The Left Needs to be Critical on Russiagate


By Joe Lowndes (February 26, 2018)

I have not posted much on Russiagate out of my own ambivalence. On one hand, I am wary of the liberal investment in both fantasies of deliverance and nightmares of foreign control, as well as the uncritical trust placed in the FBI and CIA. But on the other hand, I DO think that we have to take seriously Russia’s promotion of racist, ultranationalist, and fascist political formations around the globe.

Yet, what began as a charge of collusion by Trump and the far right has now been turned on anyone to the left of Clinton (which, I suppose, should have been pretty easy to predict in retrospect). It is exactly the kind of demonology the late political theorist Michael Rogin described – a paranoid style that will always more easily be focused on the left in US politics. It is not only Sanders who is loudly being called treasonous on the basis of almost no evidence. An article in Raw Story last week blamed Al Franken’s fall not on his own well-documented history of sexual harassment, but on Russian bots.

What then happens to any movement that challenges the political center?

Will Black Lives Matter be delegitimized as a polarizing force authorized by the Kremlin? What about when high school students go after Democrats who get money from the NRA? Liberals who are drawn into this particular form of melodrama and uncritically accept this framing of the political landscape in the US will lose allies they need in battling Trump and the far right, and worse, destroy the possibility of any real political vision that can contest our dismal present. It is possible to see Russia as an imperial power with an interest in promoting polarization and supporting neo-fascist movements without believing that it has omnipotent power over domestic politics in the US.


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