Fascism, Putin and the Nature of the Russian State

The mainstream media presentation of the Ukrainian war, in the UK and the Russian Federation, both invoke the Second World War struggle against the Nazis. This should provide a warning that something is seriously amiss here. Yet there is a common feature in their accusations. Neither side means, by opposition to Nazism, opposition to fascism as such. The term ‘Nazi’ has become severed from the essence of what constitutes fascism, only to be used as a term of abuse. Fascism involves the use of brutal extra-constitutional paramilitary forces, and a resort to extreme racism, national and male chauvinism to crush the working class and other exploited groups, who provide a challenge to the existing state.

Fascism, though, can take two different forms. The first form is the restoration of an old political order, after a limited period of bloodletting, e.g. the loyalists in the Ulster Volunteer Force mobilised in support of the Ulster Covenant of 1912, and other loyalists in the pogroms of Irish Nationalists from 1920-23, 1936 and 1969; the White Russian armies and militias used to try and restore the tsar from 1917-18 or the rest of the tsarist regime up to 1920; and the Freikorps in 1919 and the attempted Kapp Putsch in 1920, which tried to restore as much of the Kaiser’s Prussia-Germany as possible.

The more radical form of fascism also resorts to racism, national and male chauvinism, and paramilitary force, but leads to the establishment of a new corporate order, snuffing out all elements of democracy by means of a permanent police state. This form of fascism was first established in 1925 by Benito Mussolini in Italy and then taken further in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich in 1933. Under this system, both the capitalist and working classes are coerced to meet the state’s imperial aims, but the owners of certain loyal private companies were still amply rewarded. There have also been hybrid versions of these two forms of fascism, e.g. Spain and Portugal, where the powerful traditional Catholic hierarchy retained an important political role.

The current Putin regime, backed by his United Russia party, sees itself more in the ‘Russia one and indivisible’ restorationist mode. The three main upholders of the old ‘Russia one and indivisible’ were the tsar, the Russian Orthodox patriarchy and the tsarist Russian state machinery. In the face of democratic and socialist challenges, the tsarist regime had also resorted to the extra-constitutional Black Hundred gangs (like the Irish/Ulster Loyalists from 1912, representatives of the earlier extra-constitutional, restorationist form of fascism).

Clearly today, the tsar himself cannot be restored, but Putin sees his own imperial presidency as performing the same role. And although the Russian Orthodox Church isn’t the Russian Federation’s established church, the privileged position given to it by the state-controlled media gives it that de facto status. Its leading Patriarch Kirill, of Moscow and all-Rus (i.e. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus), is a major supporter of Putin and in particular his current war upon Ukraine, including the use of Russian fascist forces. Kirill hopes to eliminate the ‘schismatic’ Ukrainian Orthodox church. This church finally became autocephalous (autonomous) in 2018 under the equally reactionary Patriarch Filaret, who transferred his earlier Russian ultra-nationalism to Ukrainian ultra-nationalism and wants to eliminate the Russian Orthodox church in Ukraine.

But Putin has gone to much greater lengths than the Ukrainian or other European governments to also involve fascists in the running of the state. The far-right Liberal Democratic Party (which despite its name is neither liberal nor democratic) led, until his recent death, by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has been licensed as part of the official ‘opposition’. So has the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). The CPRF’s ideology is not fascist but glorifies the days of Stalin’s USSR. Its Hobbesian strong-state ‘socialism’ is based on party-state control of the economy and society. The CPRF is also concerned about the decline in the number of ethnic Russians, and hence is a supporter of reactionary anti-LGBT+ and anti-abortion laws, so there can be a boost in Russian family numbers. To this end, the CPRF seeks cooperation with Russian Orthodox patriarchy.

Other parties, which could threaten Putin’s power, are dealt with far more brutally, denied access to state-controlled media, their leaders jailed, beaten up or ‘disappeared’. However, Putin’s licensed ‘opposition’, although sometimes feeling his stick, is also wooed by the carrot of access to the state-controlled media and behind-the-scenes funding. The ‘reds’’ own organisations sometimes display three-panelled posters, showing a Russian tsar, Stalin and a Russian Orthodox patriarch. In effect the Putin regime amounts to an institutionalised ‘red’-brown coalition, with the ‘reds’ in a tolerated subordinate position.

Nevertheless, Putin also permits the existence of Mussolini and Nazi-inspired fascist forces, often financed by particular Russian oligarchs. The Wagner Group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, runs a mercenary army. This army has acted on behalf of Putin in Syria and now in Ukraine. Its method of operation is very similar to the US-based private mercenary army Blackwater, run by former US naval officer Erik Prince (which also remains quite legal even under ‘liberal’ Joe Biden, despite being illegal under international humanitarian law). These companies’ ‘independence’ also provides their governments the cover of deniability.

But Putin also tolerates the Russia’s most influential full-blown fascist, Aleksandr Dugin, who first organised the National Bolshevik Front, later the Eurasia Party, and became an advisor to the Russian State Duma speaker (who was also a member of Putin’s United Russia). Dugin has called for a new totalitarian Russian Empire to dominate all of Europe and Asia, rejecting ‘Atlanticism’ and “liberal values”.

Clearly such an attempt to create a two-continents-wide Russian imperial order has little more prospect of success than Boris Johnson’s Empire 2.0. But two other Russian billionaire oligarchs, who are ultra-Russian Orthodox, are trying to build an alternative white Christian alliance which stretches around the whole of the northern hemisphere from Chukotka in far north-eastern Siberia, west through the rest of the Russian Federation, on through Europe, across the Atlantic to the USA, Canada and Alaska.

Certainly, such an alliance faces its own major contradictions, since it seeks the cooperation of Russian Orthodox, traditionalist Roman Catholic and Protestant supremacist forces. However, significant well-financed hard-right leaders from each of these Christian denominations are currently prepared to set aside their views of each other as schismatics, heretics and anti-Christs, in order to build an ‘internationalism from above’, pro-patriarchal family, anti-LGBT+ and anti-abortion alliance.

Thus, the far-right, ultra-Russian Orthodox billionaire oligarchs Alexey Komov and Konstantin Malofeev have heavily funded the American Protestant supremacist World Congress of Families (WCF), one of the wealthiest and most influential hard-right organisations in the USA. The WCF promotes laws attacking LGBT+ and abortion rights. This hard right, in states with more liberal social laws, is currently promoting anti-trans legislation and is a main financier behind this campaign. But for the WCF, this is just a first step against gays, lesbians, pro-abortion feminists, progressive lecturers, teachers and others involved in the social welfare sector.

