The effort by YouTube personality and former comedian Jimmy Dore to promote the fascist Boogaloo Boys is a significant political episode that reveals the ignorant and reactionary character of middle class “left” politics in America. Dore, an ex-supporter of Bernie Sanders and the Green Party, is a more backward and vulgar representative of a broader social layer that is responding to Trump’s January 6 coup attempt by moving to the right.
On January 24, Dore invited SEP member and World Socialist Web Site Labor Editor Jerry White onto his program to discuss the WSWS’s coverage of a strike of Hunts Point produce workers in New York City.
Dore did not inform White that the guest immediately preceding him was a Michigan leader of the Boogaloo Boys, an armed far-right militia group that actively participated in the January 6 putsch and the plot to kidnap and murder Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. While interviewing the Boogaloo member, who called himself “Magnus Panvidya,” Dore said his political strategy was to “unite the populist left and the populist right” and find “common interests” with the Boogaloo Boys and similar groups.
Dore’s interview with the fascist was fawning and entirely uncritical. Dore then planned to dishonestly use the interview with White to further his political project of finding common cause with the fascistic right.
White was obliged to respond by making clear that his presence on the show did not imply an endorsement of either the Boogaloo Boys or of Dore’s calls for progressives to “unite” with them. Dore responded to this clarification with extreme hostility, upset that White had disrupted his plans.
The exchange was highly revealing.
White began by saying the Socialist Equality Party did not endorse Dore’s strategy: “I didn’t realize who the guest before me was. I must admit it was very disturbing to believe that when you talk about left or progressive politics that this has anything to do with the politics of the Boogaloo Boys and such extreme right-wing forces.”
The Socialist Equality Party opposes “the idea that somehow there can be unity of left and right,” White stated. “There is a historical precedent. The Nazis called themselves ‘revolutionists’ and opponents of the international Jewish capitalist conspiracy. This has nothing to do with left politics. My movement, the Socialist Equality Party, is seeking to build a genuine movement of the working class. We are above all internationalists. The right wing promotes nationalism.”
White stated that the SEP opposed Dore’s “flirting with such elements, libertarian elements, right-wing elements like that. Those are the people who stormed the US Capitol on January 6—they were being pulled around by the nose by very powerful political and corporate forces.”
White’s comments undermined Dore’s strategy of presenting the back-to-back interviews as a “left-right” alliance. For this reason, Dore became extremely angry, defending the Boogaloo Boys in an expletive-filled rant against White: “You don’t agree with other Americans who are workers? You don’t think that guy was of good will? You don’t think he was earnest?”
White again stated that socialists “do not reach out to a Boogaloo Boy, not at all.” Dore shouted: “You just want to keep talking about this COVID, that’s all you want to talk about,” implying that COVID-19 was exaggerated or invented.
In fact, White was invited on the show to speak about the strike of Hunts Point workers in New York City. Thousands of workers there struck for a raise and demanded protections against the virus that had killed at least 10 of their coworkers and sickened 400. Tellingly, Dore’s comment almost exactly mimicked that of Donald Trump, who told a crowd in North Carolina in October, “All you hear is COVID, COVID, COVID.”
Dore then told White he was “making a caricature” of the Boogaloo movement and issued what can only be interpreted as an explicit endorsement of the Boogaloo Boys. Referencing his Boogaloo interviewee, Dore said:
“He said the Boogaloo Boys were a response to the racist right-wingers. They’re not racist right wingers! And they’re anti-war and anti-cop! And you still want to s— on these people? You’re not arguing in good will. This is f—ing horrible what you’re doing!”
While Dore adopted an extremely hostile tone with White, he conducted a totally uncritical and warm interview with the Boogaloo member. It was not a journalistic attempt to examine the Boogaloo Boy’s views, but a promotional advertisement aimed at presenting the Boogaloo movement as reasonable and worth progressives’ support.
Dore began the interview by playing a clip of the same Boogaloo member speaking at a pro-Trump rally held in Lansing, Michigan on January 17. This rally, part of a series of events coordinated by Trump and a section of his powerful corporate backers, was part of a failed attempt by the far right to overturn the results of the 2020 election and allow Trump to establish a presidential dictatorship.
During the Lansing speech, the Boogaloo member, armed in military fatigues and carrying an assault rifle, declared that “right-wing militias” are the “antibodies” of society and called for the “unity” of all Americans. The speaker said he was speaking on behalf of “every business crushed by state lockdowns.” He made no reference to the many hundreds of thousands of workers who have died so that corporate America can make a profit.
