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How the Left Is Being Manipulated Into Colluding in Its Own Character Assassination
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There was a fascinating online panel discussion on Wednesday night on the Julian Assange case that I recommend everyone watch. The video is at the bottom of the page.

But from all the outstanding contributions, I want to highlight a very important point made by Yanis Varoufakis that has significance for understanding current events well beyond the Assange case.

Varoufakis is an academic who was savaged by the western political and media establishments when he served as Greece’s finance minister. Back in 2015 a popular leftwing Greek government was trying to oppose the imposition of severe loan conditions on Greece by European and international financial institutions that risked tipping the Greek economy into deeper bankruptcy and seemed chiefly intended to upend its socialist programme. The government Varoufakis served was effectively crushed into obedience through a campaign of economic intimidation by these institutions.

Varoufakis describes here the way that leftwing dissidents who challenge or disrupt western establishment narratives – whether it be himself, Assange or Jeremy Corbyn – end up not only being subjected to character assassination, as was always the case, but nowadays find themselves being manipulated into colluding in their own character assassination.

Here is a short transcript of Varoufakis’ much fuller comments – about 48 minutes in – highlighting his point about co-option:

The establishment, the Deep State, call it whatever you want, the oligarchy, they’ve become much, much better at it [character assassination] than they used to be. Because back in the 1960s and 1970s, you know, they would accuse you of being a Communist. They would accuse me of being a Marxist. Well, I am a Marxist. I’m really not going to suffer that much if you accuse me of being a left-winger. I am a left-winger!

Now what they do is something far worse. They accuse you of something that really hurts you. Calling somebody like us a racist, a bigot, an antisemite, a rapist. This is what really hurts because if anybody calls me a rapist today, right, even if it’s complete baloney, I feel as a feminist I have the need to give the woman, implied or involved somehow in this accusation, the opportunity to speak against me. Because that is what we left-wingers do.

Varoufakis’ point is that when Assange was accused of being a rapist, as he was before the US made clear the real case against him – by trying to extradite him from the UK for exposing its war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan – he could not defend himself without alienating a significant constituency of his natural supporters, those on the left who identify as feminists. Which is exactly what happened.

Similarly, as Varoufakis notes from earlier conversations he had with Assange, the Wikileaks founder was in no position to properly defend himself against accusations that he colluded with Russia and Donald Trump to help Trump win the 2016 US presidential election against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

At the time, Assange’s supporters were able to point out that the leaked emails were true and that they were in the public interest because they showed deep corruption in the Democratic party establishment. But those arguments were drowned out by a narrative confected by the US media and security establishments that Wikileaks’ publication of the emails was political interference because the emails had supposedly been hacked by Russia to sway the election result.

Because Assange was absolutely committed to the principle of non-disclosure of sources, he refused to defend himself in public by confirming that the emails had been leaked to him by a Democratic party insider, not the “Russians”. His silence allowed his vilification to go largely unchallenged. Having already been stripped of support from much of the feminist left, particularly in Europe, Assange now lost the support of a sizeable chunk of the left in the US too.

In these cases, the one who stands accused has to defend themselves with one hand tied behind their back. They cannot hit back without further antagonising a substantial section of their supporters, deepening divisions within the left’s ranks. The victim of this kind of character assassination is caught in the equivalent of reputational quicksand. The more they fight, the deeper they sink.

Which is, of course, exactly what happened to the UK’s former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when he was accused of being a racist. If he or his supporters tried to challenge the claim that the party had become antisemitic overnight under his leadership – even if only by citing statistics that showed the party hadn’t – they were immediately denounced for supposed “antisemitism denial”, posited as the modern equivalent of Holocaust denial.

Notice Ken Loach, who was also on the panel, nodding in agreement as Varoufakis speaks. Because Loach, the noted leftwing, anti-racist film-maker who came to Corbyn’s defence against the confected media campaign smearing him as an antisemite, soon found himself similarly accused.

Jonathan Freedland, a senior columnist at the liberal Guardian, was among those using precisely the tactic described by Varoufakis. He tried to discredit Loach by accusing him of denying Jews the right to define their own experience of antisemitism.

Freedland sought to manipulate Loach’s anti-racist credentials against him. Either agree with us that Corbyn is an antisemite, and that most of his supporters are too, or you are a hypocrite, disowning your own anti-racist principles – and solely in the case of antisemitism. And that, QED, would prove you too are motivated by antisemitism.