When it comes to others on the far right, Putin keeps his options open, promoting or dumping them to serve the Russian imperialist state as he sees fit. But whatever the Russian Federation’s balance between traditional ‘Russia one and indivisible’ restorationist and fascist Duginist and other far-right forces, it remains an imperialist police state, serving kleptocratic oligarchic interests, taking action well beyond the Russian Federation’s borders. This has included the deployment of Spetsnaz (special operations forces), which have operated in Ukraine from 2014 and in the UK (e.g. the poisoning of double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in 2018) and also the most likely force behind the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 117 on July 2014 over the then separatist-controlled part of Donetsk (of course, the USA has a long record of similar activities abroad, including the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988).

Putin’s little helpers

Although Putin and the Russian Federation, often using ‘independent’ Russian oligarchs, have provided open support and very large sums of money to far-right organisations in Europe and the USA, they have also cultivated some on the left. State-backed RT and Sputnik are two forums given money to promote these links.

RT has certainly invited hard-right politicians, like Nigel Farage, and several Tory MPs, e.g. Mike Freer, also member of Conservative Friends of Israel, and Johnny Mercer, breaker of the very loose ministerial code regarding second jobs and defender of British soldiers accused of war crimes in Northern Ireland. But RT has also promoted some once identified with the left, including the ultra-unionist George Galloway and the Scottish national populist, former SNP first minister, Alex Salmond. They have hosted their own RT TV shows.

The purpose behind promoting such apparently contradictory politicians is similar to how hedge fund managers operate, buying and shorting assets so they can profit whichever way their investments go. This has helped to promote other Putin objectives, e.g. undermining David Cameron’s UK pro-US, pro-EU government and breaking up potential competition using Brexit to undermine the EU. Although state-owned, the RT programmes’ format is copied from the US hard-right Fox News, and other similar channels.

There has been a long history of ‘official Communist’ flirting with the far-right. In 1922, diplomatic negotiations took place between the USSR and Germany leading to the Rapallo Treaty. This provided a cover for a secret deal with Hans von Seekt, far-right, anti-Semitic leader of the post-war German Reichswehr. Under this deal ships, aeroplanes, artillery, rifles and chemical weapons were produced for the Reichswehr on USSR soil. Leon Trotsky was in favour of this. (Later, von Seekt became a support of Hitler’s Nazis.) Leading Comintern official Karl Radek, along with others, developed a theory which viewed Germany as a victim of imperialism. This did not recognise that far-right Reichswehr officers had no interest in fighting an anti-imperialist war, but were German imperial revanchists, wanting to revive the German Reich, first by dismembering Poland, and later by seeking vengeance against France. In 1923, Radek made overtures to the German fascists under a policy known as the Schlageter Line. These policies followed the ending of the international revolutionary wave. They led to a state-backed National Bolshevism quite prepared to join with the far-right in other states by forming red/brown alliances. In these the ‘reds’ were subordinate, a continuing feature of such alliances today with Putin. And whenever the far-right no longer feel their need, the National Bolshevik ‘left’ are dumped — very brutally so when Hitler tore up the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

Unless you are a Putin believer, or trapped by abstract political schemas which, in classic religious and political sect style, try to shoehorn events into preconceived dogmas, then the nature of the Ukraine war is very obvious: Ukraine is the victim of Russian imperialist aggression. In a wider imperialist world dominated by global capitalism, the leaders of Ukraine, like the leaders of every other state, have to try and manoeuvre between the competing imperial powers. There has been a history, led by competing oligarchs in Ukraine, of jostling between Russian and Western imperialism (with a further division on whether to adopt a more pro-EU or pro-US strategy).

There hasn’t been an anti-imperialist struggle in well over a hundred years which did not attract the attention of other imperialist powers looking to weaken their imperialist competitors. Thus, one common feature of all imperialist powers facing anti-imperialist resistance is to lay the blame, not on its own exploitation and oppression, but as something stirred up by other imperialist powers. Those claiming to be on the left who fall into this trap deny the exploited and oppressed any agency and end up as ‘campists’ who tail-end one imperial power or another. And sometimes, this lack of belief can extend to the exploited and oppressed in their own country, looking instead to other imperialist powers to install ‘left’ quisling regimes, as happened over much of Eastern Europe after WW2.

This subordination under global imperialism also goes for some declining imperial powers like the UK, which has been ‘licensed’ by the USA to indulge in some imperial bullying in agreed areas of the world. States can lose even the restricted national self-determination possible under imperialist conditions and become client states; this appears to be what is happening to Lukashenko’s Belarus, as it becomes an open tool for Putin’s Russia. But in relation to the USA, Ukraine is probably as politically independent as Canada. Ukraine and Canada are flawed parliamentary democracies but are not yet client states. And they have yet not travelled as far along the road to national authoritarianism as several other states, including the UK.

Internationalism from below

Socialists across the globe, adopting the principle of ‘internationalism from below’, should support socialists in other states who try to challenge attempts by their ruling classes to worsen workers’ pay and working conditions and undermine the democratic rights of the oppressed (women, LGBT+ and BIPOC). Only an imperialist apologist of the worst order would say that the way forward for any such state with these socio-economic deficits is for an imperialist state to invade, annex and balkanise it. Under such thinking, Putin is allowed to invade Ukraine, impose his own stooge government, and detach selected parts of the state’s territory. Some of the more shame-faced left say they are opposed to Putin’s invasion, but because Ukrainian politicians have asked for NATO and EU membership (neither of which have been granted), the Ukrainian people cannot be allowed to defend themselves and should just accept a Putin/NATO-imposed deal instead.

In the worst scenario, Putin would impose his chosen quisling on a rump Ukraine. Even this, though, would not meet Putin’s original ‘Russia one and indivisible’ war aim, which was the elimination of Ukraine altogether. So unexpected and strong were the initial Ukrainian communities of resistance that Putin appears to have back-tracked to the forced annexation of some Ukrainian territory. And what sort of regimes would be imposed by Putin in those parts of Ukraine which he detached?

The Chechen Republic is run by the political thug Ramzan Kadyriv, with a particularly murderous record. The parts of Donetsk and Luhansk seized by Russian separatists with Putin’s backing in 2015 have been under the control of either the local Russian hard and far right or of Putin appointees. Leonid Pasechnik, president of the breakaway Luhansk Republic, joined Putin’s United Russia party in 2021.

Transnistria is a one-party statelet, run by President Vadim Krasnoselsky, promoted by the Sheriff company oligarchs and backed by the Obnovlenie party, affiliated to Putin’s United Russia. However, unlike some areas where Russian supremacists have been so ‘committed’ to getting the vote out that election or referenda participation rates with a 100%+ turnout have been recorded, the 2020 Transnistria Supreme Council elections, which returned 29 Obnovlenie candidates and three additional Sheriff-backed ‘independents’, only recorded a 28% turnout. But then the 100% clean sweep of all the seats in Transnistria makes it appear that there is some opposition in Putin’s Duma, where other parties can be found.

The key thing is that political conditions are even worse in Putin’s satellite statelets than in the Russian Federation itself. This is the kind future which awaits any further areas of Ukraine which remain under RF occupation.

