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Open Borders Is Socialism

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08.04.2021

“I think the vision is, you know, you have this kind of right-wing populism, which really is socialism, that says we should close our borders, not allow unconstrained immigration, and then take better care of our own working-class people and not allow this kind of transnational, global, corporatist elite to take everything for themselves under the guise of neoliberalism.” — Glenn Greenwald

Are we slipping past the point of no return? Where the resistance to the neoliberal order is the fascist order and the resistance to the fascist order is the neoliberal order? I don’t think so. I think in some ways the left still has a say and one has to look in the right places (on the ground) to find it.

Zizek’s formulation is that fascism does not arise to stop neoliberalism (its fake rival) but rather to stop socialism. I am going to argue that neoliberalism also emerges to stop socialism. In fact the whole game being played is one to stop socialism. What actually happens is inconsequential in comparison to this.

While I will continue to maintain that the left has shaped a lot of our past and will shape a lot of our future I want to look at how fascism is emerging to stop the left specifically. This is not a sign of the left’s lack of power but to the contrary, a sign that the left is a threat to the ruling class and they are dialed into a specific way to stop it.

Glenn Greenwald got in some trouble for calling Tucker Carlson a socialist for no other reason than xenophobia, but this is a debate that goes back further than Greenwald. I never get too upset by Greenwald for a couple of reasons. The first would be that no one has tried harder to get canceled than Greenwald, and yet he remains a mainstay on America’s most watched network, primarily for promoting an idea that he’s censored. Giving in to the outrage would be exactly what he wants.

This is different than giving in to outrage against serious fascists like Trump, who not only want to get “canceled” but also want to be king. Greenwald doesn’t give us a lot of useful analysis, but I think we would be falling into a trap by framing him as an enemy. For Trump, I think we are falling into his trap by proclaiming him the enemy, but we must do it, because he is powerful. One can see how he has a successful strategy.

Trump aside, my main point here is that the debate around open borders should be taken more seriously and reacting against Greenwald as a sort of fascist is in a way relevant but also plays into his formulation of power, which doesn’t seem fascist, just alienated. Angela Nagle is someone I find more compelling, and she made the case against open borders that sparked viral criticisms. This of course created a mysticism of a certain truth around her argument, which is why being more level-headed is a better way to react.

Nagle quotes Marx in her case against open borders. Of course a lot of people around the world quote Marx, Richard Wolff makes the case the only comparable influence are those of religious figures. Such a ubiquity doesn’t make Marx any less correct in his superb analysis of capitalism but it does make us admit that he likely has a variety of interpretations across many texts.

In the quote used by Nagle, of Marx, he calls the antagonism between the citizen and the immigrant artificial, proving a post-modern attitude on race, however, he also shares the same obsession with the Other as the secret force behind capitalist power: “This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power.”

This is why some people call Hitler a socialist, or why Greenwald might say the same thing about Steve Bannon types. If this is the analysis, that the capitalist gains its power through the Other, the immigrant especially, then we have essentially a right wing alternative to capitalism. We have to be fair to Marx and say that obviously, there’s a lot more going on there. I’ve certainly written things I’m not proud of saying. The same is true of Nagle and Greenwald, I want to be fair.

Yet it is also important to say that Marx is wrong here, and that we should read Marx within the class he was in. I won’t weigh in on the Helene Demuth debate now but I think it’s worth noting Marx is best read as an analyst of powerful capitalists and their structures, not as a psychoanalyst of the “working class”. Most of the modern left commentary (supported by patrons like Engels supported Marx) of course also relies upon a clean provocative analysis. From a Marxist perspective, the necessity to be clean and provocative is in order so the person making the analysis can feed themselves. So I have no problem with the problematic analysis just as I have no problem with drug dealers making a living. The problem remains with capitalists, owners of production, etc.

However just as we would be right to be honest about the drug dealer’s product, we should be honest about the product of the alt-left. If it seems I’m focusing too much on the left, being too hard on the left, it’s to the contrary: the right must be defeated and this is not an attempt to squash anyone on the left, but to make their arguments stronger.

In this way I am not against Nagle, because I think she makes people interested in the right ideas and that there may be no other way to do this than by framing it in a cultural way, and that this cultural framing is of course problematic, but how else would such an analysis even be sustained at all?

Even the material analysis of the present days I think wrongly frames the state of the society within vaguely ethnic terms like globalization. Richard Wolff is a rather remarkable analyst because he is as clear as he is smart. I want to push back even against the way we........

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