Yet if this is an epitaph it is a very disturbing one.
For those who don’t know, The Exile is a low budget/ semi-professional magazine set up by some highly intelligent and gifted young Americans.It is a fascinating publication which is deeply cynical about politics, both American and Russian as well as highly entertaining.
However, this brush with the MSM just puts a plastic shroud over the most vibrant and energetic of American publications. Hunter S Thompson said that people criticised his journalism for being ‘subjective’ but that you could only subjectively understand people like Nixon. The Exile demonstrates the same thing with post-Soviet
Yet this Vanity Fair article has no concept of anything but the dumbest clichés, and gleefully describes their publication as ‘Anti-Putin’.
This is one of the worst low brow clichés imaginable. Basically, Putin was someone who stood up to American imperialism without having a strong ideology. Up to a point this gave idiotic neo-liberals a broader canvas: they could compare Putin to Hitler as well as Stalin.
However, when Putin stubbornly refused to open any gulags or concentration camps. The bugger didn’t even embark on radical renationalisations or do much to help the poor. At least that would permit the ‘thin edge of the wedge’/’boiling the frog’ idiotic reasoning so beloved of neo-liberals: the government starts by helping the poor then goes on to torture and imprison.
Of course, to my knowledge the millions of Americans without health insurance didn’t actually stop Americans from tormenting naked Iraqis with Alsatians, but then I’m drifting off the point here. Vladimir Putin’s very flaws (his lack of concern for the poor) actually made him MORE DIFFICULT to attack for neo-liberals in the plastic bubble of neo-liberalism.
And that is precisely the world that James Verini lives in. There is no mention on Mark Ames’s superb attacks on the hypocrisy of neo-liberalism or of their support for
The Exile is a wonderful publication because it highlights the paradox of modern liberalism. In the early 90s Fukyama declared the 'end of history' meaning that liberal democracy as now universally accepted, though it looks more feeble every year. There are those liberals (like Christopher Hitchens) who think that liberalism should be fought for with other people's blood and those liberals who thinks that political interfering to support liberal values would be useless and counterproductive even if the West had the moral authority and popularity to do so.
It is precisely because The Exile is in the later category that the only contact it has with the MSM leaves a stunted colourless impression of what it actually is.