Michael Rectenwald and other left/ex-left identity politics critics

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 28 2017 20:55
Michael Rectenwald and other left/ex-left identity politics critics

It seems that Michael Rectenwald now supports Trump. I remember on facebook a couple of years ago he was well-respected by some leftcom/marxist people (I too found his comments often sound). Here are some of his articles:

http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11411
http://insurgentnotes.com/2015/07/syriza-and-sanders-just-say-no-to-neo-liberalism/

It seems he started an "experiment" to pose as a friend of the rightwing (on twitter, apparently also setting up a newssite "Citizens for Legitimate Government"). I did not really understand his explanation for that (which he gave on some self-described Marxist podcasts).

So what is happening? Why this silence? For example, the usual source on latest scandals on the left, Ross Wolfe's Charnal House blog, has not been active for over two weeks.

There are several "leftists" who more or less openly support Trump. I think Dennis Kucinich falls in that catergory. One leftist-Keynesian blogger, though vehemently anti-marxist, calls for an Altl-left. Perhaps not such a surprise though, since "Keynesian" etc. money cranks are basically populist-nationalists (see also prof. Werner, or revleft forum user DieNeueZeit).

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Mar 1 2017 00:37

Rectenwald's hobbies these days seem to mostly consist of mocking trans people and blasting "transmania", whining about how he's being persecuted by the PC police over some stunt he pulled in which he pretended he was being forced to go on leave, threatening students at his university, and dubbing pretty much all criticism of him "totalitarianism"--and being such an esteemed scholar, those critics probably don't have the academic cred to be worthy of criticizing him anyway. Apparently his latest classy cause is defending Milo's pedophilia advocacy. Fittingly enough, Citizens for Legitimate Government is a Sandy Hook truther site.

Guy's a total scumbag as well as remarkably unpleasant on a personal level. This piece gets at Rectenwald's bizarre degeneration into an alt rightist crackpot pretty well.

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Mar 1 2017 16:45

What a tosser. I wonder if there is any chance he is the same as the "left communist"-type guy on here who turned into a nutty racist who was obsessed with crimes by migrants and we had to ban him? Can't remember his username…

Similarly racist arsehole Zizek supported Trump as well

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Noa Rodman
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Mar 1 2017 18:34

Not the same. Rectenwald is a professor in NY.

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Chilli Sauce
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Mar 2 2017 22:53

Dennis Kucinich supports Trump!? When the f*ck did that happen?

Man, I remember arguing with my liberal friends back when Kucinich was running for the Democratic nomination that it was easy to be left-wing when you're out of power. Man do I feel vindicated.

S. Artesian
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Mar 3 2017 01:06

Don't think Kucinich has actually come out as a Trump supporter-- he is a living example of the so-called left-right convergence that sees the "deep state" as waging a struggle against Trump to maintain power.

Conspiracy theorists of a feather flock together.... kind of. Unlike Trump, Kucinich has some basis for claiming he's a populist-- not that it matters.

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Noa Rodman
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Mar 3 2017 12:10

dp

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Noa Rodman
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Mar 3 2017 12:13

This tweet:
GREAT #inauguration speech @RealDonaldTrump!

(which caused some of his followers to express disbelief, wondering if he was drunk or his account hacked)

His positive review of the Inaugural Address:
https://www.facebook.com/denniskucinich/posts/10154527639948218

A "left-right convergence" does not relate to belief in conspiracies (the mainstream has its own "Trump is a puppet of Putin"), but to political/ideological lines, ie nationalism.

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Mar 8 2017 20:27

Rectenwald's response to the piece Tyrion linked.

With regard to bourgeois media attention/access (eg appearing on Fox), the general position in socialist tradition was to reject this I think. Consequently, appearing on the BBC, writing in the Guardian, etc. should be rejected on principle.

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Mar 8 2017 22:24
Michael Rectenwald wrote:
You're merely an axeman for the left, which is now nothing but a mob of lunatics without thoughts, without ideas and with nothing but robotic chants and pointless violence. Congratulations for using my situation as a means of pledging your fealty to this pathetic culture and politics. You deserve each other. But I suggest you emend or remove your article lest you be sued for slander. I have the means. I have an army of pro bono attorneys behind me.

