Over the past year, as the far right trafficked in wild anti-masker and pro-Donald Trump fantasies that led to the Jan. 6 putsch on the Capitol, some prominent members of the “Dirtbag Left” and radical left have been promoting figureheads in the Boogaloo movement, circulating “deep state” conspiracies, and bantering about “great replacement” talking points—ones that can sometimes sound an awful lot like the fever dreams of the alt-right.
Take, for instance, Jimmy Dore, the populist YouTuber and member of the Movement for a Peoples Party’s Advisory Council. He recently courted a public-relations disaster when he offered a platform to Magnus Panvidya, a member of the Boogaloo Boys, a militant group that threatened violence ahead of Biden’s inauguration. Emerging into the public eye last spring during right-wing anti-lockdown protests, the heavily armed Boogaloo Boys have promoted attacks against state and government officials in retaliation for COVID safety restrictions. But Panvidya, who sports a rainbow flag in his Twitter bio, offered the movement a more palatable pro-LGBT and anti-racist face. (Panvidya also has tweeted that Kyle Rittenhouse, the Trump supporter who shot three men, killing two of them, during turbulent anti-racism protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the summer, “was in his right to defend himself.”)
During the interview with Dore, titled “Radical Michigan Anarchist Seeks Unity With the Left,” Panvidya posed in front of a rainbow “Don’t Tread On Me” flag and talked about why the Boogaloos are anti-cop. He asserted, “It is the top versus the bottom, it is not the left versus the right.” Dore then listed the things they agree about: “We would agree on the war, we would agree on the corporate control of our government, we would agree on police brutality. We’re not going to agree on the Second Amendment… you know what, I tell you what, I go back and forth on the Second Amendment.”
Dore, who reportedly just dropped $1.9 million on an Los Angeles bungalow, has gotten populist mileage himself out of anti-lockdown sentiment, asking why small businesses closed while Amazon was allowed to remain open, saying that the World Health Organization was “cautioning against the lockdowns,” and characterizing the lockdowns on gyms, salons, and sporting-goods stores as “creating death.” He also aired a protester who opposed COVID-19 restrictions as “a conspiracy” and “a tyranny.”
It’s a complex ecosystem, when you map the strange areas of crossover between the political fringes. In some cases, leftists pay tribute to aspects of right-wing conspiracy theories ostensibly to coax some from the right into left-wing populism. On the other side, some leftists genuinely seek to transcend the boundary between left and right entirely to create a populist moment that challenges what they see as the elites.
Playing footsie with the right is not a common thing on the neo-socialist left, but there’s a subset of this latter group, a small but influential band, who can veer into legitimizing the talking points of the extremist right.
The extremely online denizens of both movements like to hide behind a mask of “irony” on issues like racism, feminism, and equal rights, promoting reactionary memes and language that is often taken not so ironically by their followers.
Whether it’s anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, anti-lockdown types, those who believe in pedophile cabals, or deep-state conspiracists, media personalities who peddle such tropes are engaging in a sordid ecosystem that draws left and right together on false premises. And while this may be a profitable enterprise, it encourages polarization while claiming to unite “the people” against “the elites.”
Explaining the appearance of Panvidya on Dore’s show, one former Boogaloo Boy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted, “Of course, there are a LOT of these guys trying to rehabilitate the image of the movement. Any of them jockeying for attention will say whatever they think will make people sympathetic or take a softer view of them. So I don’t doubt there is gaslighting going on.” (As researcher Matthew Lyons observed in his text Ctrl-Alt-Delete, alt-right commentators have admitted to co-opting the rainbow flag and other signifiers to capitalize on “wedge issues” that could help split members of the left from a liberal coalition and bind them to elements of the far right.)
And Boogaloo Boys certainly have a dark side. One Boogaloo Boy, a former Air Force sergeant, was arrested for shooting two security officers in Oakland last year, killing one; police arrested another for plotting to bomb a hospital. Despite the group’s fixation on pedophiles, which the Anti-Defamation League attributes to the influence of QAnon and Pizzagate, two Boogaloo Boys have been arrested on pedophilia-related charges.
