MAGA Communism and “beyond the left/right spectrum” – how Nationalism Bolshevism has emerged in the US.

By Robert Montgomery

The following article is a companion piece to the “Postmodern left, Eurasianism and National-Bolshevism (fascism)” published by Liga Communista in Brazil. It focuses on a form of National Bolshevism which is crystallizing around the terms MAGA Communism and “beyond the Left/Right spectrum” in the US center of world imperialism. 

Capitalism and US imperialism in crisis – the breeding ground for fascism.

There is one common reason for the collapse of democracy: capitalist society has outlived its strength. The national and international antagonisms which break out in it destroy the democratic structure just as world antagonisms are destroying the democratic structure of the League of Nations. Where the progressive class shows itself unable to seize power so as to reconstruct society on the basis of socialism, capitalism in its agony can only preserve its existence by using the most brutal, anti-cultural methods, the extreme expression of which is Fascism.” LeonTrotsky 1933

World capitalism is mired in a structural crisis of over accumulation which can be resolved only by the destruction of dead constant capital through depression, through fascism, or war. The imperialist bourgeoisie finds itself in an organic crisis of class rule with its claim to universality crumbling, and all previously hegemonic assertions being revealed for what they truly are: merely rhetorical means of securing capitalist stability. As the social consensus deteriorates, capitalist claims no longer appear to correspond to the general well-being. This is the period of capitalist decay when “morbid symptoms” begin to appear. As Gramsci wrote, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”  

The neoliberal wave which swept the imperialist centers and much of the global south smashed on the rocks of the great financial crisis of 2008. The US rate of profit has not recovered. While the mass of profits increases, the rate of profit is too low to sustain growth in real production. 60% of the growing mass of profit flows directly into financial markets. Fictitious capital is parasitizing on production and choking off new investment to a greater extent than at any time in the past 50 years. Imperialist finance capital demands a growing share of the world surplus value to stay afloat. American capitalism is using its productivity advantage to offload the crisis of valorization onto its European allies, stoking a new round of inter-imperialist rivalries. And most of all imperialist capital is intensifying the looting of the Global South from which it has been increasing the draining of value since ‘08. The US Fed is responding to the inflationary crisis and the wage offensive by creating a recession in the model of the Volker shock treatment of the 1980s to attack the working class.  

Since 2008 the volume of world trade and production has continued to decline while global trading alignments have shifted dramatically to the advantage of China. In just 20 years China has surpassed the US as the world’s leading trading partner. Currently 128 of 190 countries have China as their major trading partner and China represents an intolerable challenge to imperialism as both as an economic and ideological competitor.  In reaction to the collapse of neoliberal hegemony cantered in the US and the Eurozone variations of anti-liberal, neomodernist, and identitarian national movements have emerged. They appear under the names LePen (France), Meloni (Italy), Bolsonaro (Brazil), the Alternative for Germany, Vox (Es), Orban (Hungary), and Trump (US). While they adopt different forms depending on the country and its geopolitical relation to imperialism, they do share common characteristics. 

As the crisis deepens and the drive to world war accelerates the main Stalinist, Maoist and Trotskyist tendencies have either defaulted as agents of the class struggle, or capitulated outright to imperialism. As Falho do Trabalhodor notes, in the case of the imperialist proxy war in Ukraine, “the NATO Left which stands against Russia are nothing but scabs.” This betrayal has created a vacuum on the Left but also an open space into which the alt-right is trying to occupy. 

MAGA and the betrayals of the Democrats: two sides of the same coin

While spending eight trillion dollars to bail out the banks and rescue the financial markets, Barack Obama offered nothing but more misery to the masses. The liberal Democrats expanded the regime change wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Libya and Syria. The US financed and enabled the Maidan coup in Kiev and the resultant war on the Russophone east of the country in 2014. 