One Putin apologist is the fading celebrity left Scottish nationalist Tommy Sheridan, currently member of Alex Salmond’s vanity party, Alba. Alba is moving rightwards across the political spectrum on many issues under the cloak of a newly declared republicanism (opposition to the monarchy, not opposition to the UK state’s Crown Powers and the championing of the sovereignty of the people). But even this ‘republicanism’ doesn’t sit well with Alba leader Salmond’s record as one of the most pro-Elizabrit politicians in Scotland. And Salmond the ‘sex pest’ (his defence lawyer’s ‘off-the-record’ words) is now opposing transgender recognition on the grounds of defending women’s ‘safe spaces’! Sheridan, looking for the earliest Scottish indyref2, would also be cock-a-hoop at 92% support in favour of independence, with a large majority in every single constituency, as occurred in Ukraine in 1991 (except Crimea with a small majority where there was also a high abstention rate).

But Sheridan, in his apologetics for Putin’s invasion, has written that “Putin and Russia have acted rationally from their point of view and in response to very real and frightening aggression from the US run NATO”. Yes, NATO has extended its borders and provided arms to Eastern European states, just as Putin has done with the CSTO in Belarus, Central Asia and Syria. But there has been no “frightening aggression”– invading and bombing, say, Kaliningrad or St. Petersburg, close to NATO’s borders. NATO has confined that to the Middle East and Central Asia, where Putin has happily joined in too.

Sheridan also goes on to repeat the Putin accusation of “outrageous internal attacks on Russian speaking people and communities by the Ukrainian security forces, many of whom are openly Nazi enthusiasts”. There have certainly been past attacks on Russian speakers by Ukrainian fascists, but Sheridan cannot explain why an elected Russian-speaking mayor (and formerly anti-Maidan) is the spokesperson for besieged Mariupol. There are certainly no elected pro-Maidan, Ukrainian-speaking mayors in either far right-controlled Donetsk or Lukansk. And what does he think will be the future for any Ukrainian language speakers in areas controlled by the Russian Federation army and the far-right paramilitaries? As ‘Russia one and indivisible’ supporters, they deny the existence of Ukrainians. There is chillingly only one way of making that a reality.

Other Putin left apologists offer different degrees of support for or opposition to Putin over his invasion of Ukraine. Most claim, though, that they are opposed — it’s just that he was provoked by NATO. And presumably if Putin defeats NATO in Ukraine, or if this left can force NATO to offer Putin a deal, he will turn into a pacifist lamb and the Russian Federation will give up being an imperial power – and pigs might fly! Many of these left Putin apologists, such as those in the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party, are also people who campaigned for Brexit, claiming that this would shift politics to the left, providing fertile ground for socialists. So, we should be extremely wary of these socialists’ predictions for Ukraine following any Putin-NATO deal.

When it comes to the democratic right of national self-determination, you either support it globally, or treat it as a cynical ploy only to be exercised by your camp, e.g. US President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Principles in 1918. And for those dogmatic socialists who say that the right of self-determination should always be subordinated to the higher principle of socialism, are they seriously arguing that Putin’s Russia is invading Ukraine to bring about socialism?! Putin’s Russian Federation is based on capitalism in the political form of an oligarchical kleptocracy. And if the turbo-charged state capitalist People’s Republic of China invades Taiwan, it will not be to bring about socialism either, but to impose the yuan and bring the Taipei stock exchange in line with those in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, as is already in the process of being enforced in Hong Kong. And those who disagree, if they are not just ‘disappeared’, will end up in the ‘re-education’ camps like those in Xinjiang.

The key thing for socialists is not to be dragged into one imperialist camp or the other. In extending our support to the Ukrainian people against Russian imperialism, we link this, for example, with support for Palestinians and Kurds confronting Western (US plus European) imperialism, Syrians confronting both, and Uighurs and Tibetans confronting Chinese imperialism. Our ‘internationalism from below’ solidarity is our anti-imperialist answer to their competing diplomatic ‘internationalism from above’ imperialist alliances.


This article was re-published with kid permission of Heckle – the magazine of the Republican Socialist Platform, thanks.

Comments (35)

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  1. John Wood says:

    Let’s not forget that the masters of war are American and British at least as much as Russian. Totalitarianism is what it is, whatever label it gives itself ( fascism, national socialism, positive Christianity, communism, stakeholder capitalism, neoliberalism, ‘free markets’, ‘American values’ etc).

    Ukraine is just the latest battle in the ongoing war between the US/Uk and Russia that’s been going on for over 150 years. The Crimean War resumes. Everything we may accuse Putin of, we are just as guilty ourselves.

    If the US and Russia must endlessly fight they should do it in Alaska instead of turning Europe into their battleground. But of course it suits them both to prevent Europe uniting and becoming a possible economic competitor.

    The real problem is the ideology based on an endless struggle to possess and control everything and everyone. As Gandhi said, ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’.

    Putin has been led into a trap in Ukraine. He should have looked at Russian history. He cannot win this war. The US should remember it can’t win this either, – I suspect that’s not really the point; it is war for war’s sake – but it is surely only a matter of time until Ukraine like Afghanistan, is forced to defend itself against those who were supposedly its allies.

    We need a strong Europe, able to maintain collective independence from both America and Russia.

    The World Economic Forum need to realise that their members, all dedicated to winning the game of Monopoly, cannot cooperate to rule the world but are condemned by their very ideology to fight and destroy each other. When one player ‘wins’ the game, it’s game over for the winner too. Reality simply doesn’t work like that.

    We all need to stand up for ordinary people and the planet (we are inseparable) against the madness of totalitarian power. Whoever is promoting it.

    1. “Putin has been led into a trap in Ukraine.”

      No he hasn’t. This takes agency and responsibility away from him. He invaded a sovereign democratic country in Europe and his military forces are responsible for multipole atrocities.

      1. Derek Thomson says:

        So – mad Vlad woke up one morning (and he had the blues) and decided to invade Ukraine out of sheer badness, and nothing else? Ok, well that certainly makes things easier to understand.

        1. I’m not sure if you are making an argument for Putin’s tactical genius here? His goals of preventing the rise of NATO in the region (if that was indeed his goal) has spectacularly backfired and failed.

          I notice you didn’t challenge the simple assertion that: “He invaded a sovereign democratic country in Europe and his military forces are responsible for multipole atrocities.”

          1. Derek Thomson says:

            I’m making no such argument. Glad you mentioned the NATO expansionism though, as I believe it to be pertinent (although not a justification.) If, as you suggest, that he has absolutely failed, then what are we left with? A step closer to the ultimate, i.e. war with China? Great result, that. If there had been one shred of evidence that the people who rule these islands (no, not America! Who could suggest such a thing?) had any interest whatsoever in any kind of peace, my opinion might be different. Liars, thieves, brigands, robber barons all around, on every side. God help us all.

