whether it was tenants organising and anti-fascism, all these things, I was thinking in my head, ‘that’s exactly what the conservatives in the IWW pulled’ and they called it the Trump bump when Trump got elected. And they called it that dismissively and did not care that more people were joining the IWW and just saw that as hindrance to their little control, their social circle. So it’s kind of doing this in different places and the commonality is these people are overwhelmingly white middle-class or post-grads in college and it’s like some people have, as shorthand, said, ‘the Dirtbag Left is trying to take over the IWW’. Anti-fascist work is being sabotaged and it’s very interesting that people are both in the face of even after Charlottesville you’ve seen a lot of these groups, people are still sceptical that fascism is the threat, not centrism, or liberalism. They’re still crapping on antifa and crapping on anti-fascist organising and community organising and community self-defence. It’s very strange.
Peter Soeller: The biggest tell for me is who they don’t attack. And they’re not attacking Republicans and they’re not attacking fascists. They’ll attack liberals, they’ll attack the center, they’ll attack the far left, the ultra-left, they’ll attack everyone but Republicans and fascists and conservatives and that’s a tell for me because if you’re not going to critique the worst, if we’re talking about political ideologies, the part of the spectrum which just embodies ‘the dark side’ *laughs* or something. Evil incarnate, that type of thing. If we’re going to get to the most, more romantic portrayals of how this shit works.
Derek Johnson: It’s very strange that they feel that this somehow makes the Democrats good or make Hillary good just by admitting the truth of the other side being fascist and it’s a weird dichotomy or binary.
Peter Soeller: It’s like, we can’t be on the same side as liberals. The liberals hate Republicans, we can’t hate them too. It’s just so weird to me. I look at it and these people are super racist or white supremacist. They also don’t give a fuck about your class first stuff, they’re hyper-capitalist, the Republicans, you don’t even focus on that aspect. When you see it come from Chapo Trap House and every comment they have on Trump is, ‘LOL, this slaps, LOL this slaps. He’s funny as hell, look at this guy.’
Derek Johnson: I’ve noticed online that when either you or I or Jae or Alexander Reid Ross bring up Dugin and Duginism, people don’t know who Aleksandr Dugin is, can you explain who he is a little and his connection in Toronto University professor that translated his work there? And also the piece that Fashbusters did on the fascist networks in Canada and connections with that, Quillette and Post Millenial?
Peter Soeller: Aleksander Dugin is probably the most cited guy within the alt-right white supremacist circles. He’s Richard Spencer’s top author; he loves that guy. That’s the thing no one wants to talk about, why do all these America white supremacists love this Russian philosopher? So, Aleksander Dugin’s a Russian political theorist and philosopher. He came up with The Fourth Political Theory, that’s like his magnum opus where he basically describes a type of neo-fascism or moving beyond left and right and fascist third-position to something…
Derek Johnson: Neo-monarchist almost.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, a type of post-fascist neo-monarchist type of thing. Whereas getting back to what I was saying, in opposition to the totalitarian top-down aspect of the classic Nazi Empire – establish a fascist regime and through imperialism take over the world. This is more about bottom-up type fascism or rather a diffuse autonomous fascism.
Derek Johnson: Multipolar.
Peter Soeller: Multipolarism, where instead of just one empire ruling the world, you have a bunch of different empires ruling their spheres of influence, so to speak. It’s like an ideological version of Richard Spencer’s idea of the ethno-state where each country and region gets to have its own homogenous ethnicity, its own homogenous make-up of their society. Where for Dugin, he has the same thing with the ethno-state but he adds the ideological twist on there, where it’s like, your program can believe whatever it wants, it could be left, right, center, socialist, capitalist, fascist, as long as it’s about maintaining power and dominance in that sphere of influence. The biggest parallel to what a multipolar world actually looks like would probably be the early the 1900s right before World War I. This idea of, everyone’s kind of an imperialist, everyone’s an empire.
Derek Johnson: It’s kind of feeling that way right now.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, they might have ideological differences on paper but materially how they operate is more or less the same. We’re seeing that now in terms of what China’s doing, what Russia’s doing, what the U.S. is doing. But even the smaller powers, what Saudi Arabia’s doing, what Brazil is doing, what Turkey is doing, what Syria is doing. It’s going down to the level of, I guess Balkanise is not the right term, but it’s getting even smaller and smaller with the type of country that has a nationalist rebirth or an idea of they get to control a certain territory through sheer force. It just seems like most world leaders just stopped giving a shit about human rights or even appealing to that aspect anymore.
