The brown scare goes after libertarians, endorses throwing rocks at Pope Benedict

                                             Once more
My quondam dean in University Hall
Stands in the breach of peace, whence he will call
Down fire on the bald, woolly heads of all
Professors of the other point of view,
Who, flanked and enfiladed and too few,
Will soon throw down their dated arms of course,
And yield themselves to a superior force
Of well-drilled intellectual police,
Sworn on honor to enforce the peace.

— L.E. Sissman, “Peace Comes to Still River, Mass.”

I got in trouble on Twitter the other day, for quoting a post by Henry Dampier. Jesse Spafford, a writer who has contributed to the flagship magazine of Brooklyn leftism, the New Inquiry, says I shared “an essay lamenting that the Nazis lost WWII.” Readers can decide whether the following passage “laments” that:

Imagining that the Nazis won World War II is a popular jumping-off point for a lot of speculative fiction. The reader is supposed to feel glad that the Nazis did not in fact, win. Unfortunately, a more brutal, cruel, and anti-human government won World War II — the Soviet Union.

This is a heterodox version of the story, maybe, but not that controversial, and certainly not the exclusive domain of Nazi apologists.’Yalta could have gone better’ is a fairly well-accepted point of view. That Dampier quote is straight out of Pat Buchanan, though by no means confined to the populist corner of the right. Or even just the right. The independent left Tribune, of which George Orwell was literary editor, objected to the Yalta agreement. And here’s Dwight MacDonald in the 1952 debate with Norman Mailer at Mount Holyoke:

… the only historically real alternatives in 1939 were to back Hitler’s armies, to back the Allies’ armies, or to do nothing. But none of these alternatives promised any great benefit for mankind, and the one that finally triumphed has led simply to the replacing of the Nazi threat by the Communist threat, with the whole ghastly newsreel flickering through once more in a second showing.

Who knew MacDonald was a Nazi apologist? I’m sympathetic to Christopher Lasch’s criticism of him famously, and grudgingly, “choosing” the West, which he lodges in The New Radicalism in America, that “to “choose” between the two, however, was to assume that conflict between Russia and the West could not be avoided. If one assumed such a conflict, one had to choose — as most people had felt obliged to choose between Hitler and the West.”

At this point, I suppose it’s worth noting that by the standards of the anti-colonial style that dominates the left today, to “choose” the West at all is to side with a kind of fascism. You’d have to ask Spafford about that one, but it is at least clear that, to our Pomona philosophy graduate, it is impossible to think both that Nazis are bad and the post-World War II peace conceded far too much to the Soviet Union; the only person who could possibly think that is a Nazi apologist. It went on like this for a while before I blocked him and he tweeted about it.

I’d go so far as to say there’s one thing about about all of this that resembles the way the Stalinist left in America behaved after Operation Barbarossa, insinuating pacifists and Trotskyites were on Hitler’s payroll. In his tweet, Spafford cc’d Michael Goldfarb, the registered foreign agent and chairman of the Free Beacon, a neoconservative website that publishes unverified, fake propaganda from Senate offices intended to gin up the case for war in Ukraine. Spafford, a committed leftist, is not only aping Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but making common cause with neoconservatives to do so. This is interesting not just because the Free Beacon is staunchly pro-Israel (Spafford thinks Israel is fascist too). It also speaks to the idea that the neoconservative and left-wing narratives about World War II are roughly the same.

Consider that Hollywood is, at present, producing a movie about the Stalinist Dalton Trumbo, and Google has sponsored New Inquiry readings, but God help you if you spare a thought for Charles Lindbergh, who actually spied on the Nazis. Does this not speak to Dampier’s point, about the communists being the real winners?

I wasn’t originally going to write anything about this dumb spat, but then I realized this guy is a consummate brown scarer; he does this all the damn time. For example, Ukraine and Russia are both full of fascists, and Cathy Young and David Frum are “apologists” for the former:

He thinks the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute are “ideologically proximate” to Nazis:

Now, I’m not sure favoriting a tweet constitutes endorsing a particular historical perspective, but since he thinks to tweet a quote is to tweet “approvingly,” I suppose it’s fair game:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 10.32.29 AM

A fine bit of commie agitprop. Smash the fash, baby. It only becomes a bit sinister when you keep in mind that he considers the Cato Institute pretty much identical to Nazis, and presumably deserves smashing too.

At a certain point, left-wing intellectualism becomes chiefly about coming up with a set of rules to justify violence or theft against other people, then expanding those rules. A good way to expand the number of groups it is acceptable to do violence to is to compare them to Nazis. Observe this exchange from about two weeks ago involving the same two writers, where they brown-bait Reason writer Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

This is a defensible point of view, I suppose, though the implications for civil society are not good.

Rest assured, “the Naomi Klein of the 21st Century” is serious about all this:

There’s a certain irony in two skinny white New Yorkers advocating vigilante violence, but in the 21st Century, it’s only natural for the intellectual class to act like a cornered animal. At some point just before Occupy, an entire generation of intellectuals woke up one morning and realized they wouldn’t be paid for their thoughts. Shortly thereafter, The New Inquiry was born. Editor Rachel Rosenfelt describes it in an interview with the LA Review of Books:

The institutions that Russell Jacoby describes in his book The Last Intellectuals — mass media, mainstream publishing, the academy, all the places which had come to employ and therefore absorb a category we had once known as the public intellectual — had atrophied across the board. As a result, the would-be academicians, editors, copy writers and advertising cronies who would once have been absorbed into those institutions suddenly constituted a surplus population.

