Europe’s identity crisis is not confined to the ceaseless squabbles by Europeans over the EU, Brexit or football. It goes much deeper, reaching sensitive and dangerous territory, including that of culture and religion. Once more, Muslims stand at the heart of the continent’s identity debate.
Of course, anti-Muslim sentiments are rarely framed to appear anti-Muslim. While Europe’s right-wing parties remain committed to the ridiculous notion that Muslims, immigrants and refugees pose a threat to Europe’s overall security and unique secular identities, the left is not entirely immune from such chauvinistic notions.
The right’s political discourse is familiar and is often condemned for its repugnantly ultra-nationalistic, if not outright racist, tone and rhetoric. The left, on the other hand, is a different story. The European left, notably in countries like France and Belgium, frame their ‘problem’ with Islam as fundamental to their supposed dedication to the secular values of the State.
“A problem arises when, in the name of religion, some want to separate themselves from the Republic and therefore not respect its laws,” Macron said during a speech in October 2020.
Leftist politicians and intellectuals were just as eager as the right to prevent Ihsane Haouach, a Belgian government representative, from serving as a commissioner at the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men (IEFH). Again, both sides joined forces, although without an official declaration of unity, to ensure Haouach had no place in the country’s democratic process.
It was a repeat of a similar scenario in France last May when Sara Zemmahi was removed from the ruling party’s candidates list for seemingly violating France’s valeurs de la République – the values of the Republic.
These are but mere examples, and are hardly restricted to French-speaking countries. There are many such disquieting events pointing to a deep-seated problem that remains unresolved. In Britain, Rakhia Ismail, who was celebrated as the country’s first hijab-wearing mayor in May 2019, resigned from her post less than a year and a half later, citing racism and marginalization.
While the Belgian, French, and British media elaborated on these stories as if unique to each specific country, in truth, they are all related. Indeed, they are all the outcome of an overriding phenomenon of anti-Muslim prejudice, coupled with a wave of racism that has plagued Europe for many years, especially in the last decade.
Though Europe’s official institutions, mainstream media, sports clubs and so on, continue to pay lip service to the need for diversity and inclusion, the reality on the ground is entirely different. A recent example was the horrific outcome of England’s defeat in the EURO2020 final against Italy. Gangs of white English, mostly males, attacked people of color, especially black people, whether on the street or online. The extent of cyber-bullying, in particular, targeting dark-skinned athletes is almost unprecedented in the country’s recent history.
Various British officials, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, condemned the widespread racism. Interestingly, many of these officials have said or done very little to combat anti-Muslim hate and violence in the past, which often targeted Muslim women for their head or face covering.
Strikingly, Johnson, purportedly now leading the anti-racist charge, was one of the most disparaging officials who spoke demeaningly of Muslim women in the past. “Muslim women wearing burka look like letter boxes,” he said, according to the BBC.
Of course, Islamophobia must be seen within the larger context of the toxic anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiments, now defining factors in shaping modern European politics. It is this hate and racism that served as the fuel for rising political parties like Le Front National in France, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, The Freedom Party in Austria and the Lega in Italy. In fact, there is a whole intellectual discourse, complete with brand new theories that are used to channel yet more hate, violence and racism against immigrants.
And where is the left in all of this? With a few exceptions, much of the left is still trapped in its own intellectual hubris, adding yet more fuel to the fire while veiling their criticism of Islam as if genuine concern for secularism.
Oddly, in Europe, as in much of the West, crosses and Stars of David as necklaces, or the Catholic nuns’ head covering, velo delle suore, let alone the kippahs, the religious tattoos and many other such symbols are all part of Europe’s everyday culture. Why do we never hear of such controversy of a Jewish man being tossed out of a public building because of his kippah or a white French woman being expelled from university for wearing a cross? The matter has less to do with religious symbols, in general, than of the religious symbols of races and peoples who are simply unwanted in Europe.
Also, limiting the discussion to refugees and immigrants may give the impression that the debate is mostly concerned with the non-European ‘others’ who are ‘invading’ Europe’s shores, determined to ‘replace’ Europe’s original, white, Christian inhabitants. This is hardly the case, since a sizable percentage of Belgians and French, for example, are themselves Muslims, estimated at 6 percent and 5% respectively. Namely, these Muslims are European citizens.
Haouach, Zemmahi and Ismail actually wanted to be a part of – not break apart from – these societies by honoring their country’s most cherished political traditions, yet without erasing their own cultural heritage and religious identities in the process. Alas, they were all vehemently rejected, as if Europe has made a collective decision to ensure that Muslims subsist in the margins forever. And when Muslim communities try to fight back, using Europe’s own judicial systems as their supposed saviors, they are, once again, rejected. The latest of such spurns was in June, when Belgium’s constitutional court resolved that prohibiting the wearing of hijab does not constitute a violation of freedom of religion or the right to education.
It is time for European countries to understand that their demographics are fundamentally changing, and that such change can, in fact, be beneficial to the health of these nations. Without true diversity and meaningful inclusion, there can be no real progress in any society, anywhere.
But while demographic shifts can offer an opportunity for growth, it can also inspire fear, racism and, predictably, violence as well.
Europe, which has fought two horrendous wars in the last century, should know better.
I can’t think of anything that harms nature more than cutting down trees and burning them, said William Moomaw, professor emeritus of international environmental policy at Tufts University
Oh, the number of top 10 or top 20 stories flooding the cloud servers delivered to us promptly, nanosecond speed, over the fuck-you Three-Face-Book, or on your email server, on the Dumber Dumbed Down Smart (sic) Phone, and, of course, on the telly. Imagine, instantaneous fake news, falsified un-News, the entire suite of topics New York Times covers, LA Times feeds, and on and on.
Delivered instantaneously, and yet, water is getting shut off, electricity is being turned off, roads are buckling, and that old time religion — privatizing everything until all shit breaks loose — determined to give USA a D-minus in infrastructure. Rebar in bridges, dikes, buildings, and the like, going the way of rust, baby. Reinforced concrete, crumbling, and the entire wasteland that is Auto Nation USA, all of that endless trucking back and forth, like a fucking spider web from space, it is what we have in this broke-back country.
I’ve talked with old folks (80 years plus) and with city and county “politicians.” I’ve talked to numerous people who just can’t get that reality out of their craw — so–soch — ehh-cism! The end of humanity is, well, on the horizon. Thanks to that Socialism Derangement Syndrome (SDS). It is built into the systems in the USA, and the DNA of USA-USA-USA, well, over generations of murdering Indians, slaves, and that checkerboard of people in countries from sea to oil slick sea, it has turned most of USA into a whack — job: under-educated, under curious about the world around them, dumb as dirt, compliant, cancelling ideas/discourse/thinking/pushback/socialism on all ends of the right-left divide. The wounds in this serial murdering society can’t be cauterized.
There has to be immediate amputation of the gangrenous rot coming from all 50 states. The rot of consumerism/retailism/financialization/indebtedness is spread like a million species of bacteria and viruses and other diseases that are indeed resistant to any medicine-goop-treatment.
There are so many deplorables, that term that Hillary hacked up, she being one of millions in the deplorable camp of neoliberalism. Deplorables who would gut you for stumbling into them on a sidewalk. Deplorables who are armed to the tooth who would shoot anyone stumbling into their backyard.
Think about it. People at a bloody concussion fest, UFC, chanting USA-USA-USA with this subhuman and his other subhuman followers traipsing into the stadium with their potbellies and juggling jowls as they take a load off their sagging asses in their multi-millionaire seats.
There is no deep outrage with this sort of optics that runs the USA prime time attention span. No outrage here, that the sweetness of all those sodas have yet more and more of a price, in that shit-hole Florida, run by those shit-hole Diaspora from all over, especially the East Coast, Trump and Company no less. Read the ProPublica interactive story below, linked!
It is environmental racism, and alas, this stinking country can’t keep the water on, can’t feed the farms with irrigation, can’t give out stinking fans to dying folk in this heat wave. Imagine, all those toys, those trillions to the DoD, and those men and women in uniform, also called the Armed Forces, where are they? No triage or MASH tents or massive pouring out of USA tax dollars to mitigate and solve the unfolding problems wrought by Capitalism on Crack. Story after story. Burning cane fields, yep, that’s good for the air. And this story was the same in 2001 when I went from El Paso to Spokane: massive fires lit by wheat farmers to burn stubble. Oh, the irony of Capitalism on Crack. Good old time stupidity. But stupidity and compliant people, well, that combo makes them trillions.
Then these Nordics, these putrid white saviors in Europe touting their carbon neutral smoke and mirrors fake science. Again, tearing down forests, in this case, North Carolina, brought to us by CNN.
Northampton has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state — which almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic — and nearly 22% of its residents are living in poverty.
“If the wood products industry and biomass were a way of growing strong rural economies in the southeastern region, these rural communities should be some of the wealthiest on the planet,” said Smith. “We are in the world’s largest wood producing region. But you don’t see any evidence in these rural communities of thriving rural economies. The opposite is actually true.”
Enviva currently employs 98 people at their Northampton facility and pay roughly 37% more than the average wage in the county, the company told CNN in a statement, adding that they strive to hire locally if workers have the right qualifications.
Imagine, the scams, and, in the end, these communities, again, pay the price of environmental racism:
Pretty, unh? Would love to have this in your backyard, right?
The EU, which aims to be climate-neutral by 2050, is set to revise its Renewable Energy Directive this summer and is expected to update sustainability criteria for biomass. Critics hope they will restrict biomass imports from overseas, exclude whole, living trees as “waste product” and properly account for carbon emissions from cutting and burning wood.
But a draft document that surfaced this past spring does not suggest substantial changes are coming for Europe’s directive.
