A close colleague recently put a question to me that I regard as important enough to be well worth discussing publicly. I was asked if whether or not my own assumption of controversial stances on a variety of issues might have the effect of weakening my wider advocacy of an “anarcho-pluralist” political framework and a “pan-secessionist” strategy for achieving it. For instance, by attacking political correctness, am I not alienating many people with PC views on many issues who might otherwise be sympathetic to my wider outlook? By challenging the “open borders” preferences of mainstream libertarians, am I not pushing away anti-statists and decentralists who might also hold pro-immigration views? Indeed, might not even illegal immigrants themselves be viable allies within a pan-secessionist or anarcho-pluralist meta-political framework given that, at least on some levels, they are in conflict with the existing state?
Clearly, a number of important distinctions need to be made regarding such questions. The most significant of these distinctions involves defining what “anarcho-pluralism” and “pan-secessionism” actually are. “Anarcho-pluralism,” as I conceive of it at least, is a brand of anti-state radicalism that has “anti-universalism” and what might be called “radical localism” as it core defining characteristics. It is “anti-universalist” because it rejects the view that there is one “correct” system of politics, economics, or culture that is applicable much less obligatory for all people at all times and in all places. As Russell Kirk observed: “There exists no single best form of government for the happiness of all mankind. The most suitable form of government necessarily depends upon the historic experience, the customs, the beliefs, the state of culture, the ancient laws, and the material circumstances of a people.” Anarcho-pluralism advocates “radical localism” as the best possible method of avoiding the tyrannies and abuses of overarching Leviathan states, and accommodating the irreconcilable differences concerning any number of matters that all societies inevitably contain.
“Pan-secessionism” is the strategy for achieving anarcho-pluralism. Given that most modern societies are under the rule of overarching states possessing expansive bureaucratic tentacles and police powers, the simple territorial withdrawal of regions and localities and renunciation of the central state by the secessionists would seem to be the most practical and comprehensible method of resistance. These few simple ideas are all that anarcho-pluralism and pan-secessionism really amount to. Theoretically, one could hold to just about any other set of beliefs or values and operate within the framework of anarcho-pluralism and pan-secessionism. In its essence, the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist program does nothing more than work to abolish the central state and give every political interest group its own territory to create whatever kind of society it wishes, with ultimate success or failure being the sole responsibility of the local organizers, residents, or participants.
With regards to political correctness, it is certainly possible for persons holding stereotypical PC views to operate within a wider anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist framework or to join an alliance for the organization of such. For instance, the late, great, feminist-extremist Andrea Dworkin was actually a proponent of “lesbian separatism” and apparently favored the creation of communities for those with views like hers complete with “land and guns” of their own. Some in the left-wing anarchist milieu favor an idea called “libertarian municipalism,” a perspective advanced by the late anarchist-ecologist Murray Bookchin which basically involves creating independent city-state-like municipalities organized on the New England town meeting model, presumably espousing the usual communitarian-green-feminist-rainbow values of the far Left. It is theoretically possible that if and when the day comes that a pan-secessionist movement that is actually large enough and well-organized enough to mount a credible challenge to the authority of the U.S. regime and ruling class emerges, a majority or even a super-majority of the individuals, organizations, and communities participating in such an effort could potentially reflect the kinds of “far Left” values and positions on issues of the kinds that most current left-anarchists espouse.
A similar theoretical formulation could be applied to the immigration question. It is entirely possible that many if not most participants in a pan-secessionist action could indeed be persons or groups favoring a completely “open borders” policy for their respective post-secession communities. Indeed, it is even possible that many participants in a pan-secessionist movement or action could be immigrants, even those who immigrated illegally according to present U.S. law, or the immediate descendants of such.
