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How to Maliciously Smear Your Critics (and Not Get Away with It)

CJ Hopkins

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The life of a professional political satirist is many things, but it is certainly never boring. Last week, for example, was particularly not boring. OK, I wasn’t called before a Senate committee to testify against a rapey nominee to the highest court in the United States, or smeared by the right-wing media for doing so, nothing that dramatic or consequential. No, while most Americans were parsing every “he said” and “she said” of the Kavanaugh hearings, I was embroiled in my own little sordid drama involving “going public,” and smears, and my colleagues attempting to assassinate my character, and so on.

What happened was, I got the kiss-off from CounterPunch (where I had been a contributor for over two years) by CounterPunch’s Red-Brown Putin-Nazi hunting squad. That, or the editors just overlooked my submissions, or they decided not to run them, or they were going to run them, after having overlooked them, but then decided not to run them, because I’d already run them, after they didn’t run them … or something. I can’t keep all their stories straight.

This kiss-off (or confusion, depending on who you believe) happened after I submitted a piece, Putin-Nazi Paranoia, responding to a featured essay in CounterPunch smearing a number of leftist writers (and me by extension) as “far-right shills.”

Smearing leftist writers they do not approve of has become a standard feature of CounterPunch. As far as I recall, it began in earnest in the Summer of 2017, when they accused Caitlin Johnstone of Red-Brown activities, i.e, promoting an unholy union of ultra-far-right and ultra-far-left movements (or “neo-Strasserism,” for you Putin-Nazi scholars).

This was an extremely ignominious episode, as Johnstone documented at the time, and followed up on about a year later. Featured essays in CounterPunch by Yoav Litvin and CounterPunch editors Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair either openly claimed or insinuated that Johnstone was a Red-Brown infiltrator who was calling for an alliance with white supremacists, which, of course, was a load of paranoid nonsense.

Diana Johnstone (no relation to Caitlin) also covered this brouhaha in her essay about the CounterPunch Red-Brown hunter squad (which, in addition to Litvin, St. Clair, and Frank, include other characters like Anthony DiMaggio, author of the above-mentioned “far right shill” piece, Eric Draitser, the official team cheerleader, and Alexander Reid Ross, who is a bull goose loony. Sadly, Diana left out Louis Proyect, the notorious “unrepentant Marxist” creep, who, although not technically a CounterPunch editor, appears to have quite a lot of influence at the magazine … I have never really understood why that is.

In any event, after I announced that CounterPunch had stopped running my pieces, and asked for help spreading them around on the Internet, they promptly began smearing me as an anti-Semite (or continued smearing me as an anti-Semite, because Louis Proyect had already been trying his best to smear me as an anti-Semite).

They base their smears on the fact that my essays have been re-posted by The Unz Review, which the CounterPunch Red-Brown hunting squad have become increasingly obsessed with lately. (For the record, my essays have also been re-posted by outlets like ColdType, The Greanville Post, OffGuardian, Entelekheia, Le Grand Soir, ZeroHedge, Dissident Voice, Black Agenda Report, and other such outlets, and people’s personal blogs. I do not work for any of these outlets.

They have simply been kind enough to re-post my essays, each of which originally appeared in CounterPunch, until the last two essays in question. Weirdly, the CounterPunch editors do not appear to be concerned about these other outlets, nor even, consistently, about The Unz Review, as they just featured this essay by Michael Hudson, which had been featured two days earlier by The Unz Review, where Hudson is listed as a columnist.)

But I’m not going to defend The Unz Review, or Michael Hudson, or any of the many other writers, whether left or right, that are posted, or re-posted, on that site. Nor am I going to defend myself against the smears leveled at me by the CounterPunch editors. Why, you probably want to know, am I not going to do that?

OK, I’ll tell you.

Because that is precisely how the smear game works. The way it works is, the smearers bait the smearee into defending himself against the defamatory content of the smears. Once the smearee has done that, the smearers have him. From then on, the focus of the debate becomes whether or not the smears are accurate, rather than why he’s being smeared, how he’s being smeared, and who is smearing him.

This is the smearers’ primary objective, i.e., to establish the boundaries of the debate, and to trap the target of the smears within them. If you’ve followed the fake “Labour Anti-Semitism” scandal, you’ve witnessed this tactic deployed against Corbyn, who unfortunately fell right into the trap and gave the smearers the upper hand. No, the only way to effectively counter a smear campaign (whether large-scale or small-scale), is to resist the temptation to profess your innocence, and, instead, focus as much attention on the tactics and the motives of the smearers as possible.

It is difficult to resist this temptation, especially when the people smearing you have significantly more power and influence than you do, and are calling you a racist and an anti-Semite, but, trust me, the moment you start defending yourself, the game is over, and the smearers have won.

With that in mind, and for those readers who are tempted to just take the word of an established leftist magazine like CounterPunch over that of minor author who they may not have ever even heard of, I am posting the following email exchange between Jeffrey St. Clair, Joshua Frank, and myself (and a journalist and a colleague, whose names I’ve redacted, who wrote to St. Clair for clarification after reading conflicting reports on the Internet), for the purposes of criticism and review. CounterPunch readers, my readers, and others who swim these rather rarefied waters can judge the facts, and the quality of everyone’s character (and our motives) for themselves.

I hope that readers will also take the time to peruse the links I’ve provided for reference, in particular my collegial exchange with Joshua Frank and Louis Proyect on the Facebook, and Diana Johnstone’s Consortium News piece.

Smearing one’s critics is an ugly business, but it’s a widespread and often very effective business. It is not going out of style anytime soon. So it’s essential to understand how it works, and to maintain an attitude of healthy skepticism toward anything defamatory you hear about anyone … and to know how to respond if it happens to you.

