Israel Shamir

The Fighting Optimist

Facing Aurora


For Russians, “Aurora” is not the Goddess of Dawn; it is first of all the battleship Aurora, the legendary cruiser whose thundering salvo over the Winter Palace had started the Russian Revolution in November 1917. Recently I participated in a conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in the Mirror of World Left Movement, in St Petersburg, the City of the Revolution, attended by representatives of European socialist parties. In front of our venue, we had the cruiser Aurora, and it helped concentrate our minds on the only important things, victory and defeat.

The Left had won a hundred years ago, and the Left lost quarter of century ago. When the Soviet system went down, there was a wide-spread illusion that the Left would blossom as the eternally young movement had gotten rid of rusty old-fashioned Russia. This was the idea of the Euro-Communists. Surprisingly, the Left just agonised and died after 1991. The Euro-Communist parties vanished. We did not know it, or we denied it, but apparently, the world Left movement had been connected with the Russian Revolution.

A hundred years ago, Lenin and Stalin solved all their problems by cutting the Gordian knot of greed. They modernised their country, they gave people hope, they offered a choice for the workers. They did not turn Russia into a paradise, though the Soviet Russia of the 1960s had been as developed and as prosperous as any core country of Western Europe.

Paradoxically, the Western workers had been the greatest beneficiaries of the Russian Revolution. The Western owner class had been scared by the Russian communists and afterwards behaved rather nicely. It shared its profits with its workers. Your life has been good because the naval guns of the Aurora threatened your One Per cent. In 1991, the communists were defeated through the treason of their leaders. And since then, the victorious Western owners have gone into full-scale Reconquista. They took away all the achievements of the workers, and created this new world of immense wealth for a few and growing misery for the rest.

But what was lost, can be regained. The capitalists did not despair in 1917, the communists should not despair in 2017. It seems that there is no other way, no shortcut: the world needs new Lenins and Stalins. Greed should be defeated again, media and factories have to be taken away from the owners. Not only minimal, but a maximal income should be legislated.

Populism became a dirty word, but I’ll tell you: there should be more, much more populism. Work with dignity for workers – this populist slogan gave Trump his entry ticket in the White House. People should be given whatever they want. Lenin promised to give land to farmers, factories to workers, peace to nations, and his government did it as much as they could. People now want to be sure of their tomorrows, they want their children to study, they want to have free medical care and affordable, good housing; they want freedom and safety. They want to regain all that was lost after 1991. And if for this purpose some bankers should be retired to the wall at Dawn, so be it.

No more Mister Nice Guy, this is the first commandment for the Left’s comeback. The Left should part its ways with the liberals.

It’s the right time for divorce, if it’s not too late. Oh gosh, but why? The Left and liberals appear happily married. At first, it was a marriage of convenience, but by now it’s a marriage of love. So far so good. It’s just that the life expectancy of the Left became pretty short, as that of an octopussy’s mate. These creatures (Octopus cyanea, to be precise) eat their mates after they have done their job. The Left did its job, and now it is ripe to be eaten. But who will notice the Left’s disappearance?

Sometimes I am ashamed of belonging to the Left. Ask a man on the street, what do the leftists strive for, and he will tell you: these are the good people who support good causes. Transgender toilets, gay marriages, women for CEOs, Syrian refugees, climate change, access for the handicapped, perhaps unemployment benefits. They are certainly against immigrant discrimination, micro-insults, they are for political correctness and identity politics. The Left hates Putin and Trump, and loves Israel though not its present Prime Minister.

Or even worse. With a sense of short, sharp shock I’ve read it three times, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. A honourable writer of, Dr. Paul Gottfried, described the red-faced ADL ex-boss, Abe Foxman as a “leftist”. This is really an insult. A Jewish nationalist like Mr Foxman can’t be a leftist. Stalin would have sent him to the Far North-East of Siberia, where the hard work and hard climate would cure him of his permanent indignation and constipation. Leftists are not against “white Christian majority population,” as Gottfried claims. Leftists are for the working class majority.

There is no light between the Left and the liberal agenda, you’d say. And now, surprise! Until 1990, the Left and the liberals were sworn enemies. The Left was for the workers; its icon, Stalin, scared the hell out of liberals; he advised the German Communists to make an alliance with the German Far Right instead of Liberals; its Marxism was not the cultural abomination, but real trouble for the rich guys. But after 1990, the Left joined with the victorious liberals – for practical reasons. As it happens in marriage of convenience, their relations turned to true love, and eventually they became one.