Boogaloo Boys are built around a racist meme that spread on 4Chan—where QAnon developed—and use the same talking points about QAnon seen among other populists. But they are a fragmented community with little ideological consistency; some members believe in fascist and far-right ideology. One Telegram channel associated with the Boogaloo Boys that has 9,327 subscribers denounced Trump in favor of a more extreme right-wing position, insisting, “The current administration is dedicated to protecting pedophiles after [Jeffrey] Epstein ‘suicided’ and [Ghislaine] Maxwell was ‘arrested’… They’re laughing at you. No, really these people want you broke, dead, your kids raped and brainwashed, and they think it’s funny.”
Another reporter on the left, Alex Rubinstein—who has reported for the Russian state-backed RT America (which U.S. intelligence identified as a player in Russian election interference in 2016)—recently shared a video of Panvidya at a protest, stating, “Time to rethink the left-right paradigm.” Rubinstein also called a pro-Second Amendment protest involving Boogaloo Boys and a Black gun-rights group last July “an [sic] multiracial armed movement” and “actual solidarity.”
In another tweet on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Rubinstein declared, “The left thinks the blue collar MAGA people who stormed the capitol are their political enemies. This is how we lose. Our enemies should be the political elite and the oligarchy. We should be trying to convince the people who stormed the capitol, not trying to ID them for the FBI.”
Rubinstein emailed The Daily Beast to note, “It is important to point out here that I did not call for ‘Boogaloo solidarity’... In my tweet, I commented on a Boogaloo-aligned speaker, donning a rainbow Pride flag at a rally who praised Black Lives Matter, antifa, and right-wing militias in the same breath. I wrote that it is ‘time to rethink the left-right paradigm’... This is a position I have previously advocated, believing the distinction is out-dated having originated from where politicians in France sat in the 1700’s in the Estates General. I do not think it’s controversial to say that not everybody in our modern, hyperconnected world fits neatly on one side.”
He went on to note, “I was arrested—and eventually cleared—of felony rioting charges while reporting on antifascist protests during Donald Trump’s inauguration... I was ten feet away from the car attack in Charlottesville and had earlier photographed the perpetrator as he was benign guarded by police officers. There are just a few highlights of my experience taking on actual fascists and I have never argued in favor of alliance with those holding fascist beliefs... I do not condone the Boogaloos out-right, but there is a huge amount of video evidence taken by independent reporters that demonstrates some of them hold anti-racist and anti-authoritarian views... as for fascists in their ranks, I completely disavow.”
Panvidya did not respond to a request for comment.
In the aftermath of Panvidya’s appearance on Dore’s show, the filmmaker Rod Webber tweeted a thread of unpublished segments of an interview he did with Dore. (Dore did not respond to the thread.) When Webber tells Dore that Panvidya has defended Rittenhouse, Dore acknowledges, “That’s a big problem, right?... So then what do we do? What do we do when a guy like that shows up with a guy from antifa and Black Lives Matter and claims all the things he claims?” Webber’s response: “Vet them more before putting them out on the internet to tons of people, to let them just say what they want to say unchecked.” (Dore notes, “I had no idea about the Kyle Rittenhouse thing when I interviewed that guy…”)
Dore then tells Webber, “The fact that we’re making it toxic for Americans to talk to other Americans in this moment now when our government is abandoning us, and we all know that there might be a Civil War coming. It’s more important now than ever to talk to people because of COVID, because we’re all being screwed by the government…
“It’s called class consciousness... You don’t recommend that some of our people in our same class, we don’t talk to, right? You don’t recommend that, right?”
