Against the grayzone: the article Max Blumenthal doesn’t want you to read

The following article was originally published by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. Max Blumenthal, one of the figures discussed in it, apparently objected to the contents of the article, and rather than writing a reply pointing out where he thought the piece was inaccurate, chose to make legal threats leading to the whole article being taken down. Without wishing to necessarily endorse the writings of Alexander Reid Ross, and far less the SPLC, I think it’s important to oppose anyone trying to use legal threats to suppress criticism, and so it’s reproduced here in full. For more background on Blumenthal, see Did a Kremlin Pilgrimage cause Alternet blogger’s Damascene conversion?, List of Rebuttals to Max Blumenthal’s Anti-Syrian Article, and Notes towards a theory of Max Blumenthal.

A note on the title I’ve added: The Grayzone Project is the name of a blog part-run by Blumenthal, along with other dodgy types like Ben Norton. The “grayzone” name is apparently taken from the term ISIS use to refer to areas where Muslims and non-Muslims can co-exist peacefully, but “grayzone” is also a long-established term used by anti-fascists, particularly in Germany, to refer to music and social scenes that aren’t openly neo-nazi, but also refuse to take any kind of principled stand against them, so fence-sitting “grayzone” bands like Bakers’ Dozen, Skinfull, Pressure 28, Stomper 98 and so on are happy to share stages with out-and-out nazis. Given that Blumenthal and Norton are playing a similar role by helping to promote the perspectives of people like Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and Tim Anderson, it feels very appropriate that they’ve given themselves a name that makes them sound like the fence-sitting likes of Close Shave and Superyob.

The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment

​During his recent tour of Europe, disgraced former Trump strategist Steve Bannon declared “Italy is in the lead.”

Amid the historic resurgence of the Italian far right that returned right-wing populist Silvio Berlusconi to prominence, Bannon fantasized about “the ultimate dream” of unifying the anti-establishment Five Star Movement with the far-right League (formerly the Northern League) through a populist movement. Bannon’s international vision of nationalist populist movements is locked into the Kremlin’s geopolitical ideology of a “multipolar world.”

The League is tied through a cooperation pact to Putin’s Russia, and its deputy in charge of relations with foreign parties, Claudio D’Amico, explicitly called for a “multipolar world” in Katehon, a think tank created by fascist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin. Following the ideological line Dugin put forward in his text, Foundations of Geopolitics, Katehon calls for uniting a “Eurasian” bloc in constant struggle against “Atlanticist” countries. For Dugin, the “21st century gamble” is to create a “multipolar” confederation of “Traditionalist” regional empires united under Russian sovereignty that will overthrow the “unipolar” empire of “postmodern” democracies.

Shortly after Putin’s election in 2000, the Kremlin released a set of foreign policy guidelines calling for a “multipolar world order” against the “strengthening tendency towards the formation of a unipolar world under financial and military domination by the United States.” Escalating with the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004, the Kremlin’s production of soft-power networks throughout Europe and the United States involves- think tanksloansforumspropaganda outlets and cooperation agreements with far-right parties like the Austrian Freedom Party and the League. From Russia to Iran to Western Europe and the U.S., this international movement uses conspiracy theories and “gray material” to warp the political spectrum into a populist referendum along “geopolitical” terms set by fascist engagées.

Red and brown polarities

As a recent major report on syncretic networks exposed, the modern fascist movement’s obsession with geopolitics emerged in force amid the post-Cold War antiglobalization movement. In 2002, a front group formed out of the U.S.-based Workers’ World Party known as the International Action Center joined forces with the Assisi-based “Campo Antimperialista.” As Duginists infiltrated the Campo, opening a journal called Eurasia that garnered the influential involvement of Campo participant Costanza Preve, the International Action Center continued their cooperation.

Soon, a similar Russian group called the Anti-Globalist Resistance began to repost the Campo’s dispatches. Sharing support for Milosevic with the Campo and the International Action Center, the Anti-Globalist Resistance emerged simultaneously with the same tendency to fight globalization by linking far-right to hard-left. In 2008, they brought the Campo to Moscow for the third “All-Russia Anti-Globalist Forum,” introduced by long-time U.S. fascist Lyndon LaRouche. The next year’s conference included Duginist leaders like Leonid Savin and retired General Leonid Ivashov, along with LaRouche and Holocaust denier Israel Shamir.

As their work continued, the Campo and Anti-Globalist Resistance drew more anti-globalization activists into their syncretic orbit. In 2012, a group came together at a Campo Antimperialista event in Assisi and developed what would become the Syria Solidarity Movement. The movement’s steering committee came to include top figures from groups from the U.S. hard left, including the Workers World Party, its affiliate, ANSWER and a spinoff of the latter group called the Party of Socialism and Liberation.

After changing their name to the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, the group drew people from the Syria Solidarity Movement’s network to a conference called the “Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Building a Multipolar World” in 2014. A delegate from the International Action Center attended, along with delegates from another Workers World Party front group called United Anti-War Coalition, including an editor with the Black Agenda Reportnamed Margaret Kimberly. Among the conference’s other attendees were Michael Hill of the neo-Confederate League of the South and the Texas Nationalist Movement, as well as the far-right Republika of Srpska and National Bolshevik Italian Communitarian Party.