Oh, and please feel free to share, tweet, re-post, re-blog, or otherwise disseminate this essay, regardless of your politics.

The following email exchanges took place on September 21, and 24 and 25, 2018. The emphasis  is mine. Otherwise, they are reproduced verbatim.

COLLEAGUE: [sends St. Clair an image of my tweet to ask, “what’s going on?”]

JEFFREY ST CLAIR: No idea. We didn’t stop running him. We missed one column, because I’d been out for most of the week attending to the new grandkid. God forbid, I take a week off in 5 years before some shithead begins slandering me online. In any event, he does publish his stuff on a site which just try to claim Alex as a “Holocaust denier,” so it’s not as if he’s going without an audience.

JOURNALIST: Has [CJ] really been kicked off CP? That’s what he seems to be saying.

***

JEFFREY ST CLAIR: No. I know that’s what he’s saying, but it’s a lie and he knows it’s a lie. I told him as much and I had his piece for last week edited, loaded and scheduled to run when someone sent me his drama queen tweet. We didn’t publish a single piece, out of the dozens we’ve published, because it slipped past me while I was trying to take a little time off to enjoy the arrival of our first grandkid. It’s a simple as that.

John Ross used to get royally pissed at me for sometimes delaying running his pieces. He’d call Saul Landau from Mexico City and gripe and send me furious emails. But Ross never went public libeling CP editors for having overlooked one his essays. He’d never even consider it. But that’s because Ross was a real journalist, who’d been in the trenches for decades as Alex and I had, and was also on our side politically. The old notions of solidarity are, of course, withering away, while the state remains.

Alex used to say that we should reject every fourth or fifth submission from a writer just to keep them in their toes. I’ve never taken that position. It was an indulgence on my part to run Hopkins at all, since we’d had a fairly iron-clad rule against running satire since it always confuses the credulous readers of the site.

Even so, I think Hopkins’ public assault on us reveals something rather acidic about his character, almost as much as his preference to have his columns published by Ron Unz, the guy who funded the anti-immigrant and English-only ballot initiatives in California and who lately libeled Alex as a Holocaust denier–though, the coward that he is, Unz waited five years after Alex was in the ground to do so.

I don’t know what Hopkins’ real politics are and I don’t want to speculate. But I do know Unz’s politics and the circle that has coalesced around him, like Israel Shamir who publicly denounced me a couple of weeks ago for caring “more about blacks and Jews than white Christians.” I’ll cop to that smear, but not to CJ’s.

***

CJ HOPKINS: Hi [REDACTED], and Jeff. [REDACTED], I’m not sure whether you’re inquiring personally or professionally, so with that in mind, here are the facts … and some of my thoughts.

I sent Jeff my recent Putin-Nazi Paranoia piece, waited for it to run. It didn’t. For the first time in over two years. So I wrote Jeff asking about it, specifically asking whether I had gone too far in my response to DiMaggio’s piece, in which DiMaggio had smeared a bunch of writers as “far right shills,” and supported his smear with a blog piece by Louis Proyect along the same lines, but crazier.

As both DiMaggio’s and Proyect’s smear pieces were focused on writers who write for Unz, or allow Unz to cross-post their essays (as I have for two years), and as Proyect had written me a nasty email fishing for comments for his piece, I considered myself part of the smeared group, though I was not named in either piece.

In any event, Jeff wrote me back, said he hadn’t seen my submission, that it had been a busy week, and that he would rummage around for it. I re-sent it to him immediately in order to spare him the rummaging. I waited for it to run. It didn’t. No follow-up from Jeff.

A week later, I sent my most recent piece, Down with the Working Classes! Waited for it to run. It didn’t. In the meantime, no word from Jeff or anyone at CP about the earlier piece.

So I posted the Working Classes piece on my blog, tweeted that CP had apparently stopped running my work and returning my emails, which is true. I did not claim that I was banned.

The background to this, on my side, is that I have watched as key CP writers, namely Litvin, Frank, Draitser, and then DiMaggio (and Proyect on his blog and elsewhere) have posted a series of paranoid pieces accusing people of being “Red-Brown” agents, or whatever. (You probably recall the “Caitlin Johnstone-is-a-Nazi” episode.) Long story short, the DiMaggio piece was the last straw for me. I wrote my Putin-Nazi Paranoia piece as a response. It was tough. I was angry. Which shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

If CP had run that piece (i.e., my response), that would have sufficed. I think I was entitled to that, after two years of contributing to CP, and otherwise supporting it, and after having been smeared in CP’s pages, in a lead essay, as a “far right shill.” Or, if Jeff or Joshua or anyone at CP had simply returned my emails and informed me why they had stopped running my essays, or accusing me of being a crypto-Nazi because I have let Unz re-post my pieces, or just telling me directly to go fuck myself, that would have also sufficed. But nothing.

This email is long enough, so I’ll spare you the details of my exchanges with Joshua and Louis on Facebook, and Jeff via email, other than to say they all seem to be obsessed with the Unz thing (which is surprising, since Unz has been reposting my stuff for two years) and suddenly very concerned about my “character.”

I think my character is pretty clear from my writing. I don’t appreciate the guilt-by-association game, or being smeared as a “far right shill,” and I simply don’t have any respect for folks who engage in that sort of thing. It appears to have become a standard tactic at CP, as you can see from Jeff’s reference to my “real politics” in his email.

As for my “public assaults” on CP, again, that could have been prevented with a simple email, which, where I come from, is just professional courtesy.

Anyway, [REDACTED], those are the facts and my thoughts. If you have further questions about what happened, or my “character” or my “real politics,” just ask. Despite the CP folks’ insinuations and smears, I’m really not a very sneaky guy.