Loach found himself with a terrible binary choice: either he must collude with Freedland and the corporate media in smearing Corbyn, a long-standing political ally, or else he would be forced to collude in his own smearing as an antisemite.

ORDER IT NOW

It’s a deeply ugly, deeply illiberal, deeply manipulative, deeply dishonest tactic. But it is also brilliantly effective. Which is why nowadays rightists and centrists use it at every opportunity. The left, given its principles, rarely resorts to this kind of deceit. Which means it can only bring a peashooter to a gun fight.

This is the left’s dilemma. It’s why we struggle to win the argument in a corporate media environment that not only denies us a hearing but also promotes the voices of those like Freedland trying to destroy us from the centre and those supposedly on the left like George Monbiot and Owen Jones who are too often destroying us from within.

As Varoufakis also says, the left needs urgently to go on the offensive.

We need to find ways to turn the tables on the war criminals who have been gaslighting us in demanding that Assange, who exposed their crimes, is the one who needs to be locked up.

We need to make clear that it is those who are so ready to smear anti-racists as antisemites – as Corbyn’s successor, Sir Keir Starmer, has done to swaths of Labour party members – who are the real racists.

And we need to unmask as war hawks those who accuse the anti-war left of serving as apologists for dictators when we try to stop western states conducting more illegal, resource-grab wars with such devastating results for local populations.

We must get much more sophisticated in our thinking and our strategies. There is no time to lose.

(Republished from Jonathan Cook by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Mikael_ says:

    The left, given its principles, rarely resorts to this kind of deceit.

    Yeah, right. Rarely.

    And if someone from the left uses this kind of deceit, they are usually right-wingers wearing a leftist sheepskin. Because we all know the right lies all the time, and would honestly never state what they want!

    All this proves once again that there is nobody more deluded than a true leftist.

    • Agree: Wyatt, KenR
  2. The left’s slogan should be ‘Left ≠ Baizuo’. All of these MSM are willfully engaging in regressive “left”ism to brainwash a large amount of people, who fancy themselves “left”wing into idiots complicit in destroying the actual Left. The Chinese are correct in calling these people Baizuo.

  3. And we need to unmask as war hawks those who accuse the anti-war left of serving as apologists for dictators when we try to stop western states conducting more illegal, resource-grab wars with such devastating results for local populations.

    Change “left” to “right”, and this could have been said about Charles Lindbergh in 1940.

  4. fnn says:

    And we need to unmask as war hawks those who accuse the anti-war left of serving as apologists for dictators when we try to stop western states conducting more illegal, resource-grab wars with such devastating results for local populations.

    Not much in the way of resources to grab in Syria, so what were BHO and Hillary up to when tried to destroy that country?

  5. Who is censoring the Internet?

    Who is being censored?

    The article writer seems to be stunningly deaf, dumb and blind on this issue.

    • Agree: YetAnotherAnon
  6. Ronnie says:

    This is a very important article and concept. The problem is that this logic is hard for ordinary people to grasp. I think that a good start in overcoming this problem is to first attack the Jews for the false use of the weaponized word “antisemitism” in destroying the lives of so many. As a special interest group or identity group the Jews have done us the most harm. This problem can be easily explained in words that the public understand. The concept has been used to profit the Jews and Israel at our expense and abuse. There are so many examples that are obvious and easy to reveal. If enough people start to complain the ball will start rolling and the other abuses of the left can be tacked on and explained to the public. It is a matter of survival.

  7. MarkU says:
    @fnn

    Not much in the way of resources to grab in Syria, so what were BHO and Hillary up to when tried to destroy that country?

    A) Destroying a long standing opponent of Israel and making Israel’s illegal occupation of the Golan heights more secure.

    B) Disrupting the Chinese ‘New silk road’ project.

    C) Depriving Russia of a military port.

    D) Destroying an ally of Russia and Iran.

    These are just off the top of my head.

  8. El Dato says:

    The left, given its principles, rarely resorts to this kind of deceit. Which means it can only bring a peashooter to a gun fight.

    The Guardian *is* a leftist rag! And they have no principles at all. “Writers” in the outfit seem to stand by the fax machine every day, hoping to find new scrip from one of State’s “information management” outfits to typeset and divulge to the masses.