I live in a state where the Democratic weak kneed governor got stiff knees and shut down everything, and this is the reality of stupidity around the planned pandemic. The lack of rural and inner city clinics, and just a lack of a massive movement to treat people with the common cold, gut diseases, the flu, and the bioweaponized SARS-Cov2, that’s what the Kate Brown, self-described bi-sexual, is all about. And, the reality is, this privatized medicine (sic) needs ending. Imagine, ending CEO and CFO and stockholder dividends. Oh, it would be easy to turn hospitals into cooperatives, employee owned outfits. On a sliding scale, before single payer health care.
But the reality that the shenanigans of the hospitals have killed thousands. Not because of the batty virus, but because of delays, and no treatment. Now? Oregonian, read it.
After 18 years as a nurse, much of it in the emergency department, Jeremy Lail considered himself a battle-tested veteran.
But last week, he asked his bosses at Providence Portland Medical Center if he could go on leave. Lail said he’s overwhelmed by the horde of patients seeking treatment at his ER and unnerved at the erratic, angry nature of many of those patients.
“I dreaded going to work,” he said. “I found myself thinking, is this the day someone is going to pull a gun and shoot me? We’re seeing how society can devolve right now. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and depression.”
For months, hospital workers have wanted nothing more than for the pandemic to end and life to return to some semblance of normalcy. But the much-deserved respite has yet to begin. Instead, a combination of understaffing and a tidal wave of seriously ill patients who have deferred health care for months has made life in the ER as bad or worse than the height of the pandemic.
It’s a recipe for disaster that is unfolding at hospitals across the country: Blend emotionally exhausted caregivers with emotionally disturbed patients, throw in a wave of street violence and the departure of some of the most experienced workers on the wards due to fatigue and burnout, and voila, America has its latest health care crisis.
Many employees argue there is another key ingredient added by the hospitals that makes the end result particularly toxic: A penny-pinching mentality that allows the understaffing to develop in the first place.
Oh, now we can see god in the science of trillions wasted on artificial (sic) suns (sic). You have this sickness, about limitless and green energy sources. Makes no sense, really, when billions are on the brink of starvation, polluted slow and fast deaths. Imagine that, no solutions NOW for farming collapses, fisheries collapses, broke-back poverty and chronic illnesses, and just endless droughts. Nope. We have all these resources and mental lifetimes in the tens of millions working on this?
These stories never-ever look at things from an ethical point of view. From a life cycle analysis view. From the view of the hoards of us, useless breathers-eaters-breeders. This news coming out of Europe or China or Israel or USA, well, no one looks at the reality of how land is desiccating and desertifying. All those satellites for 6 G internet of nanotechnology. None of the real humans are the tables of power looking at, well, all these issues tied to environmental racism, structural violence, reparations, land theft, and the like.
Because, these stories will go the way of the stories to dare valorize Palestinians, or debunk the lies of the murderous Jewish Israeli Regime of More Than Just Apartheid:
Another casualty of Israel’s war on truth: ‘Canadian Journalists for Free Expression’ fired a staffer for publishing a routine letter that criticized Israel for killing journalists…
By Kevin Metcalf
In May, Israel bombarded Gaza for 11 days, killing 256 Palestinians, including 66 children.
In the midst of this attack, hundreds of journalists in Canada signed an open letter calling for fairer coverage of Israel and Palestine. CBC then barred reporters who signed the letter from covering the region, claiming that doing so made them appear biased.
I was one of those who signed the open letter, because I believe the media should report fairly. I also expected there’d be a backlash to the letter within newsrooms, especially at the CBC, due to my own experiences: Years before this letter was released, I was fired from my media job for writing about Israel’s killing of protesters and journalists.
With help from the state broadcaster, over the course of a few weeks in 2018 my career was destroyed and my life’s work was completely uprooted. I now work as a landscaper for a living. (Source)
If my fellow writers haven’t already experienced this, well, not just criticizing Israel or the Jewish mentality of many Jews who are as racist as any Steven Miller or Donal et al Trump LLC.
Try having conversations with people in workplaces about bioweaponized SARS-Cov2. Any discussion about therapies that would have saved hundreds of thousands from oxygen-depleted, intubation death. Cancelled big time. I am an educator, so, that one is out the window to dare question masks and lockdowns. Dare question USA from a truly communist lens? Question Trump? Cancelled. Question Biden? Cancelled. Question the rapaciousness and profit motives of medicine and pharmacy and virology? Cancelled. Question how some or key points of the company you work for? Cancelled. It’s a sickness this society, so, again, the “Israel Policies Are Monstrous and Murderous” critique gets you cancelled.
Read this science story. Of course, anything tied to all the chronic illnesses, or we call them intellectual-developmental-psychiatric disabilities, is good to see how things can be mitigated (of course, the idea for both left and right elites is to say, “Hmm, useless eater, well, abort-abort.”). But this sort of story below is another form of colonizing. There are millions of people working on learning how the forever chemicals, all the hormone disrupters, all those additives-chemicals-pollutants-particulates-drugs-GMOs-et al, can cause a storm of epigenetic issues down the line, and, yes, autism spectrum disorder is just one area of massive numbers of younger and younger people developing DD-ID-PD disorders. A magnitude of 100.
You will not see these scientists looking for the genetic cause looking at all the synergistic causes of depleted sperm, wombs of wild chemical storms, none of that, of course. Nope. They are getting paid to look deep at all the causes of Autism-Autism like disorders.
An increase in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and autism has been reported in Scotland. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating. The manufacturers claim it to be safe, but none of the Regulatory Agencies are monitoring glyphosate levels in groundwater.
By courtesy of independent researchers around the world we present evidence that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants, animals and humans, and glyphosate residues have been found in all three. Glyphosate is an endocrine-disruptor (as are many herbicides) it damages DNA and it is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer. We present graphs from the US which correlate glyphosate application and the percentage of GE soy and corn crops to the incidence and prevalence of various diseases in those on a Western diet. The Pearson’s correlation coefficients are very strong and highly significant for obesity, diabetes, autism, thyroid cancer, liver cancer, deaths from Parkinson’s, Senile Dementia and Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease and acute kidney failure. We present Cancer Research UK graphs of upward trends in cancer incidences between 1975 and 2009, which are in line with the US graphs.
Other consequences are gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, depression, infertility, birth defect s and other cancers. The data for the amount of non-agricultural use of glyphosate in the UK appear to be confidential. Parts of South Wales, in former mining areas, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan Balsam abound. The local Council does not hold glyphosate records. Instead it contracts out to a commercial organisation to supply industry approved vegetation management techniques. A quote from the contractor: “The glyphosate we use called round up has a hazard free label.” The level of glyphosate in a river draining from areas of Japanese knotweed was 190 parts per trillion (ppt) and local tap water was 30 ppt. These were of the order of concentrations found in a study in 2013 which showed that breast cancer cell proliferation is accelerated by glyphosate in extremely low concentrations: “potential biological levels at part per trillion (ppt) to part per billion (ppb).”
Oh, this is big, no? The Nile? Egypt and Ethiopia? You think this water story is not the issue of our times? Oh, that Artificial Sun will save us. Think water wars all over the planet:
A dispute over the Nile, the world’s longest river, is coming to a head. At stake are the lives and livelihoods of millions of people who depend on its water.
Egypt is objecting to efforts by Ethiopia to start operating a $4.8 billion dam on a major tributary of the Nile, a hydroelectric project that it hopes will power a social and economic transformation of the country, without a binding agreement that preserves Cairo’s rights to the waters.
Then, well, we get to the Zoom Doom story, the post planned pandemic story. Apple, of course, should be shut down, taken over, and the entire honchos put on that Epstein Island. Or Musk’s. Take your pick of billionaire islands. But this is the new abnormal. Working in your underwear, latte chilled, all those airplane and spider plants, and the puppy underfoot and four-pound beef-lovers pizza at the ready. These people who are threatening to leave Apple, well, I guarantee you they are dream hoarders, Hillary-Kamala lites. Believers in social distancing for life, masks on everywhere, and these are the ones who are ramming digital and cloud and satellite surveillance and AI and robotized tech up our asses.
The state of news (sic):
Apple stood its ground last week in the face of employee protest against its new requirement that they work from home only two days a week. Both the policy–which came directly from CEO Tim Cook–and Apple’s comments about it betray a striking lack of emotional intelligence. That’s a bad idea in today’s tight labor market. The approach is one no small company or startup can afford to take.
Our story begins about a month ago, when Apple announced its new return-to-the-office policy in light of widespread vaccinations and falling Covid-19 infections. In an internal email, Cook announced that, beginning in early September, employees would be required to work in the office at least three days a week. Specifically, those days would be Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Finally, the top 10 or whatever stories, prompted by my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced:
How long will it be before we start seeing adds for front end Protest Protector guard bars for F-150’s, Chevy Silverado’s and the Amerikaner favorite, Dodge Ram? What good fascist could possibly pass up the opportunity to keep protesters blood and body parts from damaging their radiators and having expensive body shop repair bills? I’m sure some enterprising asshole is already marketing “Protest Protectors” as I write this. Only in Amerika. The land of opportunity.
He was reacting to a Counterpunch story, pulling this quote from it below. But Paul Street needed to research the term, Amerikaner — “A round cakelike pastry of flour, butter, and lemon juice, with a sugar glaze, most often plain white, but sometimes chocolate or half-white/half-chocolate.”
Talk about “fascism with American characteristics”!