***

JEFFREY ST CLAIR: A favor: stop attacking Nat in your online self-promotions—“Read the article that Nat refused to run, blah blah blah.” He doesn’t make any editorial decisions. Train your pop-gun on me, instead. It will probably increase your hits with the Holocaust deniers and Pizzagaters you like to hang with, even as you demure that you ain’t one of them. The reason the “Unz thing” has became an issue is that he just smeared Cockburn as a Holocaust Denier—not so much “smeared,” I guess, as adopted & celebrated as one of the gang. Alex was my partner and best friend for 25 years. Maybe you think it’s funny. I don’t.

PS—For the sake of accuracy, even though I realize that’s not the domain of satirists, Litvin hasn’t written for CounterPunch in more than year because he doesn’t like our politics or the fact that we regularly run writers whose point of view he disagrees with.

***

CJ HOPKINS:  Sure, Jeff. Send me an official Twitter handle for CounterPunch that isn’t Nat and I’ll switch to that one. Until then, I’ll use the official CounterPunch handle that exists.

Thanks for making my point by insinuating that I’m anti-Semite, again, and that I share the politics of every outlet that re-posts my essays and am responsible for their behavior. My essays have been reposted by numerous outlets, left and right, which I assume you know. There’s a list of them on my website. I don’t work for or represent any of them.

I don’t think any of this is funny, in case you didn’t get that. If you want to purge CP of writers you suddenly decide are “far right shills” and publish smears of them, that’s your prerogative. If you thought I was going to go quietly, you’re probably not as good a judge of “character” as you think.

***

JEFFREY ST CLAIR:  Why would I know who you write for, CJ? And how would I know this? Am I supposed to have tracked you across the web? I know you advertise yourself as “America’s greatest satirist,” but, even though I think I’m a fairly well-read person, I’d never heard of you before one of your submissions showed up in my inbox, which I gladly ran and continued to do so for many, many months, whether I agreed with your pieces or not. Do you admit that is true or are you going concoct some contorted fabulation about that as well? If I had known that you’d been posting the same pieces we’d run on CP on Unz for two years (or other sites), we wouldn’t have run you on CounterPunch to begin with. Why the fuck would we? Putting aside the rancid nature of Unz’s site, we have too many writers—right, libertarian, left, green and anarchist—who want to write for us to run writers who are broadcasting the same piece across multiple venues. I’ve been libeled as an anti-Semite for 20 years at least and have been on the ADL and SPLC hit lists for nearly as long, so you’ll have to do better than that to get anyone who really knows the score to believe that we somehow gagged you because of your views on the Israel lobby or evicted you as part of some alleged purge of “rightwing” writers. Who are these poor victims? What are their names? Where can we send flowers? Josh and I both grew up among conservatives and we’ve always run conservatives on CounterPunch and published many essay by them in our books, from Imperial Crusades to Red State Rebels. I do draw the line at publishing racists. You don’t draw the line—apparently– about being published by them. I’ll be honest, if I knew that you’d continued publishing on Unz’s after he wrote his defense of Holocaust denialism that libeled Alex (and me, since one of the pieces he cited as “evidence” we co-wrote), I’d’ve asked you to quit publishing with him out of solidarity. But I didn’t realize that until after you’d thrown your public tantrum. I don’t know you at all, so I can make no assessment of your character, other than from the public lie you told about us having stopped running your writing. You can continue to project whatever bile you want about us, I just asked you politely to direct them and not my son, who makes none of the editorial decisions here—not that we even made one your case. You’ve declined to do that. I’m no dramatist, but I think that says something about your “character”.

***

CJ HOPKINS: Dear Jeff, please show us all where I have once advertised myself as “America’s greatest satirist.” When you can’t, admit that you’re just making shit up because you’re angry.

You knew that other outlets re-posted my stuff. I asked you about that a long time ago, and you said it was no probem, as long as they credited CP. I’ve specifically mentioned at least two of them to you at different times, ColdType and Greanville Post. I have tweeted many of those other outlets’ reposts, regularly. All of my essays ran on CounterPunch first.

I don’t “draw the line” at being re-posted by anyone. If I did, I’d spend half my time trying to force people to remove my essays from their sites and blogs. I realize you are trying to draw me into a debate about Unz. That’s how the smear game works. I’m not going to bite. I have nothing to do with Unz, except that they re-post my pieces, as do many other sites, which I also have nothing to do with.

Regarding the Twitter handle, please be honest. You are referring to CounterPunch’s official Twitter handle, not Nat’s personal Twitter handle, which I have never used. I’m not going to stop tagging CounterPunch’s official (and, as far as I know, only) Twitter handle just because you chose to put Nat’s name on it.

I understand that you are angry and want to insult and belittle me. If you could just insult and belittle me without making shit up that I have to refute, that would save us both a lot of time.

***

JOSH FRANK: CJ, nobody is shedding a tear for you here, we take this shit personal when writers go public with their petty shit. And yes your whining that we didn’t run your piece was petty. Personally I am happy to see you go. It had nothing to do with your grievance about some link in an article to another article that didn’t even name you – which of course is petty. It’s more to do with the obvious thin skin you have. You can’t be a left writer and have thin skin, you won’t last long. But I guess you are proving the point.

Don’t let the door…

***

JEFFREY ST CLAIR:  “In house satirist”, excuse me, my mistake. All apologies.

If you told me you were running your stuff on other sites, I’ve long forgotten it. It’s certainly not something I’ve ever encouraged in the 20 years we’ve been online.

I’m not trying to draw you into a debate about anything. What’s to debate?

The only thing I’m angry about is the lie you continue to tell for your own self-promotion, I guess, that we abruptly stopped running your pieces for some reason of political correctness.

