CorbettWatch Alert: A Day In The Life Of A Media Gatekeeper

I read the news today, oh boy.

So how many holes does it take to fill the Albert Hall anyway? Lennon raised the question, but didn’t resolve it. Exactly how big can the holes in swiss cheese be vis-a-vis the actual volume of cheese? There must be a maximum ratio, but has anyone succeeded in calculating it? Are we perhaps framing the question incorrectly? Maybe it is the hole which houses the cheese, rather than the other way around. Perhaps the Swiss know, but their banking privacy laws likely cover the coagulant as well. The Beattle should be credited for gumption, but even he lacked the temerity to confront the swiss cheese conundrum head on. Just how much nothing can something hold?  And what precisely happens when that threshold is crossed? Can something which lacks substance reach critical mass? And what happens when it does? Can nothing beget something?

James Corbett goes where the lactose intolerant fear to tread.

As I noted in an earlier post, Corbett is one of the media “independents” engaged in (among other deceptions) the effort to conflate anarchism and capitalism. If that isn’t mendacious enough, he has recently produced a podcast in which he attempts to twin socialism and fascism, the ideological equivalents of matter and anti-matter.

And though the news was rather sad, I just had to laugh…

Unhampered by shame or scruple, he begins his precis, entitled “China and the New World Order,” by announcing that he has done a great deal of research. As we shall see, this research, whoever might have done it, has some rather conspicuous lacunae. Like all good propagandists, his premise–that the public hostilities between the US and the PRC is a meretricious sham concealing substantial cooperation–is essentially correct. As Corbett himself has noted good propagandists need to create political capital for themselves so they can spend it where needed. His China piece purports to be about the “New World Order” but is rather an attack on socialism.

Corbett begins his case by presenting the captains of international capital–Rothschild, Rockefeller, Kissinger et alia–who express their support for mutual cooperation between Chinese and Western capital. Oddly, Corbett’s capacious research on this topic failed to reveal that the people whose sound bites he adduces are also stakeholders in the Chinese Investment Bank (CIB) and have other commercial ties to “Red” China as well. Indeed nowhere in the hour-long podcast does Corbett ever mention the CIB. This is necessary for his case as once one learns that it is the same people on both sides of this alleged divide then the seeming incongruities, of which Corbett makes much hay, dissolve into a single, simple motive–self-interest. A subject which, it appears, doesn’t make for a good podcast.

He blew his mind out in a car. He hadn’t noticed that the lights had changed.

Then comes the first bit of nonsense: Corbett explains that Wall Street was “helping to fund their supposed…enemies, the socialists of various stripes whether that be the Bolsheviks or the National Socialists [Nazis] in Germany,  for their own agenda purposes.”

For their own agenda, eh? Wall Street seldom if ever funds its enemies for the latter’s agenda purposes, now do they?

The Nazis, despite the misnomer, were not socialists but fascists. And anybody failing to recognize the difference can never succeed in understanding the current relationship between the DRC and the West, nor anything of the history of the last few centuries.

At the heart of the disjunction is capitalism. For socialists of all types, anti-capitalism is the sina qua non, the defining and unifying principle. Fascists, on the other hand, regard the steep hierarchy of capitalism to be rational, to reflect the inherent inequality of human beings. For them capitalism is efficient, natural, beneficial. A core theoretical feature of fascism is corporatism, which is the belief that the various social classes and other subsections of society cooperate in much the same way as the different organs of the human body with each being dependent on the others for the proper functioning of the whole. Thus fascism is an attempt (putatively, at least) to reconcile the class antagonisms which are systemic in and endemic to capitalism. This dubious principle, as we shall see, developed in response and opposition to the socialist conviction, first articulated by the anarchist Joseph-Pierre Proudhon, that class struggle is unavoidable and irremediable. Or, in the famous formulation of the Wobblies: “The economic classes have nothing in common.” Fascism thus provides a programmatic framework for capitalism in which the social classes can collaborate, while socialists seek to destroy capitalism altogether. These philosophies are not only different, they are mutually exclusive.

Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords…

Thus the Nazis were not socialists, nor could they be and remain Nazis. One cannot be both a socialist and a fascist. Anyone attempting to equate the two is a fool or a liar, which brings us back to Corbett.

Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.

Mussolini first and then the other fascist governments in turn rolled up related industries into cartels (in which the antecedents of the above-mentioned captains of capital were invested). Capitalism was not eliminated, rather it was concentrated into a few hands which controlled the giant cartels. These hands not only ran these industries, but were integrated into the state directly. Before seizing power Mussolini had pledged to eliminate the Senate (the upper house of the Italian parliament) and to replace it with workers’ councils. Once placed in power by international capital, however, Il Duce dissolved the lower house and replaced it with the cartels and the state-controlled trade unions, with the latter being thoroughly purged of radical elements. Thus in Italy the government didn’t intrude into the economic arena, rather capital undertook the affairs of state. Fascism didn’t defeat capitalism, it rescued it.

A crowd of people stood and stared. They’d seen his face before…

Similar things occurred in the other fascist states. How it is that the Nazis came to call themselves socialists is an interesting story, one not well known even in Leftist circles.

WW1 ended because of the revolutions in Hungary, Russia, Bavaria, and the Europe-wide working class insurgency. International capital quickly abandoned their intramural squabbles and concocted fascism as a preventive of world revolution. The respective ruling classes got together at Versailles and their now-public deliberations leave no room for doubt as to what they feared. Woodrow Wilson put it best: “We are in a race against socialism, and the whole world is on fire.” He was not alone. German capital, the same folks who would run the cartels, decided to launch a political movement which would mimic socialism but in reality be an antidote for it. They reasoned that socialist ideas had made to great an inroad and that the workers would not fall for a Republican-like call for laissez-faire capitalism. They needed something which purported to be revolutionary and worker-friendly but which safeguarded capitalism. One is struck reading the speeches of Hitler and Mussolini by just how Marxist-sounding they are. Hitler ended the infamous Tuelz speech by saying “Workers of the world unite against the Jews who oppress you.”[1]

So the adoption of the moniker “socialist” was a Nazi dodge employed in the service of capital.  It was effective propaganda for Hitler then, and for James Corbett now.

I’m a flea-bit Rhesus monkey, all my friends are junkies…

Corbett then goes on to develop his thesis that Western capital wanted to create a one-world, corporate-socialist government, and that it was toward this end that they supported the Nazis in Germany and the Bolsheviks in Russia. Here again he reinforces the false dichotomy by positioning capital on one side and fascism and socialism on the other. The reason Western capital provided clandestine assistance to the Nazis is, I hope, made clear above. Why did they support the Bolsheviks? More on this later.

The second inanity: Corbett insists that the US, if not actually state officials then its ubercapitalists, while publicly appearing to support Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang (KMT) were in fact backing Mao and the communists. In furtherance of this theory he informs his listeners that Mao became editor of Yale University’s Chinese magazine, Yale in China, and that magazine turned out to be a nest of American spies.

I was unaware of this, but it does not surprise let alone confound. That American capital wished to keep Mao close does not mean that they favored him or he they. I suspect Mao must have known who his employers were, and may have had the same motive as they. In any case, Corbett says that Yale in China opened a number of schools and hospitals there whose purpose was to destroy the republican movement of Sun Yat-sen as “They hated Sun because he wanted to develop China. On the other hand, they loved the communists because they wanted to keep China backward and were committed to growing dope.”

Woke up, got outa bed, dragged a comb across my head.

Here we find ourselves athwart yet another gaping lacuna in Corbett’s research. The antipathy for Sun derived from his wish to make China independent of Western imperialism and to renegotiate long-standing trade “agreements” which he and just about everybody else in China considered “uneven.”