When reached by The Daily Beast, Dore said that his lockdown statements were referring to a statement from the World Health Organization on total lockdowns that noted, in part, “We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus. The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
Dore added, “I advocate for lockdowns as one tool to fight the pandemic. My concern about lockdowns are shared with the World Health Organization about the effects of lockdowns on working people and economically vulnerable people. It is why I have been an outspoken champion for government financial relief to people affected by the lockdown and the pandemic. I am also a staunch supporter of single payer healthcare. I do not believe COVID-19 restrictions are a conspiracy. Lockdowns are not tyrannical—closing down people’s businesses as a matter of policy without providing workers financial relief is.”
On the interview with Panvidya, Dore clarified, “The interview with Magnus has sparked a useful conversation about if social movements can work together. I believe people from all different ideological perspectives should be in dialogue. In the interview, I explicitly made clear that I am not making an endorsement of any particular group. We showcased debates on our channel including the perspectives of people who disagree. We should always be willing to talk to those who disagree with us.”
The far right took notice of Dore’s platforming of Panvidya, along with the YouTuber’s broader populist messaging and support for conspiracy theories. The SMAT tool for online site analytics shows an increase in discussion about Dore on 4chan and the pro-Trump site TheDonald following Panvidya’s interview. Dore was also retweeted approvingly by far-right libertarian Paul Joseph Watson, following Panvidya’s appearance. This trend matches continued interest from the far right in Dore’s populism. A prominent far-right Telegram channel called The Conspiracy Hole has reposted four of his videos, including the titles “Fauci is full of Fauchit,” and “COVID Whistle Blower RAIDED.”
Jack Posobiec, a far-right media figure who spearheaded the Pizzagate conspiracy theory—which insisted Hillary Clinton led a pedophile cabal run out of Washington, DC’s Comet Pizza—reposted Dore’s tweet, in which the populist said he was “completely floored” by his interview with Panvidya, and commenting simply, “Exactly.” On another occasion, he reposted a tweet to Telegram calling Dore “a Jack Posobiec Democrat.” Last October, Posobiec also interviewed People’s Party advocate Niko House in an OAN program devoted to “the Perpetual Neo-Liberal Nightmare,” and House was featured in Posobiec’s documentary, Antifa: Rise of the Black Flags.
It’s not the first time associates of the People’s Party have made strange bedfellows with the far-right and its deep-state, anti-mainstream-media conspiracies. On the official page dedicated to making “The Case for a People’s Party,” the group quotes an author named Teodrose Fikra (full name Teodrose Fikremariam), whose other writings speak out against Freemasons and their “serpent master,” and slam “the racist philosophy of Zionism” and “those fake Jews who pray in the Synagogue of Satan.” Last year, Fikremariam hosted Dore on his podcast in an interview focused on “the corporate press” as the “enemy of the people,” in which the duo floated the idea that the U.S. funded ISIS and secretly started the war in Syria in order to install a natural-gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe.
When reached for comment over the phone, Fikremariam denounced anti-Semitism, and declared that the “Synagogue of Satan” comes from the Bible’s Revelations, applying equally to Zionists as to the leaders of the Catholic Church and Islam who do not respect their devoted followers. He further informed The Daily Beast that he views the past and present leadership of the United States as part of a Freemason conspiracy, and sent over an article he wrote titled, “The Many Faces of Covid-19 Experimental ‘Vaccine’ Deaths,” which quotes COVID conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and makes prophetic references to the Bible. (After publication of this article, Fikremariam clarified, “I am not a leftist.”)
The Movement for a People’s Party could not be reached via an email submitted through their website about whether or not they endorse Fikremariam or his views.
One podcaster who spoke at the Movement for a People’s Party-driven #ForceTheVote protest, Fiorella Isabel of the podcast ConvoCouch, had independent journalist Ford Fischer on the ConvoCouch for a segment called “Boogaloo Boys and BLM Unity?” in which her co-host, Craig Jardula, called for solidarity between Black Lives Matter and the Proud Boys, the chauvinist movement whose members now face conspiracy charges for their role in the Jan. 6 putsch. Jardula proclaimed, “No matter what, I’m hoping that there’s some unity in the streets whatsoever. I know that these two groups, the Proud Boys and BLM, they kind of go at each other’s throats but at the end of the day, I’m looking up at the government and what they’re doing.”