In politics, Occam’s Razor works mercilessly. The Left had lost its own identity, and a reason to exist. Now it disappears, having been eaten by liberals. Usually, the way to oblivion goes through a government coalition. Whenever the Left joined the government of the liberals (they could call it National Unity, or Popular Front, or Stop the Beast Government), the Left melted in the liberals’ hot embrace.

I am very sorry that the Counterpunch, a publication I liked and wrote for many years (admittedly, in Alex Cockburn’s days), has succumbed to that disease. They still call themselves the Voice of American Left, but they publish John Feffer. The nauseous beastie, Feffer, a “leftist”-for-free-immigration-war-with-Russia-and-against-Trump, made a call: “Everyone to the left of Ann Coulter should be on board. If ever there were a time for unity, it is now.” Oh no, I want to stay with Ann Coulter who wrote on almost the same day Feffer penned his garbage: Let Russia be our sister-state. And the last thing I want is unity with Feffer.


Fefferite unity for all brought us to this place: the Left is dying, and the Liberals will inherit the lot. The anti-Liberal Right is not a viable alternative, alas. The recent Dutch elections on March 15 proved that point.

I wonder whether you followed these elections, the most interesting and most important event coming out of Netherlands since the Glorious Revolution. It was impossible to predict how the Dutch would vote. The Trump effect, people said darkly, and hinted that the Dutch would vote for their own Trump, called Geert Wilders.

The guess was quite a reasonable one. The Netherlands had been governed by a joyless coalition of Right and Left. It makes no difference whether you prefer left or right, anyway the parties of Left and Right rule together. It is the establishment that governs, while democracy provides a smoke screen.

With such a government, it was expected that people would vote for an outsider. But for whom? The Netherlands, like the rest of Western Europe and North America, has a large dissatisfied electorate of ‘Deplorables,’ victims of neo-liberalism. They suffer being pushed by waves of immigrants out of their jobs and housing, or they had landed, instead of steady employment in a steel plant, temporary jobs at McDonalds.

The Deplorables could vote for the old-style Left, as these unemployed or precariously employed men were dispossessed by the rich and powerful. But the present-day-Left (PvdA) did not care for them. The Left enjoyed its alliance with the liberal elite, with Jewish and Jewified financiers and media; tolerance (meaning priority for minority), cultural Marxism (it is not even a relation of real class-based red-tooth Marxism), elitism were of greater importance for them than the blue-collar workers to whom they felt little affinity.

The mainstream right-wing (VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte) is a party of wealthy establishment. They carry out neo-liberal policies, they import immigrants, they support NATO, they are anti-Russian. They are similar to the pre-Trump Republicans, not an appealing lot for dispossessed men.

The Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders homed in the Deplorables. Wilders is a liberal gay guy who hates Islam and immigrants, he loves Israel as he considers it as the European bastion in the sea of Islam. He is quite anti-Russian, but he is anti-establishment. Or is he? The ruling parties loved and used Wilders’ party in order to to scare the voters into obedience. If you won’t vote for us, Wilders the nazi-fascist will win and take Holland to hell.

This is a usual trick in Europe. In Sweden, too, the mainstream right and left parties united in a government citing the scary Sweden’s Democrats as the reason. In France, “anybody but LePen” is the slogan of Macron’s gang.

Even in the Ukraine, the former president Yanukowych nurtured, bankrolled and promoted the fascist Freedom Party hoping that all the rest would support him as the only alternative. This plan misfired, as had every plan hatched by Viktor Yanukowych.

Wilders party is practically a single issue party: against Muslim immigrants. This year, because of influx of Syrians, the PVV had a chance to move mainstream. He was expected to win 30% of the vote in the highly fragmented elections. The dispossessed were sufficiently desperate to vote for a devil himself as long he was not a member of the government coalition. And resistance to mass immigration following Merkel’s appeal (“please come you all”) became acute.

The real Communist Left is usually against immigration: Cuban Communists are a good example. There are many Latin Americans who would love to go to Cuba, one of the more prosperous and pleasant countries in the Western hemisphere, but Cuba does not take the immigrants, as a rule. Immigration is not good for local people, and Communists are first of all for local people.

The Dutch Liberal Left was in favour of the Third World mass immigration. They thought the immigrants would vote for them, and they had as little empathy towards the native workers, as the Right had had. They belong to a comfortable well-to-do class of scholars and officials, and they do not mind immigrants, for poor immigrants with their strange customs can’t rent apartments in the prosperous areas where the leftists live and they can’t steal their jobs either.