At the trough of the recession in 2011 thousands of youths descended on NYC to “Occupy Wall Street” under the slogan “we are the 99%” and “We oppose the wealthy 1% who enrich themselves at our expense”. Occupy Wall Street was a harbinger of the social democratic Sanders insurgency in 2016 which declared a “political revolution against the billionaire class.” In a campaign that echoed Corbyn’s in Britain the previous year, Sanders attacked neoliberal globalization, free trade pacts, the bank bailouts, student debt, called for increased minimum wages, universal free medical care and many other social rights such as free university education for all. He savaged Hillary Clinton as a shill for the big bankers of Goldman Sachs. Declaring himself a socialist, Sanders galvanized a mass movement concentrated in the youth. The Democratic Party establishment sabotaged the left populist Sanders campaign, co-opting Sanders himself at the party nominating convention. The defeat of the Sanders insurgency and the demoralization of the party’s progressive youth set the stage for the election of Donald Trump.  

Bernie Sanders supporter protesting at DNC Convention 2016

In 2016 the real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump launched his campaign for presidency bankrolled by a section of the ruling class who wished to install a far-right President. This included oil and gas giants, and the vulture firms of private equity capital, the most aggressive sector of finance capital. Right wing billionaire Robert Mercer, C.E.O. of one the most profitable hedge funds in the country was one of the 1st to bankroll Trump.  

Trump ran on a program of opposition to free trade pacts like NAFTA and the TPP. His slogan “Make America Great Again” promised a return to a “Golden Age” of post-war American capitalism, to a nostalgic time before deindustrialization, before neoliberal globalism had shipped manufacturing jobs to China, before waves of cheap immigrant labour drove the wages of American workers to the levels of what Trump called “shit hole countries”. Trump vowed to “drain the swamp” of globalizing elites encysted within the “Deep State” of Washington, D.C. He inflamed large crowds of red hatted partisans chanting “lock her up” (jail Hillary Clinton) and inciting violence against hecklers in the crowd. 

While the mass media has overstated working class support for Trump in the election trade union voters did shift markedly away from the party. Hillary Clinton won union voters by less than half as much as former President Barack Obama had just four years earlier. That shift alone may have been enough to account for her losses in heavily working-class Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. 

The reality of Trumpism was tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations, increasing social inequality, anti-immigrant racism and xenophobia at the Mexican border, trade war against China, threats to pull out of NATO, menacing North Korea with nuclear sabre rattling, blaming China for the pandemic which claimed over a million lives, mobilizing armed gangs against his liberal and left opponents, and threatening to send the army into the streets against the Black Lives Matter protesters. Protectionist tariffs did not bring back jobs, separating families at the border and caging children did not raise wages, the Border Wall protected no one, and it all ended in an attempted presidential coup when Trump ordered his paramilitary assault brigades to storm Congress to stop the legal transfer of power.  

His liberal opponents under Biden failed to enact any of their mildly progressive proposals and continued the regime change wars by deliberately instigating a perilous imperialist proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. The outbreak of war in Ukraine has sharpened fissures within the Republican Party, with a section of its fascistic wing, represented by the far right Freedom Caucus and figures such as Fox News celebrity Tucker Carlson and Stephen Bannon, refusing to support the US-NATO campaign against Russia, largely on the basis that it is a distraction from the preparation for war against China and the war against immigrants on America’s southern border. Today the disgraced former president and sex offender Donald Trump is politically alive and well, and campaigning against “socialism.” 

Who is MAGA’s mass base?

A rough estimate is about 1/3rd of all Republican Party voters. This bloc represents the precarious petit bourgeoisie, and those sections of the working class who most impacted by the globalization of production. There is the usual rabble of far right xenophobes and white nationalist racists. A third influential bloc is evangelical Christians.

The ranks of the January 6th riot were for the most part small scale merchant layers, retired and off duty police and military personnel, and members of fascist militias like the Proud Boys and The Oathkeepers. Ashley Babbitt, killed by the FBI as she breached the Congressional chambers was a 14 year Air Force veteran of the two wars, a security guard at a nuclear power plant, an indebted small business owner, and a follower of the far right QAnon conspiracy group. Trotsky’s famous profile describes this mob very well: “Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralized lumpenproletariat – all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy.”  