        2. Derek Williams says:

          Russia is failing in every one of Putin’s stated objectives for launching his barbaric offensive against his peaceful, weaker neighbour he assumed would fall within three days.

          Objective 1: “De-nazify Ukraine”
          Objective 2: “Liberate Russians living in the Donbas region”
          Objective 3: “Destroy biological weapons laboratories set up by the US along Ukraine’s border with Russia”
          Objective 4: “Bring Ukraine under Russian governance to prevent it joining NATO”.
          Objective 5: “Demilitarize Ukraine”

          For Objective 1 to be achieved, Russia would first of all have to round up all the so-called ‘Nazis’ governing Ukraine, but this is of course a palpable lie. Less than 2% of Ukraine is far right enough to warrant the ‘Nazi’ epithet, more or less the same as in most countries – nowhere near enough to influence public policy or to justify invasion by Russia, whose governance itself manifests attributes of fascism. Since Russia invaded Ukraine (again) in 2014, the far-right Ukraine party ‘Svoboda’ has been polling below the electoral threshold, and it currently has one seat in the Verkhovna Rada. Having failed to identify ‘Nazis’, Russia went right ahead anyway and bombed Mariupol flat, destroying its housing, infrastructure, water supply and steel industry. Since seizing Mariupol, Russia have begun demonlishing the entire city. This ‘strategy’ has been repeated in every eastern town that Russian forces have flattened, killing as many Russian as Ukrainian speaking people, while demolishing over 800,000 homes in the process. I don’t think even the most Russian of Russian-speaking Russians living there, if any managed to survive, feel in the least ‘liberated’ by this incursion. With Bakhmut now being advanced on by the Russian Armed Forces, aerial images show there is not an intact building left. Bakhmut is another destroyed ghost town.

          Objective 2 is likewise a proven lie, given that 4,100 of the 13,200 actually killed in the separatist movement stoked by Russia were Ukrainian military. The remainder were more or less evenly divided between ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians. In the process of ‘liberating’ Donbas, Russia is now carpet bombing city after city. I wonder how the Russian speaking people Putin claimed to be protecting feel now that their homes, schools, universities, theatres, hospitals, churches, mosques, synagogues, museums, art galleries and all the rest have been razed to the ground and their families killed by Russia’s blundering ordnance?

          Objective 3 is more mind-numbing waffle from the ever-mendacious Kremlin. Where are the satellite, aerial and ground-level images of these putative chemical weapons labs? Russia hasn’t claimed to have taken out a single one of them. Of course not. They don’t exist. Chemical weapons labs in Ukraine were originally set up by Russia before the collapse of the Soviet Empire, but are now merely research biolabs. Ukraine has dozens of public health laboratories that work to research and mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases, such as Covid-19. Most receive financial assistance from other countries, including the US, the European Union and the World Health Organization (WHO) – as is the case in many other countries. Despite Russian claims that these are “secret” labs, details of US involvement can be found on the US embassy’s website.

          Objective 4? Give me a break. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, only 6% of its borders were shared with NATO countries. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, this has now doubled, thereby instantiating a new thousand mile border with Finland and Sweden. Finland by the way has ghastly memories of having been invaded by Russia in the 100-day Winter War of 1939, at the conclusion of which they were forced to cede 11% of their lands to Russia. Not only are NATO’s congruent borders with Russia now about to double, Ukraine has been hastily admitted with candidate status to the EU, and must be allowed finally to join NATO after kicking Russia out. Whoever might have been ‘neutral’ in Ukraine before Russia’s preposterous invasion, certainly is not now their families are being murdered, their homes bombed to oblivion and their infrastructure destroyed. Whatever Russia feared from the so-called ‘West’, we fear a thousand times more from the trigger-happy nuclear superpower that is Russia, especially now we have witnessed the horror Russia’s military have perpetrated. Every time Russia invades another country, NATO expands to meet the threat. Doesn’t that tell you something?

          Objective 5 has not been achieved, since Ukraine has received tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid of high-precision ordnance that can pick off Russian munitions dumps from 50 kilometres away. With Russia’s retreat from reclaimed cities, Putin’s soldiers have abandoned hundreds of tanks and millions of rounds of ammunition, leading Ukrainian soldiers to joke that Russia is now Ukraine’s biggest arms supplier.

          The only thing Russia has gained from its plundering genocide is pariah status, and perhaps that is partly what Putin set out to achieve all along – a new Iron Curtain that locks Russians in, as Russia did for decades to East Germany. Note, no-one was ever killed trying to flee from prosperous West Germany to straitened East Germany.

    2. Niemand says:

      ‘Ukraine is just the latest battle in the ongoing war between the US/Uk and Russia’

      It really is not. What is it about the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine and is now bombing it to smithereens causing untold misery that you don’t understand? Where is the even remotely recent equivalent in the region (or anywhere for that matter) from the ‘US/UK’ in relation to Russia that makes this ongoing war between to the two claim tenable? You are exactly the type of leftist who Allan rightly calls out and your call for unity amongst ‘ordinary people’ is risible when just such people are this very moment being slaughtered by Putin’s air forces in Ukraine. Not by the UK, not by the USA, not by anybody else but Russia in totally unproved aggression.

    3. Drew Anderson says:

      “…He [Putin] should have looked at Russian history…”

      Look at his essay from a year and a half ago, he is very well informed on Russian history. His interpretation of it is where he’s suspect.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    Fascism has been very attractive for some male homosexuals, and Germany is not the only nation who found they made effective stormtroopers. I think it is past time we dropped lazy (and sometimes bigoted) all-in LGBT+ overlabelling in adult political discussions. Historian Antony Beevor has also recently noted in the Guardian that they made excellent contravenors of the Geneva Convention, and indeed the British Empire has provided an outlet for many. This is not altogether surprising in societies where homosexual behaviour is persecuted, at least below a certain class level. Male homosexual supremacists loom large in the history of political theory, and Plato wasn’t quite as Platonic as some might imagine.

    If you think this kind of thing should not be said even if true, I would encourage you to listen to Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the first episode of this year’s Reith Lecture, on Freedom of Speech:

    We were promised more infographics on Bella. Perhaps it would be helpful to have an updatable infographic on the vast diversity (and inimical ideological contradictions) within the interest groups currently labelled ‘LGBT+’.

    1. Wee Walker. says:

      Someone who wants to return the UK to the days before homosexuality was legalised in 1967.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Wee Walker, that is exactly the kind of illiterate, non-factual, ad hominem attack that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was concerned about.

        Observing the politics and posturings around the World Cup in Qatar, it seems clear that a group of European Colonialists (and their neocolonialist chum) who are in deep diplomatic and world opinion trouble, are repurposing an old method. Every empire needs its stormtroopers, and in the case of the British Empire, they have long used fanatic militants to do some of their dirty work. Mark Curtis has written about some of these in Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam. There will likely be some overlap between the British imperial establishment’s ideologies and their stormtroopers, but their main advantages are that they can be steered, are opposed to one or more Official Enemies, are largely deniable assets to be handled by secret services, are cheap, disposable, effective; and they don’t endanger consumer-capitalism. The attractiveness is that they provide a stick to beat foreigners with, and usually beat down on women too.

