Rob Roper or John Walters on Marxism in BLM, Antifa, 1619, Extinction Rebellion – which one is right?

By Guy Page

Politically progressive independent columnist John Walters calls “ludicrous” Ethan Allen Institute President Rob Roper’s claim of Marxist origins of BLM, Antifa, the Extinction Rebellion, and 1619 Project.

Seems Mr. Walters, former political columnist for Seven Days and VT Digger who now publishes  The Vermont Political Observer, checked his mailbox recently and found a fundraising letter from the Ethan Allen Institute. 

While no doubt muttering “fat chance!,” he spied this political cartoon:

Well, a columnist’s gotta write about something. And anyway, this depiction of ideological plumbing was just too tempting a target for the H.L. Mencken of Vermont: 

“It poses the ludicrous proposition that the Black Lives Matter movement, Extinction Rebellion, Antifa and the 1619 Project all spring from the poisoned well of Marxism.


“BLM and Extinction Rebellion are nonviolent protest movements. “Antifa” is basically a right-wing boogeyman; it’s decidedly not an organization, let alone one capable of overthrowing the global political order. And for God’s sake, the 1619 Project was conducted by the New York Times. Which is, need I remind you, a for-profit corporation.

“No Marxists there, except in the fevered imagination of EAI President Rob Roper, who signed this thing.”

So – who’s right? Roper, the well-published defender of free market liberty, or Walters?

Let the record show….

BLM. Quote from BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors: “The first thing, I think, is that we actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and [co-founder] Alicia [Garza] in particular are trained organizers…We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think that what we really tried to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.” – 7/22/2015 interview with Jared Ball, Real News Network

Score so far: Roper 1, Walters 0.

Extinction Rebellion. You know, the climate folks who stormed the Vermont Capitol in grass skirts and Margaret Atwood-esque red dresses. Are they Marxists?

If you take British founder Roger Hallam at his word – yes, and no. In his handbook for radical change, “Common Sense for the 21st Century,” he says Extinction Rebellion “is deeply democratic and popular (involves ordinary people) so that no democrat or liberal can object to it – as opposed to the proposition that a revolutionary left-wing elite removes democratic processes in a bid to create a socialist society (been there and done that!) At the same time, it keeps the revolutionaries on board because it creates a forum where deliberation and reason will finally be given space to trump the power and corruption of big money.”

So, this is a longtime socialist who sees that traditional socialism won’t get the climate change job done. He’s created a template for change that unites his former comrades and the bourgoisie. 

Score this one a tie. 

Antifa. Mark Bray, author of “Antifa – the Anti-Fascist Handbook,” traces Antifa’s roots to Marxist street groups who tried (and failed) to prevent the rise of German fascism in the 1920’s and 30’s. In a July 20 WaPo op-ed he descries the Trump administration’s plan to label Antifa as a domestic terror group: “If antifa groups are composed of a wide range of socialists, anarchists, communists and other radicals, then declaring antifa to be a “terrorist” organization would pave the way to criminalizing and delegitimizing all politics to the left of Joe Biden,” he says. In an effort to protect their activity, Bray concedes their politics. 

The score is now Roper 2-0-1, Walters 0-2-1.

1619 Project. This condemnation of the white, capitalist, Constitutionalist founders and builders of America presented as U.S. history curriculum is the brainchild of NYT Magazine author Nicole Hannah-Jones. As I wrote October 26: Hannah-Jones has a love affair with socialism. She praises Cuba – police-state Cuba! – as the most egalitarian nation in the western hemisphere and says “that’s largely due to socialism.” 

The Cuban brand of socialism, of course, reveres Marxism. We’ll give this one to Roper, too. No doubt all of these movements have adherents who wouldn’t describe themselves as Marxists. But like mustard on a white linen suit, the stain of Marxism is easy to spot, and impossible to remove. 

Final score: 3-0-1. It’s harsh but true to say of the admirable Mr. Walters that, in this little skirmish in an endless war, the initials “H.L.”  stand for ‘He Lost.’

  1. The Republicans listed above are supporting a candidate from different party, who lost a Republican primary and subequently left the…


  1. The Republicans listed above are supporting a candidate from different party, who lost a Republican primary and subequently left the…

3 replies »

  1. So our very own Vermont H L Mencken, John Walters, steps up to rebut Ethan Allen Institute President Rob Roper’s claim of Marxist origins for the various revisionists takes on who we are. “…ludicrous…”, “Uh-huh” Touche…you got him to the quick…Devastating… No Marxist roots here, well OK? Damn, who knew. I feel so…USED. If I can’t have Marxist origins here then I’m tearing up my of flags and decoder rings. No more BLM, Antifa, the Extinction Rebellion, and 1619 Project for me. Blessed are we to have such erudition to enlighten us.

  2. Interestingly, John Walters censors replies on his blog when they challenge his point of view. At least that’s the case with my submittal made a day or so ago. Of course, everyone who agrees with Walters, and posts their accolades on his site, have no idea anyone challenges his nonsense – which is likely why they persist in their ignorance.

    Walters exposed his true colors, whatever organization-du-jour he whimsically supported or rejected at the time, when he tried to explain away his claim that the Koch Brothers contributed to the Ethan Allen Institute. Whether or not Walter’s contention was correct (I certainly don’t know) is beside the point. What is telling, however, is his characterization of the claim, not as a ‘lie’ but as a ‘mistake’. Progressive liberals, especially Mr. Walters, apparently, never lie. They just make oodles of mistakes

    • Update: Cudos to John Walters. He published my comment on his blog. It seems to me then that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for folks with a conservative bent to visit his blog site – – from time to time and express alternate points of view, if for no other reason than to balance the discussion rather than just preaching to the choir here and on TNR. Perhaps the progressive liberal community will begin to see there really are legitimate conservative points of view in Vermont. After all, with 7 Days and VT Digger closing their comment section, Walters’ Vermont Political Observer blog is one of the few progressive liberal sites left that accept commenatry.

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