Friday 24 September 2021

Daily Blog Branded Upper-Middle-Class, Pseudo-Left, Imperialists! Who Knew?

Pythonesque: No more than the wokest of the Woke, is the Marxist Left happy to join their efforts with those of other leftists in a spirit of solidarity and comradeship. Nor are they content to let their classic interpretation of the socialist project speak for itself – winning followers by the sheer strength of its arguments and insights. Nope. Just like the Woke, they insist that their way is the only way. Dissenters aren’t just wrong, they’re bad. Exactly how bad? How much time have you got?

THERE’S A LOT TO LIKE about the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). Anyone anxious to refresh their understanding of the tone and style of unreconstructed Trotskyism is only ever a mouse-click away from the revolutionary rhetoric of the Fourth International.

That sounds catty, I know, so let me hasten to add that Trotskyism stands at the terminus of the great red river that has its beginnings in the highlands of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, flows down through the productive fields of Luxemburg and Lenin, and ends with the brilliant strategic and tactical reconsiderations of that best of Bolsheviks, Leon Trotsky.

What Trotsky would have made of the post-war world, and the Soviet Union’s emergence as a global superpower, we shall never know. A Stalinist ice-pick split open his skull in Mexico City in 1940. Undaunted, Trotsky’s disciples continue to preach the one true socialist faith. Not for them the heretical meanderings of the Frankfurt School and its incomprehensible French disciples. There’s absolutely nothing “woke” about the WSWS. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Before you get too excited, however, I feel it’s only fair to warn you that the members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) – which runs the WSWS – are afflicted to a truly remarkable degree by the besetting sin of the Marxist Left – sectarianism. No more than the wokest of the Woke, is the SEP and its stable of WSWS writers happy to join their efforts with those of other leftists in a spirit of solidarity and comradeship. Nor are they content to let their Trotskyist interpretation of the socialist project speak for itself – winning followers by the sheer strength of its arguments and insights. Nope. Just like the Woke, they insist that their way is the only way. Dissenters aren’t just wrong, they’re bad. Exactly how bad? How much time have you got?

Based in the United States, but with correspondents all over the world, the WSWS’s ability to sniff out heresy is impressive. Their man in Wellington, Tom Peters, has certainly never shied away from putting the boot into myself, The Daily Blog, and its editor, Martyn Bradbury – we’re heretics from way back

Returning to the question of tone and style, I have to say, Peters is a true pro. Reading his stately invective I was transported – positively transported – all the way back to the Soviet Show Trials of 1937!

Despite the militarist record of all parties in parliament, and Ardern’s statement welcoming AUKUS, Labour’s pseudo-left supporters are promoting the illusion that the government will stay out of the escalating preparations for war. Writing on the trade union-backed Daily Blog, columnist Chris Trotter said the government ‘will happily stay as far away from this lunacy [AUKUS] as possible.”

Pseudo-left? Pseudo-left! Honestly, Tom, I really don’t think the boys and girls down at Labour Party HQ in Wellington would accept the term “left” in relation to myself – not even with the “pseudo” prefix. They’d dismiss me as a treacherous, patriarchal, heteronormative, white supremacist, who knows nothing of what it means to be a leftist in the twenty-first century.

Oh, and unless I’m very much mistaken, Tom, The Daily Blog’s trade union “backers” pulled their dollars out a very long time ago. The site was just too spicy for their unadventurous political palettes! So, you know, consider yourself fact-checked.

But wait – there’s more. Pseudo-left was nothing. Tom was just getting warmed-up. Try this judgement from the Revolutionary Tribunal on for size:

Notwithstanding its anti-American demagogy, the Daily Blog has repeatedly echoed US propaganda against China—including the lie that the coronavirus pandemic originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The blog also depicts China as a threat to both New Zealand and the Pacific region.

