November 29, 2021 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Are Republicans heirs of Lenin?
Not quite, but the comparison is instructive.
Jack Dorsey announced this morning that he plans to step down as head of Twitter. That prompted Candace Owens to say the following: “I’ve been telling people for years. Jack Dorsey is not your enemy. He is a prisoner at his own company. Good thing the Parler app is finally working properly and looks amazing. The communists will fully run Twitter soon.”
If you don’t already know Candice Owens, all you need to know is that she’s a koshering virtuoso. Like some Jewish people who make anti-Semitism seem respectable, Owens, who is Black, makes white supremacy seem fine and dandy. She appears to think Jack Dorsey had been some kind of bulwark against liberal sensibilities. Now that he’s leaving, she said, “the communists will fully run Twitter soon.”
The difference is a matter of origins. Lenin’s communism is mob rule arising from the left. The GOP’s fascism is mob rule arising from the right.
I don’t care what Owens thinks about anything. Neither should you. Every word she says — including “a” and “the” — is a variety of bad faith. Even hyping Parler is deceptive. Authoritarians can’t succeed from the margins of media and society, where Parler is. To sabotage their enemies, they must appear as respectable as a Black woman koshering white supremacy. By blaming the “communists,” Owens is reminding followers of what they already believe true: they are the real victims.
While I don’t care about Owens, and neither should you, we should care about the use of the right’s rhetoric of slander, of which the word “communist” has long played a part in American history. Liberals and progressives first looked to the government as a force of social reform in the early 20th century. Around that time, the Russian Revolution occurred (1917). Since then, the American right has smeared liberals by associating their policies and objectives with godless communism.
The history of the rhetoric of slander is so pernicious it’s hard, if not impossible, for a lot of (white) Americans to see what might be obvious otherwise. When the right accuses liberals of being communist (or socialist), they are covering up the common purpose they share with actual communists. Both factions are collectivist. Both are implacable. Both aim to replace the established order. Both regard the process of democratic reform as liberal decadence requiring the purifying violence of revolution. The difference is origins. Communism is mob rule arising from the left. Fascism is mob rule arising from the right.
Bayer and Richter: [The Democrats] are offering better health care, services for the elderly and educational assistance. Meanwhile, their Republican “colleagues” are stirring hatred in the mob toward all those measures — just like Lenin did back in 1917.
That such slander is so pernicious as to prevent most (white) Americans from seeing what might be obvious otherwise means there’s an opportunity for international media outlets to say what needs saying. Such is the case for The Globalist. Though based in Washington, the publication takes a globalized European view of economics, politics and culture in order to inform readers “how the world hangs together.”
And as far as I know, editor Stephan Richter, who is German, and senior editor Alexei Bayer, who is Russian, are the only writers to make the connection between the Republicans and the Bolsheviks. In a piece posted this month, they said: “The parallels between the Leninist power usurpation in early 20th century Russia and the Trumpian brigades in today’s United States are becoming ever more eerie.”
Nothing in modern Western history has ever come so close to the storming of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg as the events of January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC, when a riotous mob stormed the US Capitol. Ironically, these forces were out to preserve the rule of their “Czar,” Donald Trump, who had been defeated for re-election.
Most Americans associate mobs with the left on account of the right aggressively slandering the left for decades. Bayer and Richter, both of whom lived under the shadow of the Soviet Union, know better. While “the mob on the left also showed up in the summer of 2020 [and] turned legitimate protests against police brutality into a violent mob bacchanal,” they wrote, it’s the people ready to accuse the Democratic Party of being a den of communists who are the true heirs of chaos.
“The mainstream Democratic Party has denounced those riots,” Bayer and Richter wrote on Nov. 6. “Meanwhile, the Republican Party has transformed itself into the Party of Trump and therefore into the Party of Mob Rule. It is channeling its inner Leninist and baiting the mob.”
[The Democrats] passed an infrastructure bill and are proposing many long overdue measures to improve the lives of ordinary people. To this end, they are offering better health care, services for the elderly and educational assistance. Meanwhile, their Republican “colleagues” are stirring hatred in the mob toward all those measures — just like Lenin did back in 1917.
It’s an imperfect analogy. Like I said, the GOP is mob rule arising from the right. It seeks to maintain, to the point of sedition, the hierarchies of power by which rugged white individuals stand on top. Lenin and his revolutionaries were mob rule arising from the left. They sought to flatten Russian society to the point of murdering everyone in it.
That it takes, however, a global media outlet that sees American politics from a European perspective to point out the similarities between them is instructive. The right’s rhetoric of slander has such a hold on Americans most can’t see what’s in front of them.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.