Immigrants cause discomfort for lower classes, while the wealthy and prosperous benefit from immigration. They can get their housecleaning maids for less money. If the rich and powerful would not want it, no immigrant would cross the sea. Much as I dislike mass immigration, I’d admit: the immigrants should not be blamed, but their importers in the government and business.

In Israel, too: the Africans move into South Tel Aviv, where poor Jews lived. The poor Jews complained and they are being called “racists”, while wealthy Jews of North Tel Aviv (who allowed the Africans to come) can condemn racism of the poor Jews from a safe distance.

Immigration (like terrorism or rifles) is a misleading culprit. Rifles do not kill: people do. Immigrants will come only if the people of power will allow them, for their purpose. Immigrants are a tool in the hands of neo-liberals. People who blame immigrants are people of limited intelligence, and such people can be duped easily. This is exactly what happened with the Deplorables of Netherlands. The right-wing VVD party stole the protesting electorate of Geert Wilders as easily as yob Tim wrests a sweet out of a little Minnie’s hand.

At that time, the Turks of Netherlands (that is the Turks who kept their Turkish citizenship, a biggish community of about 400 000) were supposed to vote on changes in Turkish constitution. A Turkish minister flew in to speak to his fellow-citizens and mobilise them to vote in a certain way. In usual circumstances, this would pass unnoticed. Every day a migrant community discusses their migrant affairs. The Kurds demand their Kurdish state, the Moroccans argue for the Western Sahara; Syrians for Islam fight Syrians for Assad. So there would be an additional argument: whether Erdogan should be allowed to declare an emergency or not.

But the Right-wing (VVD) Party had to show to the Deplorables that they are every inch as awful to Turks and Muslims as Geert Wilders is, and even worse (or better), for they have power, while Wilders hasn’t got it. They refused the Turkish jet its landing request, and sent another Turkish minister out of Holland. The Turks went to protest, and the Dutch police attacked Turkish demo with ferocious German shepherd dogs.

Potential Wilders voters were ecstatic. They did not care about Erdogan, but they were happy that the Muslim ministers were kicked out of Holland and the dogs were set upon the Turks. The Far Right calls to expel the Muslims, we actually do it – that was the VVD subliminal slogan. And it worked. Despite expectations, the VVD won, the Far Right party of Geert Wilders showed a small gain, but the Labour Party (PvdA) had lost the elections completely. This party disintegrated. Some part of their electorate went to a more radical left party, but majority just left in disgust.

The Dutch establishment had managed to trump the Trump Revolution. Wilders remained in the political desert, Labour collapsed, the centre-right forces will remain at power. The voters clearly wanted a change; they refused neo-liberalism and globalisation, but they will get it anyway as a payment for being nasty to the Turks.

The correct conclusion from the Dutch elections is that the Left should move further to the left and part company with the liberal right, if it still wants to be an independent power.


The French elections began from the point at which the Dutch ended: the disintegration of the Socialist Party. Nothing to regret: that party became a twin of the liberal Right and pursued the same sort of policies. The Socialists annoyed workers by their anti-worker laws penned by Macron, they annoyed the Catholics by forcing gay marriage laws. A Socialist candidate got 6 per cent of the vote in the first round.

The leftist cause has been saved by Melenchon. Not only did he do well in the first round, but he even refused to support Macron in the second round. It would be better if he were to openly support Marine LePen, but probably that would be too hard for French Left.

As things are, a French leftist has no choice but to vote for LePen. Le Pen is not Geert Wilders, she is not a single cause person. She has strong Communist support. She is not an ideal candidate for the Left, but beggars can’t be choosers.

If she wins, the Revolution started by Trump’s election will continue. If she fails, we’ll be back to square one. The surprise win of Trump will have been wasted. The people in power learned their lesson.

Perhaps now the Left-vs.-Right division is irrelevant; what is relevant is the attitude to globalism and neo-liberalism. Perhaps. Theoretically I can agree. We could say that perhaps Bannon will do better than Trotsky. But now we see that the anti-globalist right is failing its promise. Bannon is out, and Trump is not sure whether he will send Mrs Janet Yellen of FRS home packing. So this is the time for the Left to attack the bastion of the bankers and their ilk.

The anti-globalist right will not disappear anyway; a rejuvenated Left of Lenin’s sons should consider them as possible allies. However, revolutions succeed when they are led by decisive and thoroughly men, and such men can emerge on both sides of the political spectrum.

Israel Shamir can be reached at

This article was first published at The Unz Review.

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