The following year, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia met with a purported Cherokee Nation elder named “Mashu White Feather” and a representative of the Uhuru Movement, also connected to the Black Agenda Report. They then organized a state-funded conference that drew members of the fascist Italian group Millenium, Mutti’s associate Antonio Grego, and a leading member of the far-right Rodina party, as well as representatives of separatist groups like the Texas Nationalist Movement and the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party. The now-notorious troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, would later invite the Texas Nationalist Movement to join an armed, Islamophobic protest launched by the fake “Heart of Texas,” while also inciting counter-protestors.

This network map shows the flow of movement building from parties to front groups to participation in and creation of syncretic coalitions.

The Syria connection

The Syria Solidarity Movement lists on its steering committee a host of syncretic figures like DuginistNavid Nasr and an Australian representative of the fascist-modeled Syrian Social Nationalist Party affiliateMussalaha. Before a report revealed her associations with Global ResearchRon Paul and the right-wing British Constitution Party, conspiracy theorist Vanessa Beeley held a position on the steering committee as well.

As an editor at the alt-right-associated conspiracy theory site, 21stCenturyWire, Beeley’s repeated conspiracy articles attempting to link the White Helmets to al Qaeda and George Soros earned her a visit with Assad in Damascus and senior Russian officials in Moscow; however, they have been thoroughly debunked. A defender of right-wing Hungarian president Viktor Orban, Beeley promotes antisemites like Gilad Atzmon and Dieudonné, even speaking at a conference hosted by the latter in partnership with notorious Holocaust denier Laurent Louis. Regardless, the Syrian Solidarity Movement and the associated Hands Off Syria Coalition recommend Beeley’s work.

Along with members of the Syria Solidarity Movement, delegates who attended the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia’s “Multipolar World” conference sit on the Hands off Syria Coalition’s steering committee. Showing its commitments and affinities, in January 2016, the Hands Off Syria Coalition published a “Multipolar World Against War” statement signed by the leader of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Alexander Ionov.

Similarly, the Hands Off Syria Coalition website publicizes self-described Marxist, Tim Anderson, who has an interesting record of attending far-right conferences. In 2015, Anderson attended the far-right Brandherd Syrien Congress, and the next year he was at Defend Our Heritage’s Leura Forum, chaired by a leader of far-right party Alternative for Germany. Following that, Anderson’s pet project, Center of Counter Hegemonic Studies, convened a conference that brought in Paul Antonopoulos, an editor for the Duginist website Fort Russ.

The Hands Off Syria Coalition advertises Anderson’s book, The Dirty War on Syria, which is published by syncretic conspiracist site Global Research. Multiple “Research Associates” of Global Research sit on the “scientific committee” of the Campo-linked Duginist journal Geopolitica, and the site lists as its “partner media group” the Voltaire Network. Publishing LaRouchite and Duginist articles, the Voltaire Network boasts the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs as its Vice President. One of the Voltaire Network’s leading contributors is Mikhail Leontyev, an associate of Dugin who has moved from prominent media personality to the role of spokesman for Russian state oil company, Rosneft. The Syria Solidarity Movement publishes Voltaire Network articles by founder Thierry Meyssan, a contributor to Campo-linked journal Eurasia who associates with Holocaust deniers and open fascists, among others.

Hands Off Syria Coalition steering committee member Issa Chaer joined Meyssan on a panel at the Second New Horizons conference in Iran in 2012. Conference speakers that year included World Workers Party member Caleb Maupin, Alt Right journalist Tim Pool, Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett, and Duginists like Voltaire Network associate Mateusz Piskorski, German editor Manuel Ochsenreiter, Leonid Savin, and Claudio Mutti the leading fascist infiltrator of the Campo Antimperialista. The banner image for last year’s New Horizon features Aleksandr Dugin.

Multipolar propaganda

According to the metrics search engine BuzzSumo, most of the leading articles with the terms “multipolar world” and “multi-polar world” in the title come from an interconnected network of sites, including Global Research, The Duran and Sign of the Times. With an estimated six million unique daily views per month, the biggest and most influential in this network is the Russian state-run media site Sputnik News.

Billing itself as pointing “the way to a multipolar world that respects every country’s national interests, culture, history and traditions,” Sputnik frequently publishes PiskorskiOchsenreiter, Mutti’s fellow Campo infiltrator Tiberio Graziani, commentator Andrew Korybkoand Fort Russ editor Joaquin Flores. Furthermore, Sputnik has joined RT in consistently using dubious sources affiliated with the Syria Solidarity Network to attack the White Helmets and throw doubt on the Assad regime’s war crimes, for instance its use of chemical weapons.

A syncretic hub on Sputnik, anti-imperialist John Wight’s podcast, “Hard Facts,” promotes the same figures associated with the pro-Assad network in the West, including Beeley, Anderson, and Nasr. Perhaps most interestingly, Wight also hosted trans-national far-right figure, Edward Lozansky during the 2016 election and again early the next year.

