F*#k the Trumpenleft and Obama Too
By Paul Street
I’m not referring to liberals, moderates, and progressives who have taken umbrage at my radical Left criticism of Clinton-Obama-Pelosi Democrats (hereafter “COP Dems”)’ nauseating fealty and service to capital and empire. I never had friends, real or virtual, among such folks. Any chance that I would have disappeared when I started writing about and against their beloved Obama in the summer of 2004.
I mean people on “the left” so sickened by the fake-progressive COP Dems as to become de facto supporters and in some cases even open backers of Obama’s fascistic and malignant-narcissist successor Donald J. Trump, “the most dangerous criminal in human history.”
For nearly four years now, I have watched in horror as one online “leftist” after another has shown themselves too poisoned by all too understandable hatred of Obama and other COP Dems to criticize a wannabe fascist strongman currently on pace to have killed half a million Americans by next February.
Don’t get me wrong. Like the Clintons, Pelosi, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris, the newly minted oligarch Obama richly deserves leftists’ contempt. I have documented and denounced Obama’s revolting captivity and allegiance to the nation’s unelected and overlapping dictatorships of money, empire, and white supremacy in three books, including the recently released Hollow Resistance: Trump, Obama, and the Politics of Appeasement (CounterPunch Books, October 2020).
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But aligning people even just passively with the Trumpist variant of Amerikaner fascism that the 44th president did so much to advance and enable, Weimar-style (see the third chapter of Hollow Resistance, tilted “Barack von Obombdenburg”), is NOT what I had in mind when I started writing about and against the Obama phenomenon. Indeed, one of my key concerns about Obama from the start was that he would simultaneously white-nationalist fake-populism while progressive and Left opposition to the ever more radicalized, proto-fascistic, and eliminationist Republican Party. My critique of Obamanism and neo-Clintonism more broadly has always held that they amounted to corporate-managed “inauthentic opposition” (Sheldon Wolin’s term for the neoliberal era Democrats) to capital, Empire, the lethal rightward drift of American society, and the increasingly deadly right itself.
“I Ain’t Afraid of No Trump”
Never did I quite imagine where droves of online “friends” drawn to my Left critique of Obama and the rest of the COP Dems would go under Trump’s nightmare presidency. If you dared to denounce the transgressions of the vicious white-supremacist Donald “Live and Let Die” Trump from the actual Left (imagine) over the last four years, you needed to get ready for Fearless Leader’s creepy army of online “left” supporters flood you with angry lectures you didn’t need on the awfulness of Obama and his fellow establishment Democrats. No matter how extensive your anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist credentials, you got hit with the absurd charge that you were a fan of the CIA, the profits system, “the deep state,” and the Pax Americana.
It was like inverse of my experience during the Obama years: if you dared to question the lying neoliberal warmonger Obama from the Left, liberals absurdly called you a racist Tea Partier. Go after Trump from the Left and Trumpenlefties absurdly called you a bourgeois Democrat and identitarian and other bad names.
Nothing Trump could do, no new outrage he might commit, was grave enough to shake these “radical” nudniks from their strange embrace of the orange monstrosity and their insistence on focusing all their rhetorical firepower on the dismal Democrats Tearing babies from their mothers’ arms and concentration camps at the southern border? Telling Border Patrol to gas, electrify and shoot prospective immigrants, children included? Waging a relentless and epic war on facts, truth, expertise, knowledge, science, and press freedom in ways that would make Orwell blush and Goebbels proud? Shout-/Tweet-outs to the Charlottesville Nazis, neofascist Proud Boys, other demented white supremacists, fascist QAnon, and little green militia men who plot the murder of a state governor and occupy state capitals to protest public pandemic protections? Calling Haiti and African nations “shithole countries,” denying Puerto Rico proper hurricane assistance, pardoning the fascist-nativist sheriff Joe Arpaio, and telling four progressive Congresswomen (all U.S. citizens and all but one born in the U.S.) of color to “go back to the crime-infested countries you came from”? Eliminating all references to climate change (just the biggest issue of our or any time) by federal agencies, tearing up one critical environmental protection after another, demonizing renewable energy as “un-American,” and absurdly claiming that California experienced epic wildfires because it didn’t “sweep the forest floors”?
