April 20, 2001

Socialists & nutball conservatives team up

Less than 48 hours after writing my last column, in which I discussed the developing left-right alliance on the China question, an article in the New Republic by none other than John Judis – prominent "democratic" socialist, and a former editor of the far-left In These Times and Socialist Revolution (now Socialist Review) – has been published that excoriates the Heritage Foundation for not being sufficiently hostile to "Red" China. I will forego renaming this column "Raimondamus Predicts," and merely note that, in this hit-piece – which cites numerous sources, all of them conveniently anonymous – Judis claims, incredibly, that a longtime bastion of the conservative movement has been taken over by pro-Chinese Communist ideologues! Not only that, but Elaine Chao, Bush's labor secretary, is smeared as a front-woman for the PRC, who, along with her father, a Chinese shipping magnate, and her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), supposedly turned the conservative Heritage Foundation around on the issue of China. Oh, the exquisite irony of it all: right-wingers at the Heritage Foundation are now being red-baited by leftists!


That McCarthyism is now being employed by former leftist radicals gone "conservative" – or, in Judis's case, right-wing social democratic – shouldn't really surprise anyone. This, after all, is the stock-in-trade of those "neocons" who still retain vestiges of their former leftism, as well as those who have gone all the way to the right: these guys are professional snitches. Yet, still, one is taken aback: is this how we know we have come to the End of History: when an ex-editor of Socialist Revolution can credibly accuse the Heritage Foundation of . . . selling out to the Commies?


The Judis piece is 99 percent flapdoodle, and in the course of some 6,000-plus words only one semi-substantial accusation is asserted: that secretary Chao failed to disclose that she was a board member of privately held Multa Communications Corp., which offers Internet services in the United States, China and Taiwan. Chao resigned from the company's board in January, after eight months, and never received a penny in compensation: she says her participation was limited to a single 30-minute conference call, and that the omission in filling out the financial disclosure form was a simple oversight. But to Judis, who seems to think that all companies operating out of China are virtual arms of the Chinese Communist Party, it is all a deep dark conspiracy. However, as Judis later admits (albeit in weasel words), far from being an arm of the Chinese government, Multacom is an American company involved in a joint venture with a company on the Chinese mainland, which, in turn, is 51 percent government-owned – as are a great many companies, including most publishers, in socialist China. By this kind of nutball "logic," American companies must be forbidden from doing business with any and all companies on the Chinese mainland – on the grounds that all things Chinese are tainted by the Beijing regime.


Judis complains that "Multacom's cable lines are being laid through another joint venture with another Chinese government company, the China Railway Telecommunications Center." But who cares? What Judis doesn't tell you is that Multacom is one of the first companies to really pioneer the opening up of China's embryonic Internet to the outside world. Last December, Multa announced that its DS3 undersea fiber-optic cable connection between the United States and Mainland China was available for sale. With this Trans-Pacific connection, Multacom became one of the first companies to connect China to the US over a single, seamless fiber optic circuit. That cable is China's lifeline to liberty – that is, to the uncharted and uncensored netherworlds of the Internet. John Judis sees something subversive in all this, but he has it backwards (or upside-down): what's being subverted is not the US, but China.


The insufferable nerve of this socialist twit, lecturing conservatives on the proper foreign policy "principles" for the conservative movement, is underscored by his condescending tone: "

"For a decade now the American right has fumbled about in search of moral clarity in the post-Soviet world. And there it was-a totalitarian, expansionist China humiliating America and trying to prevent it from protecting the vulnerable democracy of Taiwan. Beijing's response to the EP-3's emergency landing on Hainan Island should have been a conservative parable and a reminder that the conservative crusade against communism-perhaps the movement's finest achievement-is still relevant after all."


