Or Bust: The Alt-Left and the Disciples of a Nazi Collaborator


Capture from YouTube. Saikat Chakrabarti, Founder of Justice Democrats, dons a tee with the image of Subhash Chandra Bose, a Nazi collaborator.

People often wonder why David Duke, an avowed white supremacist, supports Tulsi Gabbard for president. Tulsi Gabbard is a lot of things, but white is certainly not one of them. Some have used occasions like this to distinguish white supremacy from white nationalism. The latter, they explain, is more benign and only seeks to establish nations based on races, but the nations - for example, a white America, a Latino Mexico, and a black Haiti - could then peacefully and cooperatively coexist.

It is certainly what white supremacists would like for their image to be. Even those who see it for a distinction without a difference often believe the approach is novel - instead of pointy hats, the proponents of white nationalism wear suits; instead of burning crosses (mostly anyway), they serve in the White House. It’s a different way of dressing it up.

But it is not new. White supremacy’s olive branch, as it were, to non-white radicals on the left and the right alike goes back at least to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. The Nazis made no bones about their overt white supremacy, but they were also strategic about Hitler’s mission to establish reign all over Europe, and eventually, colonize the rest of the world and enslave them to the Master Race. Nazi Germany strategically allied with Imperial Japan, and sought to exploit the galvanizing movements for independence in the then-colonies of the Allied powers.

As Europe was engaged in war between the Axis and Allied powers during World War II, a young, charismatic leader rose quickly through India’s independence movement and the face of that movement, the Indian National Congress. In 1938, Subhash Chandra Bose was elected president of INC at the age of 41, having served at the highest leadership levels of the Youth branches of the party prior. By that time, he had also traveled Europe and met leaders like Benito Mussolini. Bose was an unabashed proponent of violent uprising against the British, which pitted him against another contemporary leader of the Indian National Congress, Mohandas Gandhi, who was committed to nonviolent resistance in the fight for India’s independence.

His dispute with Gandhi would eventually force Bose out of the INC leadership, however, and after a brief period of house arrest by the British, Bose escaped and ended up in Nazi Germany. Bose, who was of dark complexion and by no means exuded any quality desirable to the Master Race, was nonetheless received warmly by high ranking members of the German military, government, and by Hitler himself.

Subhash Chandra Bose meeting Adolph Hitler in 1942.

 Hitler and the SS saw Bose as an ally in a sort of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” sense. An army of Indian soldiers who formerly served under the British but were captured by Axis forces were constructed by the Germans, and Bose was named its commander. 4,500 strong, it was called the Indian Legion, and was officially part of the SS. Although nominally part of the “free India” or Azad Hind movement, the Indian Legion swore the following oath to Hitler:

I swear by God this holy oath that I will obey the leader of the German race and state, Adolf Hitler, as the commander of the German armed forces in the fight for India, whose leader is Subhas Chandra Bose.

Bose also created and regularly broadcasted from Azad Hind Radio in Berlin.

By the end of 1942, however, the war was not going the way of the Axis forces, and Bose had realized that in that situation, the Nazis would not be invading India. So in February of 1943, he set out for the other major Axis power, Imperial Japan, in a German submarine.

In Japan, Bose revived a Japanese military brainchild, the Indian National Army with Japanese support from, once again, Indian nationals who had previously been enlisted in the colonial British army. But the INA was badly defeated by the British Indian Army in 1944 and 1945, and Bose died in 1945 from a plane crash. Two years later, in 1947, British India was divided into India and Pakistan, and both gained independence.

Bose is a controversial figure in India, but he has his fans. The international airport in my hometown in Kolkata still bears his name.

The merits of a violent overthrow of the British colonial power vs. a peaceful resistance movement will continue to be a topic of debate, but one should in fairness note that the idea of armed struggle against a colonizer had come to fruition more than a century before the birth of Bose, in the American Revolution. I have never felt that the problem with Bose was his willingness to use force against the British to gain India’s independence.

But in order to do so, he signed up with - and took an oath to - Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, and Imperial Japan. He was so convinced of a need for an armed assault against the British in India - and so lacking in faith that such a movement could rise from within India - that he collaborated with the perpetrators of the worst of human atrocities. That is unacceptable.

And when you don a T-shirt with Bose’s iconic image on it, you are giving one of two messages: you are thoroughly ignorant of history, or you, like Bose, believe that collaborating with the most deplorable people and the most hateful ideologies is just fine if it means serving your own end.

Here is Saikat Chakrabarti, former Bernie Sanders Technology Director, Founder of the premier Socialist organization of Justice Democrats, and first Chief of Staff to Bernie Sanders campaign surrogate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, sending one of those messages.

Although unlike Bose, he has sought to use the alt-left to enrich himself to the tune of over $1 million, Saikat Chakrabarti is a central figure in the modern American “progressive” alt-Left. Not because Chakrabarti was alt-left sensation Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Chief of Staff, but because he was her recruiter. As such an important figure, Chakrabarti (really, no relations) has no excuse not to be informed, especially if you accept the socialists’ own frame that they are the most informed part of our electorate.

That leaves the only other interpretation: Chakrabarti and anyone not willing to sever all political ties with him, including Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and Justice Democrats are sending the message that they are prepared to back any nefarious force - including white supremacy and Russian propaganda - in order to reach their goal, which, to quote Chakrabarti, is “a war within the [Democratic] party.”

The alt-left that this group leads has made it clear that they only care about winning that war, and that in order to win it, they will do anything including using their votes to elect a white supremacist president. In 2016, fully a quarter of Sanders voters refused to cast their general election ballot for Hillary Clinton, and a majority of them voted for Donald Trump. Some socialists have even said they voted for Trump “as a joke.”

And as we have now seen, those forces have been happy to back the radical left since at least the days of Hitler. Indeed, Sanders supporters were a major target for Russian propaganda efforts to elect Trump, and people like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez backer Susan Sarandon and Jill Stein, friend of Putin and Green Party presidential candidate, helped enormously, as did media figures like Maureen Dowd, who claimed that Donald Trump was more palatable to the left than Hillary Clinton.

The Alt-Left has unashamedly created an alliance with white supremacists and Russian propaganda, in much the same way that Bose created an alliance with Nazi Germany.

The good news, from the historical record, is that ultimately, Bose failed, and India’s independence was saved from the taint of the Third Reich.