        This is where the European Colonialist OneLove campaign comes in. Today’s requirement is less for embarrassing Abrahamic religious fanatics, and more for digital stormtroopers, whose attack swarms can be mustered very quickly and deployed globally. The pretext of its directors is LGBT+ rights, but the intended effect was to attack FIFA’s United Nations-agreed official armbands.
        “FIFA has teamed up with UNESCO, WFP and WHO to amplify messages during the finals”
        I have no doubt that some of the people supporting the OneLove-branded campaign are sincere and deeply concerned about LGBT+ rights, although possibly comparatively ignorant of world politics and history, which makes them easy to manipulate. Others are presumably paid agents, trolls and/or misogynists/racists/colonialists etc (that is, stormtroopers). It is, after all, a gammon trick to boast of ‘British abolition of slavery’. The same applies to anti-homosexual laws which the British imperialists imposed on their colonies.

        The reasons why national teams funded by Volkswagen and Vauxhall Motors might attempt to subvert the #SaveThePlanet (WHO) armband, why a nation infamous for a company peddling powdered death-milk to Global South mothers might baulk at its team captain wearing #ProtectChildren (WFP), the embarrassment of a nation embroiled in never-ending institutionalised racism having to accept the admonishment of #NoDiscrimination (WHO), I leave to people to ponder on and decide for themselves.

        Meanwhile, the British Empire’s Privy Council in 2022 continues to rule against same-sex marriage in constitutional court cases for supposedly ex-colonies it oversees. There is a lot going on in the world, that many hope the general public will not see, and if seen, not acted on. Online attempts to shut down debate on sometimes complex and long-historied issues are a cheap way of showing your support for the colonial status quo.

        1. Wee Walker. says:

          i’m sure that made sense in your own mind.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Wee Walker, if the German Football Federation sues FIFA over its OneLove stance on the grounds that it has lost revenue from dropped sponsors, it will expose the campaign as (at least partly) a corporate-state scam: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/22/german-football-federation-legal-action-fifa-onelove-armband-ban-world-cup
            which will surely harm the reputation of any associated human rights campaigns.

            Related actions in Qatar in turn bring should scrutiny on at least two points.

            One is the justification of the Qatari regime (a hereditary monarchy propped up by Western colonial powers who sell it vast amounts of arms), based on established-religion grounds (which might apply even if Qatar was a democracy, not a system that its neocolonial masters would allow, as they have spent far too much bribing the current rulers) that their sex laws are cultural. Well, of course that applies to the British Empire and its Anglican engine of imperialism, which is why colonies, ex-colonies and Christian (and some non-Christian) members of the British Commonwealth have anti-(male)homosexuality laws today (or until very recently). This collides with last week’s England and Wales census revelations that these are no longer Christian-majority countries, and has given fire to secular disestablishmentarian movements. It has been widely noted that reasons some people have given for leaving the established church was that it persecuted homosexual people. The logical target for major strands of LGBT+ movements is the same in Qatar as it is in England and Wales: destroy the royalist-religious establishment hegemony. The England team should be the ones refusing to sing their own national anthem (it is always best practice to criticise one’s own state first, hence the respect given to the Iranian national men’s team).

            Secondly, the way the British mainstream media have preferred to focus on the rainbow flag issue in Qatar to the exclusion of others shows up as a major weakness given that FIFA instructed Qatari authorities to let such flags into grounds, but a curious set of circumstances led to the apparent disappearance of large (loyalist) British Union Flags immediately prior to the England vs Wales game. The Westminster balance of power has shifted away from Conservatives having to rely on Northern Ireland loyalist votes, but their kowtowing to some of the more regressive elements in UK society has left a stain. Did the British security detachments embedded with the Qatari authorities request the confiscation of large Union Flags, associated with backward elements and the British Empire itself? Meanwhile further FIFA action is expected against alleged Serbian crowd behaviour at their match with Switzerland, in relation to player of Albanian or Kosovo ethnicity playing for the latter, and the irredentist views of some Serbians (not unlike some Russian views on Ukraine). And what we see is perhaps a foretaste of what extreme British nationalism might look like on a successful separation by an Independent Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, something it looks like the British authorities are already worried about (because it looks terrible on the world stage, and they probably doubt they could control it for their own ends).

            A final point on flags. Perhaps the English will one day decide that the Cross of St George is no longer appropriate in their national flag as a post-Christian nation. That is up to them. Should the Scottish census results be similar, at what point should the saltire cross of Scotland be re-thought? Is it even possible to change Scotland’s flag legally without English permission, or is that a ‘reserved’ matter too? What possible avenues of peaceful and transparent destabilisation might be explored here?

    2. Derek Williams says:

      From the excellent talk you shared the BBC link to: “Freedom of Speech is not the right to say absolutely anything at any time”. Were this not the case, then libel, perjury, treason, incitement to crime and fraud would not be criminalised exercise of free speech.

      Your disingenuous, bordering on malevolent conflation of homosexuality with fascism lacking either relevance or corroboration, is ‘homosexualising the enemy’ – redolent of a bigotry that hunts through the Bible digging for dirt on gays, while ignoring the Bible’s manifest condoning of slavery, misogyny, infanticide and genocide.

      Your insinuation does not speak of me, for whom fascism and all it connotes is visceral anathema, nor of any other male homosexual ever known to me.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Derek Williams, so, what, we should ignore all reputable historians in favour of the fixated recounting of possibly entirely fabricated anecdotal personal experiences of an Internet stranger with an obvious agenda? I know this playbook. Actually, the BBC-shown series Rise of the Nazis might go a little far by portraying the early National Socialist German Workers’ Party as a stew of homoeroticism for which it provides little direct evidence, but the activities of the Sturmabteilung (colloquially ‘Brownshirts’) are well documented.

        As are the founders of the Italian fascist movement, and its Spartan predecessors. I am not familiar with your biblical ravings, and obviously I had no intention of speaking of you. If you claim to speak for all male homosexuals, then of course your claim is false. Next stormtrooper.

        1. Derek Williams says:

          After re-reading my comment several times, I am satisfied I did not claim, and do not claim, “to speak for all male homosexuals”.

          You speak of my “agenda” without even hinting at what my putative agenda is, or how it might presumably be deleterious to the good of society.

          You claim “All reputable historians” are saying something unspecified that corroborates your conflation of my sexual orientation with fascism – an ideology I and every LGBT+ person ever known to me entirely despise, yet you do not adduce a single credible or relevant citation from a reliable source to back this up.

