By Thomas Fazi, Compact
A specter is haunting American politics—the specter of #MAGACommunism. In recent weeks, the hashtag has trended on Twitter, leaving most observers baffled: What in God’s name could Donald Trump’s movement ever have in common with communism? Is this a sarcastic take on America’s surreal politics?
Much of its appeal comes from its irreverent combination of seeming opposites. The memes that have proliferated under the hashtag—such as one showing Trump holding Mao’s Little Red Book—have a ludic quality recalling the spirit of the Trump 2016 campaign. But MAGA communism isn’t a mere joke. Indeed, some powerful actors in American society are taking it seriously, as shown by Google’s decision to affix a warning to search results related to the hashtag.
It’s unclear exactly who coined the hashtag, but it was popularized by Haz Al-Din, the brain behind Infrared, a self-described Marxist-Leninist YouTube channel—and beginning in early September, it spread on Twitter, in large part thanks to Jackson Hinkle, a popular communist commentator.
Al-Din is a gifted speaker—or “debate bro,” in the parlance of internet politics—who is capable of discussing heavyweight political theory in an informal, jocular manner. It’s enough to listen to one of his videos, or to read one of his dense Substack posts, to realize that Al-Din is dead serious about #MAGACommunism—that is, about the notion, which most people would find preposterous, that communists in America should support the MAGA movement.
The premise of Al-Din’s argument is that Trump fundamentally and irreversibly changed American politics—for the better, if one believes in class struggle. Before 2016, the political landscape in the United States was confined to two choices—Democrat or Republican—that were situated along different points of a narrow establishment continuum. Anyone who didn’t pledge allegiance to the status quo (including communists) was relegated to the margins of the political system—if not regarded as an enemy of the state.
With Trump all this changed. For the first time in a long time, a mass movement emerged that situated itself outside of the status quo—against the status quo, in fact. “This means that radical political distinctions, rather than simple differences of opinion, are now possible, even in the realm of our democratic state. This is the beauty of the MAGA movement,” says Al-Din in one video.