The communists wanted to keep China backward? What an astonishing statement. Most socialists are Marxists, and central to that school of thought, with which most other Left ideological tendencies agree, is the idea that material conditions must be sufficiently developed for socialism to be practicable. For this reason the communists in Russia and China and elsewhere set industrialization as the top priority. The Bolsheviks had their five year plans and Mao launched his Great Leap Forward. Later in his life Mao tempered his commitment to industrialization, but he certainly never abandoned it, and in the period which Corbett is referencing he is profoundly committed to China’s development. The assertion that Western capital “loved” the communists for their backwardness could simply not be more inaccurate. Indeed, this topic has probably received more attention than any other. The literature is extensive, and has been the subject of endless Leftist debates. More specifically, nobody has written more, nor in a more nuanced way about industrialization, than Mao and company. [2]

Somehow this inescapable fact managed to elude Corbett’s prodigious research, and may rather reflect his commitment to dope.

Legalize it…Legalize it

Moreover,  To believe that Western capital loved the Chinese communists one must overlook the decades-long war the former waged against the latter. One must ignore the KMT massacre of the Shanghai communists in 1927 which was ordered and funded by Washington. Over ten thousand “beloved” communists would die in this incident and the aftermath. The Western-backed KMT would continue its struggle against the communists, at the expense of the war against Japan, until the very end. The evidence of this is copious and conclusive. In fact, it is impossible to research this topic without encountering the aid, overt and covert, the West gave to the KMT’s unsuccessful war against the communists. Yet somehow our well-informed podcaster missed this one too.

Next research blunder: Corbett “fastforwards” to Mao’s reign and states as fact that 40 million people died from hunger during the Great Leap Forward (GLF), and then expresses his disgust at foreigners who visited the PRC in that period and made favorable comments about the progress being made. While this is not the colossal flub as above, it is, nonetheless, another foot-in-research moment for Jimmy Lacuna.

And somebody spoke and I went in to a dream.

Nowhere near 40 million people died in the GLF. Such numbers have not only been thoroughly debunked, they have been shown to be conscious deceptions. Even the most loyal of palace historians blanch at these garish estimates nowadays. It has been quite some time since anyone has dared publish peer-review material which has included these fictive numbers.

On to the next faux pas: Corbett reads snippets from David Rockefeller’s largely positive 1973 appraisal in the New York Times. Corbet describes it as Rockefeller’s “oped in favor of the great socialist revolution of Mao.”

I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer.

Now that is just hysterical–D Rock’ a Maoist! It goes without saying that Rockefeller did not endorse communism in this editorial. (If he had, he’s be dead.)

Anyone who does any research at all about the history of Sino-American relations will learn that the US has from the very beginning pursued, and often enforced, an Open Door policy on China. It has never changed, and shows no sign of doing so in the future. In fact, the current dispute with the Chinese is that the PRC will not open its doors as much as the US would like. The only times in the last 150 years when this policy has not been in effect has been when the Chinese have been strong enough to effectively resist, such as the first 25 years of Mao’s reign.

Let’s do the time warp again.

Rockefeller’s editorial followed on the heels of Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China and was written to help push its doors open once more. This effort had been underway since the communists won the civil war in 1949. Initially Western offers of raprochement were rejected. Efforts were renewed after the Sino-Soviet split in 1956. In that year Khrushchev made a speech in which he denounced Stalin. Thereafter some of Stalin’s chief security people were arrested. Mao, a supporter of Stalin (if not an uncritical one), viewed Khrushchev as the Russian Revolution’s Thermidor, and Sino-Soviet relations chilled. Nevertheless, Mao still didn’t want to side with the West against the USSR.

Much ink has been spilled as to why Mao eventually did acquiesce and open relations with the US after decades of intractable resistance. The conventional wisdom has it that his attempts to industrialize China (i.e. the development ace researcher James Corbett says the communists didn’t want to pursue) from within had been largely unsuccessful, and this failure occasioned the rise of the pro-liberalization faction within the Communist Party headed by Deng Xiaoping.

