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On 2018-01-05 14:16, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:

How the Assadist propaganda machine uses false identities.

Yes, that correctly describes what this article is about: lies by the Syrian and/or Russian government (etc.) being attributed to various other authors, including people who don't even exist.

But that is not how it is being presented in this extremely detailed piece by the Counterpunch editors, nor in their previous reaction to the first "ghost," nor even in Louis' own blogpost after the first discovery of that ghost. Ignored is the main aspect of the intrusion: that of it being propaganda in favor of the Syrian government and its counterrevolutionary war, directed toward leftists. Rather the "crime" cited is that the exact names of the purported authors did not correspond to actual persons.

Big deal. I can't believe that anyone particularly minds an author using an assumed name rather than the one on their birth certificate. Indeed "Rule #3" (above) encourages people to do exactly that. Does it become a much greater crime when someone in Moscow or Damascus pretends to be an American? Not in my eyes. The problem with the articles submitted by "Alice Donovan" or any of these other ghosts isn't that the name of the author is misrepresented -- I'm sure these were all written by real people! -- but the goddamn CONTENT of those articles!

[Yes, I realize that there is a problem in terms of "identity" when one person uses two or more names (aka sock-puppets) to "agree" with each other and amplify their message. Indeed "Rule #3" does not permit that and it can only be considered a wholly dishonest tactic. But it hardly rises to the level of the actual crimes committed by the Assad regime. And anyway there may well be more propagandists working for Assad-Putin than there are fake identities, in which case that charge wouldn't even apply.]

So we read these pieces by the Counterpunch editors decrying the use of fake identities and painting themselves as helpless victims of a dishonest campaign. Well I'd bet there has been plenty published by Counterpunch in the past that was also attributed to non-existing individuals that they hadn't actually verified, but where it was never discovered (or mattered, really). In this case it did come to light, and as a result of their embarrassment we read these detailed accounts/disclaimers. But not one word concerning the filthy political purpose of the lies written by these "ghosts," any more than when Counterpunch published the same lies authored by very real people.

So getting beyond the question of the correct attribution of their articles, we are lead back to the original complaint against Counterpunch that has been widely observed and previously called out. Namely, that Counterpunch refuses to define itself (and thus limit its contributions) as "left" but is happy to mix left and right wing sources especially where they come to (superficially) similar conclusions (anti-government, anti-imperialism, anti-liberal, etc.). They publish valuable material but mix it with authors on the right who are trying to win the left to positions favorable to the right (such as those opposing the revolutions in Syria and elsewhere) and blur the difference. By concentrating on the question of false identities, these statements by the editors of Counterpunch shift the focus from what is really important.

- Jeff

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