Derek Johnson: I trace that back to definitely the war in Iraq. I feel like when Cheney and Bush called the bluff on the UN being able to stop a war for aggression, like World War II, I think every other world leader and world power that was big enough realised, ‘well, if we’re big enough and if we have seats on the Security Council we’re going to be able to do whatever we want.’ And we saw that with the war in Syria where China and Russia will block anything or America will side with Russia or them.
Peter Soeller: Russia were the first people to cite George Bush when they invaded Georgia in 2008. They were the first people to do that. In terms of being like, ‘oh, the U.S. does it so we can too.’ And China’s using the same justification.
Derek Johnson: I feel like the left doesn’t have an analysis for this because of tankies and campism.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, that’s the basic Cold War where there’s ‘good nations’ and ‘bad nations’, there’s proletarian nations and bourgeois nations which is complete bullshit. You can look on a map and see it pretty well.
Derek Johnson: And only America’s the empire so therefore they can’t see Russian imperialism or Saudi imperialism or other imperialisms.
Ani White: Or only Saudi only because it’s aligned with the U.S., not because it’s a horrible state. Whereas similarly horrible states are fine because they’re not aligned with the US basically.
Peter Soeller: Yeah I know, exactly. It gets in a really weird territory where people start saying that Saudi Arabia controls the US or Israel controls the US and once you go down that route then you’re getting into the ZOG type conspiracy theories and that’s pretty much antisemitic fascism.
Back to Duginism, basically Dugin’s about creating a multipolar world where every empire has its region and they can do what they want and that’s the global order of what the world is, everybody’s ruled by some form of authoritarianism or another, it doesn’t really matter what the ideology is in place.
Derek Soeller: Yeah and I could see why the Russia state would like the spread of this because it helps the Russian petro-state be able to control its spheres of influence. It’s great propaganda, internally and externally.
Peter Soeller: That’s the danger, it’s easier to win that way. It’s easier to win than doing the classic Nazi take over the world type stuff because that’s impossible. Even if Hitler won certain theatres of the war it would have been impossible to maintain something like that even if they did win World War II. Whereas this, it’s not about winning, it’s just about getting every major power to just be on the same page with you in terms of empire. So that’s the real danger of it. My god, Syria’s a really good example of this when you look at what the goal is. You have Turkey, Russia, the US and Saudi Arabia more or less in agreement in what they want to do to Syria or the country. What the liberals got wrong in terms of their Russiagate analysis was viewing this as, ‘oh my god, Russian intelligence operatives are running the US government’. That’s not what’s going on at all, it’s basically just they’re trying to help the right-wing in this country get ahead so that Trump can get the right-wing-
Ani White: Yeah, I tend to think of it as basically right-wing convergence rather than thinking of it as Russia running things in the U.S., it’s a convergence of the right.
Derek Johnson: And they’ve been at this since the 1990s with the religious right and the far-right.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, that’s the problem, the liberals got hysterical in the sense of oversimplifying it and that helped the narrative of dismissing it on the left. Because again what we were saying with the Dirtbag Left is they take liberal analysis of things but then flip it and take the other side, they have no analysis of their own.
Derek Johnson: Yeah, they’re still saying Russiagate’s a hoax.
Peter Soeller: That’s the thing, if you view Russiagate as, ‘Putin sent operatives to take over the White House’ of course you’re going to call bullshit on that because that’s not what happened. So it feeds into itself. If that’s the premise they’re going off of then that makes it easy to dismiss and once it’s dismissed then anyone who talks about it, if you mention anything Russian now you get dismissed immediately. It’s like I’m sorry, I don’t mean to fucking talk about Russia all the time but the dude’s Russian and he’s an acolyte or a disciple of Dugin so I have to talk about that. You know?
Derek Johnson: What a coincidence that Spencer’s wife was Dugin’s propagandist and translator.
Peter Soeller: I try not to even talk to people and focus on the nationality of it. It makes sense that they’re all Russian but just how it makes sense a bunch of Nazis and fascists are US or Canadian or whatever.
Derek Johnson: Well it’s like every country has a Nazi now, you don’t have to be German.
Ani White: And as you said, people are still stuck in this Cold War mindset that it’s Russia versus the US but actually it’s a convergence of the right in Russia and the U.S. So there’s just this complete false dichotomy we need to get out of.
