Why I am an Anarcho-Pluralist, Part Two 4

Imagine, for one horribly unpleasant moment, that the anarchist movement (movements?) in North America, in their present form, were to carry out an actual revolution. What kind of social or political system would be the result? The Wikipedia entry on anarchism in the United States lists a number of individuals who represent North American anarchism in different ways. These include Michael Albert (Chomskyite proponent of participatory economics-“parecon”), Ashanti Alston (black power anarchist), Hakim Bey (lifestyle anarchist), Bob Black (nihilist and reputed psychopath), Kevin Carson (Proudhonian mutualist), Noam Chomsky (Marxo-syndicalist-anarcho-social democrat), Peter Coyote (love generation), Howard Ehrlich (social anarchist), David Friedman (anarcho-capitalist), David Graeber (anarcho-anthropologist), Hans-Hermann Hoppe (anarcho-monarchist), Derrick Jensen (primitivist), Jeff Luers (eco-anarchist prisoner), Judith Malina (anarcho-pacifist actress), the late James J. Martin (individualist anarchist and Holocaust revisionist), Wendy McElroy (Rothbardian anarcho-feminist individualist), Jason McQuinn (post-left anarchist), Cindy Milstein (Bookchinite), Chuck Munson (anarchist without adjectives), Joe Peacott (individualist-anarchist), Sharon Presley (left-libertarian feminist), Keith Preston (agent of the forces of darkness), Lew Rockwell (Rothbardian paleolibertarian), Jeremy Sapienza (market anarchist), Crispin Sartwell (individualist-anarchist), Rebecca Solnit (environmentalist), Starhawk (neo-pagan eco-feminist), Warcry (eco-anarchist), Dana Ward (anarcho-archivist), David Watson (primitivist), Mike Webb (murder victim), Fred Woodworth (atheist anarchist), John Zerzan (primitivist) and Howard Zinn (New Left anarcho-Marxist).

This list does not even begin to mention all of the ideological tendencies to be found among anarchists, e.g., indigenist anarchism, anarcho-communism, national-anarchism, insurrectionary anarchism, Christian anarchism and many others. Even so, anarchists collectively probably do not comprise even one percent of the population at large. Imagine if the anarchist milieu were to grow to include tens of millions of people. Most likely all of these specific tendencies would grow exponentially, and some new ones no one has heard of yet would probably appear. How would anarchists go about organizing society if indeed anarchism were to become a mass movement and the state in its present form were to disappear. More specifically, how would we reconcile the differences between all of these different tendencies, and how would anarchists co-exist with persons of other belief systems? Unless we want to start sending people to re-education camps, or placing them in gulags, or engaging in summary or mass executions we had better start thinking some of this out.

There are really only three ways. One would be anarcho-totalitarianism, where whatever anarchist faction or group of factions that happens to have the most power simply represses their rivals, anarchists and non-anarchists alike. Another would be anarcho-mass democracy, where we have an anarchist parliament consisting of the Syndicalist Party, Primitivist Party, Libertarian Party, Ecology Party, Feminist Party, et.al., perhaps presided over by, say, Prime Minister Chuck Munson. While this might be an interesting situation, it ultimately wouldn’t be much different than the kinds of states we have today.

The only other alternative is the dispersion of power to local units. These could be localities where everything is completely privatized (Hoppe) or everything is completely collectivized (anarcho-communism), or some point in between. The specific anarchist tendencies these communities represented would be determined according to prevailing ideological currents at the local level. One contemporary anarchist observes:

The superficial story is that the primmies control the NW, the SW desert and the Appalachians, while the Reds control the entire NE block and have a mild advantage everywhere else.

So “after the revolution” the “primmies” would be dominant in their regions and the “Reds” in theirs, and presumably the Free Staters in theirs, and the queer anarchists in theirs,  and so forth. It’s also interesting to observe how radically different the value systems and definitions of “freedom” employed by different kinds of anarchists are. One anarchist has noted that some anarchists wish to bar alcohol, drugs, tobacco, meat, porn, S&M and prostitution from their communities. This should go along way with those libertarian-libertine anarchists for whom anarchy is synonomous with all sorts of legalized vice.  Then there’s the conflict between the ethno-preservationist national-anarchists and the anti-racist left-anarchists, and between the proprietarian anarchists and the communal anarchists. I’ve even come across an anarchist proponent of the draft. Of course, the different kinds of anarchists will insist that others are not true anarchists, but that’s beside the point. Each of the different anarchist factions consider themselves to be the true anarchists, and that’s not going to change.

The adherents of many of these philosophies act as though the fate of the world depends on their every move, when in reality each of these tendencies will often have no more than a few thousand, maybe a few hundred, maybe even just a few dozen sympathizers (or even fewer than that). Rarely is any attention given to the question of how anarchists will ever achieve any of their stated goals, to the degree that anarchists have any common goals, or any goals at all.

If anarchists want to have any impact on the wider society whatsoever, I believe there is only one way. First, anarchists, whatever their other differences, need to band together in large enough numbers to become single-issue political pressure group. This would be a pressure group just like those in the mainstream: pro-choice, pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gun, pro-gay marriage, anti-gay marriage, marijuana decriminalization, etc. The purpose of this pressure group would be to reduce political authority down to lowest unit possible, which, I believe is the local community, i.e., cities, towns, villages, districts, neighborhoods,etc. I recognize some anarchists wish to reduce politics down to the individual level. I’m a little more skeptical of that. For instance, I’m not so sure competing criminal codes could exist in the same territorial jurisdiction, but I’m willing to agree to disagree on that. I say let’s work to reduce things down to the city-state, county or village level, and then debate how much further to go from there. Such a pressure group could include not only anarchists of every kind, but also left-green decentralists, conservative local sovereignty groups, regionalist or secessionist tendencies or even good old fashioned Jeffersonian states’ rightsers. This idea does not mean that every locality would need to be an independent nation unto itself. They could be sovereign entities within broader territorial confederations, so long as they retained their right of withdrawal or to veto policies favored by the larger bodies. This way, even communities with radically different cultural values or economic arrangements could collaborate on projects of mutual interest such as maintenance of transportation systems, firefighting, or common defense.

Meanwhile, outside the context of this single-issue movement for radical decentralization, the different anarchist factions could continue their other interests in different contexts. Libertarians could continue to push for private money or competing currencies. Syndicalists could continue to push for anarcho-syndicalist unions. Primitivists could set up tech-free communes or villages. Anti-racists could protest Klan marches, and national-anarchists could set up ethnic separatist intentional communities. Pro-lifers could agitate against abortion and feminists could agitate against pro-lifers. Gun nuts could simultaneously belong to the NRA and pacifists could belong to the Catholic Workers. Anarcho-communists could organize Israeli-style kibbutzes and anarcho-capitalists could set up their preferred private defense agencies.

Additionally, different factions with different beliefs could target certain geographical areas for colonization as the Free Staters are doing in New Hampshire, the Christian Exodus is doing in South Carolina, the Native Americans are doing in the Lakota Republic, or the Ron Paulites are doing in the Liberty Districts. Indeed, Bill Bishop’s interesting book “The Big Sort” describes how Americans are in the process of self-separation along the lines of culture, religion, ideology, political affilitation, sexuality, age, income, occupation and every conceivable other issue. Colonization can then become a movement for full-blown local secession. The values and ideals of those whom you disagree with are not as personally threatening if you do not have to live under the same political roof , and the worse someone’s ideas are, the better that they be separate from everyone else.

This does not mean that sovereign communities cannot have institutionalized protects for individual liberties, minority rights, or popular rule. Some state constitutions or municipal charters already have protections of this type in some instances, and sometimes on a more expansive level than what is found in the U.S. Constitution. Individual sovereign communities could make such protections as extensive as they wanted. Nor does this mean that libertarian anti-statism is the “only” value. There are some values in life that transcend politics, and one can also be committed to other issues while also being committed to political decentralization and local sovereignty. For instance, I am also interested in prisoners’ rights, legal, judicial, penal and police reform, ending the war on drugs, repealing consensual crime laws, abolishing compulsory school attendance laws, opposing zoning ordinances, eminent domain, the overregulation of land and housing markets, sex worker rights, the right to bear arms, self-defense rights, the rights of students, the homeless, the handicapped, medical patients and psychiatric inmates, freedom of speech and the press, labor organizing, worker cooperatives, mutual aid associations, home schools and alternative education, credit unions and mutual banks, LETS, land reform, indigenous peoples’ rights, alternative media, non-state social services, and many other topics. My primary area of interest is foreign policy. In fact, foreign policy was the reason I became an anarchist and have remained one, in spite of being continually underwhelmed by the organized anarchist movement. I think the American empire and its effects on peoples throughout the world is an abomination, and I want to see it ended. Yet, I think at the same time an agglomeration of anarchist communities in North America would need some kind of “national defense” system, given that Europe and Asia may not “go anarchist” at the same moment, which is why I am interested in the paleoconservatives with their traditional American isolationist views.

At the same time, there are some topics that many anarchists are committed to that don’t particularly interest me. Environmentalism is one of these. Like all reasonable people, I think we need clean air and water, and it’s not cool to build a toxic waste dump in a residential area. Yet, the eco-doomsday ideologies associated with ideas like global warming and peak oil are not things I’m sold on as of yet. I also really just don’t see what the big deal about endangered species is. The overwhelming majority of species that have existed thus far have already gone extinct, so what’s a few more? Still, if this is an issue others care passionately about, then by all means enaged in direct action on behalf of sea turtles or spotted owls or against urban sprawl. Don’t let me get in your way. Gay marriage is another topic I really just don’t give a fuck about, not because I’m anti-gay but because I view marriage as an archaic religious and statist institution that anarchists or libertarians or radicals of any stripe should not be promoting. But that’s just me. As an atheist, I also don’t care much for the militant politicized atheism found in some circles. I agree that compulsory religious instruction and practice should not exist in state-run schools, but I think extending this idea to things like prayers at city council meetings or football games, or extracurricular religious clubs in state institutions, is taking things a bit far. It is this sort of thing that alienates the usually religious poor and working class from radicalism.

Lastly, we need to consider how to appeal to all those ordinary folks out there whose assistance we might need in order to achieve these kinds of goals. An anarchist-led, libertarian-populist, radical decentralist, pan-secessionist movement that appealed to the tradition and ideals of the American Revolution is the only possible avenue. What I have outlined here is essentially the same set of views promoted by Voltairine de Cleyre in her essays “Anarchism without Adjectives” and “Anarchism and American Traditions“. If you don’t like my views, then come up with a plan of your and let the rest of us hear about it.