    Maybe it’s time for a distinction between the “old school left” and “guardian left”. And I don’t want to hear anything about gays, blacks and various underserved minorities or the moral pitfalls of office water cooler discussions.

    And we need to unmask as war hawks those who accuse the anti-war left of serving as apologists for dictators when we try to stop western states conducting more illegal, resource-grab wars with such devastating results for local populations.

    We know who the war-hawks are. There is no mystery at all. It’s time to drop the old Marxist Capitalism = Colonialism canard, which was wrong even when Rosa Luxemburg was still active. Really, it’s much simpler. Let’s take a look at a map of the Middle East and …. nah we all know what’s going on.

    Notice Ken Loach, who was also on the panel, nodding in agreement as Varoufakis speaks. Because Loach, the noted leftwing, anti-racist film-maker who came to Corbyn’s defence against the confected media campaign smearing him as an antisemite, soon found himself similarly accused.

    Gee, I wonder who would be interested in called someone “antisemitic” and for what.

    Jonathan Freedland, a senior columnist at the liberal Guardian, was among those using precisely the tactic described by Varoufakis. He tried to discredit Loach by accusing him of denying Jews the right to define their own experience of antisemitism.

    Unbidden images of concentration camp cosplay come to mind. Oh God.

    What did Jonathan Freedland say exactly? Let’s hear it:

    More seriously, you would like to think that this trio, as longtime leftists, would have enough self-knowledge to recognise that, when it comes to, say, bias against women, black or LGBT people, straight, white men might not be best placed to judge. Yet, oddly, no such self-restraint seems to apply when it comes to anti-Jewish racism. Those who are not targeted suddenly feel fully entitled to tell those who are exactly what is – and what isn’t – prejudice against them.

    So according to this fermented NuMale drivel generator, if someone complains that “you are [word]ist” and you tell him she/he’s full of it, that’s cultural appropriation, especially if you are a cis white male.

    I’m about ready for some old-school nationalist socialism. That’s also old school. Is there a way around it?

    • Replies: @animalogic
  9. Swede55 says:
    @fnn

    BHO and Hillary wanted to destroy Syria so that it would no longer be able to oppose Israel of course.

  10. Ronnie says:

    The problem is that the media in the USA and in the UK is mostly Jewish controlled – the rule is simply that the media supports the government and in return the government supports Israel and the Jews. If you say anything that the Jews don’t like you will be attacked severely, usually for being an antisemite or worse. Therefore, a lot of us are going to have to fall on the sword in order to tell the truth and question their sincerity, credibility and authenticity. The fall of Corbyn was the final proof that they have won all the recent battles. Even Corbyn himself is afraid to speak out. Some honest Jews have actually said it. They use the fire blanket of being a Jew in order to protect themselves and this is indeed partially protective. For example, people such as the brilliant Jew Peter Beinart speak out against Jewish actions.

    In a fascinating part of this video Roger Waters actually says that a CIA operative came to his house and threatened him. He even names the CIA employee (now a well known executive), who said that he hoped nothing would happen to Roger, for supporting the Palestinian cause. Amazing stuff!

    In the same light, the former Greek Finance Minister said that someone in the Obama White House took him aside while he visited there, and told him that in 10 days there would be a huge attack on his character in the media. It came true, exactly as predicted. The implication was that the US government orchestrated this via their media control.

  11. @fnn

    water…if i recall correctly 80% of tela viv’s water comes from syria’s golan heights.

  12. Altai says:

    There’s no manipulation, this is a political realignment and period of moral panic borne from the ascendancy of a new religious paradigm and the expansion of a platform for faith standardisation. (Social media)

    People not being interested in industrial policy or trade isn’t because they were tricked, it’s because they genuinely aren’t interested, you won’t ever get a girl with a septum piercing who has ‘BLM’ all over her social media to ever, ever care. And given their class backgrounds, why is this a surprise? This is a political realignment that will see mainstream centre-left (And mainstream ‘far-left’) parties continue to become more and more middle and upper middle class in their outlook and concerns.

  13. Because that is what we left-wingers do.

    Yes, and by extension, this is what they allow to happen to others. It’s almost like they have been trained to ignore their natural, self-protective instincts . . a sort of reverse martial art.