And what is one thing these people are very good at? Deciphering crypto-fascisms and systems of oppression. As you can see, Spafford is an expert. However, you start to run into trouble if you start claiming people are Nazis who are not, in fact, Nazis. Like the Cato Institute. Or Pope Benedict:

So, I ask: Would Malcolm Harris support dispatching a team of crack antifas to Castel Gandolfo to give the 87 year-old pope emeritus a taste of social justice? If not, why not? And if it’s licit to beat up Nazis, is it also licit to beat up the “ideologically proximate” folks at the Heritage Foundation, or someone you have deemed a “Nazi apologist apologist”? If it is, are the Nazis the worst we have to fear?

Update: It seems this dingus is still at it, writing a lengthy tinfoil-hat tumblr post that uses the phrase “situating their ideas within the broader constellation” — of fascism, which again, to him, includes the Cato Institute, and “given the difficulties inherent in identifying a crypto-“fascist,” it is practically impossible to identify the specific subset of the far right with which the person in question covertly identifies,” which is, according to him, an excuse to call me a lot of names, none of which, for the record, I have any sympathy for. The argument seems to be that you can’t read or quote things further to the right of the Republican National Committee unless you’re a card-carrying antifa. But I don’t think I’ve ever quoted Evola, am disgusted by fascism, I wrote a critical piece about some of the people he mentions, and run a highly pro-Israel opinion section at TheDC. None of that matters, though, because to this guy, anyone who thinks Pat Buchanan has some smart things to say is a crypto-fascist.

This is a guy who wants to be taken seriously:

This is also rather revealing; he responds to Jonathan Chait and Freddie DeBoer’s concerns about various purgings by calling them “tiresome” and chiding them for having the gall to “adopt a negative view of ideology policing”:

In practically every setting, there is some view that is so objectionable that the policing tactics described in Chait and deBoer’s respective pieces become not only acceptable but also morally required.

There you go, I suppose. And this, despite him acknowledging that a lot of this policing goes on for selfish reasons:

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Update part II: He’s still at it! Now the argument seems to be that because I have published neoreactionaries and “liked” one of Nick Steves’ posts that actually criticizes white nationalism, neoreaction must be a nationalist front and I must be a “crypto-white-nationalist.” A lot of assumptions in here, eh? First of all, the fact that I find some neoreactionaries interesting and have published a few of them is not something I’ve ever tried to hide; whatever he thinks my views are, there is nothing “crypto” about them. I clarified that in an Umlaut post more than a year ago. I don’t have any patience for the sort of hate-spewing some far right blogs are prone to engaging in, but have no problem publishing some of the more insightful neoreactionaries provided they act like gentlemen. There are two lefties at the Mitrailleuse too, one rather radical who was at Occupy Oakland. Representing as broad a range of thinking possible has always been a goal here. Suffice it to say I am not a person that believes ideology policing is “morally required” in “practically every setting,” like Spafford does.

Part of that is my own hankering for odd thinking and insight porn. But one could make the argument that it’s actually a counter-radicalization strategy. I really do wonder if someone like Matt Heimbach would have gone full white nationalist if he hadn’t had an SPLC profile written about him every four months.

Spafford is also still holding to the, ‘well gee, if me and Michael Goldfarb think it, it must be true!’ argument. I wonder if he is aware of this video:

Unsupportable accusations of anti-Semitism are his stock in trade. He did it to Barack Obama, he did it to the New Republic, he did it to Chuck Hagel; this New York Times profile is a good reference. Slander is the line of work Goldfarb is in, and I don’t begrudge him that, but Spafford ought to know better. I note with some amusement that a recent thread on /duck/ with roughly equal credibility thinks this blog is part of some Jewish conspiracy.

Spafford’s weaselly use of language is also worth mentioning. At the beginning of this whole thing, my tweeting a quote became tweeting a quote “approvingly,” despite there being no extra commentary from me. I said in the prior update that I don’t think I had ever quoted Evola. Spafford says I did “only five months ago.” But post on my now-pretty-much-defunct tumblr is not a quote! It’s just a link to what Evola thought about drugs! So he’s just lying about that. Or that post Steves wrote, that to click the like button on something is to “explicitly endorse” everything in it. He also calls Steves’ blogging “testimony,” which says a lot about the inquisitorial role he sees himself as fulfilling. Of course, Steves doesn’t think any of the things Spafford thinks he thinks, and said so, Rob tried to clear that up too, but Spafford wants to make sure, the real question here is what *I believe* about what neoreaction is:

Never mind that Steves didn’t say what Spafford thinks he said:

Now that this argument has devolved into total stupidity — he even tweeted that his first post was “60 percent personal feud” — perhaps he might concede that, having published a few of them, I know more about what they believe than he does?

Update part III: I guess he did all his test prep through Barron’s. Hadn’t seen this before, but Michael Sacasas has already accused him of “critical-theoretical McCarthyism” so there you go:

The McCarthyism that I find implicit in your post is the sense I take that, while you’ve allowed yourself an out, the drift of your post suggests that most scientific digital dualist critics are closet bigots. You have no proof, indeed, you admit that such proof would be difficult to ascertain, but yet you suggest that the link is strong and the tendency is strong enough to suggest, if not establish, guilt.

I would emphasize that there is no proof in the same sense that you could never *prove* any political affiliation, assuming that the person in question refuses to cooperate with an investigation. Recall the white supremacist (“nationalist!) argument from my previous response. If your standard is conclusive proof, then you will be unable to meaningfully discuss a huge portion of political activity. Given this, I contend that, even if embracing non-falsifiable, non-provable charges are the only alternative, this is still preferable to willfully blinding ourselves when it comes to doing meaningful political analysis.

In addition anyone with doubts about technology, the “authoritarian” Michael Crawford, paleo dieteers, and safe space doubters are also all closet reactionaries. Defamation used to be a civil offense, now it’s a field of graduate study.

Update IV: And blond people. Christ, he’s like a bad parody of an academic leftist:

(Image source)

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