After playing this video, Dore said, “We couldn’t find anything in that speech that we disagreed with,” and said he decided to invite the Lansing speaker on his show. “I wanted to explore his beliefs further.”
The Boogaloo member began by telling Dore he was a “long time fan” of Dore’s program, intimating that Dore attracts other fascist viewers. The Boogaloo member appeared on screen in front of a “don’t tread on me” flag—an emblem of the far-right—with a large assault rifle in the background, which Dore blurred out of the version he later posted on YouTube. The guest said he supported “an extreme free market system” and encouraged Dore’s listeners to stop paying taxes and to respond with violence when challenged for non-payment.
Dore defended his interview by pointing to the fact that the interviewee also claimed to be a supporter of anti-police brutality protests in 2020. Dore repeatedly called the Boogaloo Boy “pro-BLM” and “anti-cop” and unquestioningly accepted his claim to have provided “protection” for demonstrators.
Had Dore conducted the interview from a critical standpoint, he would have learned that the Boogaloo interviewee was flatly lying about his views. Boogaloo Boys are known for “trolling” the media as a form of pseudo-critique.
In fact, a Michigan anti-fascist group had followed this Boogaloo member for months and had previously revealed that Dore’s interviewee had publicly defended fascist Kyle Rittenhouse. The Boogaloo member said that other people should “learn how to do that,” referencing Rittenhouse’s murder of two anti-police violence demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020. The individual also praised fascist militia gun range sessions, called “Rittenhouse drills,” and defended Steve Baca, the fascist who shot anti-police violence protesters in New Mexico in June 2020.
Dore spent much of the interview with the Boogaloo Boy on his belly. Commenting on the Boogaloo Boys’ official uniform of Hawaiian shirts, Dore said: “I think the Hawaiian shirts are a great touch, honest to God, I’m not making a joke, I think it looks great.” Dore glowingly commented on the interviewee’s appearance, saying, “Alright, I will say I generally hate beards, but you pull it off.”
Following the interview with the Boogaloo Boy and Dore’s hostile rant against White, the comments section of his program filled with anti-Semitic comments from fascists denouncing White: “Jew!” “Oyyy Veyyy,” “He’s a JEW,” “He’s Jewish and he’s freaked out,” and “STEREOTYPICAL ISRAELI RIGHT HERE.”
A separate fascist website responded with extreme enthusiasm to Dore’s conduct. In a posting titled “Jimmy Dore is so very close to getting redpilled on the JQ” (i.e., to becoming a fascist on the Jewish Question), commenters wrote: “He’s interviewing a Socialist Equality Party (Trotskyist) Jew right now, and getting pissed,” “The Jew fears the Red/Brown alliance” and “Jimmy is learning why the only good communist Jew is a dead Jew.”
The Boogaloo Boy interviewed by Dore was also given a very sympathetic interview yesterday by the outright fascist Alex Jones. Jones was a speaker at a Lafayette Square Park rally on January 6 in support of Trump’s coup attempt. “That was a great interview you did with Jimmy Dore,” Jones said.
Dore concluded the interview by summing up his political strategy: “Social movements should always be in dialogue… We seem to agree on some of the big problems in our country, you and I.” He added: “The fight is top to bottom right now in America, it’s not left to right. Chris Hedges has said that on our show… It’s obvious that it’s not a left-right fight anymore.”
Whether he is aware of it or not, Dore’s statements calling for a “top-bottom” and not a “left-right” outlook are rooted in early 20th century fascist ideology. Basing themselves on the slogan “neither left nor right,” fascists called for the unity of the entire national “people” in direct opposition to the socialist struggle of the property-less working class (“the left”) against the property-owning big capitalists (“the right”). Despite its faux-populist language, fascism was ultimately a political tool of the capitalist class to mobilize the enraged petty-bourgeoisie against the socialist workers’ movement.
The affluent social layer Dore represents is hostile to the social interests of the working class and impressed by the gun-toting group of real estate agents, small businessmen and independent contractors who stormed the Capitol on Trump’s orders on January 6. Under the pressure of recent events, the worst traits of petty-bourgeois radicalism, especially its American variant, come to dominate: nationalism, anti-communism, subjectivism, individualism and deep pessimism. As for Dore, his own movement to the right is propelled by a more personal trait: stupidity.