As for Nat, I see that he just retweeted, as he usually does, your ad for Consent Factory. (As I have also done many times. As I did your book, even advertising it on CP, as I recall.) So I guess you can spit invective (“the latest smear by Nat@counterpunch) in his direction, but it will be hitting the wrong mark. I’m sure there’ll be no acknowledgment of this generosity from you, because it wouldn’t fit your narrative of victimization.

As for you having “nothing to do with Unz,” [cites my tweet] “Here’s my latest leftist heresy, in the @UnzReview, which posts both far-left and far-right views. Unz has been reposting my @NatCounterPunch essays for years, but according to CP, I’m suddenly a fascist “shill” because I let them do so. Am I? You decide.

It’s a quaintly neutral way to describe Unz, but he’s your publisher. Enjoy the ride.

***

CJ HOPKINS: dear Jeff, I’m happy to acknowledge everything you and CP have done for me. You ran everything I sent you for over two years, plugged my book, and me, often featured my pieces, at least early on. You more or less put me on the map in this gig, and I have been proud to be included in CP’s pages.

What you characterize as a “lie” is indeed my interpretation of events. I’ve detailed those events, and my interpretation of them, so I won’t waste our time doing it again.

The tweet you cited was sent after these events, and after Joshua and Proyect started smearing me on Facebook. I’m not going to sit idly by while CP’s Red-Brown hunters (or you for that matter) smear me, and insinuate that Unz is my publisher, or that I am somehow in cahoots with fascists and Holocaust deniers. Again, as I have stated several times already, I have nothing to do with Unz, nothing more than I do with ColdType, Greanville Post, Black Agenda Report, OffGuardian, ZeroHedge, Entelekheia, or any other outlet that has re-posted my stuff. The tweet was meant to spur readers to look at the facts and decide for themselves.

I am honestly sorry that you set up your official CP account with Nat’s name on the front of it. I have no wish to involve Nat in this. Unfortunately, that is CP’s official handle. So if I want to make reference to CP, that’s the one I have to use, until you change it.

I sense we’re coming to the end of this email exchange. I hope so. I won’t bother to reply to Joshua’s email, which was just spewing more bile, nothing substantive that requires a reply.

All best wishes for the future …

C J Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org

Feel free to come find him in Berlin and buy him a beer. He’s been known to frequent an assortment of extremely suspicious RUSSIAN establishments in Kreuzberg.

46 Comments

  1. Frankly Speaking says

    The neo-Bolsheviks are being allowed to run riot; we live in dangerous times.

  2. Rhisiart Gwilym says

    ‘Republic of Jewish-Occupied Palestine’ is a good name for the alleged state of ‘Israel’. But I prefer the snappier ‘ziP’ – the zioentity-in-Palestine. Which colonial-settler monstrosity I hope strongly – along with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (when he’s translated honestly) – will “disappear from the page of history”; ASAP, into the same toxic-waste discard bin that holds the mouldering remains of SAfrican apartheid, where zionism also belongs.

    Roll on the secular, democratic state of Greater Palestine, which will follow the example of its northern neighbour Syria, and take a tolerant, equal-status, and fairly socialistic attitude to all who live within its borders, including any jews who prefer to remain there. Democracy, strict, impartial rule of (humane, secular) law, absolute equality of esteem for all citizens, plus as much common-sense, non-doctrine-addled socialism as possible: this is the target for which to aim.

    ‘Utterly impractical! Never going to happen!’ you say? Hmm, who would have thought twenty years ago that – just for a couple of examples – Jeremy Corbyn (the untypically-honest, unwaveringly anti-racist, ‘unelectable’ Jeremy Corbyn, FFS!) would get this close to being British Prime Minister; or that ex-Soviet Russia, with a Putin-figure as its repeatedly-democratically-elected leader, would so quickly pick itself back up to where it is now; actually check-mating the US-hosted neocon-parasites’ globalist Full Spectrum Dominance nightmare…?

    PS: Time to re-classify CounterPunch into the ‘sadly declined’ category along with [fill in your own examples from the many candidates] – ? It went there for me when Alex Cockburn outed himself as a defender of the neocons’ ludicrous, magical-thinking Official Cospithirry narrative for the 11/9/01 atrocities. I’ve never really given CP much time since then: “If they’re really that feckin’ blindly, wilfully naive…”

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  3. Fair dinkum says

    Oligarchs, whatever their nationality, religion or sexual persuasion, all have one thing in common (apart from their hubris and psychopathic behaviour).
    Nothing, repeat NOTHING, will be allowed to get in the way of profits.
    Their ‘enablers’ take many forms.

  4. James Connolly says

    No point throwing the baby out with the bathwater. CounterPunch still has some good articles in amongst all the baffling stream-of-consciousness dross. But its editors and contributors like Proyect should realize very few readers are going to be reconciled to US imperialism, to ‘humanitarian’ interventions, or to the black flag men of Libya and Syria (aka “the rebels”), no matter how often anti-imperialists get lambasted as “the Sputnik left” or “Assadists.”

  5. John says

    Whaaaaat!? Trotskyists have caused yet another split? No way

    • Jim Scott says

      I blame it entirely on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They are a mob of traitorous splitters.
      ( I just thought I could see some parallels.

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  6. Gezzah Potts says

    Forgot to add earlier, just as there’s Fake News peddled by such esteemed (cough) organisations like ABC, The Guardian, MSNBC, etc, and utterly odious slime like Philip Williams of the ABC, Luke Harding at The Guardian, and Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, so also are there Fake Left groups, or ‘pseudo left’ as WWSW would call them, groups that even as recently as this year have banged on about the ‘Syrian Revolution’ while completely ignoring the mountain of evidence that their beloved ‘revolutionary rebels’ are in fact Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and the other various Jihadists who are merely proxies for the Empire. Socialist Alternative in Australia is one such group. The mind boggles how such groups arrive at such conclusions, and get it so wrong. Regards Counterpunch, very occasionally look at it briefly, but am also pretty wary of it.

