As a Cleveland Browns fan, love hate relationships come second nature. Pain of indescribable severity is rarely, but certainly, broken by great joy, and the joyous moments while few, redeem it all. Just as in every family, most of us have a few relatives we have to love (a father, mother, sibling), yet truly despise, where the few happy moments make the far more numerous painful ones disappear, a compromise necessary just to carry onward with life. Love is that way; very demanding of forgiveness, in pursuit of redemption. Love of country is no less demanding, no less reliant on forgiveness. No one’s country is perfect.
Makes me wonder if Jackson Hinkle is a Browns fan, or had a similarly detestable relative, or maybe he’s just American, where love of country can only truly exist in the face of great anger and shame. This week, Hinkle made the rather vanilla declaration “I’m a Marxist Leninist. I’m an anti-imperialist. I’m an American patriot”, before being arrested engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience on the steps of the US Capitol Building to advocate rent forgiveness in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Down came the condemnations from the prancing posing permanently pointless “left”, who can abide neither American patriotism nor nonviolence.
During Occupy Wall Street (another nonviolent patriotic movement utterly ignored by today’s left), Hinkle’s sort of open patriotism was de rigeur - Occupy was festooned with red white and blue (as was the First International in 1864), even anarchists carried American flags with their own symbols put onto it. Talk of hatred and violence within Occupy was where the FBI set up shop to destroy Occupy, surrounding such dead ender self-loathers with six figure budgets, dozens of agents, NSA wiretaps by the terabyte, and endless patience to wait until violent hate helpfully morphed into violent act, only made possible with FBI money. This trap, where redemption and love are mocked and derided in favor of impotent rage pointing in no discernable direction, is what is known as a “honey pot”, collecting flies who stick to it then end up in federal prison, instead of threatening capital in the imperial core.
Aside from tricking the left into playing the FBI’s game, capital has long been well aware that neutering the American left is always best done by the left itself assuming the posture most guaranteed to isolate it from the American working class - violence and a self-loathing hatred of your own country. Who wants to be around self-loathing haters? Who are violent? No grandmother pushing a baby in a stroller is ever going to support anything like that, ever. Without that grandma, you have no movement, no mass line, no cultural hegemonic change, no revolution, nothing. You only have a petulance the FBI thanks you for providing. Mao would know this, Lenin, Che, Fidel, all of them. More importantly, so would the long line of radical American leftists of whom today’s ultra leftoids know precisely nothing.
Not a single “leftist” condemning Hinkle’s patriotism knows who August Willich was, or Mathilde Anneke, or Franz Sigel, or Carl Schurz, or Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski, or Peter H. Clark, or Paul Robeson. They might (barely) know who Lucille Ball was in order to hate her because she was on American TV, but certainly not that Lucy was a member of the Communist Party. One of American imperialism’s greatest triumphs worldwide has been this complete erasure of American socialism’s leaders, thinkers, writers, artists, organizers, agitators, even freers of slaves. So thorough is this erasure, today’s American “leftist” is nothing more than an aesthetic, not even American at all, a putter on of fancy dress manufactured abroad, only celebrating, meme-ing, glorifying, studying, elevating and following people who aren’t American. This fills capitalists with delight.
Our contributor Yanis Iqbal in his piece condemning Hinkle’s patriotism concludes that “the American identity is completely hollow.” Well, if your understanding of American identity is the same as Joe McCarthy’s or Donald Trump’s, sure. That’s a very hollow America. The gaping hole in global socialism is where patriotic American socialists have been erased. Cancelled, if you will, by “leftists,” who purposefully ignore all that does not fit a caricature planted in their minds by capital. Not coincidentally, this void in global socialism, or “hollow”, is right where capital wants it; in the imperial core. If there is no patriotic American left, there will be no global revolution against capital in its imperial core. We patriotic American socialists have a special responsibility to fill that gaping hole, with love of our country positioned against capital’s exploitation of it. (Yes, Yanis, the American working class has been exploited, too. If you’d like to see what “hollow” actually looks like, I’ll walk you around Cleveland to show you what capital hollowed out my entire life.)
The good news is we have a towering mountain of radical leftism in American history none of us knew was even there until we dug through the history that American capital made certain we were never taught. Here at Midwestern Marx, we endeavor to fill that hole. Patriotically. Go Browns.
Tim Russo is author of Ghosts of Plum Run, an ongoing historical fiction series about the charge of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg. Tim's career as an attorney and international relations professional took him to two years living in the former soviet republics, work in Eastern Europe, the West Bank & Gaza, and with the British Labour Party. Tim has had a role in nearly every election cycle in Ohio since 1988, including Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020. Tim ran for local office in Cleveland twice, earned his 1993 JD from Case Western Reserve University, and a 2017 masters in international relations from Cleveland State University where he earned his undergraduate degree in political science in 1989. Currently interested in the intersection between Gramscian cultural hegemony and Gandhian nonviolence, Tim is a lifelong Clevelander.