The latest and perhaps most egregious example of Jacobin promoting right-wing politics is the eulogy of Eduard Limonov, founder of Russia’s National Bolshevik Party. Its author, Maciej Zurowski, describes himself as a Marxist yet was excited by the Nazi symbols employed by Limonov and his followers:
Pictures of “Nazbol” demonstrations were intriguing: there were black-clad Russian punk girls and skinheads marching in tight formation, extending their arms to display a cross between a Roman salute and the clenched fist of the Red Front. Their banner: essentially a hammer and sickle superimposed on a Nazi flag. Images of Stalin, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, and sometimes Sid Vicious . . . It all looked amazing, and I consumed the visuals like fascist pornography.
Zurowski goes on to gloss over the violent record of Limonov’s “National Bolsheviks” or NazBols and denies their fascist character:
Moreover, unlike fascist movements, the Nazbols were never a particularly violent bunch, confining themselves to spectacular actions, stunts, and damaging property — always directed against those “above,” never kicking down.
As Bellingcat’s Aric Toler pointed out on Twitter:
It seems Zurowski is something of a NazBol sympathizer himself since throughout the piece he consistently downplays Limonov’s thirst for blood (whether in Ukraine or Bosnia) and lies about his subject, writing “nor was Limonov personally a racist or antisemite.” Limonov’s racist diatribes say otherwise. “The swastika has no chance in our country,” he lamented. His solution? Ditch the Nazi flag’s black swastika for a hammer and sickle.
The blowback from leftist Twitter over the Limonov eulogy was so intense that Jacobin deleted the tweet below which accurately reflected the piece’s effusive tone:
Here are some more examples of Jacobin pushing right-wing politics:
- Uncritically interviewing pro-Trump anti-vaxx conspiracy theorist Russell Brand.
- Hailing the government of Saudi Arabia for financing a professional golf association that gives players some of the prize money and pairs them into teams of 3, as if this is some sort of advance for workers’ rights or an example of socialism.
- Publishing a defense of Joe Rogan after he was removed from Spotify for spreading anti-vaxx misinformation and disinformation.
- Publishing a piece validating Q-Anon conspiracy theorists who stormed Capitol Hill in an unsuccessful attempt to disrupt the Electoral College certifying Joe Biden winner of the 2020 election and calling them “a true Rainbow Coalition.”
- Publishing a piece labelling Trump “the greatest US president in history” after falsely crediting his administration for the development of mRNA technology which could revolutionize medicine by paving the way for HIV and flu vaccines.
- Conducting a methodologically unsound study criticizing Congresswomen Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley for allegedly using “woke” rhetoric.
- Publishing an uncritical interview with Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a proponent of the so-called “herd immunity” strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19. Kulldorff is the co-author of a Koch-backed statement known as the Great Barrington Declaration and wrote a piece calling for schools to be reopened to deliberately infect students in the vain hope of facilitating herd immunity. He also praised Sweden’s refusal to lockdown their economy or schools during the COVID-19 pandemic (which resulted in the fifth-highest per capita death rate in Europe) and collaborated with Republican officials, giving them scientific cover for their ideological opposition to lockdowns.
- Calling on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to not only “embrace Brexit” but specifically hard Brexit.
- Calling for a no-deal Brexit, the hardest of all hard Brexits.
- Publishing Koch brothers-funded climate change denier James Heartfield, who later went on to stand as a candidate for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.
- Unblocking anti-Semitic NazBol Caleb Maupin on Twitter.
- Publishing a sympathetic piece on the pro-Trump anti-science anti-lockdown protests in which right-wing Christian militia leader Christian Yingling was portrayed as a victim of economic circumstances.
- Publishing a sympathetic interview with Ammon Bundy who led armed right-wing vigilantes to occupy federal land (the interview was retracted after other media outlets exposed that it was a hoax).
- Publishing an anti-union piece arguing that workers employed by left-wing political campaigns should not engage in strikes or other labor actions and likened them to police unions which protect officers guilty of assault and murder.
- Publishing Meagan Day’s praise for Tucker Carlson’s “populism” and his “better days.”
- Publishing articles by plagiarist Angela Nagle* who touted the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act in an article for the pro-Trump magazine American Affairs and went on to Tucker Carlson’s show to attack Democratic Socialists of America.
- Publishing an article opposing enforcing child support laws against deadbeat dads (a staple Men’s Rights Activist position).
- Publishing Thomas Fazi who retweeted an anti-Semitic attack on left-wing Jews from self-proclaimed NazBols, argued that immigration threatens national culture, and criticized Italy’s Five-Star government for not cracking down harder on immigrants.
- Publishing an anti-Semitic Tweet that British Jews aren’t British.
- Publishing a defense of the 2020 Bernie Sanders campaign’s promotion of homophobic racist misogynist podcaster Joe Rogan.
- Publishing a piece opposing the firing of racists and Nazis.
- Publishing Jacob Fawcett’s digital blackface sock account “Carl Beijer.”
- Interviewing Die Linke MP Sahra Wagenknecht without pushing back against her bigoted anti-immigrant statements or her Islamophobic remark that the president of Turkey is a “terrorist.”
- Doxxing a whistleblower during Trump’s impeachment just as pro-Trump publications did.
Why does Jacobin push right-wing positions and figures? Part of the answer is that the magazine’s founder Bhaskar Sunkara* adheres to no principle other than the pursuit of profit and anything that generates clicks is good for business.
More fundamentally, Jacobin adheres to what’s known as “class first” leftism in which struggles against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression (even fascism!) are downplayed, ignored, or opposed which opens the door to all sorts of reactionary and right-wing politics masquerading as ‘left’ or ‘progressive’ (NazBols and Strasserism being the most extreme examples of how far this phenomenon can go; Blue Labour is perhaps a more relevant example for Western contexts).
The magazine — which represents a definite political tendency with Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) despite differences of opinion between authors and editors — believes Sanders’ presidential campaigns are a model of “class first” leftism that American socialists should emulate. See for example this now-deleted Tweet posted after Sanders won the Nevada caucus:
In reality, the Sanders campaign’s victory in Nevada had everything to do with “lazy culture-based outreach”:
Across California, and in neighboring Nevada and Texas, the Sanders campaign has also put on soccer matches and house parties, some billed as “Tamales for Tío Bernie,” an affectionate Spanish-language term for “Uncle Bernie.”
The campaign wants to be deeply embedded in Latino communities, said Bianca Recto, communications director for the campaign in Nevada. She said at least half of the 200 paid staff on the ground ahead of the caucuses are people of color, many of them locals.
The irony here is that “class first” leftism is a great way to keep the progressive and socialist movements overwhelmingly white and middle/upper-class in composition and appeal.
*Bhaskar Sunkara deleted all his tweets about/defending Angela Nagle. Perhaps he has finally come around to the radical idea that pushing right-wing figures and politics ‘but from the left’ is actually bad.