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  7. 0use4msm says

    In organisations that lack funds to pay proper wages, ego all-too-often becomes the ersatz currency that drives its more ambitious members. To an outsider, this particular spat seems rather overblown on all sides and at its core more personal than political, despite the trite use of political ad hominems to demarcate the cliques and counter-cliques. My standard reply to this kind of melodrama is: handbags at dawn!

    I still subscribe to Counterpunch’s RSS feed, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve been enticed to read an article on the site itself. If I read an article commissioned by CP, it’s always by chance, in the form of a repost at one of my regular hangouts. Having a comments section makes a decisive difference, performing the humbling-but-valuable role of a rude reality check. But the problem runs more deep: when it comes to being truly insightful, Counterpunch has a habit of pulling punches. “Since 1993” the site proudly boasts in its header. And CP’s political paradigm hasn’t evolved much since.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Judging by the individuals involved, and Counterpunch’s refusal to face facts re. 9/11, it is plain that the Zionazis took it over, long ago. Support for the takfiri butchers doing the Oded Yinon Plan’s filthy work in Syria confirms the diagnosis.

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  8. CounterPunch used to be regular reading for me, back when Alexander Cockburn was alive. I even contributed financially one year! No longer. It is now just an edgy lefty version of CNN, useless reading, just repeating the same mantra of ‘hate Trump, hate Trump’, in every article. Nothing instructive nor enlightening there.

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  9. Gezzah Potts says

    I thought CJ Hopkins peice ‘Putin Nazi Paranoia’ was one of the best prices of satire I have ever read. In one word: Brilliant. Tried to make a comment at the time, but for some reason my comment wouldn’t register. The comment above by Gary Weglarz absolutely nails it also regards the alleged ‘progressive media’. Another person to add to the list as a shill for Imperialism while masquerading as a ‘radical’ is Bill Weinberg. Find his views utterly irrational and just plain disgusting. Various Trotskyite groups here in Australia who basically regurgitate the Anglo American Empire’s narrative on Syria, and some of them are almost identical to the garbage spewed out by the ABC, ffs. The only explicitly trotskyite group that gets it right on Syria, and the wider Middle East is Worldwide Socialist Web Site (Socialist Equality Party). The only ones as far as I can tell. Regularly read their site as well as Off Guardian, Moon Of Alabama, The Greanville Post, ICH, and the lovely Caitlin Johnston.

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  10. Thomas Prentice says

    St. Clair, Frank and Proyect are monomaniacal, self-important, pathological, egomaniacal, puerile, self-absorbed, juvenile, narcissistic prevaricators, liars, sociopaths, Big CryBabies and unwiped assholes, typical of the British-descended puritan-based fascist mentality which always seems to erupt more oftenion the leadership of the Left than on the Right.

    Frank is truly a crybaby who can dish it out and not take it and St. Clair is ALWAYS the VICTIM and like his bud Frank can dish it out but is a Big Cry Baby who can just not take the Blowback. If they can’t stand the heat, get the fuck out of the kitchen.

    As for Proyect, he is a one-man band for the AIPAC / ZIONIST / MOSSAD / Republic of Jewish-Occupied Palestine / Israel Can Do No Wrong Industrial Complex.

    Proyect and The Republic of Jewish-Occupied Palestine are the PERFECT EXAMPLES of what happened over and over and over and over again in the Hebrew Bible: Jews disobeying the basic commandments OF HIS / THEIR OWN GOD — as pointed out over and over and over and over again by their own prophets (whom they killed).

    The result for “The Chosen People” was to then reap the whirlwind and the firestorm from Egyptian Slavery to captivity in Babylon to provoking the Romans into killing or dispersing them from Canaan to the tragedy of the Judeoicide. (I accidentally posted an a real anti-Semitic item on my former Facebook page and Proyect threw one of his plastic baby toys at me while kicking and screaming in a terrible twos fit. A Big baby.)

    The problem with this Chosen People disobeying the 613+ commandments of their own God narrative is that this time it won’t be only 6 million European Jews but it will be 7 BILLION HUMANS worldwide who will pay for their crimes against their God which are crimes against humanity.

    The Republic of Jewish-Occupied Palestine wants their Promised Land, dammit, from the Nile to the Euphrates which — quelle surprise — includes the WHOLE of SYRIA. Things becoming clearer? And the Republic of jewish-Occupied Palestine is nuclear-armed dudes and dudettes.

    For more clarity on all that, read Deuteronomy chapters one through ten for starters. It is foundational policy for the Republic of Jewish-Occupied Palestine. What they are doing NOW was written down IN DETAIL then.

    You Will Be Fucking Amazed. No Wonder This Wasn’t Covered In Sunday School.

    But as for CounterPunch, it is just no more than dickwagging by St. Clair, Frank and Proyect and others with monstrous egos and small penises (Trump-like) and seriously arrested development per Piaget. Bad Drama Drag Queens, all. If these three little boys with tiny little toys can’t take the heat, they should exit the kitchen.

    As for C. J. Hopkins? Now that is one badass satirist.

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    • Admin says

      I think you have exceeded your 12 month ad hom allowance in a single post!

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      • Makropulos says

        I also think that Mr Prentice is over-rating Proyect and co. They are all just paid hacks.

  11. John G says

    Project has a gig at CP? I didn’t think it had got that bad.

    Not that I’m a fan or sympathiser for CJ Hopkins either but Proyect is the bottom of the barrel.