Threatening other nations with nuclear annihilation, backing the vivisection of a Saudi dissident journalist, imposing murderous economic sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, tearing up international nuclear arms agreement, sparking a new nuclear arms race, and assassinating a top foreign military leader? Shutting down the government, declaring a fake state of emergency, and criminally diverting taxpayer dollars all to build sections of a vicious and corrupt wall on the southern border? Purging administration officials who show the slightest hint of disloyalty, claiming that Constitution gives him power to “do whatever I want,” rejecting elementary congressional and judicial oversight of the executive branch, and recruiting an attorney general to act as his personal lawyer in an arch-authoritarian war on dissent and constitutional checks and balances? Labelling civil and human rights protesters “terrorists,” calling Black Lives Matter a “hate” slogan, calling out federal troops to suppress civil and human rights protests in Washington D.C, and brutally dispersing protesters from Lafayette Square with internationally banned chemical agents to hold a Christian fascist Bible-holding photo-op in front of a church? Defending a teen fascist who murdered two civil rights protesters (in Kenosha, Wisconsin) with an illegally owed assault weapon and applauding a racist white St. Louis couple who criminally menaced Black Lives Matter protesters with automatic weapons?
Repeatedly calling the coronavirus a “hoax” and claiming (even to this present day) that it “will disappear soon” while refusing to undertake a serious federal program of public protection in response to the pandemic and thereby making the United States home to a fifth of the world’s coronavirus cases? Holding repeated reckless super-spreader events and using even his own real or alleged infection by the Trump Virus to downplay the lethality of the disease and to claim his own genetic superiority? Invading Portland, Oregon and other cities and towns with violent federal border paramilitaries loyal to Trump? Nominating a Christian fascist cultist to the Supreme Court and jamming her through the U.S. Senate as soon as possible to help him steal the 2020 election – this while failing to approve the economic assistance that is desperately required by tens of millions amidst the Covild-45 Recession? Openly undermining the nation’s electoral process while refusing to commit to leaving office if he loses the 2020 election (more on this below) and repeating his chillingly authoritarian and sexist “Lock Her Up” chant at his fascist-style hate rallies — this time targeting not Hillary Clinton but rather the Michigan governor who some of his crazed backers were planning to kidnap and execute?
I could go on.
None of this criminality and madness seemed to matter all that much to the Trumpenleft cretins I’ve been trying to exterminate from my in-box and social media accounts for the last month. I was invited once to speak at an elite Midwestern liberal arts college by a white male “radical” student who in the fall of 2016 wrote an essay titled “I Ain’t Afraid of No Trump.” The essay was a snotty attack on Noam Chomsky’s notion that one might want to vote to block an openly racist, sexist, eco-cidal, arch-authoritarian, narcissistic, and white-nationalist presidential candidate in a contested state. (Just for the record, I voted Green, for Jill Stein, in Iowa in 2016 – an idiotic move given my knowledge that Trump was a fascist. In my lame defense, I thought a Trump victory was next-to-impossible and I did consult polling data showing that Iowa had already gone full Red before I did my usual empty third party protest-vote thing)
The former Grinnell student sent me the same exact essay before last week’s election. He said with pride that he stood behind it, 100 percent. Nothing that had taken place in the last four years changed anything at all in his attitude toward Trump: nothing to worry about.
It was one of the most depressing communications I’ve ever received. It wasn’t just that he wouldn’t vote to block a second term for a fascist. It was that he didn’t think anything that had occurred under Trump’s first term deserved the slightest bit of attention or raised the slightest bit of alarm. The poor lost soul was stuck in a Groundhog Day tape loop. Nothing that had taken place in the last four years could jolt him out from the standard childish, supposedly Left and frankly slanderous position that Chomsky, Angela Davis, Cornel West, Adolph Reed, Jr, and numerous other supposedly deluded and fake radicals sign their names in the Black Book of Neoliberal Imperialism if they wield the highly flawed and painfully limited choice offered by the American binary electoral process to try in a tiny way to prevent a fascist from having a second term in the world’s most powerful and dangerous job! There’s a curious and ironic ballot fetishism behind this “radical” stance, which is somewhat analogous with the German Communist Party’s disastrous early 1930s position (“after Hitler, us”) insisting that one was a despicable “social fascist” tool of the German bourgeoisie if one opposed Adolph Hitler’s ascendancy.