I don't recall that anyone on the right has experienced a lack of moral clarity: indeed, since the end of the cold war, there has been a sharpening of the moral sense on the right, much of which has come to challenge the morality of a foreign policy that bombs Serbian cities to make the world safe for Albanian maniacs and kills 5,000 Iraqi children per month. The only exception to this "isolationist" trend being the neo-conservatives, who came aboard on account of anti-Communism and have been adrift since the end of the cold war. And therein lies the rub. . . .


Judis is enraged that "the American right did not make the EP-3 the symbol of a new crusade." A new crusade – to do exactly what? To destroy China, of course: economically, if possible, and militarily, if necessary. But what, you might ask, is a card-carrying leftist, whose avowedly socialist affiliations have not exactly been a secret, doing in the middle of what was, up until now, strictly an intramural fight on the right?


Long before the New Republic discovered this sinister Commie plot to take over the conservative movement – not to mention the Bush administration – Joe Farah's WorldNetDaily ran a whole series of equally sensationalistic (and baseless) stories implying that Chao was practically a Chinese Mat Hari. They dredged up the same tissue of innuendo as Judis, alleging that Chao, her father, and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin have a "personal" and "deep" relationship – because Chao pere and Jiang were classmates before the Chaos fled the mainland, and their family shipping company, now based in Hong Kong, does extensive business in China. But since they are in China, one can only wonder where else they are supposed to do business, according to Judis's (and Farah's) moral lights – Zimbabwe? In any case, Joe Farah practically came right out and said Judis stole the WorldNetDaily story, and passed it off as his own. While Farah reveals that Judis wrote to WND reporter Paul Sperry before he wrote his New Republic piece, asking for assistance, Judis claims that he originally gave WND credit for the story, but that an editor or a "production person" must have dropped the reference. Yeah, sure – whatever. The piece as it stands mentions that stories of Chao as a kind of Chinese fifth columnist within the administration had been percolating around "conspiracy-minded right-wing websites," although it does not deign to mention WorldNetDaily except in a note posted later. Not only did Judis fail to give them a link, he wouldn't even name them – and, frankly, on this issue, who can blame him?


Now, I love Joe Farah, and WorldNetDaily (WND)is one of my favorite websites: I plugged it in my "Bookmarks" column not so long ago. It is often informative, and, more importantly, it never fails to entertain. Here, for example, is my favorite WND ad: "Who Really Rules the World?" the front-page headline asks, and WND has an answer: "Dr. Monteith reveals how secrets societies have directed civilization!" Click, and you are confronted with the cover of the Good Doctor's "incredible but true" tell-all book, The Dark Brotherhood. "Most people don't realize they exist because their minds have been conditioned to reject any thought of such organizations." Get out your tinfoil hats, guys and gals, and set yourself down for a nice long read: for a mere $12.95, the secrets of the ages are revealed. Such a deal!


Now, I have nothing against conspiracy theories, per se, but the particular conspiracy theory being pushed by WND and the New Republic (an odd couple if ever there was one!) is not only wrong but pernicious. For what, exactly, is supposed to be Elaine Chao's great crime? That she was connected to a company that wants to open up China to the Internet? That she believes that it would be a good thing if China's markets were opened up to US producers, and vice-versa? That she is Chinese? This last seems to be her greatest transgression, since all the nasty implications about her family ties – specifically, her father's alleged connection to Jiang Zemin – are made much of by both Judis and WND. But at least WND is quasi-honest about the sick racist filth it is spreading. This is something that Judis, the politically-correct Social Democrat, would rather not get too close to: he prefers to conduct his Asian-bashing on a subliminal level. But WND's Paul Sperry isn't so subtle. In a story posted in January of this year, Sperry quoted an anonymous source who said:

"'Chao's father resides in New York City and, years ago, founded a ship brokerage and agency business, Foremost Maritime Corp. – a lucrative shipping firm that ships goods from the U.S. to China and much of Asia. To do this would require one having friends in high places,' or 'Guanxi' (the Chinese term for political connections)', the source told WorldNetDaily. 'The real story here is that Ms. Chao's father – and most likely herself – has been a family friend of the leaders of communist China for practically all of her life.' When asked if Chao has had any contact at all with Jiang, the expert said, 'Absolutely.' And, the source added, 'it's kept very quiet, but it's probably regular contact.' If confirmed, said the Asia expert, 'she would come into [Bush's] Cabinet with a more intimate relationship with the president of China than with the president of the United States.'"