It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right, right, right

Whatever his reason, it signaled a weakening of Mao’s position. Nixon, Kissinger, and David Rockefeller got there in the early 70s while the Cultural Revolution was in full sway. Some believe that Mao launched it in 1966 to reverse the rise within the CCP of the aforementioned rivals. In keeping with this interpretation (which I share), it is thought that Mao didn’t wish to fraternize with the West, but feared he would be overthrown if he refused.

Discussing the meaning of Rockefeller’s oped outside of this context, as research guru James Corbett does, is an absurdity.

In any event, Mao was marginalized and died a few years later. Whereupon the “Gang of Four,” whom Mao had anointed to lead the Cultural Revolution, were arrested and Deng’s faction came to power (the Chinese Thermidor). Deng’s major theoretical position was that a certain amount of capitalism could be permitted without violating socialist principles so long as it was overseen by a communist government, and in this way a largely agrarian society could industrialize and then move toward communism. Or has he famously put it: “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is white or black, so long as it catches mice.”

With your hands on your hips, you bring your knees in tight.

Let us pause for a moment to collect the aporias thus far: Corbett began by equating fascism, the most concentrated form of capitalism yet devised by the mind of man, with its antithesis–socialism. Then he expressed bafflement that the capitalists who have commercial interests in both China and the West are pushing for the removal of trade barriers between the two. Having jammed those two nothingnesses full of emptiness, Corbett then tells us that Western capital was allied with the communists whom they slaughtered in horrifying numbers, and aligned against Sun and Chiang whom they armed and funded for decades, and with whose island of refuge the US still maintains a mutual defense agreement.  Research maven Corbett then informs us that the dialectical materialist Marxists were favored by Western capital because of the former’s commitment to the drug trade and hostility to industrialization.

Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all.

And all of this in just the first 20 minutes of his rigorously researched podcast. I could go on about it but why bother…

So why did Western capital subsidize the Bolsheviks? That is a difficult question, but one can safely say that its answer lies in the West’s historical relationship with the Tsarist regime; what concessions they thought they could wrangle from imperiled Bolsheviks; what their pressing geo-political concerns were at those moments they were aiding the rebels; who they despaired may come to power if the Bolsheviks were defeated; and what each capitalist country feared its competitors were up to. Trotsky got his passport to return to Russia in October, 1917, from Woodrow Wilson on the advice of George Herbert Walker, great-grandfather of President George W. Bush. As he headed there from the US, he was stopped and detained by the Canadians. The latter wired ahead to London and were told to release him. This Anglo-American agreement probably reflected the desire of each to secure their investments in Russia. In any case, to do these topics justice would require considerably more space than its relevance to this essay warrants.

So what is the point of all Corbett’s lies? I confess they are so many and fantastical that I am a bit confused. I’m not entirely sure who the target demographic is. And that’s the point. Propaganda is nebulae, allowing for a priori engagement with its victims. That different people can find different memes in the same bit of disinformation only adds to its efficacy. The punch line here was the sundering of capitalism from fascism and the doping of Mao and company. The rest is self-service.

If Adolf Hitler flew in today, they’d send a limousine anyway.

In any case, Corbett’s forays into political and/or historical analysis should be approached with the same caution with which one advances on land mines. One would think that whoever is running Corbett would try to bring his propaganda efforts a bit more in line with reality as anybody with even the most cursory knowledge of these topics will quickly recognize Corbett for the charlatan he is. I guess the message is that big lies are more effective than small ones. How many holes does it take to fill the Albert Hall?

The day is coming when those who abuse the public trust will be exposed and made to pay for their crimes, when the vacuum implodes under its own weight. May it come soon.

I got cocaine running around my brain. Can you spell New York, Jim?[3]


[1] Or something very close to that. I no longer have the book wherein I read this speech. The subject of how fascism was created is discussed at some length in R. Palme Dutt’s brilliant Fascism and the Social Revolution.

[2] The Shanghai Textbook is a superb resource for information on this topic. It explains what policies were implemented and how. Fanshen details the effect of these undertakings had on peasant life.

[3] Special thanks to the Beattles, the Stones, Dillinger, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Clash, Peter Tosh, and the Doors

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