Non-Identical Wings of the Same Right-Flying Bird of Prey
For this young lost soul and other “radical” know-it-all Know Nothings in the same mode, it’s been “same as it ever was,” “nothing to see here,” “no differences really between the candidates and parties.” The real thing for them is to tell me and other Left Trump opponents for the one thousandth time something that we already know: Biden, Obama, and the Democrats suck and don’t deserve our allegiance, lecturing us on how a vote to block Trump with Sleepy Joe is an embrace of neoliberalism and imperialism even when it is just a small but necessary tactical action to survive and live on to fight for socialism with absolutely no illusion about Biden or any other corporate Democrat. How insane. Imagine just for a moment how disastrous a second Trump term would be.
On and on and on the Trumpenlefties I’ve been hearing from chatter like self-admiring magpies about how the two parties are “identical” and that “the Democrats are Republicans now.” When a radical intellectually tells them that’s not actually the case, they reflexively and falsely accuse you of being in bed with the ruling class and the COP Dems.
What they refuse and/or fail to understand or acknowledge is that the whole party system, not just the Dems, have moved to the right. With a lot of its former space eaten up by the dismal, center-right corporate-imperial Dems, the Obama and Trump era GOP moved into white- nationalist and even neofascist territory.
It’s idiotic to say that “the Dems are Republicans now.” Yes, the two dominant U.S. political organizations are, as always, “two [co-dependent and often allied] wings of the same bird of [capitalist and imperial] prey” (Upton Sinclair, 1904) but they are not exact twins. The COP Dems have moved right and into old GOP space. That sucks. It’s a central part, at once symptom and cause, of the corporate-managed nation’s deadly rightward drift. But the GOP has moved further right, into white nationalist and even proto-fascist-eliminationist space. There’s a slew of differences that ought to be obvious to a grade-schooler in constituency, region, platforms and more— this while both parties are capitalist and imperialist, as everyone on the actual Left, such as it is, knows. Two plus two equals four, it does not equal five.
I say this as a someone who hates Biden, from the radical Left, something demonstrated in numerous pieces I’ve published on and against Biden in the last two years. To quote Shaquille O’Neal. “Google me up.”
“Only True Leftists Have the Guts and Intellect to be Soft on Fascism”
Here is a recent dialogue I had with a close Left observer of American politics, an author whose name I’ll keep anonymous to shield him from dozens if not hundreds of hateful emails from Trumpenleft apocalypse zombies:
Left Observer: “It’s really quite pathetic how many people who claim to be progressive and radical lefties are being completely quiet about Trump’s aspiring fascism. …The closet Trumpenleftism is pervasive…and disgusting. I get tired of being polite to these people….They have a certain confidence and smugness to their stupidity too that only comes with constructing a ‘social media’ echo chamber to cocoon themselves from criticism [of their] one dimensional anti-Democratic politics….These people have tunnel vision to the point of coming off like idiots. They’ve made themselves irrelevant to any productive discussion of politics. A lot of it is just gaslighting. these are individuals who deal with the Donald with kid gloves. they almost never say anything critical. When you call them out on being closet Trumpeters, they deny it vehemently, and then they continue to talk about how the Dems are the problem, while ignoring Trump’s fascist politics.”
Street: “In today’s Counterpunch, I have showed yet again how fully aware I am that the ruling class is bipartisan and that it’s the whole system at fault. My long record of published Left criticism of Obama (for whom I have bottomless contempt) drew these spiritually and cognitively damaged people to me like ants to a discarded piece of red licorice. I still can’t exterminate them all from my cyber spaces. They misunderstood me: I don’t support either of the two capitalist parties and that includes the ever more fascistic GOP for God’s sake. I don’t take my criticism of Obama and the Clintons and Biden et al. to mean embrace of pandemic-spreading proto-fascistic white-nationalist genocidal racists like Trump, William Barr, Mitch McConnell, Lyndsey Graham, Stephen Miller, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Carlson, and the millions of very disproportionately white Trumpenvolk who have signed up with the arch-authoritarian death cult of their Fearless Orange Leader.”