MAGA Communism

If MAGA seeks to recruit and exploit the crazed petty bourgeoisie, MAGA Communism which is the US version of National Bolshevism reflects and consciously seeks to exploit a widespread sense of increasing precariousness, rootlessness, and desperation among the masses of the former industrial heartland of the US Midwest. This is the former industrial center of American capitalism, hollowed out and left to rust by neoliberal deindustrialization, a region referred to widely as “flyover country.” 

Historical antecedents of MAGA Communism: Strasserism

Strasserism refers historically to the left wing of the Nazi party. Its theorist was Otto Strasser, while his brother Gregor and Ernst Rohm were the leaders of the SA brownshirts. Hitler referred to them as “Beefsteak Nazis”: Brown, like their uniforms on the outside; Red, like their politics on the insideThe term refers to the plebeian ranks of the Sturmabteilung (SA) who were considered of dubious loyalty to Hitler. The Strasserite program was a hodgepodge of petit bourgeois populist demands— termed Volkisch, racial or tribal, appealing to the more lumpen, working class and radical student base of the brownshirt street fighters. The radical populist appeal of Strasserite rhetoric put revolutionary wind in the sails of the Nazi party.  

The Nazi left wing counterposed productive to finance capital, focusing its propaganda on “money grubbing” Jewish banks and other forms of speculative capital seen as parasitic on German industry. They opposed the conservatism of the traditional elites. To appeal to small merchants they demanded the break up of big department stores to be leased to small merchants. For the peasantry they demanded the nationalization of the landed estates of the Junker aristocracy. For the artisanal unemployed they advocated expanding apprenticeship programs free of trade union control. They actively tried to recruit from the unemployed and proletarian base of the KPD. The Strasserites shared Hitler’s biologically rooted blood and soil racialism, his virulent antisemitism, and his determination above all else, to crush Marxism. For the its left wing the Nazi ascent to power in was a “half revolution” needing to be completed. The elites had to be toppled and the military brought under SA (Brownshirt) control. To make Germany economically self sufficient the Strasserites wanted corporatist syndicates along Italian fascist lines that united bosses and workers together with other sectoral economic groupings to plan the Peoples Community (Volksgemeinschaft). Hitler’s bourgeois paymasters were not going to tolerate either the petit bourgeois Strasserite program, or the SA terror gang ruling in the German streets beyond the control of the traditional repressive forces of the bourgeois state.  

In July, Hitler announced: “The stream of revolution has been undammed, but it must be channelled into the secure bed of evolution.” The following Spring General Von Blomberg ordered Hitler to “clean up the SA rabble.” Rohm, Gregor Strasser and the top SA leadership were murdered by the SS on “The Night of the Long Knives”. Otto Strasser having been exiled previously, continued to advocate for the national Bolshevik program among the military officer corps.  

Prelude to MAGA Communism: Charlottesville August 2017: Rally to Unite the Right

In August 2017 neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups converged on Charlottesville, Virginia in a Unite the Right rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Hundreds marched in a torchlight parade chanting “You will not replace us”, and “one people, one nation, stop immigration. Heil Trump!” The following morning at dawn dozens of uniformed fascist militiamen armed with assault rifles, communications equipment and shotguns deployed throughout the downtown area, establishing effective military control over the heart of the city. After the militia had secured the area without police interference, vans filled with people from across the country poured into the city center, unloading hundreds of Nazis armed with guns, knives, chains, metal poles, baseball bats and pepper spray. Antifascist counter-demonstrators fought pitched battle with the armed fascists. A fascist deliberately drove his car into a crowd of leftist protesters protesting killing one person and injuring 35. refusing to condemn the assault Trump told the press that, “There were good people on both sides.” 

Among the far-right groups engaged in organizing the march were four groups comprising the National Front: the neo-Confederate League of the South, Identity Dixie and the neo-Nazi groups the Traditionalist Workers Party and The National Socialist Movement. The Traditional Workers Party founded by Matthew Heimbach self-identifies as Strasserite. In April 2018 Heimbach disbanded the TWP after his arrest for assault on a black anti-Trump protester and announced in 2020 his intention to reform the party along National Bolshevik lines. As HuffPost noted, “Heimbach is planting the seeds of his movement along the back roads of the rural Midwest, in the small cities that have been left behind by deindustrialization and devastated by opioids…anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism differentiate Heimbach and the TWP from many other American far-right groups states, “For us, to be truly anti-capitalist is to be a nationalist. Nationalism is a bulwark against capitalist exploitation and globalism.”  