  12. bevin says

    Louis Proyect gives Marxism a bad name. Which is why he is so coddled by the viciously anti-socialist American establishment.
    The truth, available to anyone who cares about such matters in the massive correspondence of Marx and Engels, is that in his lifetime Marx was always opposed to what he considered to be the ‘Gendarme of Reaction’ the primary enemy of workers and national liberation movements. In his view that enemy was Tsarist Russia and throughout his life he worked to encourage a revolution in Russia. The necessary, though insufficient preliminary to which would be, in his view, a Russian defeat.

    It really takes very little thought to conclude that the current, long serving ‘Gendarme of the Globe” is the United States imperium. One only needs to read the papers.
    Who lies behind every attack on every government that introduces or tries to introduce legislation favouring the poor? Every government attempting to rectify historic injustices by introducing land reform? Every political movement set on regulating capital? Every attempt to re-distribute wealth on a planet in which half of it is owned by a dozen or so individuals? The answer is well known. And anyone inspired by Marx’s politics would realise that the most urgent political question in the world today is that in order to begin the process of introducing socialist policies- the only alternative to which is the destruction of the human and most other species- the United States empire must be defeated. Its military capacity to enforce its will on the world population must be ended. The US Empire must be defeated. It really doesn’t matter very much, but that is what Marx would have concluded.

    What he would not have concluded is that the position of the US military in Syria (or Nicaragua), putting it in opposition to popular movements which are headed by backsliding demagogues who are not proper socialists, is one that we should not oppose. The defeat of the Empire would be unfortunate because it would empower Chinese or Russian authoritarians. The enemy in Syria is the government defending itself against the Empire.

    There was a famous occasion when the left was faced with a dilemma very similar to that it faces today. And then there were also people like Proyect, on the left, who were arguing that socialists should take a neutral position over the war in Vietnam. That Ho Chi Minh was a Stalinist and his party in North Vietnam barely distinguishable from the CPSU. Large parts of the left then followed the slogan “Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism.” Many of the leading lights in the International Socialist movement at the time felt that it was axiomatic therefore that neither Saigon nor Hanoi was worthy of the support of the working class movement. The working class movement thought otherwise and thus it was that fifty years ago the streets of every capital in the western world was filled with masses, mobilised by the left, calling for the defeat of the United States and its Empire and Victory for the Vietcong.

    We are at a similar juncture in history today: after decades of audacious aggression, during which socialist, reformist and nationalist governments around the world have been crushed by the United States and its allies and agents there is a real possibility that it can be defeated. And that following that defeat there will be a reckoning in the United States, a re-ordering of social and political priorities in favour of the masses-the 99%. But that, so long as the Empire is able to maintain its reputation of invulnerability, a reputation all the greater because its governments are so incompetent and politically suicidal, there will be no real changes. Election will follow election. Parties will take office and lose office. Individuals will rise and fall but for the masses there will be no real changes: the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. And this will go on until there is a political catalyst such as a clear defeat for imperialism.

    We are at what Tony Cliff called a turning point and Louis Proyect and his mates at CounterPunch are turning away from the challenge. It is, after all, the season of Annual Fundraising and if there is one thing that Marx taught us all it is that it is the bourgeoisie who can sign the biggest cheques. And they don’t want that to change.

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    • mark says

      Tony Cliff = Ygael Gluckstein.
      I don’t like people changing their names.
      Like Tommy Robinson.

  13. One thing that Hopkins did not mention and that probably did not occur to Jeff and Josh is the incident that occurred in late 2017 when it was revealed that a Russian troll named “Alice Donovan” had been writing for CounterPunch. That really pissed them off and likely made them more ready to dump Putinites like Mike Whitney, Israel Shamir and Diana Johnstone. Hopkins makes it sound like CounterPunch is bending to the pressures generated by Russiagate when in fact there are probably 10 articles in line with Off-Guardian than the one resembling the sort of thing I write and I write them pretty infrequently sandwiched between film reviews. All you need to do is search the CounterPunch archives for anything on “Syria” or “Ukraine” and you’ll see what I mean. Lots of Fisk, Patrick Cockburn, Jonathan Cook, et al and very little sounding like what I write. Of course, you people published an article trying to prove that CounterPunch was warmongering because of a Patrick Cockburn article, which is no surprise given your obvious subservience to RT.com’s worldview.

    As for Hopkins claiming that I smeared him as an anti-Semite, that is a blatant lie. I never said such a thing. Who knows what he meant? Maybe it was because I invited him to write for the Daily Stormer. Since I meant that as a joke, it is hard for me to understand why a self-described satirist wouldn’t get it unless he lacks a sense of humor. Well, at least he has an audience of one that he sees in the mirror each morning brushing his tooth.

    The way to understand all this politically is to start with the obvious cleavage between conspiracism and Marxism that is the source of this tempest in a teapot. I wrote a blog post calling attention to UNZ Review’s neo-Nazi politics that should be obvious to anybody with a class understanding of politics and especially the role of a rich reactionary like Ron Unz. Tony DiMaggio, who is a Marxist like me, wrote a CounterPunch article that linked to mine to make similar points. Hopkins, who obviously is not a Marxist, sees the world in conspiratorial terms just like Off-Guardian. The world is dived into good and evil with the CIA, the Guardian, George Soros et al concocting plots against Bashar al-Assad, Viktor Yanukovych, Moammar Gaddafi, et al. The unit of analysis is the nation-state rather than social classes.