“In the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests,” VOX’s Cameron Peters noted last April, “Republican lawmakers are advancing a number of new anti-protest measures at the state level – including multiple bills that specifically make it easier for drivers to run down protesters… If the recent spate of anti-protest measures in Florida, Iowa, and Oklahoma is disturbing on its face, however, context does little to make it better. There is a specific history in the US of the far right using cars as weapons, and it’s not hard to see how bills like the one that is now law in Oklahoma might only make things worse…The most notable example is from August 2017: Heather Heyer, 32, was struck and killed and at least 19 others were injured when neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. rammed a crowd of counter protesters in Charlottesville. Fields has since been sentenced to life in prison…But it’s more than that single incident. According to Ari Weil, the deputy research director for the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, there were at least 72 incidents of cars driving into protesters over a relatively short span in 2020, from May 27 through July 7… Examples aren’t hard to find. There’s even a Wikipedia page specifically dedicated to ‘vehicle-ramming incidents during George Floyd protests.’ And as Weil explained in an interview with Vox’s Alex Ward last year, ‘there’s an online environment that for years has been celebrating and encouraging these types of horrendous attacks’. (emphasis added). From Iowa Nice to Iowa Nazi: a Report from the Friendly Fascist Heartland
These are examples in USA and UK of how we help the sick, tired, overworked, the useless eaters, useless breeders, useless breathers, useless resters: “OH, JOE — The White European and White United Snakes of America and Klanada, they are all worthless scum, and we are useless breathers, useless eaters, useless breeders, useless one and all, unless there are fines/levies/penalties/tickets/violations/tolls/taxes/triple taxations/surcharges/fees-to gouge the poor and lower classes to death in their operating systems.”
Social media is biased, not to the Left or the Right, but downward.
— Jaron Lanier
Critical race theory, according to Wikipedia, is “a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States that seeks to critically examine U.S. law as it intersects with issues of race in the U.S. and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice.”
Critical race theory (CRT), according to the Republican House Freedom Caucus, is “teaching American students to hate each other,” “tears people apart,” is “teaching our children that America is evil and is a “divisive ideology that threatens to poison the American psyche.”
All of the above is false or maybe it’s true. Who knows? Who cares? None of it matters anyway. CRT is now as informative a term as “family values” or “diversity” or “Black lives matter” or “socialism” or “common good” or “tolerance” or “social justice” or “freedom of speech” or… you get the idea. These terms are weapons. Whether you vibe with them or not, you use them as disingenuous weapons — without a hint of concern about the accuracy or deeper meaning. They are straw men in a bigger game of distraction and denial. While the Fake News swirls and mesmerizes, those in charge gain more power and more wealth. Same as it ever was.
Are there some on the Right who are using anti-CRT rhetoric to mask their racist tendencies? Of course. Are there some on the Left using their pro-CRT rhetoric to mask their fascist tendencies? Of course. But most of those talking about CRT right now are uninformed dupes. They’re regurgitating the talking points of their TV network or social media platform of choice — without a hint of concern about the accuracy or deeper meaning. It’s virtue signaling yet again.
Useful debate is impossible so we’ve moved on to utter deception. You can blame CRT for whatever bothers you about the world with no worries. No one will ever bother looking it up. What good is fact-checking in a time of alternative facts? Besides, if you’re a Republican blah-blah-blahing about CRT on Fox News, your colleagues and your opponents aren’t concerned with what you’re actually saying. In their minds, all that matters is that you’re a Republican on Fox News. They pre-emptively agree or disagree with you before you even open your mouth. This is what passes for “debate” in 2021.
CRT is merely this year’s villain of choice and the media always profits from the creation of villains (Isis, communists, right-wing radio hosts, maskers, anti-maskers, Antifa, MAGA, etc., etc.). They only exist to scare or slander or bully or demonize others. So if you’re expecting me to present an annotated dissertation on the deep meaning critical race theory, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I could but there is no value in any such discussion when people can’t even agree on what words mean. The window for meaningful discussion on CRT slammed shut a long time ago. All sides made certain of that.
As a result, CRT is nothing more than the latest bogeyman for the Right and the latest cudgel for the Left. To gain credibility within your narrow hive mind, there is no need to comprehend the nuances and related issues. All you need to do (depending on which echo chamber you call home) is declare your undying love for CRT or denounce it to Hell. Your fellow cult members will adore you and assure you that you’ve broken the code.
Reminder: Regardless of which sect you’ve joined, the vast majority of U.S. students aren’t particularly interested in what they learn in school anyway. They were conditioned a long time ago to temporarily memorize what they need to know. Once the exams are over, they can just forget it all to make room for the important stuff, you know, like TikTok.
This entire “debate” is teeming with bad ideas from all players on all sides. The solution for bad ideas should never be the silencing of those with whom you disagree. Almost always, the solution for bad ideas is better ideas. Pro tip: Skip the dog and pony shows. Focus instead on rediscovering the subversive pleasure of thinking for yourself — and helping as many others as you can along the way.
These are early days for the self-styled ‘coalition of change’ in Israel, but it has already been presented with significant challenges in the form of the Jerusalem Flag March, the Evyatar outpost, and the Citizenship and Entry law. There is another one just around the corner.
This week, the High Court of Justice informed the new Minister of Education, Yifat Shasha-Biton, that she has three weeks to decide her position regarding one of the last acts of her predecessor, Yoav Gallant of Netanyahu’s government. Before leaving his post, Gallant made a final decision as Education Minister not to award the high-profile Israel Prize in computer science to a professor at the Weizmann Institute, Oded Goldreich.
Initially, Gallant vetoed the award of the prize back in April in the wake of a right-wing group ‘uncovering’ the academic’s alleged support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. In a follow-up to the veto, Gallant cast himself in the role of chief prosecutor in an investigation into the granting of the prize and Goldreich was summoned to a hearing whose function was to determine the answers to questions regarding petitions and open letters signed by him, his position regarding BDS and his activities in a group called Academia for Equality.
Professor Goldreich has been clear about his nuanced position regarding sanctions against Israel but former Minister Gallant did not do nuance. For him, the hearing had a straightforward purpose: to examine ‘whether the professor’s current renunciation of the boycott movement is sincere and whether the information he provided to the court and the state in this matter is correct.’ Goldreich’s legal representative confirmed his refusal to cooperate with a process that was ‘blatantly McCarthyist.’
Former Minister Gallant has history. He made headlines earlier this year for ordering the cancellation of a discussion in a school involving Hagai El-Ad, the director of human rights organization B’Tselem which had declared that Israel must now be considered an apartheid state. Gallant’s wider intention was to prohibit schools from inviting representatives of groups that discourage ‘meaningful service in the Israel Defence Forces’ and call Israel ‘false derogatory names.’
As an Israeli politician, Gallant is one of the more enthusiastic when it comes to attempting to shut down voices which are critical of Israeli policy. But with Gallant now sent into opposition, a declaration of a full-blown form of McCarthyism in Israel would be arguably premature. Gallant’s hearing was only a tribute act to the House Un-American Activities Committee and the new Education Minister has a real opportunity to signal a change of culture.
Shasha-Biton is well regarded but it won’t be easy. As a result of the Netanyahu years, there has been a substantial shift to the right in terms of what is acceptable to discuss in the public sphere. Direct censorship is uncommon in Israel but editorial selection, self-censorship and the mediation of Palestinian voices through Israeli journalistic ‘analysis’ result in compliant media organizations that readily provide platforms for far-right settlers, whilst moving down the news agenda anything relating to the daily reality of occupation.
Gallant’s activities were part of a trend that exists beyond the farce of the Israel Prize controversy and his own Orwellian interpretation of the job of Education Minister. Benjamin Netanyahu can be proud that, although dethroned, he bestowed upon the nation a significant legacy in the form of the delegitimization of liberal opinion. He achieved a toxification of the adjective ‘left-wing’ and his constant rhetoric referring to the dangers of the left was designed to stoke fear. His language trickled down to the street, tacitly encouraging the harassment of those who don’t conform, those considered traitors – even on the right. These are, of course, the problems of the privileged. In this land, it is still much harder to be a Palestinian than a progressive Israeli.
That said, beyond the influence of those in government, there is a layer of extra-parliamentary activity contributing to a climate of fear and intimidation and, yes, a nascent form of McCarthyism. It is worth taking stock here of some of the right-wing non-governmental organizations – sometimes described as ‘watchdogs’ or ‘think-tanks’ – which are active in the business of monitoring the left.
One of these, ‘grassroots Zionist movement’ Im Tirzu, claims to have played a direct role in the lobbying of Gallant in the case of Professor Goldreich. Im Tirzu is present on the usual range of platforms, but the website is particularly informative. The organization is dedicated to defending Zionism and exposing ‘widespread efforts to delegitimize Israel from within, whether it is in the form of BDS or subverting sovereign policies.’ A key activity is the group’s ‘Know the Anti-Israeli Professor’ project which produces and publishes files on academics worldwide, including one dedicated to Goldreich. In my book, if it looks like a blacklist and reads like one, then it probably is one.
Im Tirzu is not the only organization involved in monitoring individuals and the left in a broader sense and with challenging anything perceived as critical. Israel Academia Monitor is concerned with the activities of academics who ‘propound…false arguments that defame Israel.’ NGO Monitor focuses on ‘the anti-Israeli propaganda machine’ and the activities of NGOs such as B’Tselem ‘that claim to promote human rights.’ Honest Reporting is a website which exists to ‘combat ideological prejudice: in journalism and the media, as it impacts Israel.’ Ad Kan is a group specializing in ‘undercover work’ and infiltration, investigating ‘domestic organizations that discredit’ the name of the State of Israel.