Heimbach appeared with fellow TWP members at the March 18 Rage Against the Machine rally holding a Soviet flag.

After January 6th: Moving beyond Left and Right” and the rise of MAGA Communism.

Two weeks after Trump’s attempted coup YouTube celebrity Jimmy Dore hosted the fascist Boogaloo Boy, Magnus Panvidya. The former comedian and ex-Sanders supporter has made millions of dollars from his popular YouTube channel (over 1 million subscriber). Magnus Panvidya was the Michigan leader of the Boogaloo Boys, an armed far-right militia group that participated in the January 6 putsch and the plot to kidnap and murder Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Dore began the interview with a video clip showing Panvidya, armed and in military fatigues, carrying an assault rifle in front of the Michigan State House declaring, “right-wing militias are the “antibodies” of society and called for the “unity” of all Americans. He said he was speaking on behalf of “every business crushed by state lockdowns.”  

After playing the video, Dore said, “We couldn’t find anything in that speech that we disagreed with,” and said he decided to invite the Lansing speaker on his show. “I wanted to explore his beliefs further.” Dore said his political strategy was to “unite the populist left and the populist right” and find “common interests” with the Boogaloo Boys and similar groups. With this interview Dore signaled a general turn towards the right among a broad layer of the disoriented middle class left following the January 6 coup attempt. After playing “useful idiot” for the Boogaloo poser, Dore went on to amplify the big business financed hysteria to “reopen the economy” and the libertarian anti-vaccine movement. 

In order to better align with the “unite the left and right” trend Panvidya now claims to have broken with the racist white supremacist wing of the Boogaloo movement. He is leading a new group calling itself libertarian/anarchist Boogaloo. He has appeared at antiwar rallies and is actively courting anarchist tendencies.

 Jimmy Dore is using his YouTube presence as a platform to publicize a wide range of “unite the left and right” activists including  Jackson Hinckle and Larouchite Diane Sare.

The purest, most articulated form of Strasserism is seen in the LaRouche movement. The LaRouche youth have skyrocketed to celebrity recently when a series of very vocal, articulate and effective antiwar disruptions of leading neoliberal events (Nancy Pelosi, AOC and a Press and Policy conference at Columbia university) went viral in the media.  

Lyndon H. LaRouche, was originally a member of the Trotskyist SWP for 18 years. He left the SWP in 1965 with Robertson and Wohlforth, and was briefly aligned with the Spartacist League. LaRouche developed his own theory of capitalist reindustrialization in “The 3rd Stage of Imperialism”:  

“He began with a rather orthodox theory of capitalist crisis derived from Marx’s Capital and Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital. He was convinced that capitalism had ceased to grow, or to grow sufficiently to meet the needs of poor Americans. This created an economic crisis that would only worsen. In order to overcome stagnation at home and revolution abroad, the metropolitan countries needed a new industrial revolution in the Third World. LaRouche expected this to take place in India. The advanced nations would use their unused capacity to make capital goods and export them to India, to be combined with the surplus work force to carry through this worldwide transformation. LaRouche called this the “third stage of imperialism.” Today it remains at the heart of his economic theory.”   

By the late 1970s, LaRouche turned sharply to the right and away from his heterodox and quirky Trotskyism towards the “productive” capitalists in a fight with finance capital seen as cannibalizing the industrial base of the economy , “We are socialist, but first we must establish an industrialist capitalist republic and rid this country of the Rockefeller anti-industrial, antitechnology monetarist dictatorship of today.” This remains the bedrock position of the LaRouche movement today which supports Trumpism.  