You Musn’t Forget S-L-A-V-E-R-Y!!!!!! 1

In contemporary American political discourse, we often hear talk of “the legacy of slavery,” primarily in discussions of racial issues. To be sure, the “legacy of slavery” has had a damaging impact on American race relations (it wasn’t so wonderful for the actual slaves, either). Many of the rather severe social problems found among certain sectors of Americans of African ancestry today are often attributed to this legacy. I tend to think such claims are often overstated. For one thing, the overwhelming majority of American blacks are far from being the social or economic basket cases many people imagine them to be. As the black economist Dr. Walter Williams puts it:

If one totaled black earnings, and consider blacks a separate nation, he would have found that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world’s 16th richest nation. That’s just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans have been chief executives of some of the world’s largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, headed the world’s mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black. A few black Americans are among the world’s richest people and many are some of the world’s most famous personalities. These gains, over many difficult hurdles, speak well not only of the intestinal fortitude of a people but of a nation in which these gains were possible. They could not have been achieved anywhere else.

Of course, there is another side to this question, primarily the ongoing gap in accumulated wealth between whites and blacks, and the even more serious problem of the enormous black “underclass.” I’m inclined to think these latter problems have broader and more recent causes, such as ongoing patterns of class conflict, repression, politically imposed hinderances to the economic self-advancement of blacks, and attacks on the organic community life of the lower classes by the state. Still, there’s no doubt the “legacy of slavery” contributes to the disproportional representation of blacks among the lower classes that are impacted most heavily by such things.

There’s still another way in which the “legacy of slavery” has damaged American politics, and that is the persistent identification of ideas like local sovereignty, community autonomy or political decentralization as code words for slavery or compulsory racial segregation of the kind associated with Jim Crow. For instance, in much of American higher education, the classical American republican doctrine of “states’ rights” is simply dismissed as an anachronism that never had any purpose other than to defend the interests of slave-holders. Having studied American history in an advanced academic setting, I’ve noticed the general tendency is to present the unfolding of American history as an evolutionary struggle towards the achievement of “progress,” meaning overcoming reactionary ideas like states’ rights, limited government and other impediments to the glorious victory of the federal welfare state and centralized micromanagement of local race relations. Joe Stromberg’s parody of a modern course in what used to be called Western Civilization, which can be viewed here, is only a slight exaggeration.

The obsession with slavery has corrupted not only political discourse in elite academic circles, and among mainstream “progressive” thinkers, but also among fringe radicals as well. For this reason, my Number One Fan Aster feels it necessary to place this item in the proposed constitution for her rendition of Utopia:

The principle applies to places not subject to the jurisdiction of the County of Bohemia too, but this isn’t an excuse to bomb foreigners and take their stuff. Or to get other foreigners to ruin their livelihoods so they have to work in your sweatshops for virtually nothing. It even applies to BROWN people, believe it or not- and the fact that it took you this long to figure that out means you suck.

Section VII. Aster shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Actually, anyone who wants to stop a slavery situation should feel empowered to do it. Figuring out the enforcement and incentive structures will be a bitch, though- but that’s not an excuse for giving up and just letting slavery happen, Keith.

Soviet Onion:

Aster has written some unwarranted misrepresentations of Keith (I prefer to think he enables fascists rather than being one himself) and even more of Jeremy, but this isn’t one of them. Consider Keith’s mission statement that he’s a single-issue activist looking to bring down the Empire and will work with everybody from Fascists to Stalinists to do that, so long as they’re willing to secede, go their separate ways and dominate their own territories once the job is done. If he’s so ecumenical that he’s willing to work with all these people, then why not also some small-scale secessionist group that ended up practicing slavery in their area? What would make them so special that, given his stated criteria, Stalinoids are OK but they’re not?

If you include authoritarian forms of parenting, education and marriage as forms of slavery, then those are cases where he does directly advocate slavery. Unfortunately, that just makes him like everybody else.

So should we “just let slavery happen”? First of all, where does contemporary slavery actually take place? Mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. You know, the places where all of those supremely virtuous “people of color” tend to be found and who would have remained in the Garden of Eden if only those evil white European snake-devils hadn’t come along and fucked up their otherwise idyllic world. If only those evil white-devil slave traders hadn’t brought Africans to the Western hemisphere as slaves, perhaps their current descendents could enjoy living in the paradise of Nigeria, where seven percent of the population are still enslaved. Maybe the prosperous members of America’s black middle class (roughly seventy-five percent of American blacks) could even be in the oasis of Mauritania, where twenty percent of the population are still slaves. Of course, to their credit, the Mauritanians did pass an anti-slavery law in 2007. Who says they’re not progressive?

Do we need to “just let slavery happen?” No, a coalition of nations could invade the African continent and force the locals to free their slaves, in the style of U.S. Grant, Bill Sherman and Phil Sheridan. However, the only nations with the level of wealth and/or military power to even attempt such an effort (disaster though it would be) would be those of North America, Europe and Russia (plus the wild card of China). Problem is it’s mostly white folks who live in those nations. So a liberatory invasion of Africa and other slavery hotbeds seems to be off the table. Otherwise, we might be practicing European colonialism, or even white supremacy. Plus, it’s been done already. Wasn’t decolonialization supposed to be a “progressive” thing? So, yes, it looks like we do indeed need to “just let slavery happen.” Anything else might even be racist or white supremacist. Of course, we could assist those actual groups who really are doing something to oppose slavery in place like Africa. For instance, those groups who have actually purchased the freedom of Sudanese slaves. Problem is a lot these actually effective anti-slavery groups seem to be Christian in orientation, and we couldn’t endorse that, given that they are all no doubt frothing-at-the-mouth homophobes who express skepticism as to whether anal sodomy and/or rimming ought to be elevated to the level of sacramental rites, right along with eucharist, baptism and the last rites.

Actually, I don’t think we should be that hard on the African slave-holders. After all, they’re not so different from us white Americans of a mere 150 years ago. Plus, the slave-holders in places like Nigeria or the Sudan never got to go to U.S. or Western European public schools, receive multicultural education, or participate in “teaching tolerance” programs whose curriculum was designed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. So give them a break.

Of course, it is sometimes argued, though usually not by sensible people, that American-style antebellum slavery was of a particularly nasty variety, unlike the sunny and hedonistic kinds that existed in places like South America, Africa, China or the Islamic world. And while we would not want to impose Eurocentric Western values like slavery abolition on places like Africa (to do so would be racist), surely the recent ancestors of us white Americans, at least the enlightened ones from up North, should not have “just let slavery happen” in the states of the Old Confederacy? Africans enslaving Africans, Chinese enslaving Chinese, or Arabs enslaving Arabs might be something we can tolerate because, well, it just couldn’t be all that bad if “people of color” are doing it, but the idea of white American Southerners (and Christians, no less) enslaving Africans, well, that’s just, well, worse than awful, for some reason or another.

I reject the claims of modern day Confederate patriots that the U.S. Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and that it was all about tariffs, agriculture and states’ rights. However, I agree that the motivation of the Union was self-preservation rather than slavery abolition because, well, the President of the Union said so. Still, wasn’t the victory of the Union a victory for liberty? Yes, if we want to overlook the imposition of the draft in both the North and South during the course of the war, the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, and the maiming or displacement of millions more. Well, wasn’t it at least a victory for “anti-racism”? Well, not really, considering the next major military effort after the defeat of the Confederacy was the conquest of the Indian territories in the West. There’s also the thorny question of the fact that there were both Indians and blacks on both the Union and Confederate sides.

Then there’s the question of the impact of the Civil War on the future of American politics. The war marked the death of the old confederal republic and the creation of a centralized, Jacobin, nationalist regime and continental empire. If America had been split into two republics in the 1860s, the Wilson regime might not have entered World War One a half century later. It was American involvement in that war that led to the total destruction of Germany, the subsequent rise of Nazism, World War Two, the genocides that transpired during the war, the invention of atomic weapons, the Stalinist occupation of Eastern Europe, the Cold War, the nuclear arms race, the brush wars in Asia, the present day American world empire and other not-so-nice things. Indeed, the war for slavery abolition advocated by many of Lincoln’s abolitionist supporters would seem to be an example of the “armed doctrine” that Edmund Burke warned against. Of course, that does not mean that an actual guerrilla war against the Southern slaveholders of the kind advocated by the anarchist Lysander Spooner would not have been justified.

So back to Soviet Onion’s comments:

Consider Keith’s mission statement that he’s a single-issue activist looking to bring down the Empire and will work with everybody from Fascists to Stalinists to do that, so long as they’re willing to secede, go their separate ways and dominate their own territories once the job is done. If he’s so ecumenical that he’s willing to work with all these people, then why not also some small-scale secessionist group that ended up practicing slavery in their area? What would make them so special that, given his stated criteria, Stalinoids are OK but they’re not?

If you include authoritarian forms of parenting, education and marriage as forms of slavery, then those are cases where he does directly advocate slavery. Unfortunately, that just makes him like everybody else.

Aside from the fact that comparing “authoritarian” parenting, compulsory school attendance and marriage to chattel slavery does little except make others think that anarchism is a philosophy not suitable for anyone over the age of fifteen, there are certain significant qualifications that would need to be added for this to be an accurate description of my actual views. I am for the dissolution of the American regime into smaller, more manageable units. Presumably, America’s international empire would no longer be able to sustain itself. Those nations are that are now colonies, vassalages, or client-states of the U.S. would achieve their full independence. However they choose to organize themselves upon achieving independence is none of my business. If the Italians elect a representative of the fascist Italian Social Movement as mayor of Rome, or if the Venezuelans prefer Chavez as their leader, or if the Cubans fail to rise up against Castro as the Romanians did to Nicolae Ceausescu, then that’s none of Keith’s goddamn business.

The question of what political factions or ideologies, if any, should be excluded from a pan-secessionist alliance in North America is indeed an interesting one. While ideologies like Nazism and Stalinism are too alien to American political culture to ever become mass movements, it is possible small bands of such groups could carve out separatist enclaves for themselves. There could theoretically be autonomous urban neighborhoods run by skinheads, or rural compounds of neo-nazi survivalists, or communes organized by Stalinist or Maoist groups. Groups of this type could even hold fairly large tracts of land that would be their de facto private property. If such communities are entirely voluntary in their membership, then there can be no political objection to them on libertarian grounds. Of course, others might have aesthetic, moral or cultural objections. But that’s too bad.