How about what is to be done? What do you think we need to do about all of this?
Peter Soeller: As far as attacking the Red-Brown alliance within Dirtbag Left and Jacobin circles, first things first in terms of the DSA, you support the anti-Jacobin factions within that, basically the two I mentioned, Communist Caucus and Libertarian Socialist Caucus. Maybe they can form some type of united front to push out the Jacobin influence. As far as the Dirtbag Left, just don’t listen to those people. Convince people that they’re trash and if they’re donating to their Patreons get them to stop and donate to something else. Get people to organise around a more material basis, what we used to do on the left in the US, which was organise unions and do prisoner support, and that type of thing.
Internationally speaking, that’s a tough question. It was always hard, how do you fight one imperial power and then how do you fight twelve. You know, fighting one was hard enough but trying to think about and being internationalist against all these things? There are certain networks, I guess building right now. There’s something called the Trans Solidarity Network. I got their name wrong, I don’t remember.
Derek Johnson: I guess what is pretty strange and frightening in this era is that not only is fascism back but that it’s internationalist and the left is less internationalist.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, the left is very less internationalist which is very problematic.
Ani White: There’s a good little group, Alliance of Middle Eastern and North African Socialists who have been running a bunch of international Skype discussions among other things. They’ll have people speaking from China, from the Kurdish struggle, it’s good because it’s this sharing of information, they’ve had people speak from Venezuela who are to the left of the Chavistas. That kind of sharing of information and bolstering of the democratic movements wherever they’re happening I think is really essential.
Derek Johnson: There’s also Creating A New Anti-War Movement, that group is around, there’s lots of groups that are trying that are also connected to the group that Ani described that are trying to have actual anti-war organising and protesting that isn’t monopolised by groups like Answer and PSL and campists.
Peter Soeller: Yeah, don’t be campist. That’s my advice internationally, don’t be campist. Oppose all empire. Oppose all imperialism. And if you can’t see how a certain country is imperialist, you can’t look at a map and tell me Russia isn’t imperialist even if you don’t know the history of how it formed. You can’t get that big. The US, China and Russia, by landmass, are some of the largest countries. You don’t get like that by being nice.
Ani White: Prison house of nations. I don’t think we’re all Leninists here but Lenin called Russia the prison house of nations. I think it is true of any country on that scale, absolutely. Again, I know we’re not all Leninists here and I’m not really but if the tankies are going to back Russia they have to read their own history.
Peter Soeller: Definitely, what always intrigues me about Russia and the US is how similar how they formed in terms of their colonialism and gobbling up different peoples and erasing them, more or less.
Derek Johnson: I was just going to say right now in Russia I think part of what Dugin’s value to the Russia state and to Putin’s been has been to create Eurasianism so that the Russian people have a propaganda that unifies everybody that is so disparate and under a single Russian identity. As it’s been pointed out by people who are experts on Russia and are from there that Putin has a lot of disdain for the Russian people themselves and there’s a lot of racism and ethno-nationalism against people from the Caucasus and other ethnicities in Russia. So to able to unify all Russians as proud Russians of the Russian empire that has this continuity of the Tsar and Stalin and now Putin and all these strongmen defending the Russian race, and the nation-state has been very valuable to justify taking Crimea and the activities in Ukraine. This shows the value of this invoking nationalism, it mobilises and then shuts up the people at home.
Peter Soeller: It’s invoking a national myth. Like I said, it doesn’t even matter that something like Eurasianism is ideologically in opposition to a Western-centric white supremacy, the two converge. It doesn’t even matter that on paper you’d think that you can’t center both Moscow and the US but it doesn’t even matter because the whole point of Duginism is just to have these different type of authoritarian ultra-nationalist structures available.
Derek Johnson: That’s why I think people are very sceptical or think that it’s not very problematic when Russia funds separatists in different countries. Here they fund separatists and Neo-Confederates, although the point isn’t that these people will win, it’s to cause the chaos.
Peter Soeller: Exactly, if they believe in Eurasianism how can they support Western chauvinistic white supremacy? That’s not the point.
Ani White: Thanks Peter for coming on and we appreciate the work you do. And listeners check out the Fashbusters blog.
Peter Soeller: Thank you! Yes, you can check us out on Twitter @Fashbusters or you can go to the website www.fashbusters.wordpress.com and we should be having some new content coming out this month, stay tuned for that.
Ani White: Alright, thanks for coming on.