Jackson Hinckle, is the twenty three year old social media star of Maga Communism with a YouTube channel with 227000 subscribers. His channel gets millions of views. He is a former Sanders supporter who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2019. Hinckle adopts a “trolling” style popular with internet grifters and influencers. Since the proxy war in Ukraine began, his snow The Dive, has outperformed more serious analytical proRussia shows like The Duran. Hinkle poses as a Stalin Superhuman wrapped in Red White & Blue. His shows and twitter feed is transphobic, mocking, macho, Trumpian and self-promoting. His speech on March 18 was a strutting antiglobalist performance of Trumpian demagoguery in wraparound sunglasses.  

Jackson Hinckle at Rage Against the War Machine Rally 

Haz Al-Din heads a Maga Communist collective named Infrared, organizing to bring communist ideas to the “healthy part” of the Republicans”. Haz declares himself a follower of “patriotic socialism” and regularly attends Trump rallies in his area. According to Haz, “the most significant working class movement within the past three decades in the United States was Trump’s MAGA movement” and therefore “American Communists should ‘go down to the people’ instead of remaining comfortable in their echo-chambers and bubbles” and that because… “the MAGA Republicans are the real dissident and counter-hegemonic force. They oppose the status quo, and have an authentic basis in the people”!  

It is in Haz al Din that we see the embodiment of both the militant violence of the Strasserite Brownshirts on the one hand, and the foulest stench of fascist irrationalism on the other. Haz intersects with the ideological leaders of the Euro-identitarian racists. For this reason he’s worth quoting at some length:

“Enter Carl Schmitt’s theory of the partisan. Partisanship is itself a political alignment, regardless of where internet retards try to situate it on their stupid little ‘political spectrum.’ Partisanship entails an actual political position – which means actual contestation for political power. The partisan goes down to the people, repeating the origin of modern statehood by returning it to its real (rather than formal) premises.  Partisans are not leftists. But they are also not rightists either. The Partisan irregular stands opposed to the standardized order of the regular army. From the perspective of the regular army (order), It is a force of chaos. But it is deeply terrestrial, earthly, with a profound attachment to the soil of the nation, and the deeper order of rural life.”  

And he writes further: “We all come together: the workers striking at the railways, the MAGA industrial working class, the small farmers, we all unite with our power. We kick out the globalists. We kick out George Soros. We kick out Klaus Schwab. We stop that Great Reset agenda in its tracks.”   

The purpose of this article is to highlight National Bolshevism as Maga Communism in the US. However, it would be incomplete without a reference to a significant transnational neomodern fascist— Olena Semyanka, the “First Lady of Ukrainian nationalism.” A doctoral philosophy candidate, Semyanka is working on the liaison between two Nazi cult figures, Ernst Jünger and the philosopher, Martin Heidegger. Semenyanka began in Duguin’s Traditionalist movement until the break with Dugin in 2014. Recently she has shifted the Azov movement away from its narrow national Banderism towards a regional dimension resurrecting Pulsidski’s unitary Intermarium project.  

Semyanka writes, “the difference between the “old” and “young” (or belated) nations explains why the Intermarium union plays a role of the platform for the Paneuropean Reconquista, or the laboratory of the all-European revival.”  

She has worked to extend the Azov movement’s reach to consolidate partnerships with other European nationalist movements through projects of which she is the main architect, “Reconquista-Pan Europa” and “the Pact of Steel.”  

 Reconquista is a central aspect of our communication with Europe’s other nationalist forces. By spreading our news, we make it clear that Azov has the same objectives they have for Europe. That allows us to forge ties with the other conservative forces. (Olena Semenyaka, Kyiv, February 2017).  

Beneath her esoteric jargon Olena Semyanka is talking about erecting a line of ethnonationist states from the Estonia on the Baltic Sea to Ukraine on the Black Sea. The Pact of Steel is to be a bastion directed against Asiatic Russia in defense of white, Christian Europe. Her growing influence and international ties make her a major intellectual contributor to the new pan-European identitarian landscape, much like better known Aleksandr Dugin or Steve Bannon.  

Trumpism without Trump?