In a case where, say, a Neo-Nazi or hard-core Communist group were to seize a wider city or town, I would say the degree to which such an effort should be challenged or recognized should depend on the circumstances. At bare minimum, I would want those who wished to leave to be given the chance to do so on a model similar to, say, the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947. If such requests were refused, should surrounding communities engage in military action against the offending community? Perhaps, or perhaps not, depending on the circumstances, potential costs of such an action, the degree of severity of the offense given, and the probably of victory by the self-appointed policemen.

Ironically, this debate has relevance to an issue that I have raised with anarchists and libertarians in the past, and it is an issue where I have never received a satisfactory answer. What about a scenario where a libertarian or relatively libertarian society, or a federation of anarchies, was threatened by domestic political movements of an authoritarian or totalitarian nature? The classic example of this is the Weimar liberal republic, where the center collapsed and the two largest political parties were Hitler’s NSDAP and the Stalinist KPD, with each of these maintaining their own private armies, and engaging in routine, violent streetfighting with each other. To what degree do such groups cease to be mere political organizations using their rights of association, free speech and right to bear arms and become outright domestic invaders? Would the broader alliance of citizen militias, mercenaries, guerrillas, paramilitaries, posses, gangs or whatever that would comprise the defense forces of an anarchist federation ever be justified in suppressing the activities of a group like the NSDAP or the KPD? I believe they would, if such groups grew large enough, powerful enough, disruptive enough or violent enough to pose a “clear and present danger” to the survival of the anarchist federation. There is no reason why a confederacy of anarchies should tolerate an insurgency by a Khmer Rouge or a Shining Path.

I’ve even made similar arguments concerning immigration. To what degree should a host society allow or tolerate immigration by persons demonstrating values or originating from societies whose values are hostile to those of the host society? What constitutes a legitimate demographic threat? Should a billion Chinese be able to migrate to the U.S. tomorrow if they so choose, irrespective of the wishes of the natives? Should liberal-Enlightenment or Greco-Roman Western nations accept immigration from theocratic Islamic societies unconditionally? I think not.  It would seem that political, economic and civilizational survival would be an issue that trumps the migratory rights of immigrants.

These are difficult questions, and appeals to rigid ideological formulations and overblown juvenalia do not help to answer them.

Updated News Digest April 26, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“Yes, something very ugly has surfaced in contemporary American liberalism, as evidenced by the irrational and sometimes infantile abuse directed toward anyone who strays from a strict party line. Liberalism, like second-wave feminism, seems to have become a new religion for those who profess contempt for religion. It has been reduced to an elitist set of rhetorical formulas, which posit the working class as passive, mindless victims in desperate need of salvation by the state. Individual rights and free expression, which used to be liberal values, are being gradually subsumed to worship of government power. . . . For the past 25 years, liberalism has gradually sunk into a soft, soggy, white upper-middle-class style that I often find preposterous and repellent. The nut cases on the right are on the uneducated fringe, but on the left they sport Ivy League degrees. I’m not kidding — there are some real fruitcakes out there, and some of them are writing for major magazines. It’s a comfortable, urban, messianic liberalism befogged by psychiatric pharmaceuticals.”

                                                                                                    -Camille Paglia

We Live in a Fascist State Gerald Celente interviewed by Russia Today

Putting the Bush Years on Trial by Alexander Cockburn

If Obama Were Not a Pawn of Wall Street and Corporate America by Thomas Naylor

Sovereignty Resolutions, Nullification and Tea Parties: Much Ado About Nothing by Thomas Naylor

The Tea Parties: A Step in the Right Direction? Richard Spencer and Jack Hunter

Secede and Survive: Prepare to be Overwhelmed by Secession by Carol Moore

Go to CNN and Vote on Secession (looks like the poll has closed)

Conservatives Are Evil by Ryan McMaken

Libertarianism vs “Libertarianism by Justin Raimondo

If Only Libertarians Had Cards, So They Could Be Taken Away by TGGP

Bay Area National Anarchists Participate in Cystic Fibrosis Walkathon (good work, comrades! good outreach and a good cause!)

Just How Big a Disaster is the American Military by Bill Lind

Why the State is Our Enemy Robert Higgs interviewed on C-Span

Does the New Class Oppress Traditional Religious Communities? by David R. Hodge

The National-Anarchist Litmus Test by Keith Preston

Too Small to Fail: The Wilhelm Roepke Solution to Our Economic Woes by Dermot Quinn

Secession, the Fed and Tomorrow Ron Paul interviewed by Lew Rockwell

War Socialism and National Bankruptcy by David Gordon

The Amazing Catholic Bullshit Generator by John Zmirak

PIGS Ambush Citizen in Milwaukee by William Norman Grigg

The Apologist by Pat Buchanan

A Storm in a Cup of Tea by Jack Hunter

The Real Tea Parties by Ilana Mercer

First They Came for the Fatties by Richard Spencer

On Nation and Nationalism by Matthew Roberts

The War on Family Farms by Richard Spencer

The Thin and Thick, the There and the Here by Razib Khan

Are Hierarchies Rational? by Francois Tremblay

Missing the Point on Secession by Rad Geek

A Match Made in Hell by Roderick Long

Government Spending is No Cure for Recession by Sheldon Richman

The Real Debate on Foreign Policy: Intervention vs Non-Intervention by Sheldon Richman

Dangerous Men in Uniform by Rad Geek

Tea and Sympathy by Roderick Long

Legal Purgatory and John Demjanjuk by Binoy Kampmark

Ten Years After Columbine: The Tragedy of Youth Continues by Henry A. Giroux

Drug War Persecution Continues by Fred Gardner

The American Empire Foreclosed? by Marc Engler

The FARC Can’t Dance by Belen Fernandez

Norman Finkelstein with Martin Indyk on Gaza 

Survivalists: Regular People Get Ready for the Worst 

Ex-President of Colombia Says America Should Decriminalize Drugs 

The Ultimate Reaping of What One Sows: The Reich-Wing Edition by Glenn Greenwald

The Republic Strikes Back by Bill Kauffman

Against All Flags by Jesse Walker

Bush’s Torturers by Justin Raimondo

When Torture Isn’t “Torture” by Thomas R. Eddlem

Reading the Case of Roxana Saberi by Henry Newman

Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home from Global Business

The Dark Side of Dubai by Johann Hari

Murdering Police Scum 

The Europe Syndrome and The Last Man 

A Federalism Amendment to the Constitution? by Randy Barnett

End the Cuban Embargo! by Sheldon Richman

Keynesian Conservatives by Sheldon Richman

Direct Action Gets the Goods: Syndicalist Action Against Starbucks by Rad Geek

U.S. Militant Workers Union Formed: Workers Unite Beyond Left and Right! 

A Nation of Helpless Idiots by Karen De Coster

Fuck Single Mothers by Gavin McInnes

The Soul of Booker T. Washington by Dylan Hales

The Ghosts of Earth Day’s Past by Dylan Hales

Get In Touch With Your Inner Bigot by Robert Stacy McCain

Obama Plays Hamlet on Torture by Ray McGovern

The Torture Commission Trap by Michael Ratner

Deconstructing the Taliban by Fawzia Afzal-Khan

Torture, War and the Imperial Project by Chris Floyd

Unemployment Across the USA by Chris Wilson

Obama’s Afghan Plan: Fracturing the Antiwar Movement by Vijay Prashad

The Tyranny of Bad Economics by Dean Baker

White Privilege in the Americas by Aisha Brown and Dedrick Muhammed

A Reflection on the “Left” and My Arrest by Joaquin Cienfuegos

PC Gestapo Disrupts Meeting at UNC 

Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Defending His Home Against PIGS 

Man Arrested for Murder for Defending Property Against Masked Criminal 

Obama the Bubble Pricker by Tom Woods

Don’t Criticize the Somali Pirates by John Higgins

Why is there a Totalitarian Drug War? by Jacob Hornberger

Banning Black Cars: The Latest Eco-Insanity by L.K. Samuels

The American Police State vs Little Boys by Paul Craig Roberts

The Servants of the Reptilian State by William Norman Grigg

Economic Survivalists by Judy Keen

Harmanic Convergence  by Justin Raimondo

The Cuban Embargo is a Proven Failure by Michael Kinsley

Of Course It Was Torture by Gene Healy

The Obedience Circuit  by Francois Tremblay

Rather Than Say This Myself from Back to the Drawing Board

Torture by Sheldon Richman

Paul Krugman is Right About Something from Back to the Drawing Board

In Counting There Is Strength by Rad Geek

Don’t You Wish It Really Could Be This Way? from Back to the Drawing Board

Educrat PIGS Molest Little Girls by Rad Geek

Obama Positioning for Back Door Gun Control by Chuck Baldwin

Immigration Hitting American Workers Hard by Peter Brimelow and Edward S. Rubenstein

Is Sean Hannity Now Cool? No!! by Jack Hunter

Religion and Politics by Razib Khan

Free John Walker Lindh by Dave Lindorff

Are Democrats Afraid of Investigating Torture? by Jeremy Scahill

A Housing Crash Update by Mike Whitney

Obama and the Housing Crisis by Anthony DiMaggio

The Debt Looters by Greg Moses

Blowback in Pakistan by Stonewall

Marijuana Advocates See Tipping Point by Brian Montopoli

Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement a review

TV Military Analysts Are Paid Pentagon Shills  by Glenn Greenwald

The Crime That Cannot Be Wiped Away by Laurence Vance

Never Trust a Commie or a Conservative by Jeffrey Tucker

Our Economic Future Peter Schiff interviewed by Lew Rockwell

The Shamelessness of Jane Harman by Justin Raimondo

Newt’s Sword of Damocles by Gordon Prather

How to Deal with North Korea Doug Bandow interviewed by Scott Horton

On Somali Piracy Jesse Walker interviewed by Scott Horton

Obama’s Foreign Policy Ron Paul interviewed by Scott Horton

Obama’s First 100 Days: Give Him a “D” by Ivan Eland

Soldier Killed Herself After Refusing to Take Part in Torture by Greg Mitchell

The National-Anarchist Litmus Test 10

Lately, when surveying the works of various anarchist/libertarian/whatchamacallit writers, commentators or bloggers, I’ve starting applying what I call the “National-Anarchist Litmus Test.” That is, I’ve come to think that a fair standard for measuring some anarchist ideologue’s level of intellectual, political, emotional or psychological maturity is his/her ability to discuss the ideas of National-Anarchism without falling into something resembling an epileptic seizure. For those who want to know more about National-Anarchism and its actual ideas, go to the Synthesis website and real some of the articles in their archives. Then go check out AnarchoNation, Bay Area National Anarchists, Folk and Faith, A Heretickel Anarchyste, National Anarchists of Australia and New Zealand, Ean Frick, and  Revolution International. Make up your own mind.