          You patronise my comment as that of an “internet stranger” yet while I use my real name, you conceal your identity under “SleepingDog”. You can Google me, and I will answer the phone.

          So, I am surprised, to say the least, to be learning this far into my 70th year of gay life, from an “internet stranger” no less, who goes by the pseudonym “SleepingDog”, that people like me either are fascists ourselves, or are supporters thereof.

          While I would of course welcome any Evidence-Based Research such as you have conducted or can adduce, I have in the meantime managed with a quick google to unearth nothing to support your suggestion gay people are suffering from a Fascist Stockholm Syndrome. On the contrary, I can find only evidence that refutes it.

          While the hyper-masculine ethos of the Nazi and comparable fascist regimes may have encouraged male bonding, the reality for male homosexuals under the Nazi Terror was that they were some of the first people, alongside political prisoners, to be sent to the concentration camps in 1933. In the camps, they were subject to ridicule and hard work. They were also forced to wear pink triangles to define them as homosexuals. As with Roma, in the camps homosexuals were also the subject of brutal medical experimentations, such as castration and being frozen to death in ice pools.

          The only known homosexual of standing in the upper echelon of the Third Reich was Ernst Röhm, executed in one of several purges, as below (also from the Holocaust Encyclopedia):

          “The Röhm Purge was the murder of the leadership of the SA (Storm Troopers), the Nazi paramilitary formation led by Ernst Röhm. The murders took place between June 30 and July 2, 1934. The ruling elites and ultimately Hitler saw the SA as a threat to their hold on power. The purge demonstrated the Nazi regime’s willingness to go outside of the law to commit murder as an act of state for the perceived survival of the nation.”

          From the Holocaust Encyclopedia (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum):
          “The Nazi regime carried out a campaign against male homosexuality and persecuted gay men between 1933 and 1945. As part of this campaign, the Nazi regime closed gay bars and meeting places, dissolved gay associations, and shuttered gay presses. The Nazi regime also arrested and tried tens of thousands of gay men using Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code. Uncovering the histories of gay men during the Nazi era was difficult for much of the twentieth century because of continued prejudice against same-sex sexuality and the postwar German enforcement of Paragraph 175.”

          Read also Chatper 11 – ‘The Institutionalization of Homosexual Panic in the Third Reich’, from the book ‘Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany’ by Geoffrey J. Giles

          CITATION: Giles, Geoffrey J.. “CHAPTER 11. The Institutionalization of Homosexual Panic in the Third Reich”. Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany, edited by Robert Gellately and Nathan Stoltzfus, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001, pp. 233-255.

          From Springer:
          CITATION: Ebner, M.R. (2004). The Persecution of Homosexual Men under Fascism. In: Willson, P. (eds) ‘Gender, Family and Sexuality’. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

          Mario Magri, an Italian anti-Fascist who spent most of the last 17 years of his life in fascist Benito Mussolini’s ‘political confinement’ wrote in his memoir:

          “There were about 100 homosexuals, almost all originating from Catania and other cities in Sicily. These poor devils, among whom there were skilled artisans and even teachers, lived in horrible conditions. They received four lire per day and were crammed into two foetid wooden barracks, surrounded by a metal fence that only allowed a few square metres in which to move around.”

          Now, on to my “biblical ravings you’re not familiar with”. Here, for your convenience, I am copying this alleged raving: “Bible’s manifest condoning of slavery, misogyny, infanticide and genocide.”

          Exodus 21:20-21
          New International Version 20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”

          Deuteronomy 21:18-21 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother… then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones.”
          Leviticus 20:9 “Anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”

          Corinthians 14:34 Women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but should be submissive, as the law also says.
          Timothy 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”

          I have dozens more like this.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Derek Williams, so your view is that LGBT people are superior to others in that they reject Fascism? That is plain and simple bigotry, and reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Bart finds out Mr Smithers’ new boyfriend is evil, asking “I thought they were supposed to be better than us?”. People are complex, and their politics cannot be reduced to a fragment of identity. Which is the point at which I critiqued this article.

            Why did you not correct Wee Walker’s apparent misapprehensions about what happened in 1967? I’ve dropped enough hints to say why I believe it is non-factual. If your concern is for historical accuracy.

            There is something very interesting going on in Qatar beyond the football, as a few European colonial powers desperately clutch at some hope of soft power advantage, at one of the world’s most successful anti-colonial events. Combined with placating sections of their public (concerned with human rights and self expression), and powerful corporate wrongdoers, they have chosen to make a political football in the shape of the OneLove campaign.

            This in turn has led to a kind of polarisation of world good-guys and bad-guys on LGBT rights. Anarchistically speaking, there are no good-guy states, even if Costa Rica has got rid of its army. But in terms of political science (and I will have to be all-too-brief and imprecise here) you don’t need rights if you have power. Power (or at least a feeling of it) can be achieved in various ways: having an army (like a warlord or a king), having guns (like a militia or a king), having church backing (like a priest or a king), controlling critical resources (like an oil-rich sheikh or a king), having powerful allies (like a successful YouTuber or a king). Pink News has claimed many kings for its own. A professor of queer studies has described research showing British upper classes could deviate from professed social norms. Elite private British single-sex boarding schools have been producing male homosexual establishment leaders throughout its Empire, often associated with the royal institutions and militarism, and that hasn’t stopped Gulf rulers sending their children there (nor do they fear them picking up democratic or egalitarian sensibilities). The British royal family has dabbled in Fascism, of course. When ruling classes have outlawed prostitution while making use of prostitutes, it is hypocrisy, and illustrates how power sometimes trumps legality.

            But I never conflated male homosexuality with Fascism. I used the example in the context of the article talking about Ukraine (real and/or alleged Nazis) and representing LGBT+ people as oppressed, instead of *sometimes* being oppressors (like in the Anglican Church) and yes, *sometimes* being Nazis. What Anglican priests and Nazis and their counterparts do in private is not necessarily what they preach in public. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-55145989

            Instead of the rather problematic and disingenuous phrase ‘LGBT community’, which can imply a community spokesperson, I would prefer to use a term like ‘LGBT constellation’ to represent the distances between different points in that space. I can abbreviate this to L*G*B*T (three stars like an ellipsis spacing out the letters).

            And, of course, I was interested in the modern practices of Internet pile-ons, etc. Al Jazeera’s The Labour Files depicts Jewish now-old children of Holocaust victims and lifelong anti-racists being horribly harassed as ‘anti-semites’ by a younger generation apparently raised on social media approved by the Israeli Embassy. Of course, the opposite may also apply, older people clinging to discredited beliefs. If you define ‘progressiveness’ as the removal of superstition from politics, then of course cleansing people’s minds of unscientific and patriarchal notions of Christian sin is progress. However, new superstitions can arise amongst L*G*B*T, while regressive ideas including aggressive or casual misogyny can persist somewhere in there too. And if patriarchy does not have gender, it surely does not have a sexual orientation either.