    Alexander Cockburn had people like Hopkins and you figured out years ago:

    These days a dwindling number of leftists learn their political economy from Marx via the small, mostly Trotskyist groupuscules. Into the theoretical and strategic void has crept a diffuse, peripatetic conspiracist view of the world that tends to locate ruling class devilry not in the crises of capital accumulation, or the falling rate of profit, or inter-imperial competition, but in locale (the Bohemian Grove, Bilderberg, Ditchley, Davos) or supposedly “rogue” agencies, with the CIA still at the head of the list.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2006/11/28/the-9-11-conspiracists-and-the-decline-of-the-anmerican-left/

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    • Adrian E. says

      “Tony DiMaggio, who is a Marxist like me, wrote a CounterPunch article that linked to mine to make similar points. Hopkins, who obviously is not a Marxist, sees the world in conspiratorial terms just like Off-Guardian. The world is dived into good and evil with the CIA, the Guardian, George Soros et al concocting plots against Bashar al-Assad, Viktor Yanukovych, Moammar Gaddafi, et al. The unit of analysis is the nation-state rather than social classes.”

      Social classes are certainly relevant. But how would a class-based analysis of the mentioned conflicts in Ukraine, Syria or Libya look like?
      Both Yanukovych and Poroshenko (and Tyrchynov in between) base their power on oligarchs (Poroshenko is one himself, but, like Yanokovych, he is also linked with other oligarchs). To a large degree, Yanukovych and Poroshenko even depend on the same oligarchs, which switched their allegiance. During the actual coup, other social classes played some roles. The pro-Western Kyïv bourgeoisie made an alliance with far-right paramilitary groups that hardly represent any social class (their parties don’t receive many votes), but after all, the power structure was oligarchic both before and after the coup. That interference from outside played a role is hardly “conspiratorial”, but a fact hardly any one disputes.
      In Libya, neither Gaddhafi nor one the (mostly radical Islamist) militias can seriously be claimed to represent the working class. The same goes for Assad, Daesh, the Al-Nusra Front, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, Ahrar Al Sham, Jaish Al Islam etc..

      So what would a Marxist class-based analysis be? Of course, even though these conflicts are clearly not struggles in which one side represents proletarians and the other the owners of the means of production, the social classes of different participants are still relevant. On one hand, they should be taken into account, but the conflicts cannot be reduced to them.

      Some people use an analysis I would call pseudo-Marxist and outright silly – they seem to think that, since neither Yanukovych nor Gaddhafi or Assad are representatives of the working class, any armed fight against them is necessarily something good in their simple Manichean world view. They don’t care whether those armed fighters they assign the role of revolutionaries are fascist paramilitary militias of the Right Sector or Al Qaeda-derived fighters supported by Saudi Arabia or the Muslim brotherhood – since they fight against governments that are not or not properly socialist, they must be good by definition in this worldview, and anyone who looks at these conflicts in a different way and, for instance, takes into account the imperial interests of the United States and European powers is then a “conspiracist”.

      I find it hard to believe how people arrive at such ideas. But psychologically, it may be understandable that it is somewhat satisfactory to choose the overthrowing of Yanukovych and Gaddhafi and the attempted overthrowing of Assad as the object of one’s revolutionary feelings. Nowadays, the left rarely wins, and being on the same side as the US, British and French military probably gives some enjoyable feeling of strength – and if this can be combined with the conviction that one is still a Marxist and that the fervent approval of armed coups against non-socialist leaders in Ukraine, Libya and Syria is a sign of how passionate a revolutionary one is, it is even better.

      Of course, in my view, this is completely convoluted thinking. But this is hardly a new phenomenon. After all, the neoconservatives emerged from a branch of Trotskyists. I think their transformation is hardly a one-off event, it is a path that is still open, and it is probably psychologically satisfactory for people who choose it at different times.

      I would not blame Marx or Trotzky for these neoconservatives – their idea have been twisted in many ways. I doubt that there is really a strong basis for neoconservatism in Trotzkyism. But the phenomenon that time and again, Trotzkyists turn into neoconservatives (I suppose louisproyect has not gone the full way, yet) can hardly be denied. My interpretation would be that they start from a position that they strongly hope for revolutions – and (probably mainly for psychological reasons), they prefer bloody, violent revolutions, and since actual socialist revolutions are rare, almost any bloody conflict that is against a non-socialist government (so currently probably against all or almost all governments) is good for satisfying this heartfelt need, and it does not matter any more whether fighters are neo-Nazis of the Azov battalions and the Right Sector, Al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood, it does not matter what they fight for, the main thing is that what they fight against is also something that belongs to the capitalist system. For some further psychological reasons, when someone has gotten used to this kind of thinking, it probably becomes easier to focus just on such armed struggles where the fighters have strong allies like the Pentagon – that probably makes the Marxist revolutionary feel stronger, and then, after getting used to that kind of thinking, the road to the full neoconservative ideology is open (in the end, the Marxist justifications can also be shed, but many are somewhere on that road and have not made the full journey, yet).

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        • Thomas Prentice says

          On East Ghouta, check out Deuteronomy 1 – 10 for starters. JUST for starters. EVERYTHING Israel does is based on this foundation: grab their so-called “Promised Land” which extends from the Nile to the Euphrates. And guess what? SYRIA is RIGHT in the WAY of the CHOSEN PEOPLE’s LAND. So getoutofhtheway AssadandAssad-lovers!

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        • Thomas Prentice says

          On class analysis in Syria and East Ghouta, check out Deuteronomy 1 – 10 for starters. JUST for starters. EVERYTHING Israel does is based on this foundation: grab their so-called “Promised Land” which extends from the Nile (EGYPT) to the Euphrates (IRAQ). And guess what? SYRIA is RIGHT in the WAY of the CHOSEN PEOPLE’s LAND. So getoutofhtheway AssadandAssad-lovers!

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          • I like that just because you’ve quoted the bible and mentioned those people who are now above simple criticism you’ve been down voted. Haha how sad can some people be.

