I think this debate is totally interesting, and I certainly would be
against screening articles for political correctness! The latter can only
be achieved by debate and real understanding.

What's characteristic about this moment is that established political
positions have collapsed, including that of the socialist Left whose
blindspot has always been communist authoritarianism, whether historical in
the case of the USSR or extant in the Chinese case. This could be an
important chance for everyone to learn something new, and crucially, to
come up with new policies. But it isn't happening, not yet anyway. Instead
we have a "fog of partisanship" in which center left, center right and far
left all rehash their worldviews, even as the old authoritarian demons
reassert themselves and the new challenges of climate change start getting
serious. The victor of the ideological struggle, for the moment, is the
emergent national-populist right, whose core program of deglobalization and
re-shoring is buried under culture wars and the thrill of polarization. We
may soon get the chance to see what that buried agenda gets turned into in
the USA, where the culture-war rhetoric appears primed to score major
electoral victories.

Under these conditions it becomes harder to categorize and label individual
positions. As in the case of Applebaum, valuable concepts and assessments
are mixed with confusion and self-justification. You have to simultaneously
identify the true parts AND remember the enormous mistakes that these
individuals have made, as well as the horrors perpetrated within policy
networks that they still support. It is so easy for an old Cold Warrior to
talk about the cities bombed during WWII, and still easier to just forget
Fallajuh in Iraq, where the Americans, acting in a rebooted Cold War mode,
committed one of the most murderous acts in human history. To think there
is no danger of another Fallujah is, imho, as naive as to think that Russia
should not be confronted today.

The article that Michael Benson sent on Applebaum continually makes the
point that she is unable to ascribe any fault to her own side for
generating the fascistic national-populism that so many of her old friends
now embrace. Perhaps the author is keenly aware that the center left is, if
anything, worse on that score. Global neoliberalism and the ardent belief
that borderless commerce would soothe the slumbering authoritarian beast
were the creations of the center-left in the Clinton-Blair-Schroeder years.
Not only did that fail spectacularly with Russia and China, it also failed
with the US, British, French and perhaps other working classes, leaving
them desperate on both the economic and cultural levels, and therefore open
to all kinds of opportunistic rhetoric.

I was certain that capitalist globalization would ruin national systems of
solidarity, spark a populist backlash and supercharge climate change, so I
opposed it. Now in the US, neither the center nor the far left can even
talk about political economy in any coherent way - the center because it
can't admit abysmal failure, and the socialist left, because it has
accepted its role in the culture war, which is to call the other side
racist pigs and consider that a platform. In France the situation is worse:
the center parties have disappeared in favor of a national-populism aligned
with Russia (Le Pen), a catch-up neoliberalism that arrived decades too
late to succeed (Macron) and what looks to me like another archaic
communism (Melenchon). What you don't see are assessments of the major
trends attendant on capitalist globalization: their origins, their effects,
and the ways to valuably intervene.

thoughtfully, Brian

On Tue, May 3, 2022 at 6:11 AM allan siegel <allansie...@internet-mail.org>
wrote:

> Dear Michael and Nettimers,
>
> I do not favour a pre-screening of articles or anything of the like.
> Rather I am concerned about pointing out and contextualizing certain
> political arguments. Although she may think otherwise Applebaum represents
> a strata of opinion makers that specialises in a specific political
> terrain; in her case the Soviet Union, Eastern and Central Europe, etc. She
> operates within binary paradigms of East vs. West, democracies vs.
> autocracies etc.. She sits in an intellectual grandstand formulating
> opinions not exactly based on rigorous research but rather stemming from a
> form of entitlement in which the publications and books she has written
> spotlight and self-validate her opinions. She is not alone in her role as
> an ideological agent whose mission is to buttress forms of political
> discourse that take place within specified boundaries. These forms of
> delimited discourse are the bedrock of mainstream media - within the U.S.
> especially. A mainstream wherein the voices of activist movements in the
> U.S. have been historically marginalised, silenced and sometimes killed. I
> am simply stating facts here.
>
>
> So, let me cut to the chase: the CIA, FBI, and all the various stripes of
> intelligence agencies have used journalists and writers as pollinators of
> skewed opinions and ostensible facts in order to maintain a superficially
> neutral status quo - all under the banner of a so-called democracy.
>
> Given the current extreme political tensions, and the proposals to
> hopefully avoid a full-out war and resolve the crisis, I was prompted to
> draw attention to Anne Applebaum's bona fides and the pool within which she
> swims. Especially given the clouds of misinformation floating across the
> horizon.
> Best
>
> Allan
>
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