With more than 30 years of involvement in the U.S. and Russian far right, Lozansky is perhaps most known as the creator of the American University in Moscow. Boasting a number of Fellows involved in pro-Kremlin media outlets like The Duran, RT and Russia Insider, the American University in Moscow appears to be an ideological center in the concerted social media campaign associated with the Internet Research Agency to boost anti-Clinton, pro-Kremlin propaganda in the U.S. Lozansky also hosts conferences with known fascist ideologues and an annual “Russia Forum” featuring far-right politicians and left-wing media operators from Russia and the U.S.

During both of his pro-Putin, pro-Trump interviews with Lozansky on “Hard Facts,” Wight advocated “a multipolar alternative to the unipolar world,” insisting, “we’re talking about a struggle for a multipolar world to replace the unipolarity that has wreaked so much havoc since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.”

The most important anti-imperialist hub on Sputnik, however, is hosted by Brian Becker, whose fellow party member and brother sits on the steering committee for the Syria Solidarity Movement. The leader of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Becker regularly hosts Fellows of the American University in Moscow on his Sputnik podcast, “Loud & Clear.”

“Loud & Clear”‘s Lozansky-affiliated guests include far-right PR man Jim Jatras, Mark Sleboda of the Dugin-founded Center for Conservative Studies, the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams and Alexander Mercouris of the syncretic conspiracist site, The Duran. The program also provides a platform to a variety of explicitly far-right guests, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, antisemite Alberto Garcia Watson, alt-right figure Cassandra Fairbanks and militia movement leader Larry Pratt.

Aside from marginal guests, Loud & Clear can bring on some heavy hitters. During his two appearances on “Loud & Clear” in late 2017, bestselling author Max Blumenthal called the red-brown radio show “the finest public affairs programming” and declared, “I am increasingly turning to RT America for sanity.” No stranger to Sputnik, Blumenthal also went on “Hard Facts” that August, claiming that notorious ISIS militant Mohammed Emwazi was ushered into the Syria conflict by the CIA via a “rat line” from Saudi Arabia.

This Venn diagram suggests that certain syncretic groups exist as containers for the intersection of right and left wing groups, ideologies.

Highway to the Grayzone

Around the same time he went on “Loud & Clear,” Blumenthal appeared on Tucker Carlson‘s FOX News show to defend RT — his second time on the far-right show that year. Blumenthal’s RT appearances have been praised by white nationalists like Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., who murdered three people outside of a Jewish Community Center in 2014, so his courting of the right on FOX drew considerable backlash.

Two months later, Blumenthal offered up a staunch defense of “Russia’s position in the world” to author Robert Wright in an interview on bloggingheads. Admitting that Putin’s Russia remains far from left-wing, Blumenthal justified support for the country’s authoritarian conservative government as “part of the multipolar world.”

“If you believe in a multipolar world,” Blumenthal told Wright, “you believe in détente, you believe in diplomacy.” He specifically mentioned Becker’s Party for Socialism and Liberation and groups like it, arguing that they “tend to get all the major issues right regardless of their ideology or agenda.”

Blumenthal was not as clear of a spokesperson for Kremlin geopolitics before he appeared at the same RT gala as disgraced former National Security advisor Michael Flynn and the Green Party’s Jill Stein in December 2015. During that occasion, he joined a panel called “Infowar: Will there be a winner” alongside Alt Right anti-Semite Charles Bausman of Russia Insider. A month later, Blumenthal’s pro-Kremlin position crystalized with the founding of the Grayzone Project.

Grayzone is a collaborative project also featuring journalist Benjamin Norton, who cosigned the Hands Off Syria Coalition’s points of unity statement along with Beeley and others. After going on “Loud & Clear” with Duginist Mark Sleboda and Infowars regularRay McGovern, Norton plugged the Party for Socialism and Liberation on a podcast episode titled “Hands off Syria.” With other Grayzone contributors, Norton has been criticized for downplaying war crimes and helping publicize false theories about rebels contaminating Damascus’s water supply.

When reached for comment by email, Norton retorted, “I know your goal is to outlandishly smear anyone who opposes US imperialism and is to the left of the Clintons as a ‘crypto-fascist,’ while NATO supports actual fascists whom you care little about.”

Grayzone is perhaps best known for Blumenthal’s controversial two-part article attacking the White Helmets, which brought accusations of plagiarism from Beeley. Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek had, Beeley insisted, “pumped me for information on the [White Helmets] and then Max wrote the article.”

While Blumenthal may have repeated some of Beeley’s theories, Beeley cannot be seen as a credible source. Regardless, Khalek has since used a questionable interview sourced from Beeley as evidence that the White Helmets “were deeply embedded in al Qaeda.”

Grayzone recently announced their move from independent news site AlterNet to The Real News Network, a left-wing site with a penchant for 9/11 truther inquiries. Neither Blumenthal nor Khalek responded to efforts to reach them for comment.