  14. @El Dato

    The critical current issue is that the “PC” are — think themselves “the Left”. They are NOT. They are (at best) useful idiots for neoliberals & neo-conservatives.
    The PC are SHIT.
    The first step of the Left is anti-imperialism — those nations who consistently seek to expand their power by threats, sanctions or war. The “Left” is also identifiable by its demands that all working people (ie wage earners & small biz’ people) have their conditions protected/improved. These are just a couple suggestions of what is genuinely “left”.

    • Replies: @MarkU
    , @Peter D. Bredon
  15. Svevlad says:

    Which is exactly why the left is losing this to the swamp/oligarchy. They’re too nice – a bunch of mousey little twits. If you go around fighting “nicely” against these people, you get screwed, and deserve it, for the strong rule over the weak.

  16. MarkU says:
    @animalogic

    You are right of course, the labels ‘left’ and ‘liberal’ have been distorted in an outrageous fashion. We are truly living in an Orwellian age where our language is being corrupted. Without proper definition of terms effective communication is well nigh impossible.

  17. Minsk says:

    I disagree with the premise, in part. The left aren’t so much being manipulated into colluding with its own character assassination as they are, by nature intolerant and unable to make allowances for the defences. If the centre and the right are “illiberal” for engaging in these attacks, they are doing it because they know the left can be just as bigoted as the right, in not more so, and are even more illiberal.

  18. “We need to make clear that it is those who are so ready to smear anti-racists as antisemites … who are the real racists.”

    I think you should see how well the RINO Republicans (pre-Trump) did with “Dems R the Real Racists!” or DR3.

    “And as for the reigning status quo where the Dems accuse the Republicans of racism and the Republicans scramble to prove that they are not and lob the insult back at the Dems, well those days are long gone. In the case of the Republicans, the DR3 defense hasn’t been cutting it for at least a decade. No one cares that the Republican party freed the slaves. No one buys the argument that smaller government will help minorities succeed. “

  19. KenR says:

    The left, given its principles, rarely resorts to this kind of deceit.

    Okay, I have to admit it.
    I laughed out loud.

    • Agree: Bro43rd
  20. @animalogic

    Anti war and pro working people; these ideas may have been useful once, comrade, but now they are officially designated as “Trumpist dog-whistles.” I assume you did not get the latest memo. Don’t let it happen again.

  21. Rubicon says:

    We need to stop using Left vs Right. Instead, sum it up as those of immense wealth & power who are using PROPAGANDA to divide and sew discord between us.

    Using that principle, we then see far more clearly WHY these propagandists are doing this.
    Currently, the powers-that-be in America (including US Big Tech/Wall Street/the Military Complex/CIA, FBI, etc. are targeting Trump, his team, and Trump voters in trying to destroy their voices with some of the Big Banks threatening their money in said accounts.

    The bigger issue, once Trump leaves the state, then who will the US Oligarchy next target against the millions of other US citizens?

    Is this all part of The Great Reset as authored by the German, Karl Schwab, Bill Gates and the Davos Group?
    If so, WHY?
    Isn’t it curious that while the US/EU oligarchy is focusing on us, Russia, China, Other non-Western nations keep constructing greater trade deals amongst themselves by NOT using the very backbone (aside of the US Military) of US Hegemony: the US DOLLAR.

    That’s the puzzle piece that we’re still trying to work out.

  22. @fnn

    “Not much in the way of resources to grab in Syria, so what were BHO and Hillary up to when tried to destroy that country? ”

    That’s not hard. Look at the timing. Maidan installed a pro-nazi regime in Ukraine. Where was Russia’s Black Sea Fleet base? Crimea. There’s no other fleet anchorage to properly serve. This forced Russia to act on its long standing claim of proper sovereignty over Crimea. Till then they were happy to have Ukraine administer it.
    Simultaneously, Assad starts ‘gassing his own people’. Where did Russia have its only military base outside Russia proper? Syria. The idea of installing a Daesh regime in Syria and a Nazi regime in Ukraine was to expel Russia from it’s only way of projecting naval power outside of its own coast. This is exactly the sort of scheme Robert Kagan would cook up. And his nasty wife. People want to blame Isreal. Isreal benefits from instablity in a neighbor with irredentist territorial greivances. But the globalist Borg benefits by removing obstacles to its planned assimilation of Russia.

  23. Anon[587] • Disclaimer says:

    When you point out the race hate which drives the organised mass rape of white girls the length and breadth of England, “anti racists” like Jonathan suddenly arent so anti racist.

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