These NGOs, together with the current squatter of Balfour and his lapdogs like Gallant, are part of an ideological front which has an interest in engendering an atmosphere of national paranoia. This has not disappeared with the formation of a new government. Highly political NGOs could be argued to be part and parcel of debate in a democratic society, but Israel is not a normal country after 50 plus years of a corrupting occupation, as ‘anti-Zionist’ NGOs such as B’Tselem and Yesh Din have pointed out. The wider culture of intimidation and blacklisting spawned by Netanyahu and these NGOs and the increasingly narrow boundaries of public discourse, reflect this fact.
It is not unpatriotic to be concerned about issues such as the occupation, and Professor Oded Goldreich has resisted the calls for public ‘renunciation’ in a show trial. Shasha-Biton has a decision to make which goes beyond the difference between her and Gallant, the new government and the old. At stake is not the integrity of the Israel Prize but the ability to express, or even hold, an oppositional opinion in the public arena in Israel. The likes of Gallant (and indeed Netanyahu, as we have learned) are ultimately accountable at the ballot box, but increasingly influential self-appointed watchdogs like Im Tirzu and Ad Kan operate freely. Unless there is an effort to transform the culture, they will continue to set the agenda through activities which identify, intimidate, and render vulnerable, those who think differently.
There’s been a new public fracturing of the intellectual left, typified by an essay last week from Nathan J Robinson, editor of the small, independent, socialist magazine Current Affairs, accusing Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi of bolstering the right’s arguments. He is the more reasonable face of what seems to be a new industry arguing that Greenwald is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, setting the right’s agenda for it.
Under the title “How to end up serving the right”, Robinson claims that Greenwald and Taibbi, once his intellectual heroes, are – inadvertently or otherwise – shoring up the right’s positions and weakening the left. He accuses them of reckless indifference to the consequences of criticising a “liberal” establishment and making common cause with the right’s similar agenda. Both writers, argues Robinson, have ignored the fact that the right wields the greatest power in our societies.
This appears to be a continuation of a fight Robinson picked last year with Krystal Ball, the leftwing, former co-host of a popular online politics show called The Rising. Robinson attacked her for sharing her platform with the conservative pundit Saagar Enjeti. Ball and Enjeti have since struck out on their own, recently launching a show called Breaking Points.
Notably, Greenwald invited Robinson on to his own YouTube channel to discuss these criticisms of Ball when Robinson first made them. In my opinion, Robinson emerged from that exchange looking more than a little bruised.
As with his clash with Ball, there are problems with Robinson’s fuzzy political definitions.
Somewhat ludicrously in his earlier tussle, he lumped together Enjeti, a thoughtful right wing populist, with figures like Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, both of them narcissists and authoritarians (of varying degrees of competence) that have donned the garb of populism, as authoritarians tend to do.
Similarly, Robinson’s current disagreements with Greenwald and Taibbi stem in part from a vague formulation – one he seems partially to concede – of what constitutes the “left”. Greenwald has always struck me more as a progressive libertarian than a clearcut socialist like Robinson. Differences of political emphasis and priorities are inevitable. They are also healthy.
And much of Robinson’s essay is dedicated to cherrypicking a handful of tweets from Greenwald and Taibbi to make his case. Greenwald, in particular, is a prolific tweeter. And given the combative and polarising arena of Twitter, it would be quite astonishing had he not occasionally advanced his arguments without the nuance demanded by Robinson.
Overall, Robinson’s case against both Greenwald and Taibbi is far less persuasive than he appears to imagine.
But the reason I think it worth examining his essay is because it demonstrates a more fundamental split on what – for the sake of convenience – I shall treat as a broader intellectual left that includes Robinson, Greenwald and Taibbi.
Robinson tries to prop up his argument that Greenwald, in particular, is betraying the left and legitimising the right with an argument from authority, citing some of the left’s biggest icons.
Two, Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill, are former journalist colleagues of Greenwald’s at the Intercept, the billionaire-financed online news publication that he co-founded and eventually split from after it broke an editorial promise not to censor his articles.
Greenwald fell out with the editors in spectacularly public fashion late last year after they stifled his attempts to write about the way Silicon Valley and liberal corporate media outlets – not unlike the Intercept – were colluding to stifle negative coverage of Joe Biden in the run-up to the presidential election, in a desperate bid to ensure he beat Trump.
Greenwald’s public statements about his reasons for leaving the Intercept exposed what were effectively institutional failings there – and implicated those like Scahill and Klein who had actively or passively colluded in the editorial censorship of its co-founder. Klein and Scahill are hardly dispassionate commentators on Greenwald when they accuse him of “losing the plot” and “promoting smears”. They have skin in the game.
But Robinson may think his trump (sic) card is an even bigger left icon, Noam Chomsky, who is quoted saying of Greenwald: “He’s a friend, has done wonderful things, I don’t understand what is happening now… I hope it will pass.”
The problem with this way of presenting Greenwald is that the tables can be easily turned. Over the past few years, my feeds – and I am sure others’ – have been filled with followers asking versions of “What happened to Chomsky?” or “What happened to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now?”
The answer to these very reductive questions – what happened to Greenwald and what happened to Chomsky – is the same. Trump happened. And their different responses are illustrative of the way the left polarised during the Trump presidency and how it continues to divide in the post-Trump era.
Robinson treats the Trump factor – what we might term Post-Traumatic Trump Disorder – as though it is irrelevant to his analysis of Greenwald and Taibbi. And yet it lies at the heart of the current tensions on the left. In its simplest terms, the split boils down to the question of how dangerous Trump really was and is, and what that means for the left in terms of its political responses.
Unlike Robinson, I don’t think it is helpful to personalise this. Instead, we should try to understand what has happened to left politics more generally in the Trump and post-Trump era.
Parts of the left joined liberals in becoming fixated on Trump as a uniquely evil and dangerous presence in US politics. Robinson notes that Trump posed an especial and immediate threat to our species’ survival through his denial of climate change, and on these grounds alone every effort had to be made to remove him.
Others on the left recoil from this approach. They warn that, by fixating on Trump, elements of the left have drifted into worryingly authoritarian ways of thinking – sometimes openly, more often implicitly – as a bulwark against the return of Trump or anyone like him.
The apotheosis of such tendencies was the obsession, shared alike by liberals and some on the left, with Russiagate. This supposed scandal highlighted in stark fashion the extreme dangers of focusing on a single figure, in Trump, rather than addressing the wider, corrupt political structures that produced him.
It was not just the massive waste of time and energy that went into trying to prove the unprovable claims of Trump’s collusion with the Kremlin – resources that would have been far better invested in addressing Trump’s real crimes, which were being committed out in the open.
It was that the politically tribal Trump-Russia narrative engulfed and subverted a meaningful politics of resistance. It snared those like Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who had been trying to break open the black box of western politics. It fortified the US security services after they had been exposed by Edward Snowden’s revelations as secretly and illegally conducting mass spying on the public’s communications. It breathed a dangerous credibility into the corrupt Democratic party machine after its embarrassment over engineering Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. And it revived the fortunes of an increasingly discredited liberal media that quickly won large ratings by promoting fabulists like Rachel Maddow.
Those on the left who tried to challenge Russiagate in order to focus on real political issues were stigmatised as Putin’s puppets, their arguments were labelled “fake news”, and they were gradually algorithmed into social media purdah.
Under the Russiagate banner, parts of the left were soon rallying, however reluctantly, behind corporate champions of the planet-destroying status quo.
But it was even worse than that. The fixation on the obviously hollow Russiagate narrative by the Democratic Party, the corporate media, Silicon Valley, and the US intelligence agencies served to prove to wide swaths of conservative America that Trump was right when he berated a “liberal” establishment for being invested only in its own self-preservation and not caring about ordinary Americans.
Russiagate did not just divide the left, it dramatically strengthened the right.
Free speech dangers
Robinson knows all this, at least intellectually, but perhaps because Trump looms so large in his thinking he does not weigh the significance in the same terms as Greenwald and Taibbi.
The problem with characterising Trump as a supremely evil figure is that all sorts of authoritarian political conclusions flow from that characterisation – precisely the political conclusions we have seen parts of the left adopting. Robinson may not expressly share these conclusions but, unlike Greenwald and Taibbi, he has largely ignored or downplayed the threat they present.
If Trump poses a unique danger to democracy, then to avoid any recurrence:
We are obligated to rally uncritically, or at least very much less critically, behind whoever was selected to be his opponent. Following Trump’s defeat, we are dutybound to restrain our criticisms of the winner, Joe Biden, however poor his performance, in case it opens the door to Trump, or someone like Trump, standing for the presidency in four years’ time.
We must curb free speech and limit the free-for-all of social media in case it contributed to the original surge of support for Trump, or created the more febrile political environment in which Trump flourished.
We must eradicate all signs of populism, whether on the right or the left, because we cannot be sure that in a battle of populisms the left will defeat the right, or that left wing populism cannot be easily flipped into right wing populism.
And most importantly, we must learn to distrust “the masses” – those who elected Trump – because they have demonstrated that they are too easily swayed by emotion, prejudice and charisma. Instead, we must think in more traditional liberal terms, of rule by technocrats and “experts” who can be trusted to run our societies largely in secret but provide a stability that should keep any Trumps out of power.
Greenwald and Taibbi have been focusing precisely on this kind of political fallout from the Trump presidency. And it looks suspiciously like this, as much as anything else, is what is antagonising Robinson and others.
Greenwald’s own experiences at the Intercept underline his concerns. It was not just that Greenwald was forced out over his efforts late last year to talk about the documents found on Hunter Biden’s laptop and the questions they raised about his father, the man who was about to become US president. It was that the Intercept stopped Greenwald from talking about how the entire liberal corporate media and all of Silicon Valley were actively conspiring to crush any attempt to talk about those documents and their significance – and not on the basis of whether they were genuine or not.