And as the party has itself noted on Twitter, “MPP’s goal is a little different from the Greens. We say we want to be a major new party, not just a leftist party. Greens have a good platform, but I’m not sure it can appeal to red state voters.”
Last month, the Movement for a People’s Party suffered significant blows. In mid-February, a major left-wing influencer who supported the group bowed out in a tweeted statement saying, in part, “I believe we need a viable 3rd party in America that represents the interests of people—not corporations. But I believe it must be rooted in socialism.” The following day, the group Our Revolution Los Angeles dropped the Movement for a People’s Party, citing a “toxic and top-down hierarchical framework.” In response, the People’s Party tweeted of the Our Revolution LA press release, “We believe it is an intentional misrepresentation.”
The far right has responded excitedly to signs that some on the left might indulge in “cross-pollination.”
After the left-wing Red Scare podcast invited Trump ally Steve Bannon on the show to discuss populism, health care, and China last April, far-right website The Post Millennial rejoiced that “the establishment types on left and right are left behind by the populist approach… The traditional positions of left and right are basically up for grabs, and either party can own them as the ideologies shift.”
On the podcast, a Red Scare co-host asked Bannon a question about collaboration, commenting, “it seems like we agree on a lot of things… [can] the anti-establishment left and right work together in any meaningful way...?” Bannon replied, “I think we can. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. There’s definitely common ground... I get contacted by a lot of people on the left all the time.” When discussing the deadly white-nationalist march in Charlottesville, a Red Scare co-host called antifa and ethnonationalists “sides of the same clownish coin.”
Red Scare co-host Dasha Nekrasova also appeared on the Pseudodoxology Podcast Network, hosted by an online personality referred to only as @kantbot, an internet troll associated with the incel subculture who has tweeted approvingly of National Socialism—he claims to be “a Marxist-Leninist—I’m a more legitimate leftist than any of these people claiming to be leftist”—and who self-identifies as “anti-democracy,” “Stalinist, a TERF, [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] and Black Nationalist,” while also questioning why he can’t say the n-word and attacking “hate hoaxes.” Their episode, called “Dashamania,” includes Nekrasova trading in the usual troll culture slang, like “cuck” and “libtarded.” The Red Scare also had @kantbot—who has said he supports Trump as a “meme for history working itself out”—on their podcast.
(When reached by The Daily Beast, @kantbot noted, “Im [sic] a Black nationalist in that I think Malcolm X was a hero. And Im [sic] a terf in the sense that I deny the entire concept of identity as an objective quality that is knowable. But ideology is all mystification. You surely know this. Such categories are ultimately nonsensical mystifications upholding the base material desires of individuals and the classes they belong to. Which Marx as you know is completely correct about in this matter. So yes. I am a Marxist.”)
During their conversations, @kantbot recommended Nekrasova go on Perfume Nationalist, a podcast committed to reactionary politics and voluptuous fragrances, which her Red Scare co-host Anna Khachiyan had guested on a few months prior. The Perfume Nationalist podcast boasts an avatar, slightly clipped off-screen, of a man wearing a shirt emblazoned with a Totenkopf (the “death’s head” worn by Nazi SS troops) and its hosts make declarations like, “#MeToo is the result of female moral panic over male sexuality masquerading as social justice... female irrationality gone awry,” and “we're being encroached upon by these extremely fertile immigrants from the world over,” playing into white-nationalist tropes about immigrants ‘replacing’ white people.
