Part II. “Turd Positionism”: On Alex Hochuli and Other Softcore Trumpists

Plus: On American Affairs, Julius Krein, Catherine Liu and Other Hardcore Trumpists


[Note: This is Part II of a three-part series. To read Part I click here.]

Alex Hochuli is another self-described Marxist who sees no contradiction with writing for American Affairs while allegedly helping pave the way with his mental musings for the Proletariat Revolution. Last week he published The Brazilianification of the World, which like most of his work on the country does not raise eyebrows and is perhaps meant to camouflage his true motivations, like a mini-Greenwald.

At any rate, I’m sure Julius Krein appreciates him for providing his shabby rag with valuable intellectual window dressing. He frequently writes for Jacobin and is closely associated with Andre Pagliarini, Benjamin Fogel and Sabrina Fernandes, who all write about Brazil. Hochuli also runs Aufhebunga Bunga, “the global politics podcast,” once carried on the Jacobin website, which he hosts along with George Hoare and Phillip Cunliffe. He is another character, who, like the degenerates profiled last week and earlier today, is defined by a posturing antagonism to an abstract left. He also frequently deploys arcane theory gibberish to baffle his intellectually insecure audience.

What rubbish. The man is a veritable factory of drivel.

Hochuli is a figure that is hard to nail down: slippery, protean, obscurantist. At any rate, he’s a more sophisticated sophist than most of this crowd, although that is not saying much. He’s nothing more than Aimee Terese with a Master’s in Philosophy. As a slick, pseudo-left entrepreneur, he regularly brings other slick, similarly-minded grifters on his show to promote slick pseudo-leftism. Nagle, Tracey, Anna Khachiyan and Catherine Liu, who I’ll mention later, are all friends of the podcast.     

In episode 145 of Bunga, Hochuli plugs American Affairs, citing Nagle and Tracey’s embarrassing article as an example of the “good stuff” the journal is producing, before introducing his guest, none other than his colleague at American Affairs, Julius Krein. In the hour-long interview, characterized by soft-ball questions and broad agreement, the hosts allow Krein to present himself in the most favorable light and sell himself and his journal to Bunga’s naive, leftoid audience by speaking about the “corruption” he witnessed as a “contractor” in Afghanistan. He also employs terms like “materialism” to pass off the conservative publication as a modern-day Iskra.

Cunliffe, referencing an article Krein wrote for The American Conservative, sycophantically sucks up to him, saying, “I found so little to disagree with.” In the same episode he describes American Affairs as “penetrating.” Someone is definitely being penetrated, but I’m not sure Cunliffe knows who it is. 

Hochuli and his band are regular purveyors of the “PMC” moral panic. Anyone who works for a living is working class, it’s fair to say, but the wide spectrum of compensation within that category has created a captive subgroup who do not always identify with working class politics and who can sometimes act as a roadblock to implementing working class policy. 

This goes for well-compensated blue collar workers in the trades as well as for white collar workers in an office building. There is no “middle class” or “PMC” in Marxist theory that I’m aware of, yet Hochuli and his crew fulminate endlessly against this nebulous non-class as the real enemy. It’s nothing more than thinly-veiled anti-intellectualism and baseless culture war that has nothing to do with Marxist critique. This would be fine if they didn’t insist on their own elitism as “true Marxist working class whisperers.” In reality, they’re all about dividing the working class, “telling necessary truths to the left,” and ultimately “snuffing out the left” and preventing any movement from starting. 

It’s entirely possible that they’re incoherent, reactionary and also the plural of a four-letter word I’d prefer not to mention, but starts with a “c” and ends with a “t.” The three fields, it should be noted, are not mutually exclusive.

Hochuli’s partner in crime, George Hoare, routinely pens essays throwing water on left populism in Damaged Mag. It’s clear that the Bunga co-host is engaged in the same contrarian project of all the charlatans I’ve profiled. In “Moral Minoritarianism from the Ashes of Left Populism” Hoare applies the same faulty reasoning as Nagle and Tracey when it’s his turn to dissect the demise of the wing of the British Labour Party led by socialist Jeremy Corbyn.