Greenwald walked away from what amounted to a very well-paid sinecure at the Intercept to highlight this all-out assault on democratic discourse and the election process – an assault whose purpose was not the search for truth but to prevent any danger of Trump being re-elected. By contrast, in a tweet thread that has not aged well, Robinson along with many others quibbled about the specifics of Greenwald’s case and whether it amounted to censorship, very much ignoring the wood for the trees.
Now that @ggreenwald's Biden article has been published, the relevant question for evaluating whether the Intercept was justified in refusing to publish it is: are its claims false/insufficiently supported? How did it fall short of publication standards? https://t.co/5CwJT72XpC
Greenwald and Taibbi talk so much about the role of the traditional media and Silicon Valley because they understand that the media’s professed liberalism – claims to be protecting the rights of women, ethnic minorities and the trans community – is a very effective way of prettifying corporate authoritarianism, an authoritarianism the left claims to be fighting but has readily endorsed once it has been given a liberal makeover.
It is not that the “liberal” establishment – the corporate media, Silicon Valley, the intelligence services – is actually liberal. It is that liberals have come increasingly to identify with that establishment as sharing their values.
For this reason, Robinson obscures the real nature of the divide on the left when he discusses the power of the Supreme Court. He criticises Greenwald and Taibbi for ignoring the fact that the right exercises absolute power through its packing of the court with rightwing judges. He accuses them of instead unfairly emphasising the power exercised by this “liberal” establishment.
But despite Robinson’s claims, the Supreme Court very obviously doesn’t wield “all the power”, even with its veto over legislation and actions of the administration. Because an even greater power is invested in those institutions that can control the public’s ability to access and interpret information; to find out what is being done in the shadows; and to make choices based on that information, including about who should represent them.
Information control and narrative management are the deepest forms of power because they shape our ability to think critically, to resist propaganda, to engage in dialogue and to forge alliances that might turn the tide against a profoundly corrupt establishment that includes both the Supreme Court and Silicon Valley. Robinson ignores this point in his essay, even though it is fundamental to assessing “What happened to Greenwald and Taibbi?”. A commitment to keeping channels of information open and ensuring dialogue continues, even in the post-Trump era, is what happened to them.
Hard drives smashed
The crux of Robinson’s argument is that Greenwald and Taibbi have made a pact with the devil, gradually chaining their more progressive credentials to a Trumpian rightwing populism to defeat the “liberal” establishment. That, Robinson suggests, will only strengthen and embolden the right, and ensure the return of a Trump.
The evidence Robinson and others adduce for Greenwald’s betrayal, in particular, are his now regular appearances on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, where Greenwald and Carlson often find common ground against the authoritarian excesses of that same “liberal” establishment.
That should not surprise us. Carlson and the right have an interest in the break-up of Silicon Valley’s tech monopolies that favour a Democratic Party authoritarianism over their own Republican Party authoritarianism. Greenwald has an interest in the break-up of Silicon Valley’s tech monopolies too but for a very different reason: because he is against monopolies designed to keep the public propagandised and manipulated.
Opposing them both is an authoritarian “liberal” establishment – the Democratic Party, traditional corporate media, Silicon Valley, the intelligence services – that have every interest in perpetuating their control over the tech monopolies.
Robinson contrasts Greenwald’s behaviour to his own clean hands as the editor of the small socialist magazine, Current Affairs.
But we should note that Robinson has compromised himself far more than he cares to admit. For several years he used the liberal corporate outlet of the Guardian as a platform from which to present a watered-down version of his own socialist politics. To do so, he had to ignore the paper’s appalling record of warmongering abroad and of subverting socialists like Jeremy Corbyn at home.
Robinson finally came unstuck when a Guardian editor effectively fired him for writing a satirical tweet about the huge sums of aid given by the US to Israel each year to kill and maim Palestinians under occupation and destroy their infrastructure.
My latest: In sacking a columnist over a tweet criticising US military aid to Israel, the Guardian wasn't stopping 'antisemitism'. It was policing speech to stop the left drawing attention to the continuing colonial nature of western societies https://t.co/E2gORnn5x8
One can debate whether it is wise for the left to use essentially hostile corporate platforms – liberal or conservative – to advance its arguments. But that is not the debate Robinson is trying to provoke. And for obvious reasons: because in piggybacking on the Guardian, Robinson did what Greenwald has done in piggybacking on Tucker Carlson. Both have used the reach of a larger corporate outlet to build their audience and expand the number of people exposed to their more progressive ideas.
There is an apparent difference, though. In Robinson’s case, he has admitted with impressive frankness that he would have been willing to self-censor on Israel had he been told by the Guardian beforehand that speaking out was likely to cost him his job. That sets his own position apart from Greenwald, who decided to walk from the Intercept rather than allow his work to be censored.
Nonetheless, it is far from clear, as Robinson assumes, that liberal corporate outlets are a safer bet for the left to ally with than rightwing corporate outlets.
Greenwald, remember, was eased out of the “liberal” Guardian many years before Robinson’s sacking after he brought the paper the glory associated with the Snowden revelations while also incurring the intelligence services’ wrath. Those revelations exposed the dark underbelly of the US national security state under the “liberal” presidency of Barack Obama, not Trump. And years later, Greenwald was again pushed out, this time from the supposedly even more “liberal” Intercept as part of its efforts to protect Biden, Obama’s Democratic party successor.
Greenwald wasn’t dispatched from these publications for being too righ-twing. Tensions escalated at the Guardian over the security service backlash to Greenwald’s unwavering commitment to free speech and transparency – just as the Guardian earlier fell out with Assange faced with the security services’ retaliation for Wikileaks’ exposure of western war crimes.
The Guardian’s own commitment to transparency was surrendered with its agreement to carry out the UK security services’ demand that it smash hard drives packed with Snowden’s secrets. The destruction of those files may have been largely symbolic (there were copies in the possession of the New York Times) but the message it sent to the left and to the UK intelligence agencies was clear enough: from now on, the Guardian was resolutely going to be a team player.
What these experiences with the Guardian and the Intercept doubtless demonstrated to Greenwald was that his most fundamental political principles were essentially incompatible with those of the “liberal” media – and all the more so in the Trump era. The priority for liberal publications was not truth-telling or hosting all sides of the debate but frantically shoring up the authority of a “moderate” technocratic elite, one that would ensure a stable neoliberal environment in which it could continue its wealth extraction and accumulation.
Robinson implies that Greenwald has been embittered by these experiences, and is petulantly hitting back against the “liberal” establishment without regard to the consequences. But a fairer reading would be that Greenwald is fighting against kneejerk, authoritarian instincts wherever they are found in our societies – on the right, the centre and the left.
The irony is that he appears to be getting a better hearing on Tucker Carlson than he does at the Guardian or the Intercept. Contrary to Robinson’s claim, that says more about the Guardian and the so-called liberal media than it does about Greenwald.
Captured by wokeness
Robinson also misrepresents what Greenwald and Taibbi are trying to do when they appear on rightwing media.
First, he gives every impression of arguing that, by appearing on the Tucker Carlson show, Greenwald naively hopes to persuade Carlson to switch allegiance from a right wing to left wing populism. But Greenwald doesn’t go on the Tucker Carlson show to turn its host into a leftist. He appears on the show to reach and influence Carlson’s millions of viewers, who do not have the same investment in neoliberalism’s continuing success as the multi-millionaire Carlson does.
Is Greenwald’s calculation any more unreasonable than Robinson’s belief while writing for the Guardian that he might succeed in turning the Guardian’s liberal readers into socialists? Is Robinson right to assume that liberals are any less committed to their selfish political worldview than the right? Or that – when their side is losing – liberal readers of the Guardian are any less susceptible to authoritarianism than rightwing viewers of Fox News?
Robinson also wrongly accuses Greenwald and Taibbi of suggesting that the CIA and major corporations have, in Robinson’s words, “become captured by culturally left ‘woke’ ideology”. But neither writer appears to believe that Black Lives Matter or #MeToo is dictating policy to the establishment. The pair are arguing instead that the CIA and the corporations are exploiting and manipulating “woke” ideology to advance their own authoritarian agendas.
Their point is not that the establishment is liberal but rather that it can more credibly market itself as liberal or progressive when a Trump is in power or when it is feared that a Trump might return to power. And that perception weakens truly progressive politics. By donning the garb of liberalism, elites are able to twist the values and objectives of social movements in ways designed to damage them and foster greater social divisions.
A feminism that celebrates women taking all the top jobs at the big arms manufacturers – the corporations whose business is the murder of men, women and children – is not really feminism. It is a perversion of feminism. Similarly, establishment claims to “wokeness” provide cover as western elites internally divide their own societies and dominate or destroy foreign ones.
“Woke authoritarianism”, as Robinson mockingly terms it, is not an attribute of wokeness. It is a description of one specific incarnation of authoritarianism that is currently favoured by an establishment that, in the post-Trump era, has managed more successfully to cast itself as liberal.
The central issue here – the one Robinson raises but avoids discussing – is what political conditions are most likely to foster authoritarianism in the US and other western states, and what can be done to reverse those conditions.
For Robinson, the answer is reassuringly straightforward. Trump and his rightwing populism pose the biggest threat, and the Democratic party – however dismal its leaders – is the only available vehicle for countering that menace. Therefore, left journalists have a duty to steer clear of arguments or associations that might confer legitimacy on the right.
For Greenwald and Taibbi, the picture looks far more complicated, treacherous and potentially bleak.
Trump fundamentally divided the US. For a significant section of the public, he answered their deep-seated and intensifying disenchantment with a political system that appears to be rigged against their interests after its wholesale takeover by corporate elites decades ago. He offered hope, however false.