This farrago of "probably" and "most likely" is really a thinly-disguised variation on the old theme of dual loyalty, with which anti-Semites used to excoriate Jews, and is now applied to the Yellow Peril of Red China: we might call it the Orange Smear. It consists of the unspoken but nonetheless clear implication that Chinese-Americans, such as Elaine Chao, are not really loyal Americans, and that their first allegiance is to the Chinese motherland. Of course, Sperry has it all mixed up, in that Chao and her family were citizens of Taiwan, which is supposed to be China's mortal enemy: but you know how these Chinese are, don't you? They all stick together, now, don't they? Of course, to point this out in any other racial context would be a hate crime punishable by, say, being stuck in a elevator with David Horowitz, but we all know it's okay in the case of Asians, the "model minority," who apparently haven't been sufficiently "discriminated" against to qualify as a Official Victim Group.


So it is okay for WND to aver that Chao is "probably" a bosom buddy of Jiang Zemin's, in spite of the fact that they have zero evidence the two have ever met. It is also okay for Judis to impart a dark and sinister air to Senator Mitch McConnell's "pro-Beijing" (i.e. pro-free trade) stance on China, and strongly imply that he is bought and paid for by the Chinese Communist regime because some of his campaign contributors are Chinese-Americans: he is, after all, married to Elaine Chao, and that, in the subliminally racist worldview of Judis and WND, is in itself cause for suspicion. Chao raised money for McConnell, and the two agree on the necessity of opening China up to the West: this must mean she is a Chinese Mata Hari, sent to woo and seduce the powerful Senator from Kentucky into betraying his country. No, they don't dare come out and say it, in so many words, but that, when you boil down all the "maybes," the "probably's," and the "most likely's", is what they damn well mean.


What is really sickening is the McCarthyite flavor of the Judis piece, which ends by demanding to know the corporate contributors behind a nonprofit educational foundation McConnell set up, the McConnell Center for Political Leadership, which Judis strongly implies is a front for the Communist Chinese. Are you or have you ever been . . . ? Once again, these words are being heard in the land – and they are coming from the Left! For all it's China-bashing and warmongering, WorldNetDaily is far too libertarian to go around demanding contributor lists: they were, after all, targeted by the Clinton White House and forced to answer for their views and activities, eventually having to give up their nonprofit status. But the socialist Judis has no such qualms about government intrusions on privacy and violation of private property rights. . . .


What's up with this, anyhow? I mean, why oh why is a leftie like Judis getting in the middle of an intra-Republican dispute? The reason, I should think, is fairly obvious. The anti-China Left in this country consists, first and foremost, of the AFL-CIO: the unions are the shock troops of the "hate China" lobby. Their goal is simply to kill off all trade with China, and force the American people to pay outrageously high prices for items that, on the world market, are quite naturally cheap. The union leaders then live off the ill-gotten gains of their members, whose standard of living is entirely the product of their political pull in Washington – and a tariff wall high enough to keep out the competition. It's Guanxi, American style.


Now, as a prominent Social Democrat – In These Times is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America – Judis and his comrades have always wanted a leadership position in the unions. Surely the former editor of Socialist Revolution – perhaps in his heart of hearts, in a dream vaguely remembered in the morning – imagines that he will one day lead American workers to their proletarian destiny. The radical left has always targeted the unions as the cradle of the socialist revolution, with varying degrees of success. Communist influence in the labor union movement reached a peak in the 1930's, waned in the postwar period and went underground during the cold war. But with the end of the Soviet Union, one of the great ironies is that the Old Left – a coalition of old Communist Party circles, made up mostly of aging ex-members who still consider themselves left-activists, and Social Democrats of the DSA-In These Times stamp – is making something of a comeback. This impacts on the China question in a curious way. . . .