Yet a number of obvious and vital questions remain. The most immediate of these would be: what is the purpose of anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism in the first place, its core principles aside? Anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism is an outlook that myself and some colleagues developed in the late 1990s in response to certain problems that we perceived in the mainstream of the anarchist milieu. From my earliest involvement in the anarchist movement, I noticed that quite frequently anarchists seemed to be, among other things, much more interested in promoting the standard laundry list of liberal or left-wing causes, or simply engaging in countercultural lifestyle practices, rather than advancing the struggle against the state. Opposition to the state itself is the core essence of any anarchist ideology worthy of the name. Anarchism differs from classical liberalism, which views the state as a neutral agent whose purpose is to uphold and protect abstract “rights.” The anarchist view regards the state as a self-interested entity claiming monopoly privilege for its members. Anarchism also differs from leftism in that it regards the state as a parasite and usurper rather than as a reflection of some mythical “general will” (the democratist view) or as an agent of class rule (the Marxist view). The traditional anarchist critique of capitalism regards plutocracy as the result of state-imposed privilege for private interests allied with the state (see Proudhon), and the traditional anarchist opposition to war, militarism, and imperialism results from the anarchist view of these things as simple acts of aggression and plunder by states, no different in kind from ordinary criminality.
An additional factor that shaped my own view was the recognition that many thinkers and activists outside the anarchist milieu and, indeed, outside the subculture of the “far Left” where most anarchists tend to function, possess many cogent criticisms of the state, plutocracy, empire and imperialism that overlapped quite well with the traditional anarchist critique, including some from the “far Right.” While studying the works of leading commentators and theorists from these schools of thought more carefully, I came to the conclusion that a good number entirely valid and legitimate issues and questions were being raised by many in these camps. Initially, I began pushing for greater collaboration between anarchists and the libertarian-left and paleoconservatives, the militia-patriot-constitutionalist milieu, right-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, the populist-right, and so forth. I then discovered the neo-secessionist tendencies that were starting to organize at the time, and around ten years ago I encountered for the first time the national-anarchist tendency that had recently emerged. This in turn introduced me to the world of “third-position” ideologies, to the French New Right of Alain De Benoist, and so forth. I began to understand that quite often the only key differences between many of these “right-wing” perspectives and traditional anarchism are matters of culture, and in some instances mere aesthetics or individual tastes. I wrote a letter to a left-anarchist journal in 1999 where I outlined these views, and I later reworked the letter into an article expounding upon these ideas further.
Anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism was created as a tendency whose specific purpose was to re-orient the focus of modern anarchism away from liberal and leftist social causes and countercultural lifestyles, and towards a more concentrated attack on the state, the empire, and the plutocracy. A related purpose is to form tactical alliances towards this end with many others sharing overlapping critiques or concerns, including some from the “far Right” or other points on the political spectrum apart from the radical Left milieu. Additionally, strategic and organizational issues are to be placed at the forefront of our ongoing efforts and expressed concerns. In other words, anarcho-pluralism/pan-secessionism differs sharply from the mainstream anarchist movement by
1) shifting focus away from left-wing social causes and countercultural lifestyles towards attacking the state, empire, and plutocracy as the primary values or objectives;
2) working for the construction of an anti-state, anti-plutocratic, and anti-imperialist political alliance comprised of opposition forces from across the political spectrum;
3) developing or promoting regional and local secessionist movements as the strategic and organizational vehicle for the political advancement of such a tactical alliance;
4) rejecting the universalistic claim that all participants in the anarcho-pluralistic/pan-secessionist project must hold to “ultra-liberal,” “far Left,” or countercultural lifestyle views on such matters as abortion, gay rights, feminism, transgendered rights, environmentalism, animal rights, “anti-racism,” “anti-fascism,” immigrants’ rights, “open borders,” veganism/vegetarianism, economic preferences, nuclear power, capital punishment, religion, drugs, family organization, squatting, dumpster-diving, punk rock music, and many other things. This is not to say that participants in such a project cannot hold “ultra-liberal” or countercultural views on such matters, but that such an outlook, while acceptable, is not mandatory.