“No one should be fooled by Bradbury’s claim that he wants a purely “defensive” military “independent” of the US alliance. The blog represents a layer of the upper middle class that has embraced New Zealand imperialism in the Pacific; and maintaining these neo-colonial interests depends on support from the United States and Australia.

Damn! I had no idea TDB was a front for United States propaganda! That sneaky Bradbury has obviously been squirreling away the CIA’s Bitcoin down the back of his computer! I guess that’s why Tom includes TDB’s Editor in the upper-middle-class. All Martyn’s talk about being a member of the propertyless generation – nothing but a cover-story! In reality, he owns a five-bedroom, two-bathroom villa in Remuera and a tidy little holiday home in Taupo. (That’s where he keeps his deep-laid plans for the expansion of New Zealand imperialism. En garde Samoa! En garde Tonga!)

You get the picture. It’s always the same with WSWS stories. Excellent analysis right up until the last few paragraphs, where the writers are presumably instructed by their editors to go and spoil it all by spewing needless (if unintentionally hilarious) invective all over their ideological foes.

To be fair, at least the WSWS writers keep their critiques political – I’m thinking of getting a T-shirt that says: “Genuine Pseudo-Leftist”. It’s definitely a step-up from the relentless Woke vituperation found on Twitter. Even so, I always come away from the WSWS wishing that the defenders of Leon Trotsky’s legacy would finally dispense with the self-destructive self-indulgence of sectarianism.

Just imagine how far the revolution could be advanced if the Marxist Left confined itself to spreading the word that there are still chains to be lost – still a world to win.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 24 September 2021.


Unknown said...

Thank you, Chris, for this latest column and also for your previous 'Keep New Zealand nuclear-free: Stay out of AUKUS!' They are very informative for this reader on the other side of the world.
I am puzzled when you write in this latest column, "There's a lot to like about the World Socialist Web Site"... You describe well the sectarianism and divisiveness which marks most (all?) of the present-day adherents of the Trotskyist doctrine as well as many other claimants to Marxism. In my view, this divisiveness stems from a narrow and self-centered response to the isolation and persecution, even, which the ideologues of global capitalism impose on the world and on capitalism's most vocal critics. There is also a self-inflicted wound that is important to understand. The doctrine of Trotskyism was born (circa 1928) of a rejection of the lessons of the 1917 Russian Revolution, that is, rejection of the strategy of a 'worker-peasant alliance' which Lenin and the Bolshevik Party employed to end Russia's grisly particpation in World WAr One and overthrow the Tsarist monarchy. This was further compounded by the Trotskyist movement's eventual rejection of the lessons of the successful mixed economy policy (New Economic Policy) which guided the early Soviet Union from 1921 until its premature and violent demise. NEP was ended beginning in 1928 by the new regime in the Soviet Union headed by Stalin. Trotsky was one of the most effective and powerful voices in favour of NEP at its inception. But by the time of his 1937 book The Revolution Betrayed, written as an overall assessment of the 1917 Revolution, NEP receives barely a mention! The rejection of NEP is a big reason why Trotskyist groups and other self-proclaimed Marxists scoff at today's revolutions deemed less-than-perfect--notably in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua. (Grave doubts are even being cast Cuba's way by these folks.) And it is why they have so much trouble with the idea of defending the Chinese people and government against the economic and military threats of the U.S.-led new cold war. China, is, after all, history's largest experiment in mixed economy. By far. The ultralefts are content to chant 'Revolution, now!' and leave to others the difficult work of understanding the world and figuring out how humanity can transition away from this monstrous capitalist system which threatens to destroy us all.
Roger Annis
Vancouver, Canada

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Considering this factionalism has been going on for at least 50 years, unbeknownst to conservatives who think that the left is a monolithic juggernaut, I don't think this is news. :-)

Tom Hunter said...

Well I can't speak for other Righties but I've known about it at least since watching the famous scene from The Life Of Brian around the People's Judean Front: Splitters! Splitters!.

