After playing a key role in persuading Britons to vote to leave the European Union, Nigel Farage is moving to California to help Russia in another way: by breaking up America’s largest state.
Farage recently raised $1 million in California for an effort to split the state in two together with Arron Banks, the businessman who funded both Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party and one of two anti-EU campaigns in last year’s Brexit referendum.
Banks told reporters he and Farage wanted to show Californians “how to light a fire and win” a referendum:
It would be portrayed as the Hollywood elites versus the people, breaking up the bad government.
Leavers deployed a similar strategy in the British referendum, portraying the EU as an elite project detached from ordinary people.
The campaign Banks and Farage have joined is one of two to break up California.
Theirs is backed by Republicans who want to separate the conservative interior of the state from the more populous and Democratic-leaning coastal region.
Another, called Calexit, seeks to withdraw California from the United States altogether. It is led by a Russian national operating out of Siberia but has attracted left-wing support since Donald Trump won the presidential election.
Russia also supports secessionists in Texas and is accused of colluding with the Trump campaign.
Whether Farage realizes it or not, he is doing Vladimir Putin a favor.
The Russian president’s goals are to weaken the institutions that underpin the American-led world order (the EU and NATO) and divide the West against itself.
California is a perfect target. It represents everything Farage, Putin and other reactionaries despise: a multiethnic, liberal state that is economically successful. Breaking it up would be a major ideological victory for them.