5) recognizing that a post-state, post-plutocratic, and post-empire nation or civilization where anarchists are politically dominant would contain a genuine diversity of forms of political, cultural, and economic organization, and not just the kinds favored by the “far Left.” Consequently, a post-revolutionary political order would likely include communities and institutions of a conservative, religious, ethnocentric, traditionalist, patriarchal, or just plain old middle-of-the-road, moderate nature as well as those of a leftist or countercultural nature.
The Necessity of Confronting Totalitarian Humanism
Once upon a time, I generally agreed with the standard leftist view that much of the conservative critique of “political correctness” amounts to little more than sour grapes on the part of right-wingers who are on the losing end of history and political struggles. However, upon further experience and reflection, I found it necessary to alter my view. When I first began promoting the ideas outlined above in the anarchist milieu, I knew it would be controversial and that many would object. However, I was somewhat surprised by the level of vociferous hostility and threats of violence I received from the critics. Now, on one hand, if some anarchists regard immigrants’ rights, gay rights, transexual rights, animal rights, or the most extreme forms of “anti-racism” to be the most important issues, then they are still perfectly within their rights to feel this way. If they prefer to tolerate or endure the present system rather than cede any ground, politically or geographically, to the Right, or to have any sort of association with cultural conservatives, then they likewise have the right to make this value judgment for themselves. However, the fact that they cannot accept that some of us would choose a different way, and that they cannot co-exist with our own tendency without making threats of violence and assuming a generally obscurantist attitude, indicates that their commitment to such core libertarian values as freedom of speech and thought is rather limited. This essentially cancels their supposed “progressive” credentials and essentially renders them to the status of either a pre-Enlightenment cult movement, or secular theocrats, or a variation of the modern totalitarian movements that have emerged since the French Revolution. As a biographer of the anarchist historian Paul Avrich observed: “Avrich does not shy away from controversy in his books, treating the anarchist acts of violence honestly and in the context of the time. He does not condone the violence of Berkman, but says he still admires his decision, considering how brutal Frick acted toward striking workers. But Avrich does not have the same patience for some contemporary anarchists, who choose to destroy property and who, he says, come mainly from educated and middle-class backgrounds. “I’m not so crazy about anarchists these days,” he says. Anarchism means that you leave other people alone and you don’t force people to do anything.” He says he is sad that the old-timers are not around to guide the resurgent movement. “They were nicer people –much nicer people.” Of course, the anarcho-leftoids, antifa, and other related groups are merely a symptom of the growing totalitarian movement of which Political Correctness is a manifestation. I have written about this third totalitarianism before, and will continue to do so in the future. For now, it is simply enough to say that Political Correctness must be confronted by serious anarchists in the same way that it was necessary for perceptive anarchists to confront Communism as Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin did in the days when it was the emerging totalitarian movement of the 19th century. This is simply a matter of self-defense, as the left-wing enemy has declared war on us. Given the rabid hatred expressed by PC Left (including its “anarchist” and “libertarian” contingents) towards anyone with political, social, or cultural values that conflict with hard-left orthodoxy, it is unlikely that these elements will ever be able to peacefully co-exist with those who are different from themselves. The PC Left contains within itself the Lenins, Stalins, Maos, Castros, and Pol Pots of the future.
This is not to say that one cannot theoretically be a cultural leftist and simultaneously oppose Totalitarian Humanism. One can be a worker, a political leftist, or even a socialist, and oppose Marxism. One can be black, Jewish, or Hispanic and oppose totalitarian multiculturalism. Many do. One can be a woman and oppose the feminazis. There are many of these. One can certainly be gay and oppose the “homo-totalitarians.” Plenty of examples of this exist. Many of my own views on various issues are well to the left of the Democratic Party, if not the Green Party. Yet Totalitarian Humanism needs to be recognized for what it is, the third triplet after Communism and Fascism.