Pleasant as ever.

bastarx
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Mar 8 2017 23:19
Noa Rodman wrote:
It seems that Michael Rectenwald now supports Trump. I remember on facebook a couple of years ago he was well-respected by some leftcom/marxist people (I too found his comments often sound). Here are some of his articles:

http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11411
http://insurgentnotes.com/2015/07/syriza-and-sanders-just-say-no-to-neo-liberalism/

That Insurgent Notes article says it is written by Amiri Barksdale. MR makes numerous comments below it.

el psy congroo
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Mar 9 2017 01:53
Rectenwald in the IN comments above wrote:
My aim in this article

So Barksdale is an alias of Rectenwald?

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Mar 9 2017 11:16

bastarx, on his website Rectenwald linked the IN-article as his own material.

Quote:
So Barksdale is an alias of Rectenwald?

No, it seems Amiri Barksdale is just the admin of the site who posted it. Here's an audio of Barksdale speaking on 5 February in the panel Against Whiteness Again: http://insurgentnotes.com/2017/02/february-5-2017-conference-audio-recordings/

el psy congroo
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Mar 9 2017 11:49

The person in the recording is definitely not Rectenwald. I can't grasp why he would a) link to the material as his own as you've pointed out and b) in the comments here: http://insurgentnotes.com/2015/07/syriza-and-sanders-just-say-no-to-neo-liberalism/ he makes multiple statements that seem to verify this.

Quote:
While this may not have been stated on IN, I have written it elsewhere
Quote:
I’ve made it clear
Quote:
The paragraph is called a “faulty path” in writing theory. I travel down the path, only to return to the main argument
Quote:
Where is your article on Greece and Syriza?

In any case, thank you for your comments. They have been duly considered.

Quote:
My aim in this article

Seems pretty clear he has written at least portions of it to me, judging from his comments in this IN thread. I guess Barksdale is a name used by a number of peeps?

Jim
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Mar 9 2017 12:04
Michael Rectenwald wrote:
You're merely an axeman for the left, which is now nothing but a mob of lunatics without thoughts, without ideas and with nothing but robotic chants and pointless violence.

I wish that was an accurate description of the left.

Mike Harman
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Mar 9 2017 13:32
I guess Barksdale is a name used by a number of peeps?

No it's just the person who physically posted the article onto their website using an admin account. It's the same as when you get articles by Goldman here and they're posted by Mike Harman. The problem (and I'm sure we have similar here) is that there's no separate attribution of the article to Rectenwald.

His twitter account (see links from tyrion from above) now has a pinned tweet saying "Goodbye to the left", this is apparently because some people were rude to him and right wing people are nicer to him, wonder why.

S. Artesian
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Mar 9 2017 14:41

Goldner confirms that Rectenwald wrote the article on Greece.

The separation of Rectenwald and IN took place some time ago, and was not, as I understand it, a friendly one.

potrokin
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Mar 28 2017 21:09

Surely, if this dude was an actual libertarian socialist it's much worse than Hitchens, as Hitchens was never actually anti-capitalist. I don't actually know who this Rectenwald character is though.

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Mar 28 2017 23:42

Not a libertarian socialist, he identified as left communist.

As for Hitchens, he was once a Trotskyist, if I remember the facts correctly(?)

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Mar 29 2017 11:47

Yes a Trotskyist, I mentioned Hitchens just to have a thread title, it's maybe not a good comparison. And yes it's worse in the case of a once genuine anti-capitalist (btw, was Judith Miller once a leftcom? - I heard that gossip on fb. All I heard her say is that in her youth she smoked pot.). Earlier in the 2000s Rectenwald already had made an appearance on Fox, entering into a shouting match with the host (politicking), so the willingness to seek the bourgeois media spot light was always there.

Mike Harman
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Apr 3 2017 22:30

Looks like Insurgent Notes trying to figure out what to do with his articles on their site:

(link not an endorsement, I think they should drag him one way or the other):

https://academeblog.org/2017/03/31/disappearing-the-scholarauthor/

S. Artesian
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Apr 3 2017 22:40

Not exactly. The change in names was a technical glitch, caused by eliminating Rectenwald's access to the IN website; Barksdale was making the technical security adjustment and his name got substituted for authorship.

petey
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Apr 3 2017 22:48
Noa Rodman wrote:
(btw, was Judith Miller once a leftcom? - I heard that gossip on fb. All I heard her say is that in her youth she smoked pot.).

judith miller? of the NYTimes??