For others, Trump threatened to topple the liberal facade the corporate elites had erected to sanctify their rule. He dispensed with the liberal pieties that had so effectively served to conceal US imperialism abroad and to maintain the fiction of democracy at home. His election tore the mask off everything that was already deeply ugly about the US political system.
Did that glimpse into the abyss fuel the sense of urgency among liberals and parts of the left to be rid of Trump at all costs – and the current desperation to prevent him or someone like him from returning to the Oval Office, even if it means further trashing free speech and transparency?
In essence, the dilemma the left now faces is this:
To work with the Democrats, with liberals, who are desperate to put the mask back on the system, to shore up its deceptions, so that political stability can be restored – a stability that is waging war around the globe, that is escalating the threat of super-power tensions and nuclear annihilation, and that is destroying the planet.
Or to keep the mask off, and work with those elements of the populist left and right that share a commitment to free speech and transparency, in the hope that through open debate we can expose the current rule by an unaccountable, authoritarian technocratic class and its corporate patrons masquerading as “liberals”.
The truth is we may be caught between a rock and hard place. Even as the warning signs mount, liberals may stick with the comfort blanket of rule by self-professed experts to the bitter end, to the point of economic and ecological collapse. And conservatives may, at the end of the day, prove that their commitment to free speech and disdain for corporate elites is far weaker than their susceptibility to narcissist strongmen.
Robinson no more has a crystal ball to see the future than Greenwald. Both are making decisions in the dark. For that reason, Robinson and his allies on the left would be better advised to stop claiming they hold the moral high ground.
Canadians like to think of ourselves as less racist, less right wing and especially less violent than Americans. But two recent events coming after a previous series of mass murders has shaken this belief.
Four members of a Muslim family were murdered in a hate crime while out for a stroll last Sunday in London, Ontario; two weeks earlier 215 First Nations children were found buried on the grounds of a Kamloops, B.C. Indian residential school; one year ago 22 died during a shooting spree by a Nova Scotia wannabe cop with a severe anger management problem after a fight with his girlfriend; four years ago 26 people, mostly women, were mowed down by a misogynist on a Toronto sidewalk leaving 10 dead; a year before that, six worshippers were shot and killed by a young man in a Quebec City mosque. All murders motivated by right wing hate.
This isn’t the real Canada, some people say. But it is. And always has been.
The truth is Canada, the British colony that preceded it, and the French colony before that, were all founded on racist, misogynist, militaristic, imperialistic, homophobic, white Christian supremacy. This is a history we share with the USA, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, all members along with Canada, of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance.
Our countries have proudly glorified white male warrior, racist colonialism and participated in it at home and abroad. Our laws, our institutions, our foreign policy, our culture have all been affected by these vile practices and ideologies, and they continue to infect and influence us today.
And this is not ancient history.
Born in 1953, I have lived in a Canada with genocidal residential schools, racist laws and immigration policies, that forbade people from voting based on their ethnicity, that ensured property could only be sold to white Christians, that jailed people for their sexuality, that had quotas for Jews in universities, that criminalized women’s reproductive rights and taught me in Catholic school that men were the head of the family and to be proud of the British Empire. The legacy of all that remains alive in me and my country.
These are historical facts that, if acknowledged, can be confronted, and overcome. But you can’t build a better world on a foundation of lies or ignorance, only on concrete reality.
And confronting our past is not just “virtue signalling” or part of “woke” culture or some academic exercise or ritual self-flagellation to earn forgiveness for our sins. There are those who revel in and glorify this past and would return us to it, whether we like it or not. Ignoring or whitewashing our history empowers the right-wing extremists who today wish to create something very much like Margaret Atwood’s Republic of Gilead. It is not only our neighbours to the south who are at risk of an authoritarian fascism built upon making America great again. There are people in all the “Five Eyes” who promote racist, colonial, imperialistic, misogynist, militaristic, homophobic white Christian supremacy and will use violence to achieve their goals.
Having spent the past four years researching and writing about the extreme right in the FAKE NEWS Mysteries, including my latest, American Fascism, there is no doubt in my mind that more violence is coming.
Fascists are conservatives in a panic. They are panicked because they see the victories of women, people of color, First Nations, anti-racists, the LGBTQ+, unions, socialists, peace advocates, environmentalists and internationalists as threatening. They are funded by some very wealthy people who use fascists as the tip of the spear against economic democracy. At its root fascism is a violent defence of economic and social privilege.
To combat those who would inflict Gilead upon us, we must understand who we were, who we are and who we would like to be. As many self-help books posit, knowing yourself is the first step to change. That’s exactly why conservatives and fascists glorify the past, defend statues of racists and insist history should focus on instilling patriotism instead of telling the truth.
To combat them we must educate ourselves and especially our children. Only then can we build a better world, one where all people can live together in respect, dignity and equality. One that is not afraid of positive change. One that can resiliently resist right wing extremism.
We are led to believe that history is being made in Israel following the formation of an ideologically diverse government coalition which, for the first time, includes an Arab party, Ra’am, or the United Arab List.
If we are to accept this logic, the leader of Ra’am, Mansour Abbas, is a mover and shaker of history, the same way that Naftali Bennett of the far-right Yamina Party, and Yair Lapid, the supposed ‘centrist’ of Yesh Atid, are also history makers. How bizarre!
Sensational media headlines and hyperboles aside, Israel’s new government was a desperate attempt by Israeli politicians to dislodge Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving Prime Minister, from power. While Lapid is fairly new to Israel’s contentious politics, Bennett and Abbas are opportunists, par excellence.
Lapid is a former TV anchorman. Despite his claims to centrist ideologies, his political views are as ‘right’ as they get. The problem is that such characters as Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, also of Yamina, and Netanyahu, of course, among others, have relocated the center of Israel’s political spectrum further to the right, to the point that the right became the center and the ultra-right became the right. This is how Israel’s neofascist and extremist politicians managed to become kingmakers in Israel’s politics. Bennett, for example, who in 2013 bragged about “killing lots of Arabs” in his life, is set to be the Prime Minister of Israel.
It is in this strange context that we must understand Mansour Abbas’ position. His meager four seats at the Israeli Knesset made his party critical in forming the coalition that has been purposely created to oust Netanyahu. Ra’am does not represent Israel’s Palestinian Arab communities and, by joining the government, Abbas is certainly not making history in terms of finding common ground between Arabs and Jews in a country that is rightly recognized by Israeli and international human rights groups as an apartheid state.
On the contrary, Abbas is moving against the current of history. At a time that Palestinians throughout historic Palestine – the occupied Palestinian territories and today’s Israel – are finally unifying around a common national narrative, Abbas is insisting on redefining the Palestinian agenda merely to secure a position for himself in Israeli politics – thus, supposedly ‘making history.’
Even before Abbas shook hands with Bennett and other Israeli extremists who advocate the killing of Palestinians as a matter of course, he made it clear that he was willing to join a Netanyahu-led government. This is one of the reasons behind the splintering of the once unified Arab political coalition, known as the Joint List.
Following his meeting with Netanyahu in February, Abbas justified his shocking turnabout with unconvincing political platitudes as one “needs to be able to look to the future, and to build a better future for everyone”, and so on.
The fact that Netanyahu was largely responsible for the despairing outlook of Israel’s Palestinian communities seemed entirely irrelevant to Abbas, who was inexplicably keen on joining any future political alliance, even if it included Israel’s most chauvinistic political actors. Sadly, though not surprisingly, this has proved to be the case.
Abbas’ position became impossible to sustain in May during the well-coordinated Israeli war in Gaza and the racist attacks on Palestinian communities in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and throughout Israel. Even then, when Palestinians were finally able to articulate a common narrative linking the occupation, siege, racism and apartheid in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and Israel together, Abbas insisted on developing a unique position that would allow him to sustain his chances of achieving power at any cost.
Although it was the Palestinian Arab communities that were under systematic attacks carried out by Israeli Jewish mobs and police, Abbas called on his community to “be responsible and behave wisely,” and to “maintain public order and keep the law.” He even parroted similar lines used by right-wing Israeli Jewish politicians, as he claimed that “peaceful popular protests” by Palestinian communities inside Israel have turned “confrontational,” thus creating a moral equilibrium where the victims of racism somehow became responsible for their own plight.
Abbas’ position has not changed since the signing of the coalition deal on June 2. His political narrative is almost apolitical as he insists on reducing the national struggle of the Palestinian people to the mere need for economic development – not fundamentally different from Netanyahu’s own ‘economic peace’ proposal in the past. Worse, Abbas intentionally delinks the state of poverty and under-development in Palestinian communities from state-championed racial discrimination, which constantly underfunds Arab communities while spending exuberant amounts of funds on illegal Jewish settlements that are built on ethnically cleansed Palestinian lands.
“We have reached a critical mass of agreements in various fields that serve the interest of Arab society and that provide solutions for the burning issues in Arab society — planning, the housing crisis and, of course, fighting violence and organized crime,” Abbas said triumphantly on June 2, as if the rooted inequality, including communal violence and organized crime, are not direct results of racism, socio-economic inequality and political alienation and marginalization.
No history has been made by Abbas. He is but an example of the self-serving politician and a direct expression of the endemic disunity in the Palestinian Arab body politic inside Israel.
Sadly, the unprecedented success of the Arab Joint List following the March 2020 elections has now culminated in a tragic end, where the likes of Abbas become the unwelcomed ‘representative’ of a politically conscious and awakened community.
In truth, Mansour Abbas, a Palestinian Arab politician who is willing to find common ground with extremists and proud ‘Arab killers’, only represents himself. The future will attest to this claim.
The photo was unprecedented. It showed Mansour Abbas, leader of an Islamist party for Palestinians in Israel, signing an agreement on Wednesday night to sit in a “government of change” alongside settler leader Naftali Bennett.
Caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fervently try to find a way to break up the coalition in the next few days, before a parliamentary vote takes place. But if he fails, it will be the first time in the country’s 73-year history that a party led by a Palestinian citizen has joined – or been allowed to join – an Israeli government.
Aside from the symbolism of the moment, there are no other grounds for celebration. In fact, the involvement of Abbas’s four-member United Arab List in shoring up a majority for a government led by Bennett and Yair Lapid is almost certain to lead to a further deterioration in majority-minority relations.
The sole reason that this makeshift coalition exists – the only glue holding it together – is the hostility of the various parties towards Netanyahu. In most cases, that is not a hostility towards his political positions; simply towards him personally, and towards the corrupting stranglehold he has exerted on Israel’s political system for the past 12 years.
The “change” referred to by this proposed government coalition begins and ends with the removal of Netanyahu.
It barely needs stating again that Bennett, who will serve first as prime minister in rotation with Lapid, is even more right wing than Netanyahu. In fact, three of the new coalition’s main parties are at least, if not more, rabidly nationalistic than the Israel’s longtime leader. In any other circumstances, they would be enthusiastically heading into government with his Likud Party.
As Bennett and Mansour huddled inside a hotel near Tel Aviv to sign the coalition agreement as the clock ticked down on Lapid’s mandate to form a government, far-right demonstrators noisily chanted outside that Bennett was joining a “government with terror supporters”.
Much of the ultra-nationalist right is so incensed by Bennett’s actions that he and other members of his Yamina party have been assigned a security detail for fear of an assassination attempt.
No one has forgotten that it was Bennett’s own settler camp that produced Yigal Amir, the man who in 1995 shot dead the then-prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, in a bid to foil the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians. Amir killed Rabin in large part because the latter was seen to have betrayed the Jewish people by allowing “Arabs” – Palestinian parties in the parliament – to prop up his minority government from outside. They did so to pass legislation necessary to begin implementing the Oslo process.
The chain of events that followed the assassination are well-known. Israelis lurched further rightwards and elected Netanyahu. The Oslo track with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was derailed. A Palestinian intifada erupted. And – coming full circle – Netanyahu returned to power and is now Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
Today’s potential Yigal Amirs are doubly offended by Bennett’s behaviour. They believe he has stabbed the right’s natural leader, Netanyahu, in the back, while at the same time allowing Abbas – seen by the right as Hamas’s man in the Knesset – to dictate policy to the Jewish owners of the land.
Digging in heels
It was notable that Bennett and Abbas were the last to sign the coalition agreement, after both made great play of digging in their heels at the final moment for more concessions. Each risks inflaming their own constituency by being seen to cooperate with the other.
Commentators will try to spin this agreement between a settler leader and the head of an Islamic party as a potential moment of healing after last month’s unprecedented inter-communal fighting inside Israel.
But such a reading is as misleading as the narrative of the recent “Jewish-Arab clashes”. In fact, protests by Palestinian youths against systematic discrimination escalated into confrontations only after Israeli police turned violent and let Jewish gangs take the law into their own hands. Just as the balance of power on the streets was weighted in favour of Jewish vigilantism, so the balance of forces in this new coalition will work solidly against Abbas.
When Bennett spoke publicly on Sunday, as the horse-trading began in earnest behind the scenes, he underscored his credentials as the former head of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements. That will be the theme of this proposed “government of change”.
Pact with the ‘devil’
During the coalition-building negotiations, the more moderate Labor and Meretz parties conceded time and again to the demands of the far-right and settler parties on ministerial positions and policy. That is because the moderates have nowhere else to go.
They have built their whole electoral strategy on ousting Netanyahu at any cost, using the anti-Netanyahu street protests of the past two years as their rallying cry. They cannot afford to be seen as missing this opportunity.
By contrast, as the death threats highlight, Bennett has far more to lose. Some 60 percent of his party’s voters recently told pollsters they would not have backed him had they known he would join a coalition with Lapid. Equally at risk are Gideon Saar, whose New Hope party broke away from Likud to challenge Netanyahu, and Avigdor Lieberman, a settler politician whose right-wing base has found in him their local strongman.
These three must now do everything in their power during the term of this new government – if it happens – to prove to their constituencies that they are not betraying the far-right’s favourite causes, from settlements to annexation. Baiting them from the sidelines at every turn will be Netanyahu, stirring up passions on the right – at least until he is forced to step down, either by his party or by a verdict against him in his current corruption trial.
The Achilles heel Netanyahu will keep prodding as viciously as he can is the fact that his rivals on the right have made a Faustian pact with the Arab “devil”. Netanyahu has never been shy to incite against the Palestinian minority. To imagine he will restrain himself this time is fanciful.
Bennett understands the danger, which is why he tried to legitimise his dealings with Abbas on Thursday by calling him “a brave leader”. But Bennett was also keen to emphasise that Abbas would not be involved in any security matters and that he was not interested in “nationalism” – in this case, indicating that Abbas will neither offer support to Palestinians under occupation nor seek to advance national rights for Palestinian citizens of the kind Israeli Jews enjoy.
Early on Thursday, Netanyahu had decried the new coalition as “dangerous” and “left wing”. He will most likely be in the driving seat, even while in opposition. Far from healing the country, a “government of change” could rapidly provoke yet more street violence, especially if Netanyahu believes such a deterioration would weaken Bennett as prime minister.
Abbas, the United Arab List leader, reportedly held out until last before signing. His whole electoral strategy was built on a promise to end the permanent exclusion of Palestinian parties from Israel’s national politics. He will be keen to show how many benefits he can extract from his role inside government – even if most are privileges the Jewish majority has always enjoyed by right.
Abbas trumpeted that the agreement would “provide solutions for the burning issues in Arab society – planning, the housing crisis, and, of course, fighting violence and organised crime”. He has reportedly secured some $16bn in extra budgets for development and infrastructure, and three of the many Bedouin villages the state has long refused to recognise will be given legal status.
Abbas is also pushing for the repeal of a 2017 law that makes tens of thousands of homes in Palestinian communities inside Israel vulnerable to demolition.
One of his fellow legislators, Walid Taha, observed of the United Arab List’s new role: “For decades, Arab Israelis [Palestinian citizens] have been without any influence. Now, everyone knows that we’re the deciding votes as far as politics goes.”
Abbas has every incentive to use such claims as a whip to beat his rivals in the Joint List, a coalition of several other Palestinian parties that are staying in opposition. He needs to emphasise his role in bringing about change to make them look weak and irrelevant.
Hostility and disdain
But despite the promises that lured Abbas into the new government, he will face a rough ride getting any of them translated into tangible changes on the ground.
Lapid will be busy as foreign minister, selling this as a new era in Israeli politics. Meanwhile, Benny Gantz, the current defence minister who just oversaw the destruction yet again of Gaza, will offer continuity.
Back home, the key internal ministries will be held by the far-right. Lieberman will control the purse strings through the finance ministry, directing funds to settlements before Palestinian communities inside Israel. Bennett’s partner, Ayelet Shaked, will be interior minister, meaning the settlements in the occupied West Bank will be treated as more integral to Israel than the communities of Palestinian citizens. And Saar will be justice minister, helping to drive the legal system even further to the right.
Faced with this bloc, all of them keen to be seen as upholding the values of the right, Abbas will struggle to make any progress. And that is without considering the situation he will find himself in if Bennett pushes for annexation of the West Bank, or authorises another police invasion of al-Aqsa, or oversees the expulsion of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, or launches a fresh attack on Gaza.
Abbas put the coalition negotiations on pause during Israel’s assault on Gaza last month. He won’t be able to do the same from inside the government. He will be directly implicated.
As a result, Palestinian citizens are likely to end up growing even more disillusioned with a political system that has always treated them with a mix of hostility and disdain. They will finally have representatives inside government, but will continue to be very much outside of it. The triggers for the protests that erupted among young Palestinians in Israel last month are not going away.
The most likely scenario over the coming months is that Netanyahu and Bennett will engage in a furious competition for who deserves the title of champion of the right. Netanyahu will seek to break apart the coalition as quickly as possible by inciting against Abbas and the Palestinian minority, so he has another shot at power. In turn, Bennett will try to pressure Likud to abandon Netanyahu so that Bennett can collapse the “government of change” as quickly as possible and rejoin a large majority, far-right government with Likud.
Rifts will not be healed; coexistence will not be revived. But the preeminence of the ultra-nationalist right – with or without Netanyahu – will be restored.
After neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, North Carolina, and then President Donald Trump responded by saying there were “good people on both sides,” people who abhor white supremacism stood up, took notice, and condemned the marchers. Anti-racists would be wise to do the same about the far-right march that took place last week in Jerusalem.
The situation in Jerusalem began with clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces over restrictions placed on the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City. Then, in response to TikTok videos showing two Palestinian youths slapping an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man, the far-right Jewish group Lahava called for a “demonstration of national dignity.” Leaked WhatsApp messages revealed calls to lynch Palestinians.
As the Jewish-Israeli extremists marauded through the streets on Thursday, April 22, Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian counterprotesters. The remarks of a young orthodox Jewish girl went viral on social media. “I don’t want to burn your villages, I just want you to leave and we’ll take them” she said. On her shirt was a sticker reading “Rabbi Kahane is right.” Kahane’s group was placed on the US terror list in 2004.
105 Palestinians were injured, twenty-two requiring hospitalization. Twenty Israeli police officers were also injured. The next morning, Israel’s Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana released a statement condemning “attacks by Arabs.” He said nothing of the violence committed by Jews.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned the “rhetoric of extremist protestors.” However, the US embassy in Jerusalem’s statement that they were “deeply concerned” declined to weigh in on the issue of Jewish extremism.