The Necessity of Strategic and Organizational Thinking
A criticism that has been issued against my outlook in the past is that it is overly concerned with pragmatic or strategic considerations and not rooted strongly enough in matters of abstract principle. But ideas are worthless (Stirnerite “spooks”) if they cannot be translated into real world action. If we wanted we could simply form a monastery where we sit around and debate whether drunk driving interferes with anyone’s property rights or whether non-coercive ageism or transphobia conflicts with the natural rights of man, but for what purpose other than intellectual masturbation? If that is what some wish to do, so be it, but for those of us who want an anti-state movement that is a real world contender, matters of strategy and organization are indispensable. Therefore, considerations of what kinds of demographic groups, subtendencies, organizational methods, and tactical efforts are most conducive to the success of the objectives outlined above, and considerations of time frame, are essential to our wider theoretical framework.
The Necessity of High Intellectual Standards and Political Foresight
While considerations of strategy and action are important to the formulation of theory, this does not mean that we should not aspire to high intellectual standards. For one thing, the purpose of ARV/ATS is not to simply be popular and attract sympathizers, but to cultivate an elite leadership corps who will be the revolutionary elite of a future anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist populist movement. A competent leadership corps has to first possess not only high intellectual standards but a capacity for serious political foresight. These considerations are relevant to many different questions. For now, we can reflect a bit on the relevance of these to the immigration question, given that immigration is at present a prominent and controversial public issue.
With the exception of the paleo-libertarians, national-anarchists, and perhaps some Green-anarchists, most present-day anti-state radicals generally advocate “open borders,” meaning that the existing states should simply order their border and coast guards to stand down and allow entry into their respective countries by anyone who wishes to enter for whatever reason. If that’s how many if not most libertarians or anarchists feel at present, then that’s their prerogative. Yet the popularity of a position should not be a barrier to its challenge. After all, if the goal were to simply be popular in the anarchist milieu, our own tendencies would not even exist in the first place.
I criticize the “open borders” beliefs of many anarchists for a variety of reasons. First, I regard mass immigration as a phenomenon that is actually generated by the forces of State, Capital, and Empire, and serves the interests of present day political elites and ruling classes. Second, I am skeptical as to whether a civilization of anarchic communities would actually have “open borders” as many anarchists conceive of such. “Open borders” simply invites the existing state to impose a uniform immigration standard on all communities and institutions within the wider society. There is likely to be a considerably greater degree of variation with regards to matters of immigration and citizenship in the absence of an overarching statist system. Third, it is doubtful that the cultural and social ultra-liberalism promoted by many anarchists and libertarians is compatible with the importation of unlimited numbers of persons from profoundly illiberal cultural environments. Fourth, the history of efforts by genuinely multi-ethnic and multicultural societies to maintain civil peace is not a particularly happy one or a cause for optimism. Fifth, there are the practical costs of mass immigration. For instance, do we really want North America to become as populous as China or India? Lastly, I am skeptical as to whether anarchists who champion “open borders” the most fervently are motivated primarily by anti-statist or civil libertarian concerns.
For instance, many anarchists have not devoted nearly as much effort, or no effort at all, to opposing statist legislation that is far more onerous or draconian in content and effect than the recently enacted Arizona immigration law. So are these anarchists motivated by anti-statism and civil libertarianism, or are they motivated more by universalism, e.g. the view that immigration is a good unto itself regardless of the state’s role in fostering or prohibiting it? What sort of concerns do they express? What sort of criticisms do they raise? Do they say “Requiring travelers to display passports is a statist interference with freedom to travel!”? Perhaps they do at times, but there are plenty of laws on the books of a comparable nature that they rarely if ever discuss, for instance, those requiring motorists to obtain and carry a driver’s license. Are they not more likely to say, “Restricting immigration is racist and xenophobic!” It is fairly clear that for many of the “open borders” anarchists and libertarians, univeralism rather than anti-statism is the guiding value.
