We both acknowledge that we are public figures, and recognize that we will receive criticism. However, it is extremely disappointing to both of us that Counterpunch did not allow us to respond. The essay below was submitted immediately after Yoav Litvin published “The Green Party-Marks in a Media Con Job.” Rather than publish our response, they published a second attack piece from Managing Editor Joshua Frank titled “On Caitlin Johnstone and David Cobb’s Attempt to Destroy the Green Party.”
Even more telling, Managing Editor Joshua Frank has publicly written that “David Cobb is important enough to criticize, but not important enough to publish.” This is a troubling editorial position to take, and violates basic standards of journalistic integrity.
It seems that Counterpunch is able to throw a punch, but not take one.
From Caitlin Johnstone:
I’ve got nothing against Yoav Litvin or Joshua Frank, and I’ve cited Counterpunch extensively in the past. My work has been getting more attention lately, and I understand and accept that criticism will naturally come along with that, so I welcome Mr. Litvin and Mr. Frank to their opinions about it. I don’t think either of them represented my actual position with any degree of accuracy, but readers can make up their own minds about that by checking out my article they responded to here and in my follow-up to it here.
The centerpiece of both articles is the fact that I cited Mike Cernovich as someone on the right I might be able to collaborate with on some issues, the primary grievance being some weird rapey remarks Cernovich has made in the past. I don’t know if Yoav Litvin or Joshua Frank have ever been victims of rape, but like many women I am a survivor of several rapes and I can say that Cernovich’s views on the matter are one of the many, many areas on which we disagree. Interacting with Mike Cernovich is not going to make me think that rape is okay or suddenly transform me into a rape culture apologist.
I would like to take this space to offer that the ideas I’m sharing about collaborating with the right in the areas where our goals converge are not new; Ralph Nader has written an entire book about it. I’m speaking to an American political landscape which has shifted quite a bit since Nader’s Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State was published in 2014, but in my opinion it has shifted in a direction which allows for more collaboration. Obviously the neocons, the white nationalists of the alt-right, and your typical Fox News baby boomer won’t have a lot to offer in terms of collaboration, but that still leaves the libertarians, the paleocons, the ancaps and the various factions within Trump’s base who, for example, were outraged over the president’s missile strikes on a Syrian airfield in April.
It is good that we are talking about this.
I would like to humbly suggest that maybe, just maybe, some of the revulsion on the left toward the idea of collaborating with the anti-establishment right against the ruling elites who have functionally decimated American democracy has less to do with morality and more to do with tribalism. The red-district MAGA hat-wearing poor are oppressed by the same soul-crushing Walmart economy as everyone else, however, and as long as imperialist divide-and-conquer tactics are still being used to keep the left and the right hating each other, everyone’s going to keep getting crushed by it. Conservatives might talk funny, might have some weird belief systems, might have some very odd ideas about what some of America’s problems are and how to fix them, might lack the cool factor that our Jill Stein-voting lefty friends have, but it’s impossible to fight for economic justice without fighting for them, too.
David Cobb talks a lot about having conversations with ordinary folks, about the importance of going out into pool halls, bowling alleys, beauty parlors and barber shops, and swapping ideas with regular people outside our little circles. As a citizen of US vassal state Australia I have to limit my interactions with ordinary Americans to online discourse, but I’ve found conversations across the ideological spectrum to be highly enjoyable and educational. I haven’t had to sacrifice any of my hardline lefty values; in fact, I’ve found pockets of actual authentic curiosity and genuine enthusiasm for what the Green Party is offering once you get underneath the corporate media brainwashing and get in touch with people’s authentic desires.
That’s not something everyone can do, and I get that, and that’s fine. It’s a strength though, not a weakness, and going out there and doing the hard graft of listening and talking to the great unwashed proletariat of which we are meant to champion should be respected, not shamed. This is my humble attempt at fortifying those who can and choose to do so.
Green News Network (GNN) in general, and Cobb’s Monday evening “Democracy in Action” in particular, is a way of injecting the brilliant ideas of the Green Party into the mainstream conversation in an entertaining and relatable way. The show gives everyone the ability to real-talk in normal language about the exciting utopian solutions that are right here for the taking. People want this. They are looking for this. Our biological imperative to survive means that everyday regular people are seeking this out whether they know it consciously or not. We know that because of how people respond when you connect with them and they get a glimpse of what’s on offer. They respond intuitively. Their whole being jumps up and down and shouts “Yes! Yes! That! I want that!”
And the sad fact of the matter is that people are literally dying for this, too. They have mountains of energy to give over to making this happen should they know it exists, but for every day that these ideas are withheld from them, it is another day that they are dying from exposure due to homelessness, lack of healthcare, poisoning of food and water, cluster bombs from corporatist wars and the slow march towards extinction. From the streets of Syria to San Francisco, people are dying all over the world from the psychopathic decisions of the corporatist ruling class.