      • Seamus Padraig says

        If there’s a reason why so many Trotskyites have historically often ended up drifting towards Neoconservatism, it’s probably because their #1 priority is the same: ‘world revolution’ through régime-change. Both Trots and Neocons loathe the nation-state and any meaningful degree of national sovereignty. This, in fact, is precisely what moved Trotsky to break with Stalin almost a century ago: namely, the latter’s prioritization of ‘socialism in one country’ over world-revolution.

        To be sure, the first generation or two of Trots–like their namesake–maintained at least a pro-forma commitment to the ‘ownership of the means of production,’ etc.; but in time, even this fig leaf fell by the wayside in their quest to promote world-revolution. And now, along with their friends in the ‘antifa,’ they have decided that even the worst form of globalism imaginable is still preferable to the horrible, horrible nation-state. Their strategy seems to be to establish a one-world state first, then make it socialist later … as thought the Rockefellers, Soros, et al. are just going sit back and watch all their hard work go to waste once they’ve finally succeeded in taking over the whole world!

        Trots, you see, are the globalists of the left, and their first allegiance is to globalism, not socialism. Once you understand that, all their seeming weirdness begins to make sense.

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    • harry stotle says

      Its hard to take seriously anyone who still swallows Bush’s version of 9/11.

      Unsurprisingly Dubya had no intention of conducting an investigation until he was forced into it by the families of those who had been incinerated. He began by appointing Henry Kissinger (a sure sign the game was rigged) but the nobel peace prize winner quit after his close financial ties with the Saudis was exposed.
      Bush then appointed 3 new commissioners even though one of them, Max Cleveland resigned because he could not get access to key documents.
      The final report, written by another neocon Philip Zelikow did not even accurately report on the number of towers that fell.
      Of course neither Bush nor Cheyne were ever called to testify perhaps because they were too busy drawing up plans to inavde Afghanistan and then Iraq (both precursors to subsequent operations in Syria).

      In any event, for reasons we can only speculate about Mayor Giulliani had unilaterally authorised removal of vital forensic evident from the worlds most important crime scene (despite protest from engineers, and scientists about the obvious dangers in doing so) – and when NIST finally reported in 2008 they did not conduct any investigations to test the most likely hypothesis for three symmetrical building collapses (controlled demolition) but instead clung to the least likely explanation (fires).

      Before you could say ‘operation Iraqi Freedom’ George Robertson was doing his bit at the UN to approve Article 5 which not only gave international sanction to the massive whopper that had just been told (ie America being attacked by non-UN actors, or the 19 hijackers narrative ) but also legitimised the use of pre-emptive force.

      The rest as they is history (WMDs and all) – no amount of political theorising, or crude forms of categorisaton (eg daft terms like conspiracists) alters these undeniable facts.

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      • rilme says

        … chundering on about class struggle, class consciousness, and class-based anal lysis.

        • harry stotle says

          Not only that but a massive irony fail as well – fancy accusing others of ‘conspiricism’ while promoting a conspiracy (Bush discredicted account).

          Can you imagine a police report after the Manson slayings (for example) failing to mention the murder of Sharon Tate, so why on earth should we accept the findings of the 9/11 Commission which only refers to 2 of the collapsed towers – I mean aren’t Marxists even vaguely curious about the reasons why this might be?

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    • 0use4msm says

      Dear Louis,

      If you want people to stop reading your comment, the best way to do it is to call someone you don’t agree with a “troll”. You managed to do it in your first sentence. Bravo.

    • Makropulos says

      “obvious cleavage between conspiracism and Marxism”?

      So – no groups planning anything then?

  14. Gary Weglarz says

    Sadly, the last few years have exposed much of the “left” – “progressive” media for what it is, simply another arm of the propaganda apparatus. In the last year Counterpunch has dumped a rather impressive list of anti-imperialist writers who also just happen to refuse to follow in lock-step with the Russiagate hysteria line so popular in the U.S. The thoughtful anti-imperialist analysis of Diana Johnstone, Andre Vltchek and now CJ Hopkins regarding U.S. and Western policy are now gone at Counterpunch, neatly excised. However, what one can read at Counterpunch is the fact-free pro-regime change nonsense babbling of a Louis Proyect, a Melvin Goodman and others explaining why yet another secular Middle Eastern leader must be overthrown by our oh so humanitarian Western militaries. Amazing.

    There is a term for the kind of journalism Counterpunch, Democracy Now and other formerly “progressive” outlets are providing, having devolved from holding fairly progressive anti-war positions in the past. Its called functioning as “controlled-opposition” and it is a rather insidious reminder that money, in this case I would imagine big Foundation money, is a corrupting influence on everything it touches. Of course in the West one can also never rule out the CIA payroll either.

    If a site shamelessly promotes the CIA’s regime change nonsense, and silences anti-imperialist voices, many words may be used to describe that site, but “progressive” or “left” are not among them.

    I very much appreciate that OffGuardian posts the three writers who have been banned by Counterpunch. Thank you.

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    • That’s what Trotskyists do, they grab well meaning people bamboozle them with talk of class analysis and permanent revolution whatever that is then they support every major us intervention that doesn’t literally have American fighter jets and American troops or American jeeps on the ground in the open. They supported the war on Libya now they play innocent they supported the war against the Syrian people now many play dumb and pretend they never supported Al Qaeda. These people are political rats. Opportunists and fraudsters

  15. Wow, so this is what goes on behind the scene! I had no idea. I will be reading the websites differently from now on.

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  16. bevin says

    “A few days ago we received an email from Louis Proyect which read:
    ‘ .'”
    You didn’t miss a thing.

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    • Admin says
      • we were in the middle of adding a footnote – but thought better of it. 🙂
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  17. Eric McStay says

    Petit bourgeois drama queens grab their handbags.

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