Now, to be fair, it should be pointed out that those anti-statists with anti-immigration views are often likewise motivated by values beyond those of mere concern with the role of the state in promoting or sponsoring immigration. The same could be said of libertarians holding opposing views on other controversial matters like abortion or capital punishment. Yet, anti-statists who are anti-immigration are typically much more likely to demonstrate anti-universalism. For instance, Hans Herman Hoppe is a leading paleolibertarian critic of “open borders” libertarians, yet he recognizes the degree of discrimination or non-discrimination, inclusion or exclusion, homogeneity or heterogeneity, will inevitably vary from community to community and institution to institution minus a system of uniformity imposed by the central state. Likewise, the national-anarchists typically recognize that the internal norms and standards of differing “tribes” or communities will vary greatly in the absence of the state, and typically understand that without the state homogeneous communities will co-exist with multicultural ones. Neither paleos nor national-anarchists typically engage in slander, vilification, threats, or violence towards those who do not share their views. Therefore, their claims of authenticity are at present the most valid and compelling.
The Necessity of a Flexibility of Theory and Tactics
The matter of immigration raises a few other issues that are relevant to the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist paradigm. For instance, I have had some no doubt sincere and well-intentioned people ask questions such as these?
1) How can it be argued that the state promotes immigration and that immigrants benefit from statism when illegal immigrants are subject to arrest by the ICE or other police agencies?
2) Is not criticizing immigration promoting division among enemies of the state, thereby weakening the anti-state cause?
3) Is not criticizing immigration actually strengthening pro-state elements on the Right, who are after all motivated not by anti-statism but by statist nationalism?
4) Would not it be strategically more feasible to ally with immigrants against overarching common enemies, such as the global plutocracy?
Here are some short answers to these questions:
1) The state not a monolithic conspiracy. Many anarchists and libertarians seem to regard “the state” the same way Marxists regard “the capitalists” or Nazis regard “the Jews.” The state is a collection of certainly overlapping and interconnected interests, but one that also contains within itself plenty of contradictions and conflicts. Yes, certain elements within the state (for instance, the ICE or Joe Arpaio) might well have self-interest in enforcing immigration law. But plenty of other interests within the state actually benefit from immigration. These have been widely documented by immigration critics. Further, simply being a lawbreaker does not necessarily make one an enemy of the state per se, much less an anarchist revolutionary. If mere law-breaking were to be our standard of anarchist authenticity, then we would have to say that dirty cops are among the most anarchistic of all. After all, dirty cops commit perjury, plant evidence, engage in police brutality, confiscate drugs and then use or sell them, steal from evidence lockers, accept bribes, participate in illegal searches and seizures, solicit sexual favors from suspects or prisoners, or even engage in outright common crimes such as robbery, rape, kidnapping, and murder. There are certainly plenty of laws prohibiting these things, but are we prepared to argue that such cops measure up to anarchist standards?
2) For reasons that are widely known, it is doubtful whether immigrants, or even illegal immigrants, can be classified as enemies of the state on any kind of consistent level. As Andrew Yeoman succinctly put it: “…the ideal is to decentralize political power and increase the power of local institutions outside state control. This does not mean supporting illegal immigrants, who aren’t outside the state — to the contrary. Illegals represent a minority that is trying to impose its will on the majority by fully integrating itself within the state. Illegals oppose state power just as much as they oppose capitalism, which is to say, not at all — they are here to make money and eager to take advantage of all the benefits of the welfare system. They are also seeking race replacement.“
3) It is undoubtedly true that many on the anti-immigration Right are motivated less by an opposition to the imposition of a uniform and universalist immigration policy by the central state, and more by a desire for a xenophobic brand of statist nationalism? But to what degree are these elements reflective of ruling class values or elite consensus, or even the mainstream of public opinion? For instance, the New York Times (which Abbie Hoffman used to refer to as “the voice of the ruling class”) has consistently taken an “open borders” stance, as has the Wall Street Journal (which might be called “the voice of the global plutocracy”). The evidence is overwhelming that while elites and the radical Left share the common goal of total or near-total abolition of immigration standards, hard-core “xenophobes” are a fairly marginal, fringe movement. Research indicates that the average American of all races or colors generally has a tolerant view of legal immigrants, while regarding present immigration rates as too high and believing that illegal immigration should be barred. This is hardly an indication of imminent genocide as “immigrants’ rights” hysterics would have us believe.