Right uses left

Through its amplification of an interlinked, multi-centered network organized around institutions like Lozansky’s American University in Moscow and the Voltaire Network and conferences like Moscow’s “Multi-Polar World” and Tehran’s “New Horizons,” syncretic networks associated with Dugin’s Eurasianist ideology have combined distortions and ambiguities into a geopolitical narrative meant to confuse audiences and promote authoritarian populist opposition to liberalism.

The “gray measures” used to deny the Kremlin’s influence operations may seem dubious when delivered through channels like Sputnik that are, themselves, political technologies of far-right political influence. When cycled through “narrative laundering” of secondary and tertiary networks enhanced by trolls and coordinated influence operations, however, propaganda is “graywashed” of its dubious sources and presented as cutting-edge journalism.

As shown with Figure 3, think tanks like Katehon and connected Russian Institute for Strategic Studies develop strategies for media spin and online promotion through influence groups and botnets. These think tanks engage in feedback loops with Russian state media channels and linked syncretic news sites, amplified through social media with the help of botnets, and eventually reaching more legitimate sources often freed of their dubious sourcing. The results are explored by a recent study from Data and Society called Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online: “Online communities are increasingly turning to conspiracy-driven news sources, whose sensationalist claims are then covered by the mainstream media, which exposes more of the public to these ideas, and so on.”

A conceptual model made in Vensim intended to present the workings of “Graywashing.”

The problem with multipolarism, aside from assuming polarity as a useful prescription, may be that it supports not the emergence of Russia as a world power but the rise of the Kremlin’s authoritarian conservative political ideology. In this, multipolarists tend to support other authoritarian regimes and movements from Iran to Syria to Italy. Although anti-imperialists may believe that these measures land them on the right side of history, taking stock of the fascist movement suggests that the strategy of opposing a liberal order through red-brown populist collaboration makes the left a willing accomplice.

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UCU strike – quick updates

Two quick pieces of news from the current UCU dispute:

The latest edition of the University Worker rank-and-file bulletin, with updates on the situation now the stitch-up deal’s been beaten, is out now, ready for the rest of this week’s picket lines.

The current list of student occupations in support of the strike now stands at Exeter, Bath, Dundee, Aberdeen, Cambridge, Queen Mary, York, Stirling, Sheffield, Reading, Edinburgh, Kings College London, and Surrey, with unconfirmed rumours about Queens in Belfast – see Occupations Hub to keep up with that angle.

Posted in Occupations, Strikes, Students | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Black Panther/Black Liberation prisoner Herman Bell to be freed after 45 years!

In a message from Herman Bell’s family posted today, it was confirmed that: “A respected elder, Herman Bell, was granted parole having met all the criteria for release according to his sentence. The parole commissioners recognized his progress after serving nearly 45 years in prison and granted his parole application. He is looking forward to being reunited with his family and friends. We welcome him home.” His expected release date is April 17th.

As Herman Bell was convicted of shooting a cop during the early 1970s conflict between the police and the Black Panthers/Black Liberation Army, the news of his parole is a serious defeat for the police unions that have sought to make sure that no-one who shoots a cop ever makes parole, and pro-cop media outlets like the New York Post are currently going through paroxysms of rage that this old man won’t be forced to die in prison. His co-defendant, Jalil Muntaqim, comes up for parole in June, and is currently asking people to sign this petition in support of his release.

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UCU strike: the stitch-up melts down

On Monday night, it seemed like the UCU strike over pensions could be about to end in a humiliating climbdown, as union leadership recommended acceptance of a crap deal that would have increased the financial burden on staff, required them to make up all time lost during the strike, and postponed rather than resolved any of the key issues, and the newspapers started churning out headlines like “University lectures’[sic] strike is off as both parties walk back pension demands” and “Lecturers suspend university strike action after pension deal“.

This brought about an immediate, furious reaction from rank-and-file strikers, with branch after branch holding emergency meetings to reject the deal, huge numbers signing an open letter against the stitch-up, and big crowds surrounding UCU headquarters, causing the union leadership to completely reverse their position and confirm the strike is still on, with plans for more action in the works.

Meanwhile, the wave of student action in solidarity with the strike continues, with occupations currently in force at Exeter, Bath, Dundee, Aberdeen, Cambridge, Queen Mary, Reading, York, Edinburgh, and the Slade School of Fine Art. And reports of a blockade of UUK headquarters in Bloomsbury.

A few events over the next few days: Wednesday will see a mass demo in London and a welcoming committee for Universities UK in Nottingham, on Thursday there’s a big mobilisation planned for Sussex, which has already succeeded in officially shutting down the campus for the day, and on Friday Goldsmiths UCU will be hosting a national activist meeting for all branches.

A few resources that might be useful: a new strike solidarity blog’s been set up, the University Worker people are still producing new rank-and-file bulletins, but understandably struggling to keep up with the pace of events, and the Dinosaur of Solidarity picture book narration of the strike is quite charming.

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Call for solidarity with Russian anarchists on March 18th


March 18 – act in solidarity with Russian anarchists!