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Apr 4 2017 11:55

At least that's what I remember a couple of years ago catching my eye (and I assume this would have to be before her career, early 1970s). Issues online of Internationalism USA only start from 1999.

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Jan 15 2018 17:04

https://nypost.com/2018/01/13/deplorable-nyu-professor-sues-colleagues-for-defamation/

Mike Harman
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Jan 15 2018 21:09
Michael Rectenwald wrote:
Deep-state swamp serves the oligarchy. Challenge its agenda of endless war, regime change & unbridled immigration & you get "investigated."

https://twitter.com/antipcnyuprof/status/865718916445863936

NY Post wrote:
“I’ve been universally shunned by the entire department,” the liberal-studies professor said. “In academia, to be called a ‘racist’ and a ‘sexist’ is like the kiss of death.”

The kiss of death:

NY Post wrote:
On May 8, 2017, Rectenwald tweeted about a $75,000 advance he was to get from a publisher to share his “deplorable prof” experience.
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Jan 17 2018 19:38

AFAIK Rectenwald didn't make any explicit racist, sexist or transphobic remarks. As for saying stupid things, Zizek once mentioned transgender people in the same breath as having sex with animals, his book Disparities had a Kraken/octopus, representing capitalism or whatever, on its cover (a highly problematic imagery), but he is still welcome at NYU. The main focus isn't (or shouldn't be) on Rectenwald's character flaws, which he seems to apply consistently, like once on twitter to some rightwinger, I read he denounced them of plagiarizing him for using some actually very ordinary metaphor about SJWs, which he believed to have invented. The shock is about his turn to Trump, which apparently he could reconcile with his prior "leftist" (anti-war, populist) reasoning. But then he probably claims (as others do in Insurgent Notes) that this turn to Trump was present in many disaffected of the working class.

Mike Harman
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Jan 17 2018 20:51

The majority of racists, sexists and homophobes don't makes explicitly racist, sexist or homophobic remarks - this is about someone who was ostensibly a left communist moving to support for racialised state violence/right populism. Like you don't see Theresa may using slurs but it doesn't mean she doesn't deport people to their deaths.

As for Zizek.

Bannon aims to lead a populist revolt of underprivileged people against the elites – he is taking Trump’s message of a government by and for the people more literally than Trump himself dares to do.

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Jan 17 2018 22:32

in terms of harmfulness: Rectenwald < Zizek < Michael Schmidt (who is in the libcom library)

Mike Harman
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Jan 18 2018 11:49

That sounds about right, Zizek has a considerably higher profile than either while Schmidt has had more connections to anarchist groups rather than being 'just' an academic. Although there's a fair bit of Zizek in the library here as well :/

We did remove every article of Schmidt's from the library except Black Flame, and added a massive content note to that.

While AK Press has released statements on Schmidt, there are still announcements about the book that show up highly in google results without any disclaimer and it's being sold for $100+ on Amazon. http://www.revolutionbythebook.akpress.org/black-flame-the-revolutionary-class-politics-of-anarchism-and-syndicalism-%E2%80%94-book-excerpt/

On the other hand, we don't have any of the actual statements on here about Schmidt yet, just the long thread: https://libcom.org/forums/general/ak-press-says-michael-schmidt-fascist-25092015 - at some point that should be corrected, but it's hard to know where to start given the volume that's been written at this point

Rectenwald gets a mention here, but otherwise isn't on the site: https://libcom.org/library/intersectionality-just-another-form-identity-politics-feminist-fightback

Jay_S
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Jan 22 2018 13:56

Rectalwart is POS, however, it is genuinely surprising to not see more anarchists and ultraleftists turn to the right-wing. Some of them, so rabid in their anti-"identity politics" and with activity mostly aimed at transgressive critiques (i.e., polemic trolling) of the rest of the left, seem ripe for the picking when it comes to left-right conversions.