During Khachiyan’s appearance on the show, she remarked on Bronze Age Pervert, a far-right thought leader in a milieu that Politico has described as reveling “in mythic, aristocratic pasts while trafficking in racism and anti-Semitism.” Khachiyan called him, “the great genius writer/artist of our age.” “I’m glad to hear you say that,” one Perfume Nationalist co-host replied, adding, “‘Cause I told you to read it, like, a year ago.” Khachiyan continued, “All of the good fiction writing now is self-published essentially and coming from the so-called ‘alt-right,’ and my haters can quote me on that.”
In conversation on another podcast, TekWars 2.0, @kantbot and his friend Jack Mason from Perfume Nationalist discussed Red Scare—“dig into the podcast and you’ll find a lot of shockingly reactionary content… delivered sincerely and without irony,” Mason proclaimed. He further claimed the Red Scare hosts “have always flirted with the alt-right,” that they mock climate science and body positivity (they troll “about being anorexic... they both are very thin, constantly talking about their frail arms”), and that they are “actually extremely red-pilled about the woman question.” He also praised their “erotic fixation on right-wing figures,” including their “obsession with Steve Bannon... they love him. They love Roger Stone, they love Trump, they love Kellyanne Conway. So this is highly unusual for an ostensibly leftist podcast.”
Mason also claimed that leading Pizzagater Mike Cernovich sent him a fire emoji regarding his “Red Scare blog.” (Others have claimed that Cernovich has been known to ask @kantbot’s advice. When reached by The Daily Beast, Cernovich replied, “Advice from Kantbot... that’s news to me.”) Later on in the podcast, @kantbot noted that “a lot of people who come on this show have really been into 5G and cell phone tower mind control.” In the finale, Mason noted that, once he started promoting Red Scare as “serious, entertaining, complex reactionary ideas, lots of right-wing boys got on board and really liked it, and I feel like those are the real fans of that podcast.”
As Perfume Nationalist co-host Jack Mason notes in his TekWars podcast with @kantbot, “This irony-left thing of these podcasts, essentially people get away with appropriating right-wing memes and trolling with reactionary content by having the trappings of being a leftist socialist. It’s kind of a way to pass in New York, it seems like.” @kantbot replies, “It’s basically indistinguishable. You can easily frame Marxist-Leninism in such a way as it’s completely right-wing, it’s completely indistinguishable from any right-wing ideology.”
Mason, Khachiyan, and Nekrasova did not respond to requests for comment.
This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg. Far-right blog Counter-Currents noted that @kantbot hosted another “unwoke left” podcaster, Aimee Terese, who was praised by white-nationalist group American Renaissance for retweeting Bronze Age Pervert and supposedly rejecting “the war on white heritage.” Counter-Currents further appreciated @kantbot hosting Sean McCarthy, of the “Dirtbag Left” podcast Grubstakers. McCarthy in turn hosted Chapo Trap House’s Matt Christman on Grubstakers for a two-part episode chatting about QAnon for hours, along with another of their cohort, Nick Mullen. (Neither Terese nor McCarthy responded to requests for comment.) Mullen is fairly notorious for his controversial podcast Cum Town and his use of racist slurs, including dropping the n-word multiple times in a conversation discussing Bill Maher. Mullen also joined The Sitdown podcast to talk about pedophilia in Hollywood back in 2018, on which a host introduced him by saying, “We’re here to talk about probably the biggest cartel that I know of, and it’s full of Jews.”
All this comes at a time when conspiratorial thinking seems to be on the rise across political ideologies.
One reliable area of overlap between the far left and QAnon types is the question of Jeffrey Epstein’s death, and the conspiracy of deep-state involvement—along with the conviction that Hollywood and political elites are running pedophile rings that the powers-that-be tacitly condone, or even participate in.
This talking point about QAnon—that its belief about pedophile “elitists” being protected by the neoliberal establishment is valid—was recently elevated by Rolling Stone contributing editor and left-wing writer Matt Taibbi, who asserted that “the underlying thought, that it’s a coalition of Trumpists who are taking on these elitists who want to take over the rest of society—there’s a core of, like, emotional truth animating the QAnon theory.”