During the last months, Russian secret services have arrested several anarchists and antifascists in Penza and Saint-Petersburg cities. They were accused of conspiring to organize a “terrorist organization”. The arrested were . The officers humiliated our arrested comrades. They tried to force them to testify against themselves and against each other. These true Gestapo actions of Russian FSB secret service can evoke only vigorous protest from every honest person.

The international solidarity action week on February 7-12 exposed wide reaction of the anarchist movement worldwide to these repressions and made considerable media effect in Russia. But it seems to be not enough to overcome the situation. Very soon, it became known that some of arrested anarchists were tortured and intimidated again. The FSB officers demanded that they stop participating in the campaign of resistance against tortures and repressions. Moreover, after solidarity actions took place in Russia, the police launched repressions against those who took these actions. Our comrades were prosecuted in and . Anarchists in Chelyabinsk were again tortured with electricity by the police, while being accused of “hooliganism” (!). Simultaneously with the arrests in Saint-Petersburg, FSB raids and arrests against anarchists were made in the Crimea.

It is necessary to continue and strengthen the campaign of solidarity to force Russian authorities to end tortures and political repressions. The best day for new actions is March 18: the day of presidential elections in Russia. In this day, the ruling regime is the most vulnerable and the eyes of the world will be turned to the situation in our country.

We urgently and desperately call to all anarchist, leftist, antifascist and democratic groups and communities all over the world to organize actions of protest and resistance of any kind against tortures and repressions in Russia: by the embassies, consulates and other official offices of Russian Federation in your countries.

Our slogans are

  • FSB is the main terrorist!
  • Your electricity won’t kill our ideas!
  • Freedom for Russian anarchists and antifascists!

There’s also a slightly different callout here, along with various pieces of media related to the case. For more background information, you can listen to this interview. You can donate directly to help the anti-repression work of the Moscow Anarchist Black Cross via paypal at (it’s best to send euros).

Addresses of anarchist prisoners currently being held by the Russian state are:

St. Petersburg:

191123, St. Petersburg, Shpalernaya St., 25 PKU SIZO-3 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia

Shishkin Igor Dmitrievich
Filinkov Victor Sergeevich

In Penza:

PKU SIZO-1, st. Karakozova, 30, Penza, Penza region, Russia, 440039

Shakursky Ilya Alexandrovich

Pchelintsev Dmitry Dmitrievich

Chernov Andrey Sergeevich

Sagynbaev Arman Dauletovich

Alexander Kolchenko:

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kolchenko
ul. Kemerovskaya, 20, IK-6
Chelyabinskaya oblast

Moscow ABC warn that prisoners in Russia and Belarus usually can not receive letters in foreign languages, so if you don’t speak much Russian, your best bet is to run whatever you want to say through google translate and then scribble it down in your best Cyrillic handwriting, or to send a postcard and just sign your name.

Solidarity across borders, now and forever.

Posted in Anarchists, Repression | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Updates on Black Liberation prisoners Ruchell Cinque Magee and Robert Seth Hayes

Ruchell Cinque Magee, the sole survivor of the 1970 Marin County Courthouse rebellion which attempted to free George Jackson, and former co-defendant of Angela Davis, has an upcoming parole date. As he’s served more than 25 years, and is well over 60 years old, he’s eligible for release due to a judge’s order designed to reduce the California prison population. He advises:

Peoples concerned can write a plain letter to: Board of Parole Hearings, CMC-1 Hwy, Office of the Board, San Luis Obispo, CA 93409. Your letter must be titled: File No. A92051, Magee, R. Make a plain claim that Ruchell has a three-judge order right to release – as opposed to whether the Board should or should not find him suitable based on loopholes and a misplaced sense of fair play.

In addition, it will be his 79th birthday on March 16th, so if you’d like to send him a quick card wishing him a happy birthday, you can send it to:

Ruchell Cinque Magee, A-92051, B3-270, P.O. Box 8101, San Luis Obispo, CA 93409, USA.

Meanwhile, over in New York, Robert Seth Hayes, an elderly Black Panther/Black Liberation Army prisoner who suffers from diabetes, is having problems with medical neglect yet again. The Jericho Movement report:

As people know, ensuring that Robert Seth Hayes receives adequate medical care has been an ongoing struggle over the past 20 years.

Seth reports that, when he went to change the sensor on his insulin pump (sensors must be changed every 6 days) on February 23, 2018, he was informed that Sullivan did not have any sensors at the facility.

So for two weeks now, Seth does not have a continuous glucose monitoring device (the sensor continuously reads interstitial glucose levels and relays them to the monitor) and has had to rely on his daily finger sticks to determine his sugar levels. Once again, NYS DOCCS is violating Seth’s constitutional and human right to adequate health care, in additon to being in stark violation of the United Nations Nelson Mandela Rules on the treatment of prisoners.

The whole point of Seth’s having the insulin pump/monitor is because he can no longer tell when his sugars are high or low. It is hard to believe that “medical” personnel at Sullivan have once again failed to order the necessary sensors in a timely fashion.

