The latest uproar in liberal-progressive media circles concerns mule-faced Jimmy Dore’s vile sexual harassment of former co-worker Ana Kasparian when the two worked at The Young Turks. The episode offers a fascinating opportunity to consider a social network analysis of what passes for radical alternative media these days.
What if we’re all being taken for a ride by the most ridiculous locker room squabble in contemporary American letters? Could it be that many of our major radical “debates” on social media are brought about by a small, feuding clique of loud-mouthed Gen X and Millennial wannabe pundits who a) are not serious journalists, and b) don’t dare get a real job?
If you compile a list of the major personalities that figure into our contemporary Left discourse, it becomes apparent that this is a crew that gravitated around the same liberal blogs during the ‘Aughts. Look at the names:
- Jimmy Dore
- Ana Kasparian
- Glenn Greenwald
- Matt Taibbi
- Ben Norton
- Max Blumenthal
- Anya Parampil
- Cenk Uygur
- Naomi Klein
- Aaron Mate
- Jeremy Scahill
All these “Left” media personalities got their starts at the same publications and websites, among them:
- The Nation
- The Young Turks
- Democracy Now!
- Huffington Post
- Rolling Stone
While these writers now significantly diverge in their viewpoints, back then they were basically photocopies of one another, sharing a number of traits.
- An instinctive rejection of post-9/11 US surveillance state and the “war on terror,” even if some were surprisingly wishy-washy about the Clinton administration’s Iraq and Kosovo policies;
- Obliviousness about important events of the 2000’s, such as the Bolivarian Revolution or the impending collapse of the housing bubble;
- A “follow-the-money” notion of geopolitical power analysis that often seemed to parody Oliver Stone’s most shallow conspiracy theorism;
- Endorsement of the “Vote Blue No Matter Who” Lesser Evil electoral strategy;
- A jaw-dropping level of hypocrisy and cynicism about racism, which is not surprising given the group’s nearly unbearable whiteness of being;
- A laughable style indebted to Foucault, Derrida, and other chic Parisian gurus that could be found at a liberal arts seminar circa 1988, whose observations Noam Chomsky some 30 years ago derided as truisms camouflaged as profundity.
The intellectual vacuity and editorial banality of these scribblers masks a childish comprehension of political economy, American history, and the ideological development arc of the Anglophone Left. Roughly half of this crew are more conservative than the ACLU during the Eisenhower years and the other half plagiarize from tiresome 1970s polemics written by Bob Avakian.
This is one of the reasons why the American Left is such a joke. These scribbling idiots maintain a de facto segregation of the discourse that drowns out a diversity of more interesting voices and opinions.
When was the last time that you read a radical polemic on The Grayzone or The Jimmy Dore Show that was translated from Spanish? Maybe there are Latin American voices that could inform the views of lefty US activists seeking political power?
While these folks will showcase one or two Latin writers that agree with them, you surely know the drill with anyone who disagrees: Criticism of the Nicolas Maduro government in Venezuela or Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua makes you, ipso facto, a tool of imperialism in the eyes of Jimmy’s pedantic fan club, the Doreskins. The following is a case in point:
Venezuela has been an economic basket case for years now, due in part to Washington sanctions but also because of President Maduro’s own policies, which often follow the neoliberal model. After years of offering critical support, the Communist Party (PCV) publicly broke with the government in Fall 2020.
Oscar Figuera told Cira Pascual Marquina, a teacher, political organizer, and writer for Venezuelanalysis.com in Caracas, that Communists and other leftists were creating their own independent coalition and rejecting Maduro’s rightward trajectory. “Our strategic objective is…regrouping the popular revolutionary currents that identify themselves with [Hugo] Chavez’s most advanced proposals,” Figuera said.
Predictably, Maduro responded with the paranoid declaration “There are some splitters out there trying to damage Chavismo from within. Beware of divisionists who try to call themselves Marxist-Leninist and who are ‘more Chavista than Chávez.’ Be careful because behind them is the hand of US imperialism. Be alert in the neighborhoods, in the universities, in the streets.”
Meanwhile, just as predictably, there’s been nary a peep from The Grayzone about the emergence of a new 10-party coalition opposing Maduro. Then again, why cover developments that complicate your ridiculous, juvenile narrative?
The lack of political imagination among this clique of “journalists” stymies an actual Left mass movement and will relegate radicals to a ghetto nursed on crass conspiracy theories and marked by hipster posturing.
Meanwhile, the planet is baking, Jeff Bezos is floating in space and the border still resembles a concentration camp. President Biden has successfully utilized Senator Joe Manchin to stymie a progressive agenda, which could hand Republicans a 2022 midterm victory.
Great way to utilize your platforms, kids!