November, 2016 came and went and the world has since been immersed in the predicament of the Republican regime headed by the insane orange clown president and his unelected, and all-too-present familia.
Within the American duopoly, the “opposition” Democratic Party has yet to recover from its resounding defeat and humiliation, retreating indefinitely into surreal and immature finger- pointing, Russophobia, and McCarthyism.
Meanwhile, outside the confines of the two-party system, Jill Stein and the Greens have been hard at work on promoting a range of candidates and developing an alternative media channel – The Green News Network, a self-described “source for non-corporately filtered news, information and analysis”.
David Cobb, the Green Party’s Stein/Baraka campaign manager, has fallen prey to a con job. It is sad, but these things can happen. The trouble is that he seems hell-bent on tarnishing the reputation of the entire Green Party, which, after Bernie Sanders’ defeat/capitulation in the Democratic primaries, I and many of my colleagues on the left voted for in 2016.
As host of “Democracy in action” a show on The Green News Network, Cobb has chosen to promote and rely on the writings of a “rogue journalist” from Australia named Caitlin Johnstone.
To those unfamiliar with Johnstone’s credentials, you are not alone.
A Google search reveals that even though she apparently received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2003 (which she produced on her Facebook account after many requests from people who questioned her credibility), she has zero publications before 2016, other than an astrology book, and began her “journalistic” career on an obscure blogging site called Newslogue with pseudo-feminist articles titled “Why do men hate women” and “How to make a boy a man”.
What’s more, she has curiously not published a single investigative journalism article on her native Australia. Ever. Is that even possible with a degree in journalism?
Since, Johnstone has graduated from Newslogue to write about American politics all the way from Oz (a country not lacking in political turmoil) for a host of blogging platforms, most notably Medium, where she attempts to pass herself off as a progressive/anti-establishment journalist on the left by critiquing liberals, imperialism, Antifa, the Democratic Party, Marxists, the “deep state” and corporate media, as well as by promoting racists, and in her most recent piece openly calling for cooperation with fascists, i.e. a red-brown alliance.
It is no coincidence that ex-Bernie Sanders supporters, now avid Trump fans such as Cassandra Fairbanks, take inspiration from Johnstone’s sensationalist “anti-establishment” writings and that one of her die-hard supporters is Mike Cernovich, an alt-right media personality.
Johnstone’s quick rise to fame is not accidental. In addition to being endorsed by a range of dubious fans, she is (self) promoted by one of the blogging websites, which regularly features her work – “We the media”. There, Johnstone is bizarrely featured alongside established left-wing/progressive/radical journalists with on-the-ground investigative journalism experience such as Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald and Abby Martin as a contender for “Top independent journalist of 2017”.
Fake lefties usher in fascism
But Johnstone’s sensationalist, populist and often inaccurate blogging, as well as her dodgy backers and her cries for a red-brown alliance are not the point of this article, it is the fact that her sort of writing is dangerously promoted by many well-meaning progressives and radicals on the left as well as on a monthly basis by David Cobb of the Green Party.
In today’s demonopolized media landscape, deceit is perpetuated not only by the usual suspects, i.e. the corporate state and its subservient media outlets but also by a range of fake news, which is published online with no editing or verification on free-for-all blogging platforms, such as Medium. The ease and availability of online publishing, as well as the growing distaste with the corruptions of corporate media, provide a vacuum into which sensationalism can be used to promote a populist and potentially fascistic agenda.
Fascist infiltration of the left from anti-establishment, fake “anti-imperialists” has been a pervasive and troubling phenomenon that has shaped contemporary politics and some of the upheavals of 2016 (for analysis, as well as the involvement of Russia, see here). It relies on a loosely-defined politics of opposition rather than on a leftist class analysis.
Eric Draitser of stopimperialism.org summarizes it thus:
“The right-wing and today’s fascists, i.e. the so-called ‘alt-right’ in the United States position themselves as anti-establishment and anti-imperialist by virtue of an opposition to neoliberal capitalism. Theirs is not an opposition to capitalism nor is it an opposition to imperialism. It is an opposition to the unique set of conditions that we see today.”
And this is exactly where Cobb and the Green party situate themselves when they promote the viewpoints of problematic journalists like Johnstone.
I wonder: is an alliance with “alt-right” fascists the alternative to the duopoly that the Green Party is offering the American people? Are there no credible and independent left-wing journalists with first-hand experience in American politics that the Green Party can rely on for accurate reporting?
I know of plenty excellent reporters who publish in credible lefty publications such as Truthdig, Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Alternet, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, In These Times, Jacobin, and The Real New Network, among many other outlets that come to mind.
Regardless, in our age of surging right-wing, xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-black and brown, anti-indigenous, misogynist and ecocidal agendas that are driven by corporate deregulation and a decimation of public welfare, Cobb and the Green Party owe it to their voters to present a serious and credible left-wing alternative that builds on a positive politics of social and environmental justice, collectivism and community, and not on a self-defeating and immoral “anti-establishment” alliance with fascists, promoted by unreliable sources.
The left needs to build with those who are disaffected with the entire system, which is approximately 50% of the population who did not even bother to vote. Those are the people most affected by the crimes of capitalism and our natural allies. Reaching out to the right when it is strong and the left is weak is lazy, counterproductive and dangerous.
See more of Yoav Litvin’s work at yoavlitvin.com