Please call, write and fax the following people to demand that all supplies for Robert Seth Hayes #74A2280’s insulin pump be adequately stocked at the Sullivan clinic. Be polite but firm. Feel free to email to let us know what response you receive. Staff at Sullivan usually state that Superintendent Keyser will not take phone calls and that all complaints must be in writing. If that is the case, ask to speak with guidance and ask for Seth’s counsellor.

Carl J. Koenigsmann M.D.
Deputy Commissioner/Chief Medical Officer
NYS DOCCS Division of Health Services
Harriman State Campus, Building #2
1220 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12226-2050
Phone: 518-457-7073
Fax: 518-445-7553

Anthony J. Annucci
Acting Commissioner
Harriman State Campus, Building #2
1220 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12226-2050
Phone: (518) 457-8126

Superintendent Keyser
Sullivan Correctional Facility
325 Riverside Drive
Fallsburg, New York 12733
(845) 434-2080

A sample script you could use would be:

I am contacting you to say that I have been informed that, as of February 23rd 2018, when inmate Robert Seth Hayes #74A2280 went to change the sensor on his insulin pump (sensors must be changed every 6 days), he was told that Sullivan did not have any sensors at the facility.
The whole point of his having the insulin pump/monitor is because he can no longer tell when his sugars are high or low. It is hard to believe that “medical” personnel at Sullivan have once again failed to order the necessary sensors in a timely fashion.
I demand that all supplies for Robert Seth Hayes #74A2280’s insulin pump be kept adequately stocked at the Sullivan clinic so that inmate Hayes can receive the medical care he needs.

Thank you,

Also, Akeem Paige, a radical prisoner in North Carolina, is suffering from a prostate infection and struggling to get adequate medical treatment. He requests that people take a minute to call in to the administration at Scotland CI at (910) 844-3078 to request that:

“Akeem Paige still be given his colon exam, and all appropriate follow-up treatment” and that you are “paying attention to any instance of medical neglect or mistreatment.”

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They point their fingers at America: a reply on US strategy and false regionalisms

From “anti-imperialism” to school shooting conspiracy theories.

(For context: this is part of an ongoing discussion about leftist “anti-imperialist”/anti-American narratives. This is a response to an article called “False Regionalisms”, which is in turn partly a response to an earlier piece I’d written, and so on.)

Introducing his argument about “false regionalisms”, Higgins claims that those of us who prefer internationalism over the imperial purity approach want “to suggest that the US does not have a larger strategy in West Asia. Instead… US actions are largely contradictory, confused, or improvised.”

I don’t deny the existence of a US strategy, but I view it as being constrained by external factors – I seem to remember that someone once said something about people making history, but not doing it exactly as they please, because they do it under conditions given to them by the past, which seems relevant here. The attempt to factor in these kinds of external constraints is one of the most basic dividing lines separating a materialist worldview from illuminati NWO lizard stuff.

To take a few specific examples: undoubtedly, the US ruling class found 9/11 a very convenient pretext to exploit when pursuing their pre-existing agenda, but was it an unexpected event to which they responded, or, as prominent anti-imperialists like Michael Chossudosky of Global Research argue, was it something that they planned all along? Similarly, US politicians are happy to exploit tragedies like the Sandy Hook and Parkland massacres to further their domestic aims, but does this mean, as Assad supporters like Alex Jones and White Helmets Exposed claim, that these massacres never really happened and were staged by the elite as part of their strategy? Or how about the Holocaust – again, it’s certainly an event which the Israeli ruling class is very willing to invoke in order to prop up its legitimacy, but should this lead us to conclude, as the likes of Kevin Barrett, Ryan Dawson or Israel Shamir claim, that the whole thing was a hoax manufactured by a sinister Zionist conspiracy as part of their strategy?

These are not just idle questions: serious political implications follow from the answers. Personally, as someone who opposes the US and Israeli ruling classes but doesn’t believe that they’re directly responsible for every bad thing that happens in the world, I’m glad that there’s a clear political gulf between me and the InfoWars/Red Ice/21st Century Wire/Global Research crowd on these issues.

We could also add the ascent of Trump, when the mainstream of the US state and capital, as represented by figures such as Colin Powell, George Bush Sr, John Negroponte, and former CIA head Michael J Morrell, clearly favoured Clinton as the candidate most suited to maintaining the long-term stability of the empire, as proof that US strategists sometimes have to contend with events that they didn’t directly mastermind, if proof of such a very basic fact is really needed.

Moving on, Higgins engages with the criticism that nation-states are always sites of class struggle, but somehow manages to read this as if the point was just that he doesn’t spend enough time scrutinising the US. But by just talking about the US state’s ability to act as a unified actor, he misses the vital point that his state-focused geopolitics erase the class dynamics at work inside the countries that are targeted by the US strategy, so, for instance, Assad’s state can be taken as simply representative of “the Syrian people” with no further questions asked.