“The movement collapsed under the weight of its internal contradictions, unable to maintain the alliance between young, urban, and university-educated progressives at the core of the new membership and of Momentum, and the ordinary working people catalyzed behind the new leadership,” Whore opines.

No, that’s not what happened. The movement “collapsed” because Corbyn was sabotaged by the Labour Party’s own leadership. There was broad enough support for Corbyn to have become prime minister, as demonstrated by the fact that he came within a hair’s breadth of Number 10 Downing in the 2017 general election. Yet the chicanery and treachery of his own party leadership may have been decisive in thwarting him. Tactical considerations such as these are never mentioned because they do not align with the culture war these people insist on waging.

Like Greenwald, Hochuli relies on his professed opposition to Bolsonaro to downplay dangers posed by the extreme right in the Anglo world. He also publishes demented concern-trolling on behalf of Donald Trump. Take this stupid essay published in (Brain)Damaged Mag on December 17, 2020, whose first line was hilariously discredited just a few weeks later — on January 6th, 2021, to be precise: “The sight of Trump peacefully leaving office next month should put an end, once and for all, to the debate about whether he is a fascist.” Never mind that he did not leave office peacefully, but desperately launched a series of baseless lawsuits to cling to power and when that didn’t work exhorted his deranged followers to violently storm the Capitol.

The attempted coup was damn serious, though it was not without its comic elements. Indeed, it seemed like the participants in the Beer Belly Putsch thought they were in a video game and that entering the building would activate the level-end trigger. 

Nevertheless, they still briefly seized an organ of the state and disrupted the constitutional transfer of power. Coups can be half-baked, coups can be comical and coups can be stupid, but they can still be coups. Indeed, many of my friends in Brazil, a country which has had no shortage of coups, described it as such, but Hochuli couldn’t take the L. Instead, he took to Twitter to issue strained apologetics on Trump’s behalf. I’ll say this for Hochuli: he’s nothing if not consistent and his current performance as a crypto fascist is wholly consistent with his sordid origins as a crypto fascist during his college years.

While studying at the University of Kent in the UK, Hochuli became involved in the LM network, a loosely connected series of individuals and institutions pushing an extreme libertarian ideology. I won’t bore you with the details, but LM, an abbreviation of Living Marxism, was a Trotskyist cult that splintered from another Trotskyist cult, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). 

As is typical of far-left organizations, Living Marxism preached extreme laissez faire policies with provocative, contrarian rhetoric. Organizations within this umbrella also received funding from a myriad of corporations, including IBM, Cadbury Schweppes, Pfizer, Novartis and the Society of the Chemical Industry, along with a whole host of right-wing think tanks. 

Sound familiar? At base, these individuals and organizations advocated tirelessly for the rights of mega-corporations to liberate mankind from nature and despoil the planet untrammeled by any laws or regulations. They also argued in favor of some truly batshit positions, such as that human cloning and genetic engineering would be humanity’s salvation.

I’ll cite here some typical Living Marxism article titles from issue 108, published in 1998, to give you a flavor of the publication: Sexual Harassment or Harmless Fun?, Fox Hunting is Fun, Unabomber: a Darker Shade of Green, which argues that environmentalists are the equivalent of Ted Kaczynski, and When Indecency Is In the Eye of the Beholder, a stomach- turning defense of convicted rapist and child pornographer Ron Oliver. Elsewhere in the storied pages of LM you’ll find ruminations on perennial Marxist themes such as: cigarettes aren’t addictive, cars don’t cause air pollution and low speed limits kill more pedestrians, along with all manner of child abuse skepticism from the twisted mind of chief LM theoretician and American Affairs contributor Frank Furedi.