Left Observer: “You are balanced in your criticisms of both parties. These people are not, which is why they’re sick in the head, and clueless. They will ignore your criticisms of the Dems, as usual, and say you’re a Dem lover. They are mentally ill… Talking honestly and seriously about Trumpism-fascism as a threat is verboten if you’re a true [Trumpen-] leftist. Only true leftists have the guts and intellect to be soft on fascism in order to help tear it all down to achieve the revolution. Remember, ‘After Trump, Our Turn.’”
After reading the thousandth bizarre Trumplefty Tweet, email, and/or Facebook post (more than just occasionally accompanied by 9/11 Trutherism and/or conspiratorialist anti-masker-ism and/or ani-vaxxerism and/or praise for the Russian oligarch Putin and/or other strange associations for people of “the left”), it sunk in that these yes, mentally ill “radicals” – almost (but not) always older and white (and hence not in the main target sites of the fascistic Trump project) – seriously wanted a second Trump term (how ‘bout a third?). Then they could really “own the libs” in curious alliance with Proud Boys and other lovely Amerikaners who would love to send Marxists and left anarchists to concentration camps.
When “Progressive Liberals” Smack Down “Virtue-Signaling Libs” by Going on “Ideologically Opposing Newscasts”
I recently identified and cyber-exterminated at least 12 members of the peculiar online species that I have (perhaps unfortunately) labelled the Trumpenleft. That’s how many of my “friends” rushed to defend the libertarian Glenn Greenwald, former attorney of Illinois Nazi leader Matthew Hale, for trying to help Trump get a second/third term. Greenwald’s effort to run an Intercept story backing Republican talking points on the insipid corporatist Joe Biden’s possibly corrupt behavior regarding a Ukraine gas company was a transparent attempt to boost Trump’s chances as the 2020 election date nears. The timing of Greenwald’s attempted October Surprise gave the game away.
In the online fracas that ensued after I noted the creepy curiosity of the “left” hero Greenwald’s timing and intent, one old white male Iowa City Trumpenlefty (I repeat that Trump’s disturbed portside backers are typically older and white) I know reflected on how he enjoys seeing lefties like the supposedly progressive Greenwald go on “ideologically opposing newscasts” like Fatherland News’ Tucker Carlson show.
Never mind that Carlson is an open white nationalist who openly backed the Illinois teen fascist Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder of two civil rights activists in Kenosha, Wisconsin last August. Or that Carlson’s fascist propaganda “news” is like calling John Wayne Gacy abusive.
The Iowa City Trumpenlefty dug his hole deeper by writing that criticism of Greenwald and other “leftists” for going on fascist “Tucker’s” show “reminds me of when liberals told me not to support Sanders because Joe Rogan was endorsing him. Rogan is liberal, though because he hunts and uses untoward language is rejected by those who are ‘social justice’ virtue-signaling libs.”
Notice the embrace of right-wing terminology and narratives memes like “virtue-signaling libs” (commonly falsely conflated with being anti-racist), defense of politically insensitive language (cuz it’s just elitist “identity politics” to be opposed to racist and sexist terminology), and defense of manly hunting (cuz guys just like to murder animals). That’s the kind of moral self-contortion that liberal- and Obama-hating Trumpen-leftists like the Iowa City Rogan fan get tied up in online. Also note the foolish description of Rogan as a “progressive liberal.” An always on-point comrade from the Northwest (Chris Green) weighed in with a useful corrective:
“Rogan is a progressive liberal? He has said he’s voting for Trump. It could be that attacks on him are virtue signaling but perhaps there is also an element of basic decency at play when people are disgusted by stories that he once said that going through a Black neighborhood was like ‘Planet of the Apes’ or his attacks on transgendered persons or his laughing hysterically at the story told by his buddy Joey Diaz about Diaz making a woman give him oral sex before she could get on stage or access a comedy club. Or how he quickly jumped on the story about the ‘left wing activists’ setting Oregon forest fires before he rescinded the claim.”