I’m only a fellow traveler to National-Anarchism, but if I had to summarize it with one idea, I’d say it’s primary message is self-determination for all the world’s diverse peoples. You know, all those Tibetans, Palestinians, Kurds, Basques, Irish, Chechnyans, Lakota, Maori, Hmong, Oaxacons, Miskito and other occupied, colonized or oppressed peoples that the Left pretends to give a flying fuck about. Another idea might be the self-preservation of all the world’s diverse peoples. You know, kind of like those endangered spotted owls, snail darters, and sea turtles the Left is always wringing hands over.

Of course, what really gets a hair up the ass of the Left is the fact that National-Anarchists apply the same standards to indigenous Europeans that they do to other peoples. For some reason, this seems to evoke images in the Leftist mind of apartheid, Jim Crow or Nazism, although it would seem to a rational person that self-determination for all peoples is the polar opposite of a stratified racial caste system like Jim Crow or apartheid, much less a genocidal ideology like Nazism.

As I write this, there is a discussion going on over at the Rad Geek blog concerning the infamous Keith Preston and the shady National-Anarchist forces of darkness for whom I am supposedly a front man. Many anarcho-leftoids regard me as similar to the “Mr. Morden” character in the earlier episodes of the old 90s sci-fi show Babylon Five. For non-sci-fi fans, Morden was a human who acted as an operative for unseen sinister alien forces. Ironically, a thread that starts off as a very good and helpful discussion of Starbucks workers organized by the IWW soon degenerates into this from Soviet Onion:

As wishful as it sounds, it’s a welcome antidote to the left-libertarian tendency to treat localism and decentralization as THE POINT rather than an instrumental tool to some more fundamental desire. That shit’s also vulnerable to corruption by every kind of village fascism under the sun. Hence the enabling attitude toward things like National Anarchism coming from Keith Preston and Jeremy Weiland that almost makes ANTIFA-style gang beatdowns seem like a more intelligent response to the phenomenon.

Never one to allow herself to be outdone, my Number One Cheerleader Aster pipes in:

It is hard for me to express how much I appreciate your speaking out against the national anarchist Trojan horse. Thank you.

And that’s precisely it- replacing rights with decentralism completely throws out the principle of liberty. I want the implementation of a specific social system which guarantees individual rights and supports individual autonomy. I’m not interested in a politics which switches this for the goal of acceptance of existing social systems. whether individualist or not. Liberty requires a conscious and rational set of values and institutions which are incompatible with traditional organic society.

I’m a moderate on decentralisation- actually, I think the original 1789 American federal system buttressed by an extensive and enforceable Bill of Rights fully incorporated against local tyranny is a fairly good model. I’m at the moment inclined to say yes to decentralisation in economic matters, no in educational matters, and to favour a mixed system in politics. I think we do need broad regional social organisation in a form which maintains an easy flow of goods, people, and ideas- I think this aspect of the Roman, British, and American empires was a good thing (have you read Isabel Paterson’s God of the Machine?).

Incidentally, I think Jeremy Weiland (if he’s Jeremy of Social Memory Complex) means well, in the sense of wanting a world in which human beings are really happy. I still disagree with him, but he’s not like Preston or Troy Southgate. I’ve been unjustly nasty to him in the past and regret it.

So political and economic decentralization really aren’t so bad so long as an enlightened cultural elite gets to control a nationalized educational system in order to properly brainwash the young with The Official Enlightened Progressive Truth. You know, notions like the idea that human history can be primarily defined in terms of the historic, dialectical, objectively revolutionary, linear struggle for the inalienable, inevitably triumphant sacred human right to suck cock in the men’s room at the airport. Next up is Marja Erwin:

In my admittedly incomplete understanding, collectivist anarchism has historically involved either or both of two kinds of community control. The first being near-monopolistic but temporary; a transitional confederation instead of Marx’s transitional state. I think this was Bakunin’s pragmatic proposal. The second being community control of specific institutions, but neither requiring participation nor forbidding competition.

I think Parecon has sowed the seeds of Prestonism, because it imagines a permanent system which subjects individual choices to community decision, and forbids independent exchange. … And the primitivists like that!

Huh??

Then comes Rad Geek (a writer I actually like, BTW):

For what it’s worth, on this specific issue, I think you’re being subjected to a bit of six-degrees-of-Heinrich-Himmler here, and I think it’s unfortunate and unfair to you. Although Keith Preston is not himself an anarcho-fascist he has put a lot of effort into being accommodating towards anarcho-fascists; and you’ve put a lot of effort into being accommodating towards Keith Preston. I think the links in that chain are worth talking about individually, but I don’t think it’s fair to describe what you’ve been doing as “enabling” the anarcho-fascists by some kind of transitive property.

And pot-smoking leads to cocaine-sniffing, which leads to crack-smoking, which leads to heroin-addiction, which leads to junkie whores turning tricks for their dope, which leads to junkie whores selling their daughters to pedos for their dope, which leads to the collapse of civilization and the conquest of America by homosexuals, al-Qaeda and liberals.

Now for some other jewels. Says William:

Although a majority of folks express annoyance at it (generally by deriding the partisans as rat-bastard “theorists”, and ridiculing the notion that folks should be forced to choose between hugging a tree or holding a union card) Red / Green hostilities nevertheless play an enormous role in shaping the movement. In the muddled mainstream of the movement virtually everyone calls themselves “anti-civ” and supports the IWW in a desire to avoid conflict. The campus activist derived folk side more with the Syndicalists, while the Crimethinc romantic punx side more with the primmies. The fringes are the one’s that produce substantive thought.

In the isolated, insular core of these wings (ie, Eugene and NEFAC) the primmies are likely to write MAs off as irrelevant and the syndicalists are likely to go batshit insane a la McKay.

Might I dare to suggest that an ideological conflict between “primmies” and syndicalists means about as much to Actually Existing Reality as a theological conflict between snake handlers and Scientologists?

My buddy Aster:

There’s some obnoxious political correctness stuff… I got bugged about prostitution a few times (mildly), and one has to mind vegetarian and recycling Ps and Qs to avoid hassles. I got involved in a reasonably benevolent individualist/collectivist anarchist schism which began (I am not making this up) over recycled toilet paper.

These are the folks that old tolerance-mongering Aster prefers to hang out with? Sheesh. Soviet Onion:

I could perhaps try to initiate the conversation (that is supposed to be one of the functions of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left), but I think it would be frustrating at best and dangerous at worst. The Libertarians don’t know enough about the currents of anarchist movement/scene continuum to even “get” the conflict, and social anarchists would react with all the courtesy and consideration currently reserved for the interwebs, if not being equally confused. Given that I’ve also witnessed conversations where market anarchists have been compared to neo-Nazis, I honestly wouldn’t even feel safe doing that, at least alone with a group of them.

What? “Dangerous”? “Wouldn’t even feel safe”? Around all those inclusive, tolerant, humane-humanitarian-human rights loving, sensitivity-mongering anarchists?

Well, isn’t it great that we’ve got that giant squid to keep us from killing each other. It’s a bit like Iain McKay’s strategy of easing up on the mutualists only because he sees anarcho-capitalists as a bigger aberration and threat (and to avoid having to cede history and ideological pedigree to the “other side”).

Someone needs a “strategy” for that? Sounds about as important as a “strategy” for jerking off or picking your nose. William again:

The superficial story is that the primmies control the NW, the SW desert and the Appalachians, while the Reds control the entire NE block and have a mild advantage everywhere else. Also don’t forget that primitivism got much of its start in the UK. Its just that the Reds and Greens have relatively zero interaction there.

Sounds like the Bloods and the Crips. Rad Geek:

For reference, when you refer to a “left-libertarian tendency” to fetishize localism and decentralism, do you have anyone particular in mind, other than Jeremy Weiland? (There’s also Keith Preston, presumably, but he doesn’t consistently identify as a left-libertarian, and in any case I’m not willing to grant him the description.)

Oh, well, poor me.

Folks, this is right out of the parody of leftist anarchism in Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail”: “Help, help, I’m being repressed!!”

This is precisely what the anarcho-leftist milieu was like when I was a hard-core participant in it going on three decades ago now. Unfortunately for anarchism, it does not seem to have progressed one iota since then. Fortunately for the rest of humanity, this sort of thing will be permanently relegated to youthful or bohemian subcultures with nothing better to do. I remember when I first became involved in leftist anarchism and was explaining my new found enthusiasms to my father, who didn’t share my enthusiasms (to say the least). Said Dad: “That just sounds like some fad  that will never amount to anything but crap.” Sorry, dad, you were right.

Updated News Digest April 19, 2008 2

Quotes:

“Liberals: they’d support Nazi death camps if it raised more money for public schools (also invented by German autocrats).”

                                                                                                         -Soviet Onion

“The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice, and, truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage, and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty- and is usually an outlaw in democratic societies. It is, indeed, only the exceptional man who can even stand it. The average man doesn’t want to be free. He simply wants to be safe. . . .”

                                                                                             -H. L. Mencken (thanks Ray!)

“Chavez has always been a non sequitur. 20th century politics in the 21st. It’s all part of the same ruse as the false left/right “division” which is the
private enterprise/public sector “division.” Would you rather have your life
controlled by a corporate shill or an arrogant, uneducated state bureaucrat? How come, neither is never an option in mainstream discourse?”             

                                                                                                             -Ean Frick

“Spare me the mewling about “ordered liberty,” please – 50 years of conservative pieties about “ordered liberty” led to Dick Cheney and a movement full of “men” who dared not open their mouths to defend liberty when she needed it most. Give me disorderly hinterland rebels any day.”

                                                                                        -Bill Kauffman (thanks Jeremy!)