LM, carrying on the traditions of the RCP, was a strong proponent of entryism and has shown remarkable success infiltrating the media, even dominating scientific and environmental broadcasting on the BBC’s Channel 4. It scored a major coup with the airing of the documentary Against Nature. As detailed by The Guardian in a 2003 article by George Monbiot:

In the late-1990s, the group began infiltrating the media, with remarkable success. For a while, it seemed to dominate scientific and environmental broadcasting on Channel 4 and the BBC. It used these platforms (Equinox, Against Nature, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Counterblast, Zeitgeist) to argue that environmentalists were Nazi sympathizers who were preventing human beings from fulfilling their potential. In 2000, LM magazine was sued by ITN, after falsely claiming that the news organization’s journalists had fabricated evidence of Serb atrocities against Bosnian Muslims. LM closed, and was resurrected as the web Magazine Spiked and the Institute of Ideas think tank. 

To this day, nobody knows what the fuck Living Marxism was really about. Another Guardian article, License to Rile, published in 1999, made a few guesses:

Ever since Living Marxism began publishing 11 years ago, it has drawn rumours: that it is subsidised by the Serbs; that it is secretly funded by a South African millionaire; that it is a front organisation for the British security services; for right-wing think tanks; for American corporations. The magazine is too well-run, these theories usually go, too suddenly successful, too disconnected from the Left, to be a genuine part of the political fringe. Instead, its accusers say, Living Marxism is really an agent provocateur, deliberately discrediting other radicals by its shrill, erratic opinions. There is another school of thought, however. It notes LM’s pale young staff, and publicity-seeking, and po-faced offensiveness, and concludes that the magazine is a joke, a complicated and long-sustained prank to point up the exhaustion of the British Left. It’s just that not everyone gets it yet.

Whatever it was, it appears, and this is a hunch, that between 2007 and 2008 Hochuli became a disciple of University of Kent Sociologist and Living Marxism guru Frank Furedi and was involved in a number of front organizations for the LM network, like “the Modern Movement,” of which Hochuli was the founder. The Modern Movement emerged to combat the efforts of “Plane Stupid” a group composed of environmental and community activists protesting the expansion of Heathrow airport. 

Here, a young Hochuli argues that bulldozing homes, harming the environment and building bigger airports so that people like him can more easily traipse around the globe is a sign of progress: “The ability to travel, to see the world, to work abroad, to live abroad, to have other people come here is more important than dealing with climate change.” He later adds that a cheaper flight on an airplane is worth the costs, and that there is still significant debate about climate change.

Hochuli made his case in a Spiked article, Why I’m Standing Up for the Right to Fly, writing:

Seeing the world beyond one’s own patch is an experience that should not be underestimated – and most people recognise this. In spite of strident and continual attacks on aviation by green campaigners, people refuse, quite rightly, to have their holidays abroad taken away. This is a freedom gained quite recently, but one that has quickly been integrated into people’s lives and expectations. 

Using Marxist-sounding buzzwords to discredit his environmentalist enemies like “green austerity,” Hochuli argues, in keeping with the Marxist tradition, that jet-setting consumers are the true revolutionary subject and that building a third runway will be a breakthrough for mankind by allowing ruddy-faced limey pricks to more easily get pissed in Barcelona and vomit all over the steps of La Sagrada Familia. Likewise, a bougie fuck like Hochuli can more cheaply and easily fly to Brazil to do whatever nefarious bullshit he’s probably up to there.

It’s simple actually. Spiked, as detailed in this article by the Guardian, received sizable donations from oil and gas billionaires Charles and David Koch. A bigger Heathrow airport means more planes there which means more oil, which means more money for the Koch brothers. How’s that for a penetrating Marxist analysis? Yet Hochuli disguises his true intentions with his pseudo Marxist jargon, which he currently does as a pseudo left podcaster. Incidentally, his article in Spiked concerning Heathrow expansion contains a link to the Modern Movement webpage, which now appears to be a site offering tips on how to find the right online casino.

Make of that what you will.

[Note: End Part II. Part III coming tomorrow.]

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Tony Belletier is a teacher, occasional writer and satirist. Follow him on Twitter @tonybelletier.