4) All of these issues aside, are there indeed areas or situations where illegal immigrants might well be potential allies? Aside from my strenuously un-PC views on certain questions, one of the areas of my own thinking that often raises the most eyebrows is my position that outlaw organizations might well be valuable allies against the state in certain instances. For instance, motorcycle gangs, survivalist militias, common street gangs, exotic cults, and the like. There are a number of reasons why I hold to this view. One is the obvious. Many of these groups view themselves as a nation of their own that is at war with the government, therefore in a situation of direct conflict with the state, they may be viable military allies against a common enemy. Second, many of these groups have a history of being in direct conflict and combat with the repressive apparatus of the state, e.g. the BATF, FBI, DEA, or state and local SWAT teams or paramilitary police. Thirdly, by recruiting them as allies or mercenaries for “our side” we prevent our various enemies from doing so. There are other, less significant reasons why I take this position as well.
This brings us to the final question of on what issues might it be appropriate to take a pro-immigration stance or to ally ourselves with illegal immigrants. As mentioned, individuals participants in the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist project can have any other views they wish. By extension, they can advocate for their own tribe, community, or territory whatever political values they wish. For instance, if some left-anarchists, left-libertarians, Hispanic ethno-nationalists, or liberal multiculturalists decide to organize a Miami secessionist movement (the “Republic of Miami”) and decide they wish for an independent Miami to have completely open borders, so be it. If most people in a liberal metropolis like New York City or San Francisco prefer that these regions be “sanctuary cities,” then that’s how it will be. Likewise, while I would defend Arizona’s sovereignty against the feds regarding the controversial immigration law, if one of Arizona’s cities or counties, say, Tucson or Flagstaff, decided to secede from Arizona in protest of the immigration law, I would defend their right to do so as well. Nor does this mean that any policy of any seceded polity is necessarily “written in stone.” For instance, in an independent Arizona, pro-immigrationists could certainly agitate for less restrictive immigration policies, and I would defend their free speech rights to do so. In an independent “Republic of Miami” with open borders, immigration restrictionists could push for more limits on immigration, and I would likewise defend their free speech rights as well.
An analogy could be made to class issues. Any interest of mine is organizing secessionist efforts by large cites with an emphasis on class issues. While I am a Southerner, neo-confederate ideology or Dixieland revivalism doesn’t really interest me much. Instead, I would prefer to develop secession movements on the part of the large metro areas like Richmond, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chattanooga, Charleston, and so forth. The focus would be on achieving economic self-sufficiency and self-determination for the lower classes, and on repealing policies that generate much of the violent crime in these urban areas, particularly drug prohibition. Consequently, if we were to organize a general strike or mass walkout by workers in fast food chains, superstore chains, meatpacking plants, crony-capitalist real estate developments, or agribusiness plantations, I would very much advocate labor solidarity among all the workers, even though many of these places employ illegal immigrants.
At the same time, as part of the process of developing a pan-secessionist movement, I am certainly open to class collaboration on certain issues. While my personal focus would be on the urban lower classes, in many of the counties surrounding my own city there are affluent, upper-middle class communities with strong conservative leanings. If indeed a secessionist movement motivated by a desire to simply not pay taxes to Washington, D.C. or the state government were to emerge among such people, I would certainly back their efforts. Likewise, even though I am a pro-abortion atheist who thinks the cause of gay marriage is more silly than offensive, if a rural county or small town comprised of evangelical Christians or other religious conservatives were to secede rather than recognize Roe v. Wade or gay rights/gay marriage laws, I would support their efforts as well.
In a similar vein, given the reality that the future of the American Southwest likely belongs to Aztlan, it may well be likely that tactical collaboration with Hispanic ethno-nationalist secessionists in the Southwest, including many illegal immigrants or their immediate descendants, will be strategically feasible or even necessary at some point in the future.