 

Unprincipled Conservatism: The Tea Partyers by Jeremy Weiland

The Big Government/Big Business Axis of Evil by Chuck Baldwin

Empire Nearing Its End? by Alan Bock

Inflationary Depression is on the Way by Eric DeCarbonnel

Progressive Consensus Against Obama Emerges by Glenn Greenwald

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal Glenn Greenwald and Peter Reuter

The Declining American Empire by Eric Margolis

Payback: The U.S. Has Already Lost in Afghanistan by Michael Scheuer

The Fourth Generation Armies Are Winning by William S. Lind

Anarchy and Chaos in Black Communities by Robert Wicks

Peace Out by Justin Raimondo

Getting Beyond Race by Walter Williams

Confessions of a Liberal Anarchist by Ray Mangum

Hey, Tea Partyers, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is from The Picket Line

Homesteading on the High Seas for Liberty by Patri Friedman

Developmental Aid for Africa is Not Working by Dambisa Moyo

How the Vulgar Libertarians Work Against Liberty by theConverted

Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward on the Police Abuse of Atheists from Francois Tremblay

The Grammar of War  from Rad Geek

Taxation with Misrepresentation by Sheldon Richman

Charles Schumer is a Scumbag from Rad Geek

Attend the Tax Protest of Your Choice from The Picket Line

John Demanjuk and the True Haters by Pat Buchanan

NORML for Aspen by Christina Oxenberg

Extending Our Firepower by Paul Gottfried

Mark Sanford, the Alternative Right and Me by Jack Hunter

New Midwest Anarchist Website 

Wild Weekend in NYC 

Anarchist Organizing Conference in Chicago 

114 British Activists Arrested 

The Censorship of Norman Finkelstein 

French Comedian to Face Trial for Anti-Semitism 

Vulgar Childish Liberals by Filmer

Happy Easter! by Ean Frick

The Holocaust Justified My Values by TGGP

Iraqi Militia Fear Reprisals After US Exit by Patrick Cockburn

A Test for Habeus Corpus by Jeremy Scahill

Bossnapping by John V. Walsh

Marry a Farmer Rana Foroohar interviews Jim Rogers

A Mother is Tased After Learning Her Child Was Dead 

Pirates and Presidents 

Jon Stewart is Half Way There 

Open Hearings for War Crimes by Philip Giraldi

The Fog of Warmongering by Jeff Huber

Neoconned Again by Michael Brendan Dougherty

A Message from Der Tax Commissar (umm, IRS Commissioner) from Rad Geek

How Do We Get Out of the Financial Crisis? by Sheldon Richman

Generational Theft  by Jack Hunter

Tea Partyers in Charleston by Jack Hunter

The LaRouchian Madness by Ean Frick

Noam Chomsky and Robert Faurisson 

The Corporate Lobbyists Behind the Tea Parties by Jane Hamsher

Youth for Western Civilization Banned in UNC by Richard Spencer

A Clusterfuck is Descending on the IMF/WB Summit Meetings

Fire to the Prisons Issue # 6 Needs Submissions 

Put All Your Eggs in One Basket Jim Rogers interviewed by David Bogoslaw

To Mexicans, the U.S. is Not a Friendly Nation by Fred Reed

94 Years of Serfdom by Paul Craig Roberts

Texas to Secede by Rick Perry

Why the End of America is Closer Than You Think by Mike Adams

Tax Resistance, Then and Now podcast with Charles Adams

Revolution is the Only Solution by Gerald Celente

Optimism Opium from Second Vermont Republic

Snatch-and-Jail Justice by Dave Lindorff

No Blank Check for the IMF by Robert Weissman

Taxing Grandma to Subsidize Goldman Sachs by Peter Morici

Letter to Obama on the Rights of Native Hawaiians 

Solving Palestine While Israel Destroys It by Bill and Kathleen Christison

Bush, the Torture Decider by Ray McGovern

Obama and the Pirates by Justin Raimondo

U.S. Foreign Policy and the Drug War by Liz Harper

Youngstown PIGS Put 13 Shot Into Puppy  by Rad Geek

Death by Homeland Security by Rad Geek

Invitation to Open Conspiracy by John Taylor Gatto

Peace Through Statism? by Roderick Long

Help Challenge the $PLC by Peter Brimelow

Vermont Secession Video Archives

The Resurrection of Guy DeBord by Andrew Gallix

“Feral Futures” Gathering in Colorado 

Jimmy Carter Conservatism 

Thin Ice from Here to the Horizon by Alexander Cockburn

Persia Rising by Franklin Lamb

The Greedsters Are Back! by Ralph Nader

Obama’s Chimerical Marijuana Policy by Fred Gardner

Economic Fallout Hits Families Hard by Kathy Sanborn

Latin America Changes by Benjamin Dangl

Thinking Like an Afghan by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

Banning Barbie  by Christopher Brauchli

The Book of Ruth by Kevin R.C. Gutzman

Tea Party Terrorists  by Richard Spencer

Rendering Unto Caesar by Pat Buchanan

Are the Tea Parties Radical and Paranoid Enough? by Richard Spencer

Youth for Western Civilization by David Reid Saucier

The Terrorists at Home by Dylan Hales

A Jeffersonian in Texas or a Hot Air Peddler? by Kevin R.C. Gutzman

Obama’s Inflationary Depression by Peter Schiff

Revenge of the “Waco Gene” by William Norman Grigg

No More Commie Highways by Walter Block

Cal Thomas and the Gospel of the Pharisees by Christoper Manion

Political Winds Whift in Favor of Legalized Pot by Carla Marinucci

The Conspiracy Theorists Were Right All Along by Gary D. Barnett

The Right-Wing’s A.N.S.W.E.R. by Anthony Gregory

These United States: Too Big to Fail? by Justin Raimondo

Delusions of Omnipotence by William Pfaff

How Obama Excused Torture by Bruce Fein

Expedience and the Torture Amnesty by David Bronwich

The West’s Hysterical Reaction to North Korea by Scott Ritter

U.S. Military Spending and the Cost of the Wars by Chris Sturr

Freedom by Permission by Jacob Hornberger

Stop the War, Stop the Spending by David Boaz

Tea and Sympathy by Roderick Long

Manufactured Consent by Peter Schiff

Sleepless Goat Workers’ Cooperative 

The Peoples’ Economic Forum in Washington, D.C. on April 25 

Piracy: The Family Business

The Waco Butchers Are Back by Anthony Gregory

Prepare for Austerity by James Howard Kunstler

Is Secession “Anti-American”? by Larry Beane

Tim McVeigh: Blowback, American Style by C.J. Maloney

Why I Am an Anarcho-Pluralist 19

Over the last few days, there’s been an interesting discussion going on over at the blog of left-libertarian philosopher Charles Johnson (also known as “Rad Geek“). I’ve avoided posting there, due to the presence of an individual who has declared themself my mortal enemy (a role I’m happy to assume), but the subject matter of the discussion provides a very good illustration of why any sort of libertarian philosophy that demands a rigid universalism cannot work in practice. A poster called “Soviet Onion” remarks:

It seems that both social anarchism and market libertarianism have respectively come to adopt forms of collectivism typical of either the statist left or right. That’s a result of the perceived cultural affinity they have with those larger groups, and partly also a function of the fact that they appeal to people of different backgrounds, priorities and sentiments (and these two factors tend to reinforce each other in a cyclical way, with new recruits further entrenching the internal movement culture and how it will be perceived by the following generation of recruits).

On the “left” you have generic localists who feel that altruism entails loyalty to the people in immediate proximity (they’ll unusually use the term “organic community” to make it seem more natural and thus unquestionably legitimate). Most of them are former Marxists and social democrats, this is simply a way to recast communitarian obligations and tacitly authoritarian sentiments under the aegis of “community” rather than “state”. This comes as an obvious result of classical anarchism being eclipsed as THE radical socialist alternative by Leninism for most of the twentieth century. Now that it’s once again on the rise, it’s attracting people who would have otherwise been state-socialists, and who carry that baggage with them when they cross over.

On the “right”, it’s a little more straightforward. Libertarians have adopted the conservative “State’s Rights” kind of localism as a holdover from their alliance with conservatives against Communism, to the point that it doesn’t even matter if the quality of freedom under that state is worse than the national average, just so long as it’s not the Federal Government. And with this, any claim to moral universality, or the utilitarian case for decentralism go right out the window. Like true parochialism, it hates the foreign and big just because it is foreign and big.

That’s also one of the reasons why I think there’s a division between “social” and “market” anarchists; they each sense that they come from different political meta-groups and proceed from a different set of priorities; the established gap between right and left feels bigger than the gap between they and statists of their own variety. And the dogmatisms that say “we have to support the welfare state, workplace regulations and environmental laws until capitalism is abolished” or “we should vote Republican to keep taxes down and preserve school choice” are as much after-the-fact rationalizations of this feeling as they are honest attempts at practical assessment.

The problem with left-libertarianism (or with the 21st century rebirth and recasting of 19th century individualism, if you want to imperfectly characterize it that way), is that instead of trying to transcend harmful notions of localism, it simply switches federalism for communitarianism. It does this partially as a attempt to ingratiate itself to social anarchists, and partly because, like social anarchists, it recognize that this idea is superficially more compatible with an anti-state position. But it also neglects the social anarchists’ cultural sensibilities; hence the more lax attitude toward things like National Anarchism.

These are some very insightful comments. And what do they illustrate? That human beings, even professed “anarchists,” are in fact tribal creatures, and by extension follow the norms of either their tribe of origin or their adopted tribe, and generally express more sympathy and feel a stronger sense of identification with others who share their tribal values (racism, anti-racism, feminism, family, homosexuality, homophobia, religion, atheism, middle class values, underclass values, commerce, socialism) than they do with those with whom they share mere abstractions (“anarchy,” “liberty,” “freedom”).

Last year, a survey of world opinion indicated that it is the Chinese who hold their particular society in the highest regard, with 86 percent of Chinese expressing satisfaction with their country. Russians expressed a 54 percent satisfaction rate, and Americans only 23 percent. Observing these numbers, Pat Buchanan remarked:

Yet, China has a regime that punishes dissent, severely restricts freedom, persecutes Christians and all faiths that call for worship of a God higher than the state, brutally represses Tibetans and Uighurs, swamps their native lands with Han Chinese to bury their cultures and threatens Taiwan.”

Of the largest nations on earth, the two that today most satisfy the desires of their peoples are the most authoritarian.”

What are we to make of this? That human beings value security, order, sustenance, prosperity, collective identity, tribal values and national power much more frequently and on a deeper level than they value liberty. Of course, some libertarians will likely drag out hoary Marxist concepts like “false consciousness” or psycho-babble like “Stockholm syndrome” to explain this, but it would be more helpful to simply face the truth: That liberty is something most people simply don’t give a damn about.