His attempt at nuance on the subject of Israel is, once again, focused entirely on that country’s state and ruling class, glossing over the question of whether class conflict exists inside Israel. Is there any potential for Israelis to be part of anti-imperialist/anti-war/anti-Zionist movements? How should we assess IDF refuseniks or groups like Anarchists Against the Wall? Certainly, it seems that if those living at the very heart of the imperial beast – for instance, grad students whose research is funded by an imperial institution like the University of Houston, home to the Department for Homeland Security’s Borders, Trade and Immigration institute – can come to an anti-imperialist consciousness, it seems only fair to extend the same possibilities to Israelis. But there’s no hint of such complexities and contradictions in the kind of writing that just talks of “Israel as an entity” and “Zionist state managers”, and refuses to approach the question of whether people in Tel Aviv can achieve the kinds of consciousness that those living in Houston can.

Apparently operating under the misapprehension that he has to convince me that US military intervention is a bad thing, Higgins offers up a list of wars including “the Black September War of 1970; the October War of 1973; the Lebanese War of the 1970s and 1980s…” adding that “In some of these wars, the US provided military aid: to… the Phalangist-led Lebanese state (against the PLO and allied Lebanese National Movement)”.

If Higgins wants to talk about things like the Lebanese War of the 1970s and 1980s, then certainly, let’s talk about the Lebanese War of the 1970s and 1980s. Let’s talk about the War of the Camps. Let’s talk about the bombardment of Palestinian refugees at Tripoli. If we’re talking about imperialist forces providing military aid to Lebanese Phalangists, then let’s talk about imperialist forces providing military aid to Lebanese Phalangists, for instance at Tel Al-Zaatar. If joining with the Israeli military or Lebanese fascists to carry out mass slaughter is disgusting when the US does it – and it most certainly is – then it’s disgusting when anyone does it.

One wonders what kind of observer looks at things like the War of the Camps, and the joint Syrian-Israeli bombardment of Tripoli, and sees only the hand of the US, with apparently no other actors present.

In response to my earlier article, where I pointed out the case of the Saudi-Qatar confrontation as an example of a situation that cannot be satisfactorily explained by Higgins’ preferred US-centric narrative, Higgins gives an extended consideration of Qatar’s relationship with Hamas, adding that “Qatar’s contact came… amid inter-regional jockeying and competition”.

This is actually a really important breakthrough for Higgins, and reading it makes me feel like a proud teacher. It took a lot of prodding, but Higgins has finally acknowledged the fact that various non-US, and indeed non-Israeli, ruling class cliques and factions exist in their own right. This may be a fairly basic point, but it’s one that took Higgins a long time to grasp, so I’m very proud that it seems to have finally clicked.

In the following paragraphs, Higgins gives an overview of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood showing an impressive ability to recognise that not everything revolves directly around the US, and adds that even in the exceptional case of Saudi-Qatari tensions “the Palestinian issue… remains paramount”. We can ask whether it’s the only issue, and whether Saudi Arabia issued any other demands to Qatar dealing with other points, but on the whole I think this section shows Higgins making some real progress in coming to terms with the fact that non-US actors exist, so I would like to thank him for acknowledging and confirming my point.

Next, he discusses Egypt, mentioning that Egypt’s “head of state… invites Israeli bombings in Egyptian territory of the Sinai. This is a case of neocolonialism par excellence.” Again, I certainly have no wish to defend Egypt’s rulers, but I am curious as to how we should classify the actions of a certain other state during, say, the slaughter at Tel Al-Zaatar, or the Israeli bombardment of Tripoli.

But again, I’m glad to see Higgins note that understanding recent Egyptian and Palestinian history means understanding how they were affected by “a conjunction of “external” and “internal” factors”. This is a really positive development from his earlier piece, which appeared to only see external factors, and only US-shaped ones at that.

But the temptation to slide back to state-focused geopolitics is still there: Higgins talks about “the trajectory of the Arab Republic of Egypt from its revolutionary high point between 1956 and 1967, to its subsequent Thermidor culminating in the Camp David Accords of 1979” and concedes that “it is certainly easy to make critiques of Egyptian leadership by noting how the 1956 victory was attained through the mobilization of popular militias, standing on guard to defend the Egyptian homeland against imperialist invasion, while the 1967 defeat lacked a strategic resort on behalf of the periphery nation to People’s War.”

Is an insufficiently inventive military strategy the only thing that Egypt’s ruling class can be criticised for during those years? Did anything happen inside Egypt during that time that might be worth considering? I have no particular fondness for the Communist Party of Britain, but if Theresa May outlawed them and jailed much of their membership, I might well consider it to be a point worth mentioning in my assessment of her career.

Moving on to Yemen, Higgins then professes his outrage at the thought that the Saudi ruling class could be considered actors in their own right and not just simply treated as an outgrowth of the US. Arguing against what he sees as my “underestimation… of the US contribution”, he asks “why has the US stepped in… to bomb Yemeni targets directly whenever it has deemed the Saudi Air Force unfit for the task?”