Twenty Twenty-Four: The Magic Exit Words
The American major party electoral process is a sadly binary ruling class clusterfuck, deeply captive to the nation’s underlying oppression structures of class and commodity rule, capitalist thought control, militarism-imperialism, white-supremacism, patriarchy, and ecocide. That really sucks, to say the least. Joe Biden is a running dog corporate and imperial lackey. We know these things on the Left, such as it is. Fine, but Donald Trump is a malignant fascistic tumor dedicated to the elimination of any chances for a decent and democratic human future, even for an organized human existence. The tumor must be removed if we are to avoid monumental catastrophe going forward. A second Trump term would be an historic tragedy a great victory for those who would turn the world’s most powerful and nation – a superpower with a capacity for destruction that makes Hitler’s Third Reich look like a junior varsity team – into something like a consolidating fascist state. The last flickering embers of democracy, social justice, public health, and the common good could well be stamped out for good.
I don’t think it will happen – at least I wouldn’t bet on it. My sense is that the following Washington Post reporting last Wednesday is accurate:
“President Trump declared Wednesday on Twitter, ‘WE WILL WIN!’ But, in fact, the president has no clear endgame to actually win the election — and, in an indication he may be starting to come to terms with his loss, he is talking privately about running again in 2024…Asked about Trump’s ultimate plan, one senior administration official chuckled and said, ‘You’re giving everybody way too much credit right now.’…Save for a visit Wednesday to Arlington National Cemetery in observance of Veterans Day, Trump has not appeared in public since last Thursday, when he delivered a statement challenging preliminary election results. He has instead addressed the election in social media posts or through his spokespeople, promising to keep fighting until he is declared the winner…Still, Trump has indicated in some of these conversations that he understands Biden will take over the presidency on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. Rather than talking about a second term, Trump has been matter-of-factly discussing a possible 2024 campaign — an indication that he knows his time as president is coming to an end, at least for now. ‘I’m just going to run in 2024. I’m just going to run again,’ Trump has been saying, according to a senior administration official who has spoken with him this week.”
“Twenty twenty-four” are the magic words that could signal and enable Trump’s exit. The trick is to construct mental narratives for the fascistic president to leave. Trump has a transparent full-blown malignant narcissist character structure. He simply cannot and will not acknowledge failure and defeat, loss. It’s not in him. So he must be assured of his continuing significance and centrality. He must run with a Stabbed in Back/rigged narrative and plan for a glorious Trump Television phase leading him back to power in 2024. My guess is that his McDonalds’-based diet could well pre-empt that and help make the way for a more competent fascistic GOP candidate (Tom Cotton?) in 2024 but who knows?
I still do not rule out a coup 100% — it would be foolish to do so. But my bet would be that the Trumpenstein will be eased out with this basic narrative. (It seems also that he is going to need some shielding from legal action – something I expect COP-Cuomo Dems to provide).
Don’t look for Trumpenlefties to take to the streets if Trump defies the odds and somehow mounts a viable coup effort. As far as I can tell, their discomfort with a fascist takeover would be overtaken by their glee at the glorious lib-owning humiliation of the COP Dems.
1. Never say never in this darkly authoritarian-neoliberal era. The most ominous among the Trump administration’s numerous moves against the 2020 election is the removal of Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Esper was terminated for his resistance last summer to using U.S. combat units to quash civil rights and social justice demonstrations across America. Esper and a few other top civilian Defense Department officials have just been fired and replaced with white nationalist “Yes Men” who would be more likely to deploy troops to crush street protests of the theft of the election. Also disturbing are Trump campaign efforts to rally angry MAGAts in presumably armed demonstrations across the country and to convince Republican-controlled state legislatures in contested states to send to Congress Electoral College slates that defy the popular vote in their jurisdictions. Perhaps Trumpenlefties would like to assist these projects.