The evidence is overwhelming that most people by nature are inclined to be submissive to authority. The exceptions are when the hunger pains start catching up with them and their physical survival is threatened, or when they perceive their immediate reference groups (family, religion, culture, tribe) as being under attack by authority. We see this in the political expressions of America’s contemporary “culture wars.” During the Clinton era, many social or cultural conservatives and religious traditionalists regarded the U.S. regime as a tyranny that merited armed revolt. During the Bush era such rhetoric disappeared from the Right, even though Bush expanded rather than rolled back the police state. Meanwhile, liberals who would denounce Bush as a fascist express polar opposite sentiments towards the Obama regime, even though policies established by Bush administration have largely continued. So how do we respond to this? Soviet Onion offers some suggestions:

The proper position for us, and what could really set us apart from everyone and make us a more unique and consistent voice for individualism in the global Agora, is to recognize all cultures as nothing more than memetic prisons and always champion the unique and nonconforming against the arbitrary limitations that surround them, recognizing their destruction as barriers in the sense of being normative. And to that end there’s the instrumental insight that the free trade, competition, open movement and open communication are forces that pry open closed societies, not by force, but by giving those who chafe under them so many options to run to that they make control obsolete, and thus weaken control’s tenability as a foundation on which societies can reasonably base themselves. Think of it as “cultural Friedmanism”: the tenet that open economies dissolve social authority the same way they render political authority untenable.

THAT’s what left-libertarianism needs to be about, not some half-baked federation of autarkic Southern towns filled with organic farms and worker co-operatives. It can still favor these things, but with a deeper grounding. It doesn’t ignore patriarchy, racism, heterosexism, but opposes them with a different and more consistent understanding of what liberation means.

But how far should our always championing of the “unique and nonconforming” go? If, for instance, a group of renegades happen to show up at the workers’ cooperative one day and commandeer the place, should we simply say, “Hell, yeah, way to go, noncomformists!” As for the question of the “Big Three” among left-wing sins (“racism, sexism and homophobia”), are we to demand that every last person on earth adopt the orthodox liberal position on these issues as defined by the intellectual classes in post-1968 American and Western Europe? Why stop at “patriarchy, racism and heterosexism”? Soviet Onion points out that many “left-wing” anarchists do not stop at that point:

I used to be an anarcho-communist. Actually, I started out as someone who was vaguely sympathetic to mainstream libertarianism but could never fully embrace it due to the perceived economic implications. I eventually drifted to social anarchism thanks to someone who’s name I won’t mention, because it’s too embarrassing.

After hanging around them for a while I realized that, for all their pretenses, most of them were really just state-socialists who wanted to abolish the State by making it smaller and calling it something else. After about a year of hanging around Libcom and the livejournal anarchist community, I encountered people who, under the aegis of “community self-management”, supported

  • smoking and alcohol bans
  • bans on currently illicit drugs
  • bans on caffeinated substances (all drugs are really just preventing you from dealing with problems, you see)
  • censorship of pornography (on feminist grounds)
  • sexual practices like BDSM (same grounds, no matter the gender of the participants or who was in what role)
  • bans on prostitution (same grounds)
  • bans on religion or public religious expression (this included atheist religions like Buddhism, which were the same thing because they were “irrational”)
  • bans on advertisement (which in this context meant any free speech with a commercial twist)
  • bans on eating meat
  • gun control (except for members of the official community-approved militia, which is in no way the same thing as a local police department)
  • mandatory work assignments (ie slavery)
  • the blatant statement, in these exact words, that “Anarchism is not individualist” on no less than twelve separate occasions over the course of seven months. Not everybody in those communities actively agreed with them, but nobody got up and seriously disputed it.
  • that if you don’t like any of these rules, you’re not free to just quit the community, draw a line around your house and choose not to obey while forfeiting any benefits. No, as long as you’re in what they say are the the boundaries (borders?) of “the community”, you’re bound to follow the rules, otherwise you have to move someplace else (“love it or leave it”, as the conservative mantra goes). You’d think for a moment that this conflicts with An-comm property conceptions because they’re effectively exercising power over land that they do not occupy, implying that they own it and making “the community” into One Big Landlord a la Hoppean feudalism :)

So I decided that we really didn’t want the same things, and that what they wanted was really some kind of Maoist concentration commune where we all sit in a circle and publicly harass the people who aren’t conforming hard enough. No thanks, comrade.

These left-wing anarchists sound an awful lot like right-wing Christian fundamentalists or Islamic theocrats. Nick Manley adds:

I have encountered an “anarchist” proponent of the draft on a directly democratic communal level.

Of course, we also have to consider all of the many other issues that anarchists and libertarians disagree about: abortion, immigration, property theory, economic arrangements, childrens’ rights, animal rights, environmentalism, just war theory, and much, much else.  We also have to consider that anarchists and libertarians collectively are a very small percentage of humanity. Nick Manley says:

I spend more time around libertarians then left-anarchists — although, I briefly entered “their” world and sort of know some of them around here. I was a left-anarchist at one time, but I no longer feel comfortable with the hardcore communalism associated with the ideology. I don’t really want to go to endless neighborhood meetings where majorities impose their will on minorities. I also would agree with Adam Reed that it’s naive to imagine such communes being free places in today’s world — perhaps, this is less true of New Zealand.

The list of things supported by anarcho-communists posted by Soviet Onion confirms my fears about village fascism posturing as “anti-statism”. I frankly do just want to be left alone in my metaphorical “castle” — I say metaphorical, because I am not an atomist and don’t live as such. I will engage in social activities, but I will not allow someone to garner my support through the use of force or do so to others. Like Charles, I have a strong emotional and intellectually principled revulsion to aiding the cause of statism in any way whatsoever. I’d be much happier being at some risk of death from handguns then in enforcing laws that harm entirely well intentioned peaceful people. This is not a mere political issue for me. I know more than a few people with guns who deserve no prison time whatsoever — one of them has guns affected by the assault weapons ban.

I honestly see a lot of principled parallels between conservative lifestyle tribalism and left-liberal lifestyle tribalism. Oh yes: there are contextual inductive distinctions to be made. A gun is not the same as homosexuality. The collectivist dynamic is still the same. Gun owners become no longer human in sense of rational beings. All of contemporary politics seems to be one thinly veiled civil war between fearful tribalists.

It would appear that tribalism is all that we have. I have been through a long journey on this question. I was a child of the Christian Right, drifted to the radical Left as a young man, then towards mainstream libertarianism, then the militia movement and the populist right, along the way developing the view that the only workable kind of libertarianism would be some kind of pluralistic but anti-universalist, decentralized particularism. Rival tribes who are simply incompatible with one another should simply have their own separatist enclaves. This concept is explained very well in a video series beginning here. Unlike the other kinds of libertarianism, there is actually some precedent for what I’m describing to be found in past cultures. See here and here. As Thomas Naylor remarks:

Conservatives don’t want anyone messing with the distribution of income and wealth. They like things the way they are. Liberals want the government to decide what is fair. Liberals believe in multiculturalism, affirmative action, and minority rights. Conservatives favor states’ rights over minority rights.

What liberals and conservatives have in common is that they are both into having—owning, possessing, controlling, and manipulating money, power, people, material wealth, and things. Having is one of the ways Americans deal with the human condition—separation, meaninglessness, powerlessness, and death. To illustrate how irrelevant the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have become, consider the case of Sweden and Switzerland, two of the most prosperous countries in the world.

Sweden is the stereotypical democratic socialist state with a strong central government, relatively high taxes, a broad social welfare net financed by the State, and a strong social conscience. Switzerland is the most free market country in the world, with the weakest central government, and the most decentralized social welfare system. Both are affluent, clean, green, healthy, well-educated, democratic, nonviolent, politically neutral, and among the most sustainable nations in all of history. By U.S. standards, they are both tiny.

Switzerland and Sweden work, not because of political ideology, but rather because the politics of human scale always trumps the politics of the left and the politics of the right. Under the politics of human scale, a politics that trumps our now-outdated and useless “liberal-versus-conservative” dualistic mindset, there would be but one fundamental question:

“Is it too big?”

It would seem that contemporary America is precisely the place to build a movement for this kind of decentalized particularism, a huge continent wide nation with many different cultures, religions, subcultures, ethnic groups and growing more diverse all the time, and where political and economic polarization is the highest it has been in over a century, and where dissatisfaction with the status quo is almost universal.

My challenge to anarchists, libertarians, communitarians, conservatives, radicals and progressives alike would be to ask yourself what kind of community you would actually want to live in, and where and how you would go about obtaining it. For instance, the geography of the culture war typically breaks down on the basis of counties, towns, precincts, municipalities and congressional districts rather than states or large regions. So why not envision forming a community for yourself and others in some particular locality that is consistent with your own cultural, economic or ideological orientation? The Free State Project, Christian Exodus, Second Vermont Republic, Green Panthers and Twin Oaks Commune are already doing this.

Political victory in the United States is achieved through the assembling of coalitions of narrow interest groups who often have little in common with one another (gun toting rednecks and country club Republicans, homosexuals and traditional working class union Democrats). Imagine if a third force emerged in U.S. politics whose only unifying principle was a common desire to remove one’s self and one’s community from the system. The only thing anyone has to give up is the desire to tell other communities what to do.

Updated News Digest April 12, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

The categories of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ are paradigmatically modernist. It is not an accident that they date back to the French Revolution, and that they fade with the decline of modernity. In the early 19th century, the distinction referred primarily to the relation to the French Revolution, with the Right defending the status quo ante, and the Left the new bourgeois regime. Later, after it became clear that there was no way to restore the ancien régime, the categories came to characterize the split between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. But, even that became obsolete with the development of social democracy and the integration of the labor movement into the system at the turn of the century. Subsequently the Bolshevik Revolution introduced a seven-decades-long distortion, which only now is beginning to disappear, whereby Left and Right were identified with political regimes based respectively on capitalism and socialism. The capitalist turn in Communist China and the predominance of social democracy in the capitalist West indicate the extent to which the reduction of politics to economics presupposed by the distinction was a Cold War fraud. Consequently, after 1989, the distinction has become increasingly blurred; it lingers on by default, pending the development of better alternatives and of a political climate that will make it possible to recast the political in terms other than those deployed by the ruling elites.

In other words, how to reconfigure the political is itself a political issue, whose outcome is a function of political struggle. Today, the Left/Right split remains an ideological smokescreen concealing the real distinction: between neo-liberals (as well as neo-conservatives) and communitarians.

The former are committed to ever-growing state intervention, bureaucratic rationality, and the bourgeois values of abstract individuality, formal equality, social justice, representative liberal democracy, and unrestricted inclusiveness. This is the ideology of the therapeutic New Class, camouflaging its axiological particularity as universal truth, proceduralizing politics, and privatizing morality. The hypostatizing of bourgeois values to universal truths warranting their imposition on dissidents, now degraded from political opponents to pathological or criminal cases, is part of that general process of depoliticization entailed by the liberal project from its very beginning: the reduction of politics to administration.