          2. Derek Williams says:

            Ad hominem is not rebuttal. Name-calling me “you stormtrooper” with my alleged “shrill shrieks from tribalists” is an alliterative voyage to nowhere.

            You say “LGBT closes ranks when we want defensive strength but L*G*B*T when it is every tribe for itself and self-pleasing propaganda is desired”. There is no single “LGBT+ Community”, nor is there an appointed leader or spokesperson thereof. Oftentimes we do not agree on definitions or procedures. This is true of any social network. Most universities in the UK nowadays have an LGBT+ student group, and a Staff Pride Network. There is also a Network of Staff Pride Networks ‘NoNe’. As a federated association, NoNe doesn’t try to tell local organisations what to do or say, but it is able to speak out on issues of discrimination on which we could reasonably be assumed to agree. This is a normal attribute of a healthily functioning, democratically organised incorporated society. Societies are de facto “tribes”, but I do not see them as injurious to the social good unless convened to break the law or spread disinformation, i.e. ‘propaganda’. Information sharing as an aspect of LGBT+ activism for fair and equal treatment does not warrant your contemptuous dismissal as ‘propaganda’ unless it is false or misleading. It is not in our collective interests to spread disinformation that can so easily be refuted in a free society. This serves only to undermine public trust, and with that, perceived power.

            You say that “many [trade unionists] joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party”, which if in significant numbers, would have to have been one of the most egregious examples of Stockholm Syndrome in the history of Stockholm Syndrome. Not everyone knew in the early 1930’s the evils that were to come with the rise and eventual fall of the Nazis, so early cooperation would have been in good faith, in the wake of the Great Depression. Be that as it may, come May, 1933, trade unions throughout Germany were officially abolished, union headquarters were occupied, their funds were confiscated, and their leaders arrested. Many union leaders, including some who had previously agreed to cooperate with the Nazis, were beaten and sent to concentration camps. Police turned a blind eye to these attacks, declaring themselves “without jurisdiction”. In the BBC series, ‘The Rise of the Nazis’ you earlier mentioned, this happened at Dachau, when police were sent to investigate the murder of several Jewish inmates, shot at point blank range in the back of the head, allegedly “while trying to escape”. The Chief of Police, Himmler, sent the matter back, saying “insufficient evidence” and the case was dropped. From then on, you could shoot Jewish people stone dead in the street, and nothing would happen to you.

            Members of my family are trade unionists, one is a Westminster MP, and I place on record the fact that not only are none of us members of the Nazi Party or its modern day equivalent, our now deceased relatives fought like demons against Nazis in the 2nd World War, including my uncle in the Royal Air Force.

            So, fie on your false syllogistic conflation of trade unions and LGBT+ organisations with Nazis. Trade unions and Nazis are ipso facto natural enemies. LGBT+ people and Nazis are natural enemies. Consider your claims disproven.

        2. Derek Williams says:

          For some reason, there is no Reply button beneath your comment in reply to mine, so I am replying to an earlier one of yours to create the reply tag, however this may disrupt the chronologicity of this thread.

          You open with the outrageous strawman: “so your view is that LGBT people are superior to others in that they reject Fascism?” and then argue against this view as though it is a view I hold. No, I do not in any sense hold the view that “LGBT people are superior to others”. I just don’t think we’re ipso facto inferior to others. I could just as easily have said, “no male heterosexuals ever known to me support fascism,” but I’m not the one who conflated sexual orientation with fascism. One way or the other, sexual orientation has no bearing on whether someone is fascist or not, but if you’re gay and find yourself living under a fascist regime, you’d best flee while you still can. My previous citations on how horribly fascists mistreat homosexuals hint at the rest of the story.

          You claim you “never conflated male homosexuality with Fascism”. Have you so soon forgotten your own words, copied below (2nd December 2022 at 9:33 pm)?
          “Fascism has been very attractive for some male homosexuals, and Germany is not the only nation who found they made effective stormtroopers… Male homosexual supremacists loom large in the history of political theory, and Plato wasn’t quite as Platonic as some might imagine.”

          Clearly this doesn’t mean you are saying “all male homosexuals”, but why mention male homosexuals in the first place, unless it is ‘a thing’ among fascist hegemons? As I have amply demonstrated, the only interest fascists have hitherto demonstrated in homosexuals of all stripes, is in exterminating us. Given that our parents are invariably heterosexual, exterminating us is impossible. I remind you, German Nazis were in the business of systematically torturing and exterminating homosexuals; the SS weren’t placing ads recruiting homosexuals in the “help wanted” columns of military newspapers. Feel free now to cease forthwioth your conflation of homosexuality with fascism.

          You ask, “Why did you not correct Wee Walker’s apparent misapprehensions about what happened in 1967?” I agreed with WW, and if there were a Like button, I’d have clicked it. Unless you were referring to Israel’s annexations in the Six Day War 1967, I am well aware of “what happened in 1967” – specifically, the Sexual Offences Act 1967, moved in the House of Lords by Lord Arran, which repealed criminalisation of same-sex relationships between male homosexuals with a new, unequal age of consent of 21, later equalised with heterosexual sex to 16 by Blair. On-reading that thread, I find nothing untoward in WW’s contribution.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            Fascism has been very attractive for some male trade unionists, and many joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, although the Nazi’s purged their labour wing and banned independent trade unions, and indeed the Sturmabteilung seems to have been involved in coordinated violence against trade unions before they themselves were purged during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Long_Knives
            If I made this remark in the context of trade unionists not always being the oppressed, I imagine a sage nodding of heads, a noting that medieval guilds were often politically influential, remarks along the lines of people having their own minds and interests, not behaving like sheep, and possibly some enlightening discussion about learning from history. Perhaps I am wrong, but I wouldn’t expect shrill shrieks from tribalists enraged by alleged ‘conflation’ of male trade unionism with fascism.

            We read Plato and other ancient Greeks for philosophy classes, I stand by my characterisation.

            I will mention just two issues (veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell can provide many more) with ‘what happened in 1967’, one of which you correct without further comment. Ignoring half the population is, at best, casual misogyny, which you seem to have no problem with. Since Wee Walker said “the UK” I will skip the history of the British Empire and Commonwealth where British courts had ultimate jurisdiction. But if you had bothered to look up the Wikipedia page on the Act you specifically cite, it says:
            “The law was extended to Scotland by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 and to Northern Ireland by the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982.”
            You stormtroopers come to this site, jump in with both jackboots without so much as wiping your feet, firing wildly, and display an astonishing lack of awareness (after several hints) that the UK has different jurisdictions. In my part of Scotland, we call that pure ignorant.