Reading about Trotsky, Stalin and the show trials years later was not as much fun and possibly no better in their explanations.

Tom Hunter said...

Excellent analysis right up until the last few paragraphs, where the writers are presumably instructed by their editors to go and spoil it all by spewing needless (if unintentionally hilarious) invective all over their ideological foes.

Hmmm... Well I can understand your amusement/bemusement and perhaps even some eye-rolling response, but I can't thinking of the article you wrote the other day, Hi-Viz Vengeance On Melbourne’s Streets, which started off with good analysis and then finished with this:

Nor can one help speculating, just a little, that mixed-in with all this working-class fury there might also be a pretty large dose of toxic Aussie masculinity.


He who is without sin.... etc, etc.

DS said...

The Far-Left prefer being out of power. It enables them to maintain purity without ever having to worry about the messiness of actual governing.

Jens Meder said...

Dear Roger Annis.
Are you still ignorant of the reality, that the millions of humans today could not survive as mere hunters and gatherers without capitalism, i.e. agriculture and saving wealth (seeds) for security reserves, trading opportunities and profitable or hobby investments ?
And that the "social ownership of all the means of production (including labour?) would be nothing but slavery under totalitarian state monopoly capitalism, and that comrade Stalin was a physical and mental misery creative administrator of the state capitalism based socialist idea, and that for economic reasons Trotsky could not have been any different from Stalin, only that he was more ambitious in dreaming of immediate world-wide Communism through destructive and murderous revolutions ?

thesorrow&thepity said...

Chris you're one of the last of the Mohicans in terms of those on the left who care about working people.
This new PMC left is a group that's educated beyond their intelligence. Basking in the dazzling light of their own 'wokeness' they seem not to notice that they're standing there very much naked.
The whole WSWS brigade in their "we love Chinese authoritarianism & Chinese imperialism, because we hate America & the West" really shows them up as the mindless Kowtow puppets of Xi Jinping that they are

David George said...

I can understand the angst, the disillusionment Chris, the left is pretty much a complete madhouse these days.
The latest front on the culture war is the "missing white women syndrome".
Apparently there is more public interest and reporting when a European woman goes missing or murdered than a coloured woman, according to a lengthy essay in the Herald. That needs to change, you white girls that get abducted, gang raped and murdered will be lucky to make it to the deaths column now. That's what social justice means in 2021.

greywarbler said...

David George
There is a flaw in your example of the Herald publishing an article on current women's sensitivities. You connect it to thinking on the left. The NZ Herald does not represent the left but can be easily observed to champion the Right.

David George said...

Well yes grey, that is what passes for "thinking" on the left these days. It's almost like they've run out of injustices and have started, ever more desperately to create new ones out of what is often called first world problems. That particular story was from one of the Herald's overseas affiliates and is clearly grounded in the left's new toy, CRT, critical race theory; the theory that literally everything is racist, a conspiracy to advance the interests of those of a paler hue. Perhaps RCT would be more appropriate - Racial Conspiracy Theory.

It's not really a question of the bias of the Herald, that's got nothing to do with it. They have stories and opinions from both sides of the political fence and, hypocritically, are continuing to hammer the story about the murdered woman. She's not even from here.

BTW here's a link to the latest NZ media bias analysis.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh God, we still going on about critical race theory are we?. I know you won't take my word for it David, but one of your right wing heroes Ben Shapiro actually went to Harvard and studied critical race theory. He did an interview with Bill Maher and another guy, where he actually explained what it was. And although it was obvious he didn't approve of it, and although he reverted to type by squeakily talking over anyone else who tried to contradict him as usual, it wasn't a totally unfair summation. Perhaps you should listen to the man before you blag on about it again. Because at the moment you and just about anyone else on this site who comments on it are simply showing their ignorance of it.

