Shortly after the installation of the Trump Regime, aided by our Russian comrades, November 2016 saw the rise of yet another movement. #CALEXIT started as a hashtag, which became a movement, which became an independence referendum backing a constitutional exit of California from the US. In short, the movement advocates for the peaceful withdrawal of the State of California from the United States, declaring independence as its own sovereign nation.
Secessionists recently received approval to begin collecting petition signatures. Enough signatures and the movement can advance a referendum to be voted on at the state level. In order to be eligible for the 2018 ballot, the proponent, Yes California chairman Marcus Ruiz Evans, will have to collect 585,407 valid signatures from California voters by July 25. A recent Reuters poll found that 1 in 3 Californians are now in favor of such a referendum. California is reportedly the world’s sixth largest economy, and supporters claim they are perfectly capable of sustaining themselves as a sovereign nation.
The movement has received most of its coordination and advocacy via the Yes California Independence Campaign, a political action committee formed in August 2015. Besides Evans, a key figure within Yes California is political activist Louis Marinelli. Since 2007, he has been living in Russia.
Marinelli’s career as a political activist can be called “colorful”. He is an ACLU member, pro-2nd Amendment, and campaigned against gay marriage before changing his tune and advocating pro-LGBT rights. He voted for Donald Trump. In September 2016 he attended the “Dialogue of Nations” conference in Moscow. The Anti-Globalization Movement (AGM) of Russia hosts these conferences to support secessionist movements internationally. Left-wing CALEXIT activists mingled with right-wing Texas secessionists, along with representatives from similar movements within Ireland, Somalia, Morocco and Spain. Marinelli is quoted as saying he hopes to court Russia and other permanent voting members of the UN Security Council to secure California’s independence should it come to a UN vote. The AGM funded the conference with a 3.5 million ruble grant from Russia’s National Charity Foundation, a Kremlin backed entity that dispenses governmental funds to non-governmental organizations.
On December 18, 2016 the “Independent Republic of California” opened its first “embassy” in Moscow. Marinelli was unclear on who owns the building where the office is located. The building has only been described as a “research facility” by media reports, and Marinelli says he doesn’t know if it’s privately owned or owned by the Russian government.
Russia is well known for courting far-right, anti-establishment parties in Europe. Right-wing politicians from all over the continent are regular visitors to Moscow, to Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014, and to rebel-held parts of Ukraine, where they claim to be voting “observers” during dubious elections and referendums. Russian-controlled media blanket the airwaves with positive pieces on hard-right parties and causes all over Europe and in the U.S. Most recently, according to U.S. intelligence, the Kremlin tried to tip last month’s balloting to President-elect Donald Trump.
Perhaps difficult for left/right thinking Americans to understand as a possibility, the Kremlin also maintains, curates, and supports any left-wing movement they view as detrimental to American and EU domination. This report from Budapest-based think tank Political Capital documents the known left-wing organizations that received financial, political or other support from Putin’s Russia. While it may be considered counterproductive for Russia to support such movements, considering they stand in stark contrast to Putin’s authoritarian pseudo-fascist government, Political Capital cites 5 reasons why Russia may be so inclined:
1.) The remnants of historic “comrade” networks between communist parties and the Soviet Union (strikingly visible in the case of the Greek Communists, Syriza, Greek AKEL and the Czech Communist Party).2.) New international far-left organizational structures, such as the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP) bringing together European and Russian Communist parties.3.) The “enemy’s enemy is my friend” principle, making critics of globalization, the United States, and the liberal-capitalist West natural allies for radical, anti-establishment parties on the left.4.) The Russian controlled economy, which promises to keep ‘big capital’ in check, is an attractive model for many anti-capitalists.5.) The Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns successfully frames public issues to the taste of the anti-establishment left ideology, arguing against the “fascist junta in Kyiv”, promoting “peace”, and “neutrality” in Ukraine and Syria, and calling for abandoning the unipolar global order.
While it is currently unclear to what extent Moscow has aided the Yes California campaign, financially or otherwise, it is highly suspect just how much the Russian tendrils have infiltrated the American political dialogue. The concept of California secession, while highly unlikely, has already created discord within the United States. If successful, the US loses a large portion of its population and economy, weakening its stance internationally. Even if unsuccessful, Putin has created chaos within the borders of his greatest rival and advanced his own ends once again.