The latter (communitarians) insist on insist on local autonomy, direct democracy, cultural particularity, and traditional values of solidarity, belonging, and the identity of politics and morality. Opponents are neither pathologized or criminalized, but classified as ‘enemy’ or ‘friend’ and treated accordingly (within various kinds of confederal, federal, or international agreements) or ostracized, confronted, and, in extreme cases, forcibly coerced.”

                                                                                          -Gary Ulmen

 

The Forest for the Trees by Ean Frick

The Neocon Credo by Dan McCarthy

The Marcuse Factor  by Paul Gottfried

In Search of Anti-Semitism by Paul Gottfried

The Mondragon Cooperatives: All in This Together from the Economist (thanks Brady!)

Taking Communism Away from the Communists: The Origins of Modern Liberalism by Fred Siegel

Liberals and Conservatives: Relics of the Past by Thomas Naylor

Global Currency: One Step Closer by Evans Ambrose-Pritchard

Progressive Warmongers by Justin Raimondo

The Two Faces of Barack Obama by Justin Raimondo

National Security: The Last Refuge of Scoundrels by Kevin Carson

Let a Thousand Nations Bloom by Patri Friedman

America’s Imperial Wars: Why We Need to See the Horrors by David Lindorff

America’s Friends: The Kkmer Rouge 

The Suicide of the West by Justin Raimondo

Left and Right Against the Military-Industrial Complex by Jon Basil Utley

Iraq Disaster Still a Mystery to Some by Alan Bock

Beware the Cult of Obama by Gene Healy

Cowardice in the Time of Torture by Ray McGovern

Ten Ways the U.S. Is Turning Afghanistan Into Iraq by Juan Cole

Obama Threatens North Korea Over Launch 

New and Worse Secrecy and Immunity Claims by Glenn Greenwald

No Excuses for Ongoing Concealment of Torture Memos by Glenn Greenwald

What About the Other Missing War Photos? by Greg Mitchell

Obama’s Flawed Nuclear Free Vision by John Nichols

A Missile Launch for Dummies by Donald Kirk

Let’s Hope Obama Keeps His Cool Toward N. Korea by John Gittings

North Korean Rocket Stirs Hawks by Katrina Vanden Heuval

March Madness, 1939 by Pat Buchanan

How Freedom Was Lost by Paul Craig Roberts

The Function of Political Ideologies by Larry Gambone

A Different Approach to Socialism by Jeremy Weiland

The Postmodern Alliance by Mark Hackard

Korean Straits  by Richard Spencer

2.7 Million People Demonstrate in Italy 

The IMF Rules the World by Michael Hudson

Prison Talk 

The Democrats and the Afghan War by Normon Solomon

Newt’s Foreign Policy Fantasies by Jack Hunter

Gangsta Gifts by Ilana Mercer

Screwing the Country by Jack Hunter

Americans Don’t Need New Cars by Richard Spencer

Riots and Intrigue in Eurasian by Mark Hackard

Kooks and Blue State Republicans by Robert Stacy McCain

White Europeans: An Endangered Species? from Yale Daily News

More Cultural Enrichment? by Thomas Fleming

Democrats for Plutocrats by Roderick Long

Against Privateering by Rad Geek

Fun With Totalitarianism by Roderick Long

Priority Number One for the PIGS by Rad Geek

Obama Expands Bush’s Wiretapping Program by Harrison Bergeron 2

The Decade of Darkness by Mike Whitney

What Would It Take to Mend Fences with Islam? by Patrick Cockburn

Israel’s Master Plan for Transfer by Ellen Cantarow

Obama and Israel’s Threat to Strike Iran by Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe

Obama’s Bloated Military Budget by Jeremy Scahill

Escaping the Drug War Quagmire by Kevin Zeese

Prosecuting the Bush Torture Team: Spain Leads the Way by Marjorie Cohn

Secession-One Year Later by Bill Buppert

Be in Charge of Your Own Health Care by David McKalip M.D.

After Torture, Resurrection by Ray McGovern

America’s Drug War Is Destroying Mexico Guy Lawson interviewed by Scott Horton

Goodbye, Bill of Rights by Philip Giraldi

The Ballad of John Singer by William Norman Grigg

Why Europe Won’t Fight by Pat Buchanan

The Wise Man of Liberty by Justin Raimondo

Common Sense Bye-Bye by Peter Schiff

The Radical Right by Jack Hunter

Good News: $PLC Loses $50 Million by Patrick Cleburne

Wilhelm Ropke’s Swiss Front Porch by Allan Carlson

Cash Strapped Communities Are Printing Their Own Money by Marisol Bello

G.K. Gets Real by Patrick Deneen

Chavez in China Touts “New World Order” 

Squatters Resist Foreclosures 

Student Revolt in NYC 

Resurrection and Revenge by Alexander Cockburn

How the Media Bought the Surge by Saul Landau

Obama’s Afghanistan Plan and India-Pakistan Relations by M. Reza Pirbhai

The Ideology of Barack Obama by William Blum

Obama’s Crossover Dribble on Marijuana by Fred Gardner

Don’t Believe Barack by Lew Rockwell

My Censored Reply to the Sheriff by William Anderson

Nullification: Its Time Has Come Again by Clyde Wilson

Barack Obama: Torture Enabler by Ted Rall

Fujimori’s Lesson for Bush by Jacob Hornberger

Liberals Line Up with Militarism by Chris Floyd

Essential Skills for the Post-Apocalyptic World 

China’s Threat to the U.S. is Exaggerated by Ivan Eland

Obama Worse Than Bush on State Secrets Glenn Greenwald interviewed by Ivan Eland

Why Big Government Always Wins by Harrison Bergeron 2

A People Apart? Paul Gottfried interviewed by Richard Spencer

The Union Makes Us Weak by William Gillis

The German Anarchist Movement in NYC: 1880-1914

ATS Book Review: Ken MacLeod's "The Execution Channel" Reply

by Peter Bjorn Perls

Ken MacLeod is one of the better Science Fiction authors of this day. He is best known, I think, for his “Fall Revolution” quarilogy consisting of the books The Star Fraction, The Sky Road, The Stone Canal and The Cassini Division, which were released between 1995 and 1999, in which he manages to produce a fantastically fresh blend of science fiction and  political exploration, with an unexpected quality: It does not preach ideology. (I will review his other works at a later time).
Political science fiction is the staple of MacLeod, and The Execution Channel continues on that path. In this, the book does not take place in 2040 and onwards, but quite a bit closer to our current point in time. Even though no “present day” dates are mentioned, by my reckoning it takes place just before 2020.
The setting is an Earth where the War on Terror rages on with no end in sight, this time, the Coalition peace keepers moved North from Afghanistan into central Asia on the nexus between several factions and states: Tien Shan, squeezed between Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Closer to home, with the pace of technological progress continuing apace (and i might add, a continually deteriorating degree of accountability of the powers that be), the fact of life circa 2020 in England, and presumably much of the world, is video surveillance of all roads and street corners, and mobile phones being so cheap that they have reached the point of disposability (paid for with Euros), but society still seems dominated by use of automotive transportation and the associated fossil fuel use. The US has an increased presence in Britain, it seems, though mostly confined to the military bases around the country. Everything else is much the same, even the cultural/religious/racial tensions in the ghettos, (in the UK, notably Bradford), and Google is still the centerpiece in people’s life on the internet.
Where the world differs from What We Know is that the Cold War is back of sorts: Russia and China are both rising back to superpower status, and they are anti-Western with a vengeance. The latter has aligned itself with North Korea, the former with… France.
The wellspring of the difference between this world and the one we know, is (Ken really chose his ideas tongue-in-cheek!) the contested US Election of 2000. Yes, G.W. Bush never made it to office – Al Gore did. In 2001 when Al is at work, a memo lands on his desk, stating that Al Queda intends to strike the US, so he goes into action and launches a volley of cruise missiles at Afghanistan. The result is lots of civilian casualties, and a popular backlash which in the story is what galvanizes the AQ to perform the 9/11 attacks. All which this goes on with Gore becoming a Democratic War President, Bush is relegated to authoring a book about the foolishness of US military adventures in foreign countries. With this digression I’m pointing out that MacLeod has a talent for making political satire from juxtapositions and keen observations of facts of history and ideology that will make you laugh out loudly. With the repeated pokes at vocal political groups (particularly those that tend to whine loudly), MacLeod uses both wit and sarcasm to full effect.
The core of the dramatis personae is the Travis family: The son Alec in the peacekeeping forces in Central Asia, the daughter Roisin who is a peacenik that as the novel takes off, has spent the last 6 months in a peace protest camp outside a Scottish air force base (RAF Leuchars, north of Edinburgh), and the father, James, is a government software contractor with ties to foreign intelligence agencies. The barrel of blackpowder couldn’t be more obvious!
What happens on what is later termed the 5/5 attack (the morning the 5th of May, 2000-something), is that the Leuchars base is hit by a low yield nuclear weapon. Roisin is tipped off of this by her brother (who despite being separated from his family by thousands of kilometers is still tied into the story) flees with the fellow peace protesters, and then it all starts: Britain is struck by a volley of bombings on important infrastructure points, and from there on, the ball rolls; international tension, since the reasoning goes that it’s one of the other nuclear powers that did it, and domestic chaos as the state comes down on everyone who gets out of line, at the same time as popular suspicion Al Queda intervention results in attacks on Muslims all over Britain. Yep, MacLeod certainly knows what contemporary strings to play.
The two dark horses of the story are: First, that the governments of the world use farfetched conspiracy theories to distract political dissenters toward unproductive pursuits (namely UFO scheming instead of aiming for the unaccountable political powers, which is MacLeod’s stab at the conspiracy buffs), second, that these governments also run secret detention centers around the world (which is already commonplace knowledge) where brutal executions take place, and somehow footage from these executions make it to the public on a broadcast channel that gives the book its title: The Execution Channel. In MacLeod’s world, you don’t have to go to 4chan.org anymore for your filth and atrocities, it’s right on your TV set!
Now, closing on the verdict of the book. Is it any good? My answer is that that It Depends.
I got it in the mail yesterday morning, and after having performed the chores of the day, I started reading it in the late afternoon. In doing so, I surprised myself by doing something I haven’t done, by my count, in 13 years: I read a book cover-to-cover in under a day, more specifically in under 13 hours, including dinner, two bathroom breaks, a shower, checking my email once, and a 15 minute rest. The book is a page-turner is the real sense of the word, and even though it is not that long (some 360 pages), the feat of blazing through it makes me wonder, writing this.
The book IS good, very much so. The blend of science fiction and fringe politics with a plausible near-future descent into dystopia is dynamite, and MacLeod knows how to execute it well. But here comes the caveat: It is the first 300 or so pages are good, whereafter the terrible happens: The story fizzes out, and plods along with late story development (decay may be a better word for it, though) of little substance, and to me it was as if MacLeod throws so much stuff into his literary blender that it becomes an uninteresting gray smudge, where only the earlier parts of the book pressures you on the back to keep on reading. I’ll have to agree completely with a number of Amazon UK reviewers: The last few (six, to be precise) pages of the book drops it all on the floor with the introduction of a non sequitur and of such silliness that it’ll make you moan loudly. (I know that I did.)
On closing the book after 4 o’clock in the morning, I got the feeling that Ken MacLeod had performed, in the terms of the British, a massive piss take on his readers. That, or he ran out of ideas at page 330, and had a ghostwriter with no feel for the story and no sense of remorse in butchering the potential of it all, finish it for him. A T.S. Elliot quote on the book ending here would be appropriate.
So, to repeat, if the book is good overall depends, on whether you tear out the last 60 pages of it before you read it, and dream up your own ending. If you do, it’s just about a 5-star read. Including the ending into the verdict, I wouldn’t even rate the book mediocre, but instead poor.
Of criticism of the story before the abysmal finish, I can offer some. For example, the title topic of the book, the Execution Channel, only has a significant presence early in the book, and after the first fourth or so, it disappears from view, only to make a single significant reappearance toward the end. I won’t go into spoilers, but suffice to say that the author wasted a  massive potential story element by not using what is drives the Execution Channel. This is unforgivable.
Second, while the portrayal of the apprehension of one of the book’s characters on Terrorism charges makes the small hairs at the back of your neck stand up, the long-run portrayal of the government agents that do this and other things, becomes far too monotonous and in the end (especially the aforementioned dreadful last 50-60 pages) they appear like robotic constructs that just keep doing what they’ve always done to finish off the story (even though the idea the some government employees are unfeeling automatons may be appropriate, but I digress…).
So. If you are already a MacLeod fan, they book is worthwhile reading, but to repeat, beware the ending. As for me, i’ll think twice about buying his books in the future. As much as I want the intensity and intricacy of his works of the 90’s to keep on coming, I’m afraid that a book like the one reviewed here signals that he has is past his peak, and do no care enough about the stories (and thus, his readers) he weave, to round it off in a graceful manner that doesn’t insult the audience.
*** END