And I know you and your fellows won't take the slightest notice of this, but this comedian gives a better analysis of the moral panic about critical race theory than most pundits – which is a shame
. And RoyWood Jr. did do an interview with one of the founders of CRT in which she explains exactly what it is which you would probably do well to watch – with an open mind.

Have none of you free speech advocates ever thought that those states in the US that are banning the teaching of critical race theory are censoring free thought? Thought not.

Not that I care about the Herald's political bias but you people never seem to read to the end of the article do you?

Anonymous said...

Yes CRT is for the wokest of the's proven, everything is indeed racist, whites are all guilty Trump-loving, gun-toting, migrant-hating rednecks and white supremacists. Whites need to now continually apologise for the colour of their skin and continue to pay and pay until we're all equal and poor.
CRT apologists now seek to back up their poison with woke Hate Speech legislation that criminalises free thinking, debate and dissent so that we all think one way only...their way. The thought police will be recruiting shortly...from the extreme Left only since they are in the right. (Sorry I know that the word 'right' is now offensive to the Woke...). Their definition of diversity is to ban, deplatform or unfriend anyone they don't agree with, pile hate onto them, then trot out a few token adherents from a minority or two to show that they really really really are tolerant and diverse.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

You know what anonymous – the whole fuss about CRT was started by one right-wing journalist who has admitted he decided to do it because he needed a stick to beat the left with. He deliberately went to Fox News and misinformed them – not that they really need that because they will lie anyway – about CRT because the American right needed a fresh doggy chew toy, -political correctness, the war on Christmas, and taking a knee at football games seemed to have lost their mojo. The idiots always need fresh meat.
You haven't got a clue what CRT is about, and like almost all critics from the right, you are showing your ignorance only yours is worse than usual. We seem to have regressed to the satanic panic of the 1980s, or the moral delinquency panic of the 1950s. Do we need another Mazengarb report? You are – to put it politely – uninformed.

David George said...

Yes Anonymous, a bigger load of nonsense than CRT is difficult to imagine, delusional and dangerous.
There's a very good book I read recently, Cynical Theories by James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose, which exposes the whole critical theory shit-show, it's origins and it's various mad manifestations: critical race theory, queer theory, post colonial theory, fat theory and so on. Fascinating but frightening that otherwise intelligent people could be attracted to this simplistic way of viewing humanity and the cultivated garden of verbiage designed to give it the illusion of a developed and credible explanation for reality.

Of course it's mana from heaven for the shameless race baiting charlatans but the fact that this nonsense is being incorporated (the queer and race parts at least) into the state indoctrination of our school children is deeply worrying. That it's being used as the justification for far reaching laws and democratic processes is truly terrifying.

Not impressed.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

David you another one who knows absolutely nothing about CRTExcept what you've seen on Fox News probably or read in the usual cynical right-wing bullshitosphere. Have you actually read anything by Kimberlé Crenshaw or Richard Delgardo? Have you read any of the critiques of it by Pyle, or Subotnik Farber and Sherry? Have you read the Marxist criticism of it by Darder and Torres? Of course you bloody haven't, you haven't investigated it much beyond the surface of the right wing blogosphere I guarantee it. I doubt you even bother to watch the interview with Crenshaw that I posted up above. You'll just form an opinion and then believe anybody who supports it. This is a manufactured crisis, a manufactured moral panic created by one journalist and Fox news essentially. And you've fallen for it.

To quote you, "Fascinating but frightening that otherwise intelligent people could be attracted to this simplistic way of viewing humanity and the cultivated garden of verbiage designed to give it the illusion of a developed and credible explanation for reality."

David George said...

“The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”

G.K. Chesterton

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference which is an elegant name for ignorance."

GK Chesterton.

John Hurley said...

Susie: When I wake up every morning, well not every morning cause it’s usually dark, but when I wake up every morning on the weekend and I open the curtains and I look into my garden and onto the water at Evans Bay, I do wonder whose land that is that I live on now. And I don’t know sometimes what the right way to engage with that is.