            Anyway, I should thank you stormtroopers for turning up to demonstrate my point. I do recommend the first of this year’s Reith Lectures which describes the pile-ons to and policing of speakers of uncomfortable truths more eloquently than I can. I can see it is LGBT closed ranks when you want its defensive strength but L*G*B*T when it is every tribe for itself and self-pleasing propaganda is desired. I noticed nothing worth mentioning in the playbook demonstrated, although the religious detour seemed a bit old-fashioned. Obviously these tactics are aimed at intimidating voices and derailing important political discussion. And absorbing time, effort and psychological strength better employed elsewhere. And on that note, I will be leaving this page’s comment section, even if an aggrieved male trade unionist turns up.

    3. Niemand says:

      It is a very powerful speech by Adichie, thanks for the link.

      I don’t agree with it all but definitely on the same wavelength. One thing that struck me most is in the latter half where she talks about our loss of good faith, especially online. We now so often assume that because someone says something we don’t like we immediately assume or even accuse them of not acting in good faith, like there is some nefarious motive behind it rather than them just having a different viewpoint. She points out that there are of course bad faith actors that we often call ‘trolls’ but to always assume this is really destructive and has led to the terrible polarisation of some many topics and censure of perfectly decent-minded people.

      Even if you defend someone from such attacks, regardless of your view on what they said, you also become caught up in the bad faith accusation. And despite it being such a transparent tactic, it can often ‘work’ in the sense that as blatant bullying, it does shut people up for fear of being branded a bigot, troll or whatever unforgivable epithet, which can stick, and social censure ensues. It is an awful state of affairs and people should stop doing it.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Niemand, yes, I think I can pretty much agree with that. I took an online course on Autism which featured accounts of people with particular difficulties with social interactions, missing cues or humour, taking longer to process conversations, seeing the world in stark black-and-white terms and being disturbed by nuances, and so on (though it said autistic people can have particular strengths, effective coping mechanism and ‘spiky profiles’ too). There has been a concern that, particularly amongst young men, poor social skills combined with more aggression and overconfidence than other demographics, and a tendency towards misogyny (that can be cured or ameliorated amongst men with school-aged daughters, according to LSE research from 2018, I gather), online spaces form alternate battlegrounds to old physical bierkellers and streets. These are just broad tendencies, and individuals can be very different even in very similar social groups.

        Talking frankly about these kinds of issues does upset some people. But I think not talking does more harm. Taboos tend to favour the powerful in society. I remember reading a Guardian article written by someone identifying themselves as gay saying that one of the most important benefits to them from equality legislation and greater social acceptance of homosexual relationships was that people suffering domestic abuse within same-sex couples (with the additional possibility that the abuser is threatening to ‘out’ the abused, a form of blackmail) could more readily turn for help (at least in theory). Testimony from a drag artist about misogyny in that sphere, a letter apparently from a trans person aghast at the Scottish government’s proposed gender recognition reforms, these are the kinds of alternate viewpoints and topics society as a whole has to face if it wants real social justice. But just because they might seem to present a tribe in an unflattering light, discussions are often targeted for intimidation and derailment by online stormtroopers.

        The polarisation you speak of has also been used in a kind of international game of one-upmanship which the British Empire with its horrible history cannot win except by cheating. Culture wars are being fought online, where stormtroopers are used as cannon fodder (perhaps their engagements take a toll on their own mental health and general wellbeing as well as on their targets). I am trying to think what human tribe’s public image I would want to defend so violently, but I guess I’m just not much of a joiner anyway. Of course I have agendas (doesn’t everyone?), but we cannot fit declarations into every comment. And because I am lazy (and few people love reading long comments), I try to convey a lot of meaning without spelling everything out; but because I am a least a little bit conscientious (or like rambling), I do try to add enough to remove key ambiguities. Apologies to author for getting a little off-topic.

  3. Robert Harding says:

    This article is absolute nonsense and I’m sorry I wasted a few minutes of my time reading it

    1. What seems to be the problem Robert?

  4. ScotsCanuck says:

    “….. Alex Salmond’s vanity party, Alba …..”

    oh! dear, it appears Mr Armstrong has been imbibing on the same propaganda he rails about in his article ….. shame.

    1. It seems an accurate description …?

      1. Derek Thomson says:


  5. Allan Armstrong says:

    Good to see this has produced a response. For those who want for a deeper enquiry of how socialists (especially Marxists) have approached the issue of Ukrainian national self-determination, and the historical origins of an ‘Internationalism form Below’ approach, see:-


  6. BSA says:

    Bluid an’ snotters ! Great !

  7. Paddy Farrington says:

    Thank you Allan for these thought-provoking documents. Internationalism from below sounds attractive, and something that you’d expect socialists to be drawn to instinctively. Certainly, we need to listen to socialists in Ukraine and Russia. And it is our responsibility to call out, like you have done, the Putin apologists who masquerade as socialists here in the UK.

    But I doubt this is enough. (Internationalism from below in the form of the International Brigades was certainly not enough to defeat Franco’s fascists in Spain.) What the people of Ukraine and their representatives call for ceaselessly is not (just) declarations of internationalist solidarity, but a step up in the provision of sophisticated air defense systems, and the means to repair their energy infrastructure at pace. These can only be provided by state and military actors, however unpalatable that may be. In effect, this means NATO. Socialists need to grapple with these contradictions, not seek to avoid them.

  8. Derek Thomson says:

    “Sex pest” “Fading left celebrity” And you expect me to take the rest of the article seriously?

    1. I have no idea who you are. Take it seriously or don’t.

      1. Derek Thomson says:

        I’m Derek Thomson Mike. I use my own name, so you know me as far as that goes. When what purports to be a serious article starts bringing in insults like “sex pest” and disparaging terms like “fading left celebrity”, my spidey senses tend to tingle. I take no oaths of purity which demand my allegiance to all aspects of an argument, I rather prefer to make up my own mind. I know that Alex Salmond and Alba are trigger points for you, I have great respect for what Alex Salmond achieved in the furtherance of independence for my country, whatever his personal flaws. I am not a member or supporter of Alba, I’m an SNP member (even now!)

        1. Niemand says:

          I did think that ‘And Salmond the ‘sex pest’ (his defence lawyer’s ‘off-the-record’ words) is now opposing transgender recognition on the grounds of defending women’s ‘safe spaces’!’ was a very cheap shot. There is no connection between the two things of any meaning or merit.

  9. SleepingDog says:

    Anyone interested in the context of the historical contretemps in these comments might want to check out the chapter The Bad Gays of Weimar Berlin in Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller’s book Bad Gays: a Homosexual History (Verso, 2022, still in the January sale it appears).
    It goes far beyond Ernst Röhm and his Sturmabteilung stormtroopers, takes a productive power-relations view of history drawing on work by people such as Silvia Federici among others, and stands as a sympathetic corrective to more uniform hero narratives. The authors do a much better job than I can of demonstrating why the L*G*B*T Constellation can never be a Community. History is sometimes painful and discomforting to humans, and the authors recommend that people embrace that and look for hidden histories.

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