Updated News Digest April 5, 2009 Reply

Quotes of the Week:

“I read the Social Democratic newspapers. I saw their disgusting attitude towards anything that bore even the slightest revolutionary character, and I realized that there could be no reconciliation between a revolutionary party and a party trying to earn a reputation for ‘moderation’ in the eyes of the government and the bourgeoisie.”

                                                                                 -Peter Kropotkin

States Rebellion Pending by Walter Williams

David Allan Coe: American Rebel by Will Forbis

“The FARC Think These Americans Are Pussies” by Christina Oxenberg

Tory Hacks Give Lip Service to Localism and Communitarianism by Sasha Issenberg (thanks Ean!)

911 Truths by Jack Hunter

On Loving to Hate the South by Paul Gottfried

Globomoney by Richard Spencer

Conspiracy Theories by Dylan Hales

Obama’s Attack on the Middle Class by Paul Craig Roberts

Is Notre Dame Still Catholic? by Pat Buchanan

Terror Begins At Home by Philip Jenkins

Neocon Obama Fans by Harrison Bergeron 2

Saint Wal-Mart? by Roderick Long

Patri Friedman on Seasteading (hat tip to Kevin Carson)

Open Source Health Care

Hollywood’s Democratic-Capitalist Self Censorship by Francois Tremblay

Which Politician Came Up With the Idea That Dying for Your Country is a Good Thing? by Sheldon Richman

They Really Give Nobel Prizes Away Like Candy These Days by Paul Krugman

R.I.P. Burt Blumert (1929-2009) by Wally Conger

Sheldon Richman on Arkansas Public TV 

Libertarian Essays by Roy Halliday 

All Hail Tax Resistance! from The Picket Line

Lessons from the Gulag Archepelago from The Picket Line

Virginia: Human Rights Abuses at Red Onion Supermax Prison 

UK: Protests Against Capitalism and the G20 

More Reasons To Be Against Happiness by TGGP

Early Mormon Cooperative Economics (thanks Chris!)

Barack of Kabul by Eric Margolis

Explaining the Boom and the Bust by Bob Murphy

Newsweek Actually Tells the Truth for Once? by Glenn Greenwald

End the War on Drugs by Ron Paul

We’re On the Edge of the Abyss by Peter Schiff

Burt Blumert: Liberty’s Benefactors by Lew Rockwell

Here Come the Food Police by Vin Suprynowicz

Fiat Money and Inflation by Chris Clancy

Civil War by Bill Bonner

The Obamamites Go to War by Justin Raimondo

To Reduce Violence, End the Drug War by Justin Raimondo

Stop Arming Israel by Philip Giraldi

Yes, We Have No Bananastan by Jeff Huber

Another Lost War? by William S. Lind

U.S. Cries Wolf Over China? by David Isenberg

National Anarchist-Syndicalist Union 

Leftism 101 by Lawrence Jarach

Prospects for Global Depression and Unrest by John Robb

Oppose Internet Censorship from National-Anarchists Australia/New Zealand

A New Global Debt Crisis by Nicholas Dearden

The Obama Betrayal by Dave Lindorff

“We’ll Make You See Death” by Joanne Mariner

Obama’s Pakistan Gambit by Ron Jacobs

Economic Inequality: The Foundation of the Racial Divide? by Dedrick Muhammad

What Next in Afghanistan? by Patrick Cockburn

Where’s All the Money Coming From? by Ralph Nader

Obama Bombs by Ray McGovern

Syria Calling by Seymour Hersh

The New Far Right Philo-Semitism 

Is Angelina Jolie Bad for Africa? 

“I’m Having a Very Good Crisis,” says George Soros 

The New American Interviews Antiwar.Com’s Eric Garris Part I Part II

What Is the State? by Lew Rockwell

Civil Unrest, Ghost Malls and Another American Revolution Interview with Gerald Celente

The Role of Government in a Free Society Lecture by Walter Williams

Asshole PIG Resigns 

Minneapolis PIGS Plant Gun on Teen After Murdering Him 

Mexico Has a U.S. Problem, Not a Drug Problem by Fred Reed

Blessed Are the Warmakers? Laurence Vance interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Neocon Victimology by Glenn Greenwald

Why Do PIGS Kills Dogs? by J.D. Tuccille

Guns, Gold, Secession by Karen De Coster

New World Disorder by Gary North

Dead Banks Walking by Lila Rajiva

The Scam of Political Representation by Gerard Casey

The Outlook for the Dollar Peter Schiff interviewed by Eli Neusner

Collapse: The Dollar’s Destination by Mike Rozeff

It’s All A Conspiracy! by Richard Spencer, Dylan Hales and Jack Hunter

Catholics and the Left John Zmirak interviewed by Richard Spencer

The Green Revolution Saved Lives? by Kevin Carson

The New Proudhon Library from Shawn Wilbur

John Taylor Gatto: State-Controlled Consciousness from Francois Tremblay

Tax Day Protests Planned from The Picket Line

Sheldon Richman on the Financial Crisis from Social Memory Complex

Affluenza and the Economic Meltdown of America by Thomas N. Naylor

Will There Be Anarchy After the 1930s? 

Modesto Citizens Retaliate Against PIGS 

Carter Conservatism by Sean Scallon

Obama and the Ruling Class  by David Macaray

Assassination Attempt Against St. Louis Green Party Leader by Don Fitz

Surging Further Into the Afghan Abyss by Chris Floyd

Dershowitz Encounters a Worrying Future by Michael Scheuer

Mandatory National Service on the Way? James Bovard interviewed by Scott Horton

The Truth About Guantanamo Lawrence Wilkerson interviewed by Scott Horton

Repeating Vietnam War Errors in Afghanistan by Matt Steinglass

How Do We Save NATO? We Quit by Andrew Bacevich

Fake Faith and Epic Crimes by John Pilger

The Greatest Blunder in British History by Laurence Vance

New Issue of Black Oak Presents by Michael Kleen (thanks Flavio!)

Is India Headed for Hyperinflation? by Subroto Roy (thanks Peter!)

Fucking Retards (thanks Ean!)

The Forest for the Trees by Ean Frick

An Introduction to Carl Schmitt by Gary Ulmen

National Lampoon by Austin Bramwell

How I Became a Domestic Terrorist by Ilana Mercer

Let’s Play Pretend by Peter Schiff

The Real Federal Deficit  by Tim Worstall

On the Justice of Clearing Ward Churchill by Dylan Hales

Being Honest About Abe by Jack Hunter

Should We Kill the Fed? by Pat Buchanan

Homesteading Detroit: On Urban Farming by No Third Solution

An Exercise to Clear Your Mind by Francois Tremblay

Bring on the Summer of Rage! by Charlie Brooker

Defining Terms by Thomas Fleming (thanks Chris!)

Republic Magazine: Issue # 14 (thanks Flavio!)

But in Anarchy, Who Would Make the Roads? (thanks Peter!)

Coming to a Town Near You, the BANA Newstand! 

An Interview with Noam Chomsky 

Solidarity with the Students: An Open Letter from Greek Soldiers 

Veganarchists on the London Insurrection 

PIGS/Protestors Clash in Paris 

From Twin Towers to Twin Camelots by Alexander Cockburn

Homeless in Tent City, USA by Kathy Sanborn

Girding for a Depression by Morici

The War on Drugs is a War on You by Michael Boldin

Biden, Nixon and Latin America by Saul Landau

Nuclear Power Plants: Fooling with Disaster? by Sue Sturgis

Was Gaza Israel’s Waterloo? by John Goekler

The Federal Railroading of Victoria Sprouse by William Anderson and Candice Jackson

Death to D.A.R.E. by William Norman Grigg

The Humanitarian with the Printing Press by Anthony Gregory

The PIGS Are Out to Get You by Brian Cohoon

Marijuana Reduces Tumors 

Christianity is Not a Neocon Death Cult by Tom Woods

Small Town Anarchy by J.L. Bryan (thanks Folk n’ Faith!)

There Will Be Hyper Inflation  by Thorstein Polleit

The Fair Tax is a Scam by Laurence Vance

The Goldberg Syndrome by Justin Raimondo

How to Combat Mexican Drug Cartels by Ivan Eland

Obama’s Neoliberals: Selling His Afghan War by Jeremy Scahill

An Ominous Parallel by Jacob Hornberger

Obstruction of Justice by Chris Hedges