Similarly, Chapo Trap House’s Matt Christman avowed in an interview with the TrueAnon podcasters last year: “There are two basic premises to QAnon, one is right and one is wrong… That’s why I say it’s a 50/50 thing. The premise of, ‘We are ruled by a cabal of cannibalistic psychotic sexual abusers and all the institutions that they create are to further their dominance over us’: Correct. And that ‘Donald Trump is going to stop them’: Incorrect.”
In the interview with TrueAnon’s Brace Belden and Liz Franczak (who has also appeared on the Perfume Nationalist podcast), Christman and his fellow podcasters riff on Epstein’s death in lockup and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell’s recent arrest—“this has to be a result of some sort of factional contest within the intelligence community or deep state or whatever, because somebody kept her alive for all those months,” Christman says. They then veer into prime conspiracy territory when Belden riffs on how he could see the “deep state” drugging Maxwell—“it’s like what happened to Jack Ruby”—to supposedly discredit her testimony in court. Between digs at the center left (“literally a minority of people think Epstein killed himself,” Belden says; Christman adds, “A majority of Biden voters, though”). Belden complains, “But this is a thing that everybody knows. Everybody knows that the government or factions within the government likely had something to do with it. But you can’t do anything about it. That’s what drives people so crazy. That’s just contributed to how insane everybody is.”
While the hosts agree that QAnon is a deranged theory—and while Franczak cautions her co-hosts against granting “single consciousness” to “every wing of the American bureaucracy working in tandem with each other”—the three male hosts seem to nod to the conspiracy’s appeal. In a discussion on Trump’s lawyer and Epstein associate Alan Dershowitz, Christman jokes that Trump “is a white-hat pedophile who’s trying to lure all the other pedophiles into a false sense of security and then spring the trap on them.” Host Hasan Piker exclaims, “And that’s how we tie this neatly back to the QAnon conspiracy. There you go.” “Which is 100 percent correct,” Belden jokes. “No,” Liz and Hasan say. “It’s 50 percent correct,” says Christman, more seriously. “It’s like, 30, 40... 30 percent,” says Belden. Later, when talking about QAnon’s evolution into a Trumpist personality cult, Christman declares, “Everything that’s wrong and insane about QAnon comes from that end of the spigot. The first premise [that the ruling class is a “cabal of cannibalistic psychotic sexual abusers”] is correct.” (Christman did not respond to a request for comment sent through Twitter.)
Much of TrueAnon’s approach tends to mix humor and seriousness in the same way it plays on the third rail of conspiracy theories and their tropes. In one interview with the L.A. Review of Books, Belden said, “I literally think that rich people are vampires in every sense of the word—psychic vampires, money vampires, sex vampires, blood vampires. They have a totally different, absolutely warped sense of morality and society.”
A more recent guest at TrueAnon is Norman Finkelstein, an anti-Zionist activist who caused controversy last year for calling Holocaust denier David Irving a “very good historian,” adding, “I don’t know what a Holocaust denier even is.” Irving is, among other things, notorious for urging a German court to “fight a battle for the German people and put an end to the blood lie of the Holocaust.”
When reached over Twitter, the TrueAnon podcast declined to comment on whether their speculations might indulge conspiracy theories that have sometimes aligned with anti-Semitism and the far right.
Scholar of the far right Shane Burley put it this way to The Daily Beast: “When trying to critique the inequalities inherent in our economic and political structures, deeply laid anti-Semitic canards and conspiracy theories still hold a lot of emotional power. The same is true in the anti-imperialist left who, in their effort to critique the excesses of Western countries and institutions, end up using questionable sources, conspiratorial innuendo, and making despotic friends.
“Conspiracy theories are some of the key ways that far-right ideas can creep into left-wing discourse, warping consensus reality—and allowing old bigotries, such as anti-Semitism, to fly unchecked.”