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Editorial Discontentment with capitalism can no longer be blamed on ‘Russian hackers’

THE US Attorney General’s letter to Congress summarising the conclusions of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation will disappoint President Trump’s many critics around the world.

After a two-year inquiry, Mueller can find no evidence of collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign team and Putin’s Russia.

For many liberals, it has become an article of faith that the Kremlin and its oligarchs must have played a crucial role in securing Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Likewise, they believe that sinister forces in Russia and their collaborators helped procure the Brexit result in the June 2016 EU referendum.

Any indication that anyone in Russia, or any company with Russian links, may have intervened in the campaign is seized upon as an explanation for that outcome.

These same quarters make no such objection to the interventions in favour of Britain remaining in the EU by US politicians including former president Barack Obama and past or present chiefs of Nato, the IMF and the OECD.

Widespread allegations of illicit Russian interference were also made when the far-right Swedish Democrats made big gains in that country’s general election in 2018. No evidence was found to substantiate those charges.

President Macron made similar, equally false claims in France.

Far-right co-ordination during Bavaria’s October election was also blamed on Russia – though the Institute for Strategic Dialogue had to admit there was “little identifiable” evidence of Russian involvement.

It contented itself for attacking coverage by Russian-owned channel RT it said was “focused on issues only indirectly tied to the election, promoting one-sided but not false articles on issues such as migration, foreign policy and the war in Syria.” Almost any media channel could be accused of the same.

What do these charges all have in common? Apart from their lack of any significant — let alone decisive — evidence of Russian interference, they reveal a lot about those who make them.

Firstly, of course, there is the grotesque hypocrisy of the US, Britain and France complaining about outside interference in other countries’ affairs.

Secondly, in the Trump case, it’s clear that powerful circles in the US military-industrial-political complex were alarmed at his refusal when a candidate to join in the demonisation of Putin and Russia.

Pentagon hawks need a credible ogre to justify sky-high arms spending and military build-ups.

Putin had already resisted the aggressive encirclement of his country by pro-Western regimes and US and Nato military bases. Nor would he meekly accept Western subversion of Syria in league with sectarian fundamentalists.

Yet Trump — representing oil and other US corporations eager to do business in Russia — had refused to join in the warmongering, unlike Clinton.

Thirdly, too many liberals and some leftists would rather not face up to the reality of why many millions of working-class electors refuse to vote as advised or instructed.

The fact is that huge numbers of people around the world have derived no benefit from capitalist globalisation and monopoly-market forces.

They resent the loss of industrial jobs and the lack of employment, housing and education prospects for their children. And many see immigration as unfair competition and a threat.

Rather than produce policies which cut across monopoly capitalism’s “freedoms” and deal with these concerns in a progressive, non-racist way, many liberals turn a deaf ear and defend the status quo.

They then express horror when working-class people vote for reactionary demagogues who at least pretend to share their pain and who propose bogus solutions to their real or perceived problems.

How much more comfortable to point the finger at Putin, the Kremlin and Facebook than to address the roots of discontent by attacking the capitalist free market or institutions like the European Union that enforce it.

How much easier to slander masses of working-class voters in the US and here as thick, gullible racists and xenophobes than challenge the ruling capitalist class.

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