At the 1997 AFL-CIO convention, held in Pittsburgh, the old anti-Communist clause in the union constitution was amended out of existence. The clause stipulated that anyone who was "a member of the Communist party, any fascist organization, or any totalitarian organization" was barred from serving as a union official. George Meyers, head of the Labor Commission of the Communist Party USA, hailed the "removal of the vicious and illegal 'anti-communist' clause that has befouled the AFL-CIO Constitution since its founding in 1955." Meyers also tellingly remarked that the decision to drop the anti-Communist clause was "a key to where the 'new' AFL-CIO is going." You betcha!


When John Sweeney was elected AFL-CIO president he was hailed by the People's Weekly World, Communist mouthpiece, as well as by In These Times, the Social Democratic organ. The latter went ballistic when the conservative American Enterprise magazine exposed Sweeney's membership in the Democratic Socialists of America. "Redbaiting!" they whined. But they didn't deny it, and this intersection of neo-communism and the labor movement is essential in understanding the anti-China Left. For the most vehement anti-China ideologues of them all are the old pro-Soviet communists, the orthodox Marxists who hated the Chinese after their split with the Kremlin. For the Chinese and their American followers viciously attacked the Kremlin-loyal Commies as traitors, "revisionists" who were worse than the American "imperialists." In this they were merely echoing the ideology of their iconic leader, Chairman Mao, who in his "Theory of the Three Worlds," declared, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, that the Soviet Union and not the United States was the "principal enemy of the world's peoples and the main threat to peace." Now, it's payback time. The remnants of the Kremlin-loyal Communists in the US, and their "democratic" socialist coalition partners, having gained a significant foothold in the declining union movement, have turned the tables on China – and on American conservatives. Those old commies hate the Chinese, whom they blame for destroying the Soviet Union, and this union-led anti-China campaign draped in "anti-Communist" colors is their ironic revenge.


The Judis hit piece is, partially, payback for the devastating revelations in "Labor's Leftward Lurch," by Kenneth R. Weinstein, and August Stofferahna, published as a Heritage Foundation "backgrounder" – a fascinating account of how the Democratic Socialists of America and the remnants of the Communist Party have managed to carve out a significant niche in the post-cold war American labor movement. More significantly, however – and much more ominously – it is the beginning of the war drums beating on the Left. As I pointed out in my last column, left and right have at last found an enemy they can agree on, each for their own reasons. And so a new "Popular Front" is born, in which John Judis can join hands with John Derbyshire, John Sweeney can join hands with Joe Farah, and WorldNetDaily can join forces with the New Republic and National Review. Now, isn't that cozy?


Isn't it funny, though, that Sinophobia and a fixation on Elaine Chao aren't the only obsessions WorldNetDaily shares with the New Republic? Last year, Farah evoked the rage of his mostly Republican readers by refusing to endorse George W. Bush, and [New Republic publisher] Marty Peretz, of course, was rooting for his boy Al. But a distaste for Bush and his administration isn't the only common ground: both WND and the New Republic stand out in their fanatical devotion to Israel, dutifully (and often tortuously) justifying whatever brutality is dished out to the Palestinians. So quit fighting, guys, about who should take "credit" for the smears against secretary Chao and her family. Working together, I'm sure you can attain your goals: war with China, war with the Palestinians – war, war, and more war. It's good for the flagging economy (the unions will like that), and good for the flagging conservative movement. Dr. Monteith's conspiracy theories aren't nearly nourishing enough for them, and they need stronger stuff: a Chinese conspiracy involving prominent American capitalists and their Chinese-American collaborators will get everybody high.

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.


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