Which I think rather supports my point – if we were talking about a war where the US carried out the majority of the bombing, with the Saudi Air Force stepping in on occasion, I wouldn’t hesitate to characterise it as a US air war with the Saudi state playing a supporting role; but seeing as the Saudi Air Force is doing the vast majority of the bombing, with the US stepping in on occasion, calling it a US-backed Saudi war seems entirely accurate.

He then adds a quote about how “the Obama administration went ahead with a $1.3 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite warnings from some officials that the United States could be implicated in war crimes for supporting a Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians.” Again, this is literally providing further evidence to support my description of it as a US-supported, Saudi-led campaign.

Higgins warns that “destruction is intrinsic to the entire U.S. imperialist enterprise… as long as the United States is an empire, there will be smaller and weaker nations reduced to rubble and flames.” This I would wholeheartedly agree with, but surely it’s possible to take the logic much further: unless we think that, say, Britannia, Spain, France or Portugal ruling the waves was that much better, it would be simpler and clearer to say that “destruction is intrinsic to the entire imperialist enterprise… as long as there is an empire, there will be smaller and weaker nations reduced to rubble and flames.”

Higgins praises Yemeni protests in solidarity with Palestinians, and reproaches me for seeming to view Yemen and Palestine as far-off and entirely separate countries. I think Higgins is operating a serious double standard here (“Yemeni solidarity with Palestinians? Great! US solidarity with Syrians? Warmongering imperialists!”), but I’m acutely conscious that, when responding to a double standard, there’s a risk of just inverting and so reproducing it, so it’s worth being careful here: I am always in favour of people (Americans, Yemenis, or whoever else) showing their solidarity with people resisting oppression anywhere, whether that’s in Palestine, Syria or anywhere else.

On the other hand, I’m also very much aware that our main enemy is always at home, and stirring up resentment against a foreign enemy has traditionally been a favoured method of social control, used to distract attention from domestic problems – in the US, that’s often been Russia, but could also be one of a number of other countries, in many Arab states, the enemy of choice has often been Israel, the Israeli ruling class have similarly encouraged Israeli workers to take aim at their neighbours, and so on.

This means that, for ordinary people in those countries, if we want to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters being oppressed by a state that our state is currently hostile to, we need to navigate the tension of making sure our movement is independent of those elements of “our own” ruling class who wish to co-opt it and redirect it into nationalism and militarist war-fever.

The challenge of recognising that our immediate enemy is always at home, but our friends are everywhere, and so their enemies are our enemies too, can be a fairly complex one at times, but it’s vital.

In closing, Higgins proclaims his opposition to “false regionalisms”, which encourage Arab peoples to see themselves as “distinctly Palestinian, Jordanian, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, etc”, instead of forming a pan-Arab movement. But that’s the whole point, false regionalisms have to be defeated, and solidarity has to be forged beyond just a single ethnic group. Having a class perspective means that we can recognise that working-class Arabs have shared interests not only with each other, and not only with their Kurdish, Turkish or Iranian neighbours, but, crucially, that common cause and sense of solidarity has to be forged, as difficult as it may be at times, with Israeli, British and indeed US workers as well.

False regionalism is to say that we can support the Stansted defendants against the cops, or the Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers, or Ahed Tamimi, or the likes of Kris Thompson or the Michigan antifascists, but that we’re not allowed to have the same response to Viktor Filinkov, Yelena Gorban and Alexei Kobaidze, or Niraz Saied or Reza Shahabi and all those rounded up in the last wave of protests in Iran.

False regionalism is to say that we’re allowed to show solidarity with the Picturehouse, UCU and Fujitsu disputes, or the West Virginia strikes (assuming we’re even allowed to support these – perhaps Higgins would view them as being spoiled imperialist labour aristocrats, who knows?), but not the Ahvaz steelworkers or Haft Tappeh sugar cane workers.

In his original piece, Higgins cited Liebknecht, and it’s worth returning to Liebknecht’s clarity here:

“The main enemy of every people is in their own country!

The main enemy of the German people is in Germany: German imperialism, the German war party, German secret diplomacy. This enemy at home must be fought by the German people in a political struggle, cooperating with the proletariat of other countries whose struggle is against their own imperialists.”

Or indeed to Rosa Luxemburg:

“So long as capitalist states exist, i.e., so long as imperialistic world policies determine and regulate the inner and the outer life of a nation, there can be no “national self-determination” either in war or in peace… Imperialism is not the creation of any one or of any group of states. It is the product of a particular stage of ripeness in the world development of capital, an innately international condition, an indivisible whole, that is recognisable only in all its relations, and from which no nation can hold aloof at will. From this point of view only is it possible to understand correctly the question of “national defence!’ in the present war.”

Higgins promises at least one more installment, dealing with “the centrality of the Palestine issue”. I don’t think I’ll respond to that one, because texts like “Thoughts on Syria, Palestine and Discourse” by Mohammed Sulaiman, “A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria”, and Budour Hassan’s “How the Syrian Revolution has transformed me” and “Can You Hear Us?” already do such an effective job of completely demolishing the worldview that tries to use Palestine as support for a pro-Assad perspective.

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