Trump may have the money, support from powerful sections of the ruling class, and the media savvy but the emergence of the MAGA was not due to Trump, the individual. His clever use of alt right figures like Bannon and timely appeal to armed fascist militias allowed a reality TV star and gangster capitalist to galvanize a mass movement behind him, but its roots lie in the exhaustion and collapse of the two party system which emerged in the 19th century. The Wall Street backed neoliberal Democrats could neither absorb angry workers and youth who flocked to Sanders’s left populist banner, nor concede to the working class and its social allies any progressive demands at all. Traditional conservatives like Bush deserted their party for Clinton, and Biden four years later. Those who claim there is no difference between left and right are correct that between the two capitalist parties which control the electoral field there stands only a cartoonish and toothless identity politics. The parties of the radical middle class like the Greens offer the masses nothing but solar power, vegetable gardens, and “buy local” anti-monopoly rhetoric. The social democratic DSA is merely an extension of the Democrats, as is the tiny CPUSA.  

The way a real socialist movement in the US will develop is through the reconstitution of the international communist moment. Fragments and vestiges of the Stalinist, Maoist and Trotskyist tendencies exist only as specters of themselves. The only national demonstration held against the imperialist proxy war in Ukraine was run by a “left-right coalition”. Rage against the War Machine featured former Green presidential candidate Jill Stein and former Sanders campaign coordinator and current Peoples Party leader Nick Brana on the left. On the right we’re Jimmy Dore, Jackson Hinckle, Diane Sare and other LaRouchite youth, and leaders of the Libertarian Party, and prominent leaders of the fascist militias who stormed Congress on Jan 6th. From the sidelines the Strasserite, Matthew Heimbach drew a crowd of curious reporters as he held a Soviet Flag.  

 Nick Brana of the “People’s Party” (left, knit hat) on stage at the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally. To the right of Brana is Jackson Hinkle (sunglasses) and Angela McArdle, chair of the Libertarian Party. Behind McArdle in the baseball cap with the water bottle is Jason Page, an affiliate of the Oath Keepers and Stewart Rhodes. [Photo: People’s Party]  

The Republican Party center is dead. Trump is running against “socialism” while his opponent, fascistic governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis is running against “Wokism”. “Woke” is short for LGBTQ, immigrants and racial minorities. The Republicans offer only an inverted mirror image of the Democrats, a symbolic “culture war” against identity politics and gender-neutral language. The only things the two bankrupt capitalist parties agree on is the need for more, higher profits, more anti-working-class austerity, and moving quickly towards war with China.  

The US picture is dim but not hopeless. No one should that a mass socialist or even labor party is on the horizon in the US. It will come to the US only through the international revitalization of revolutionary socialism and through the constitution of a new communist international. The main task of revolutionaries today is to attract people to the banners of the anti-imperialist united front to defend Russia against the U.S./NATO proxy war.  

The fact that Trumpism remains strong as a radical right current is a reflection in the negative of the lack of real mass support for bourgeois political choices. To listen to the bourgeois parties and the mainstream media the word socialism is just a term of ritual abuse, yet it continues to rise, especially among blacks and women. As the respected polling firm Axios reports:  “Socialism has positive connotations for 60% of Black Americans, 45% of American women and 33% of non-white Republicans. Those numbers have grown over the past two years from 53%, 41% and 27%, respectively.”  We are seeing a real contradiction between actual mass consciousness and its muted and distorted political expression in electoral politics.

Conclusion

“All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”  

The false universalism of neoliberalism and globalism can not be surmounted by running the film of history backwards to resurrect the old particularism of national identity. Postmodernism can’t be followed by Neomodernism. Imperialist globalism cannot be supplanted by the return of the nation state. Bourgeois democracy can not give way to authoritarian fascism. There is only one universal class that can defend the collective interest of humanity. That class is the world working class. The words penned in 1848 by Marx and Engels are just as true today as then: “The workers have no country…there is a world to win!”  

Robert Montgomery

Originally from Boston, he has been active in antiwar and labour struggles for almost fifty years. He has functioned as an independent Trotskyist since leaving the SWP (US) in the 1970s. A historian he has published numerous articles on US labor history. A union activist he has served on numerous action committees and was local president of a municipal library union. He is a retired medical radiographer.

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