What Are We Fighting For and What Are We Fighting Against?

It appears to be true that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. According to Anton Shekhovtsov, Russia is also responsible for the rise of far-right fringe politicians and ideologues in Europe. In his book, Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir, Shekhovtsov explains how this came to be and how the coalition of Russian politicians with fringe far-right characters, has given each of them influence that they could never have achieved alone.

Before I go on, I should mention a problem I have with this book. This problem can be summed up by the fact that Shekhovtsov supports Ukraine’s entry into NATO. In other words, he tends to interpret the phenomenon from a neocon’s perspective. However he provides copious citations for each chapter and, if that is not enough for progressive readers, please consider the election of Donald Trump and his far-right echo chamber in Europe and South America.

Progressives were correct to reject the expansion of NATO in Ukraine—it was the favorite project of trigger-happy warmongers at the helm of the US government. However, in my view this book demonstrates the futility of a military response. It also makes the case that the return of the arms race has as much to do with far-right ideology as it does with neocon hubris. Neo-fascists have dreamed of a third world war since the 1940s. And now they have a man in the White House.

The most important thing I got from this book, and the best reason for voting today in the midterm election, is that the ultimate goal of this coalition is the destruction of Western liberal democracy. Given his obvious bias in this matter it’s not surprising that Shekhovtsov ignores the part neoliberalism has played in the destruction of liberal democracy, but his approach has had a positive effect on me. It helped me realize that both of our major political parties have lost the true meaning of ‘liberalism’.

It can be argued that in the 2016 election Bernie Sanders was the sole representative of the liberal tradition. This would explain why both the corporate Democrats and the right-wing Republicans were so desperate to keep him down. In fact, they appeared to conspire with each other in this goal. Liberal democracy truly is under attack, but it is no longer embodied by the US government. For example, look at the conservative pundits who actually think the word ‘liberal’ is a bad word. In reality, liberalism is the cornerstone of our republic.

A frightening conclusion that can be drawn from this book is that Donald Trump never intended to make America great, whatever that means. His affinity with the global far right can be seen in his infatuation with nuclear rearmament, his encouragement of white nationalism, his stance toward China, his tariffs, his desire to abolish NATO, and many other policies. It therefore follows that he shares the far right’s central precept, which is hatred of liberal democracy.

Please see Encyclopedia Britannica’s article on liberalism.. It reveals that our government once had the ability to respond to economic conditions, whereas the current global regime has no intention of responding to conditions of any kind. This may be explained—at least in part—by the influence of non-American and/or un-American actors in our electoral system and in our media.

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