But we have the solution. It’s right here for the taking. All we need to do is give people the permission to stand up and take back what is rightly theirs. Take back their right to healthcare, take back their right to housing, take back their right to clean water and healthy food and their right to their own personal and national sovereignty. This could all happen in the blink of an eye. We just have to say yes.
From David Cobb:
There are precious few sources of non-corporately filtered news, information and analysis, and I’m sincerely glad Counterpunch exists to “tell the facts and name the names” — even when that name is mine. I think the recent article got a few facts wrong, so I’d like to correct a few of them.
I also think it is critical that those of us on the Left engage in principled political debate and disagreement. We are in a moment of rising neo-fascism, and we need to understand what that moment is and what it means.
We need to grapple about strategies and tactics, and learn to do so without turning friends and allies into enemies. I will never compromise my core principles and values, but I am always willing to experiment with new tactics. I also recognize that I might be wrong, and that I don’t know what I don’t know. So I attempt to approach such discussions with humility.
As an example — I absolutely and profoundly disagree with Caitlin that the Left should engage with Mike Cernovich in any manner. I think she is dead wrong, and that she is making a political strategic mistake. I do not think this means she is my enemy, or that she should be demonized.
The way Yoav Litvin and Joshua Frank offer their critique sounds much more like petty subjective emotional rants than considered political discourse. They are exhibiting the authoritarian sectarianism that is precisely why most working people ignore or avoid Left political discourse.
A note about the Green News Network (GNN).
GNN is not an official organ of the Green Party of the United States. GNN is Dr. Jill Stein’s Facebook page, which she is now developing into a platform to continue to have conversations about peace, racial and social justice, democracy and ecology (which happen to be the Four Pillars of the global Green Party). We are trying to create a platform that is supportive of Green values, and to convince people to join the Green Party. But we do not claim to be — or to speak for — the Green Party of the United States. To learn the official positions of the Party or to get connected with your local or state party, please visit www.gp.org
GNN programming currently consists of Facbook livestreams broadcast at8pm eastern. Plans are underway to archive shows and expand the platforms.
Currently Jill does a show every Wednesday at 8pm called “Fireside Chats.” Ajamu Baraka does a show every Thursday called “Voices from the Margins.” I do a show every Monday called “Democracy in Action.” Every fourth Monday Caitlin joins me to discuss one of her recent essays.
Turning to the much more important issue about rising global neo-fascism…
GNN Executive Producer Melezia Figueroa and I are currently co-facilitating custom-designed workshops called “Movement Schools for Revolutionaries.” They are custom designed depending upon who is organizing the event, but the basic goals are always the same:
1) To develop clarity regarding revolutionary analysis
2) To understand the current political moment
3) To build a united front against neoliberalism and fascism
4) To envision the world we want
5) To explore strategies to win that world
We begin with an examination of what we call the meta-context of reality: Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Imperialism. We confront the ecological, political and economic crisis we are in, and name it as the beginning of systems failure.
We then examine the current historical moment, introducing the concept of “conjuncture” and tracing political trajectory of our current conjuncture — the collapse of consent to the neoliberal order, populist challenges from the left and right, and the emerging dangers of neo-fascism.
We then provide an overview of the theoretical tools to understand how power works in contemporary politics, and explain our strategic approach to theory and praxis. Our understanding is rooted in the belief that we must build social movements that are broad, deep, conscious, politically educated and militant; and we must engage electoral politics.
We conclude with a strategic planning session to identify specific electoral objectives and goals, and to identify and coordinate local progressive forces to attempt to take and exercise political power at the local level.
I trust that is obvious to Counterpunch readers that I am not advocating from some alliance with fascists. I hope it is also obvious that I don’t try to conduct a “Movement School for Revolutionaries” when I am at a pool hall, bowling alley, beauty parlor or barber shop.
In other words, I take people where they are and engage in honest, respectful conversation. Ultimately, I am trying to convince folks that we need to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, broad coalition that can unite against the ruling elite.
An example of an effort to engage such a conversation can be found in this interview I gave with Victor Tiffany of Revolt Against Plutocracy.
I want to end by noting that I do agree with Yoav Litvin when he writes:
“Cobb and the Green Party owe it to their voters to present a serious and credible left-wing alternative that builds on a positive politics of social and environmental justice, collectivism and community…The left needs to build with those who are disaffected with the entire system, which is approximately 50% of the population who did not even bother to vote. Those are the people most affected by the crimes of capitalism and our natural allies.”
I am trying to do that to the best of my ability. If you are interested in working with me, I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org