Avi Mayer of the American Jewish Committee tweeted: “The individuals perpetrating it are as foreign to me and my Judaism as are skinheads, white supremacists, and other racists around the world.” But those who chanted “death to Arabs” in Jerusalem are a normalized, accepted part of Israel’s government.
Members of Lehava, the group that organized the extremist march in Jerusalem, are followers of Kahanism, a Jewish supremacist ideology based on the views of Rabbi Meir Kahane. Inspired by Kahane, in 1994, Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians in the West Bank Ibrahimi mosque. As recently as 2014, three members of Lehava were charged with setting fire to an integrated bilingual Palestinian-Jewish school.
In 1988, the Kach party was banned from running for the Israeli Knesset. In 2004, the US State Department labeled Kach a terrorist organization. However, the Kahanist movement has recently made its way back into Israel’s government where it is being met with open arms.
During Israel’s recent election, Netanyahu, willing to do anything to hold onto his prime ministership, encouraged voters from his own Likud party to cast their ballots for the anti-Arab Religious Zionism slate, which included the Kahanist-inspired Otzma Yehudit party, so that they could make it over the election threshold. Religious Zionism won six seats, bringing Kahanism back into Israel’s Knesset for the first time since the 1980s.
As Netanyahu is proving unable to form a coalition, attention is now turning towards Naftali Bennett, the next most likely candidate to become Israel’s prime minister.
In 2016, Bennett called Israelis to be willing to “give our lives” to annex the West Bank”, evoking the Kahanist view that terrorist acts against Palestinians are a patriotic act of martyrdom. Bennett’s negotiations, as he hopes to form a government, have included meetings with Religious Zionism.
Such statements as Bennett’s call for violence have surely led to increased levels of unrest in the Holy Land. After last week’s extremist march in Jerusalem, clashes continued between Palestinian protestors and Israeli forces. In addition, rockets were launched from Gaza and the Israeli military responded with bombings, Finally, on Sunday, April 25, in order to deescalate the situation, Israel’s police commissioner ordered the barricades at Damascus Gate be removed.
Though the situation in Jerusalem has now calmed, the floodgates of Jewish extremism have already been flung wide open.
The neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville and Trump’s response rightfully alarmed the world. Though Trump has been ousted from office, we all know that the violent racist movement that blossomed during his presidency did not begin with him and is far from gone. We would be wise in the aftermath of last week’s “death to Arabs” march in Jerusalem to also speak out against Kahanism in Israel.
The US role in the defeat of leftist Andrés Arauz in Ecuador’s presidential contest on April 11 was not overt because it did not need to be, according to a high-ranking Latin American diplomat. We met with the diplomat and others on an official election observation delegation with CODEPINK. Names of some sources remain anonymous due to a hostile political environment towards progressives.
This setback for the Citizens Revolution movement, founded by Rafael Correa, will have profound implications for Ecuador and beyond, fortifying the US-allied reactionary bloc in Latin America.
Former President Correa left office with a 60% approval rating. He had been twice elected president on the first round; unprecedented for Ecuador, which had a turnover of seven presidents in the previous decade. His Alianza País party had won fourteen elections, reflecting the popularity of their wealth redistributive programs, including reducing extreme poverty in half.
His chosen successor, Lenín Moreno, will exit on May 24 with a single-digit approval rating. Much happened in the ensuing four years. Correa went from being the most popular democratically elected president in the country’s history to having his party rejected by an electoral majority.
¿Qué pasó? – What happened?
In 2017, Correa had campaigned for his former vice president to carry on their Citizens Revolution. However, once in office, sitting President Moreno turned sharply right against his former colleagues, employing lawfare to decapitate the leadership of the Citizens Revolution. His own vice-president, Jorge Glas, is now in prison and other top officials have been forced to flee Ecuador. Correa, accused of using “psychic influence,” was convicted in absentia in an evidence-weak corruption trial that prevented him from returning to Ecuador.
According to Correa’s attorney, Fausto Jarrín, Moreno was assisted by the US in this legal dismantling of his own party. Casting pretenses aside, Moreno was in Washington on the day of the first round of the Ecuadorian presidential elections. Just before the second round, Moreno and his top officials flew to the Galapagos to meet with the US ambassador.
Moreno handed the shop over to the US. He revoked Julian Assange’s Ecuadorian citizenship, allowing Assange to be arrested in the UK. He recognized Juan Guaidó’s bogus claim to the presidency of Venezuela. After US Vice President Pence visited Ecuador, the FBI was welcomed back. Even a US military base in the Galapagos (part of Ecuador) was gifted to Washington.
Moreno expelled the Cuban doctors and withdrew from key regional alliances: UNASUR, CELAC, and ALBA. At a time of COVID, these actions had lethal consequences. Had Ecuador instead maintained its membership in the regional organizations, their collective power could have been used to obtain vaccines and other resources to fight the pandemic.
Moreno imposed an IMF austerity package on Ecuador, only to be partly withdrawn in the face of a massive indigenous-led protest in October 2019. Then under the cover of the presidential election campaign and pandemic, Moreno reinstated the unpopular measures.
The turncoat Moreno adopted a full-throated neoliberal program and is scrambling to enact additional “economic reforms” before his term is over to prevent the next administration from “putting the toothpaste back in the tube.” But he needn’t worry. Incoming President Guillermo Lasso not only shares the same neoliberal program, but members of Lasso’s right wing political party collaborated with Moreno in the National Assembly.
This has been a brilliant strategy for the right. Ecuador is in economic crisis with the impacts of austerity measures exacerbated by the pandemic. By putting in place a full neoliberal program before leaving office, Moreno spares Lasso the onus of the unpopular measures while serving international finance represented by Lasso and the US.
Lawfare used to rig the electoral playing field
Ecuador’s electoral authority, the CNE, did not recognize the Arauz campaign until December for a February 7 first-round election. Arauz, who was sick with COVID in December, had spent the last four months battling for party certification while the other campaigns were gaining momentum.
Unlike their rich banker opponent, the Arauz campaign was strapped for funds to build an on-the-ground campaign infrastructure. More importantly, lawfare measures prevented them from even using their party’s name, forcing them to cobble together UNES as their new party.
Further, Correa with his considerable name recognition and popularity was banned from running as Arauz’s vice president. Worse, the party was prohibited from using Correa’s image, name, or voice in their campaign materials. Yet other parties could invoke Correa to smear the Arauz campaign by falsely accusing Correa of corruption and associating Arauz with Correa as also corrupt.
Despite all these hurdles, Arauz won the first-round election with a 32% vote, giving him a 13-point lead over second-place Lasso, but short of the 40% or more needed to avoid a second-round contest. Arauz also was leading in the polls, but that was to change with a massive disinformation campaign.
Right-wing propaganda campaign
The right-wing mobilized its near monopoly of mass media to spin sworn enemies Moreno and the Citizens Revolution as allied, in what an Arauz campaign leader characterized as the “TikTok and meme-ification” of political discourse.
Arauz, an energetic 36-year-old economic wiz, was portrayed as stupid and lethargic. In contrast, the 65-year-old conservative Lasso put on a pair of red shoes and was marketed as hip.
A four-year rightist media campaign portrayed Correa and associates as corrupt. A Citizens Revolution militant explained, “if you repeat a lie ten times, it becomes a truth.” The “NGO left,” funded by the US and its European allies, contributed to this inversion of reality.
Struggle ahead in Ecuador
Guillermo Lasso, owner of the second largest bank in Ecuador, won with a 5-point lead. Arauz said in his concession speech: “This is an electoral setback but by no means a political or moral defeat.”
With 49 out of 137 seats in the National Assembly, his party remains the single largest bloc. The task of the Citizens Revolution politicians, according to party leaders, will be to maintain unity within their own ranks while forging coalitions with potential allies.
Meanwhile, they will have to fend off continued lawfare attacks and repression from the right. Some militants have already left the country.
The second largest bloc in the assembly with 27 seats is the ideologically diverse and indigenous Pachakutik. The Citizens Revolution’s relationships with the leadership of some indigenous organizations and, for that matter, certain labor unions have at times been contentious.
Correa opposed the clientelism of the past and shunned “selling” ministries and other positions to politically influential leaders in return for their support. Correa concentrated instead on serving the interests of their constituents with infrastructure projects for underserved indigenous regions, granting water rights, and promoting multi-cultural education and health policies. Likewise, workers got wage gains.
In retrospect, the Citizens Revolution is now openly self-critical about running roughshod over some indigenous and labor leaders. Amends will have to be made, according to a former Correa minister.
“Promoting democracy” in service of the US empire
Ruling elites hold elections to legitimize their rule, not because they believe in democracy. By the time of the 2021 presidential election in Ecuador, the playing field had been rendered so precipitously unlevel that the US had little need to overtly intervene as it did in Bolivia in 2019.
But that did not mean that the US was not actively intervening. The websites of USAID, NED, NDI, and IRI make no secret of the imperial hubris of pretending to “promote democracy” in Ecuador. The US laid the groundwork, according to a high-level diplomat, to unify the right and rig the contest against the left.
As William Blum revealed, US intelligence had prior to Correa and likely since, “infiltrated, often at the highest levels, almost all political organizations of significance, from the far left to the far right…In virtually every department of the Ecuadorian government could be found men occupying positions high and low who collaborated with the CIA for money.”
Commenting on the new Biden administration, Correa’s former Ambassador Ricardo Ulcuango observed that US foreign policy is the same with Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats, he added, are more dangerous because they are better at speaking about cooperation when they are, in fact, intervening.