What To Do With Russiagate in 2022?

Now that a significant portion of the American population is willing to risk mutual nuclear annihilation because they dislike Russia I might owe some of the anti-Russiagate people an apology. Such an attitude about risking nuclear war may seem surprising until we remember that most of us have been asleep at the wheel even when we know climate change will take most of us down within a generation or two.

Bringing in our collective death a generation earlier, especially when one is an older person who watches cable news, doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. Saying this out loud gives me the shivers. But it’s even worse that no one is talking about this death cult. So let’s just call it what it is. The ruling class is not afraid to end all of life on earth. Preferably not today, but yes, within the century.

Why then talk about the left and Russiagate if we’re all about to die? Because it’s fun. We love the left and we want to talk about the left before we die. Why not? To be clear I don’t see nuclear apocalypse as inevitable or even that likely. A major accident is extremely likely and the harm caused by that will be historical. However, let’s assume just for a moment that no one is crazy enough to wipe the entire planet out yet.

Let’s revisit Russiagate. This was the number one story for both liberals and many leftists for a number of years after Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016. Looking back at it the most depressing thing about the whole ordeal was that the Bernie Sanders movement, such as it was, really wasn’t seen as a big enough threat to the status quo for the liberals to spend too much time blaming it.

They rather chose to conjure up ghosts of Cold War past and turn Trump-Putin into some sort of Red-Brown alliance when neither were communists or close to it. We should be disheartened that the New Cold War was not fought against insurgent socialism at home but rather against imaginary socialism abroad.

Bernie Sanders and others who claimed to be socialists were absorbed into the Democratic Party and were enlisted in the war against this fascism. Finding no place else to go I admit that I became one of the many people who thought of themselves as left who enlisted in this battle.

This was in part because the only alternative appeared to be forces even worse. Rather than oppose Trump and Clinton many jumped ship straight to Trump. Then came the virus and I found myself again taking up reactionary positions in reaction to the reactionary anti-liberalism of the left. I regret all of that because it felt like a war against the left which is exactly what both sides were brought into. Sure I regret bashing those who bashed Russiagate. But I still have to ask where were they taking us. Was it a place any better?

Now for the first time since I became interested in the left I am seeing a unity amongst the left starting to emerge. It is no surprise that this unity comes from peace itself. Finding peace in the world is helping the left find peace with itself.

For the first time in a long time I am not hearing leftists accusing each other of secretly being liberal fascists or conservative fascists. Whenever someone would take a stand in favor of public health in regards to the coronavirus they would be accused of being a liberal fascist. Noam Chomsky got accused by many leftists of being a murderer for supporting vaccine protections for the working class. Likewise, anyone who supported freedom of movement in the form of anti-lockdowns or bodily autonomy in regards to vaccines was labeled a conservative fascist and yes you guessed it, a murderer.

But now there is unity on the left and it’s very exciting. I am not seeing leftists trying to out each other as Kremlin robots. Nor am I seeing leftists trying to out each other as American nationalists. Rather I am seeing leftists joining hands and saying no to war. No to war between leftists and no to war against the working class.

There is no fog of war. To the contrary, the left is finding a space where neither ruling class propaganda machine dares to go. The propaganda machines of the ruling class have attempted to divide us. They have tried and they have failed.

The ruling class has revealed itself as a class with false opposition within its ranks. Both sides claim to have an independent interest that represents a certain segment of the population. But we are seeing that all of this is a cover for more war against the working class and the ecology that sustains us. We are told that sanctions are within our interest and against the other side when we know while it may hurt our sisters and brothers more than us, it hurts us too.

In times of war I see how the conservative left would question identity politics which was first adopted by the ruling class in order to expand the war effort, propagandize the marginalized and save the privileged from battle. I can see how the conservative left now detested the liberal left’s attempt to mobilize the state against the people, be it with coronavirus restrictions or protections for marginalized communities.

Likewise, I hope the conservative left sees how their war against liberals had collateral damage against the most marginalized and how the freedom they advocated for was itself a divisive identity weaponization of privilege. I hope they recognize that the freedom they advocated for was just libertarianism that granted private benefits and grievance fulfillment to certain classes while leaving the poor they claimed to be representing far behind.

Within my heart, I am still hostile towards the conservative left. I see them as advocating for damaging positions. How does one get over that? It’s difficult because the conservative left seemed to be against solidarity with many people. There is no sense in being stuck in a deadlock. We all have our preferences. We can call out the conservative left and stand with them. It’s possible.

So yes I was wrong to bash the left who bashed Russiagate. Maybe I still am. I can’t help it. But I am just as wrong as they were. The only mistake now is to be at war with any other living being on earth.

Maybe I’m not speaking in the past tense. Maybe this war amongst the left is still happening and it is still necessary. Why? Because this is a war for peace that isn’t violent. Maybe the conservative left wins. Maybe compromise with them is so awful that it hurts lots of people. We would have to oppose such peace. At the same time, we’re aiming for peace. For everything. For absolute peace.

Now I’ve complicated things. I just said end war within the left and yet I’m still on the battlefield. However, what I’m attempting to do is recognize the worth of my opponent as a fellow traveler on earth. I will attempt to recognize this, forgive the person, understand the person and wish the best for them. I wish them no harm. I wish them no actual war. But a non-violent war between the left isn’t over and it will never be. Peace is not an endpoint but rather a willful war to maintain peace at all times. We will not rest until we achieve peace. When we achieve peace there is no end because the world is constantly changing and the peace must be maintained in a new way continually.

The wars fought now are called fifth-generation wars. This means massive propaganda efforts aided by technology. This was Russiagate and the fog it created that geared us up for this conflict. This too was Trump, a master of propaganda who fooled many leftists I am offering an olive branch to now.

Is it this simple? A real war can bring an end to fake ones? No. Even comparing the leftist battles to real ones feels like a fantasy that dismisses the tragic loss of life. One day we can live in a world where the skirmishes between leftists matter. One day these skirmishes won’t just be tailing real wars the people have no agency in. One day peace will rule the day and conflict will he settled through debates like the left is having now rather than violence that erases dissent.

There is no competing with the modern weaponry of today. There is no war that can be won and therefore no war that should be fought. Our last weapon is peace. Let’s use it.

So we’re defining these terms. Left, liberal, conservative. The liberal and conservative positions represent those in power. The left is not in power. Therefore the left is forced to choose between being a liberal leftist, a conservative leftist, or a person without power. Is there peace in power? No. Is there power in peace? Yes.

Where does left end and liberal/conservative begin? Leftism ends when you bash the left. I refuse to do it. On the left, I find peace within the world even if the left is at war with itself.

Who cares and what on earth is this all about? Nobody cares and this is about nothing. Let’s move on.

The real position between the left and right is that the left is about universalism and the right is about particularism. This can be individualism but also about nationalism, or patriarchal family, white supremacy, middle-class exceptionalism that is transnational, human superiority, etc. Crucially for our moment it can be about privileging this time over the future when we’re all dead. Even the future of the world when we’re all extinct must be treated with equality to our present time.

In war the particular interest becomes clear and while both sides seem to fight each other what we actually find out is the left position is one of peace for all sides. Of course this also implies other values. Not just non-violence. This peace must be equal or else violence becomes necessary against the tyranny of unjust peace. This peace also implies that all sides have a mutual understanding of not only peace (pretty easy to understand) but also equality (which most of us conveniently disagree upon in order to further our own interests).

In fifth generation war this peace of understanding of equality seems like a particularly arduous task. I’ll shut up now so we can get to it.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com