In case anyone is wondering what I mean when I talk about “totalitarian humanism,” here it is:
It looks like some more “right-opportunism” is on the way. The upside is that this opens the door for those with more radical views to come in.
The convergence of the progressive left and libertarian right over police demilitarization is yielding a liberal-tarian moment—and it’s brought to you by the Koch brothers.
Groups on the left have been among the loudest voices condemning police actions in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown this month. But the Koch brothers, boogeymen of national Democrats, have long funded libertarian groups that laid the intellectual groundwork for opposing police militarization, a phenomenon that now has been discussed and denounced much more widely.
These two guys, who headed the Libertarian Party ticket in 2012, are perfect illustrations of what I call “system libertarians.” By “system libertarians,” I don’t mean “right-opportunists” who are simply trying to hijack libertarianism towards other ends like Rand Paul, Bob Barr, the Kochs, etc. By all accounts, these two are sincere libertarians so far as one can be within a pro-system framework. When Johnson was governor of New Mexico, he was a fairly outspoken and maverick critic of the war on drugs. I have no reason to doubt his sincerity, BUT he explicitly rejected the use of executive pardon to release drug war prisoners on grounds that doing so would be “un-democratic.” In other words, his libertarian values are subordinated to his democratist values.
Gray is a former prosecutor and judge who is also a maverick judicial critic of the war on drugs. Yet in his otherwise excellent book on the drug war, he strongly criticized the use of jury nullification to obstruct drug war prosecutions on the grounds that doing so would undermine the legal system and the “rule of law.” In other words, his legal positivist values take priority over his libertarian values.
I have nothing against these guys personally. They fill a necessary role. But they illustrate the difficulties associated with individuals who claim the mantle of “libertarian” without fully rejecting the system. This is one of the reasons why I have always preferred to call myself an “anarchist” rather than a “libertarian.” The label of “anarchist” is one that most people are uncomfortable adopting. But the importance of accepting this label is that it signifies one’s willingness to completely turn one’s back on the system, and adopt an explicitly revolutionary stance, which “system libertarians” won’t do.
This past weekend, the Libertarian Party celebrated its 40th birthday by choosing its candidates for President and Vice President. The Libertarians selected former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson for President, and retired judge James Gray of California for Vice President. The convention was broadcast nationally on C-SPAN, and received coverage on National Public Radio.
What are these candidates like, and how do they compare to their opponents?
By Aleksey Bashtavenko
Suppose you’re back in school and I discover that you have several college papers to write. When I solicit you offering my services, you promptly turn me down because you do not need my help. Instead of respecting your wishes, I employ hackers to gain access to all of your virtual accounts and complete several assignments for you. In return, I’ll withdraw twice as much money from your bank account as was necessary to cover the market fee for the service I’ve rendered. Since I now know that I will always have you as a client, I’ll have no incentive to meet your deadlines or make an honest effort to fully maximize the quality of my work. In this case, you would be justifiably aggrieved, yet this still seems insufficient to show that the government is culpable of the same moral transgression.
I agree with the analysis in this piece by Robert Lindsay if we stick to defining the Left as “advocating state intervention in the economy on behalf of objectives sought by reform liberals, progressives, and socialists.” Over the past thirty years, US economic policy has mostly been about dismantling the New Deal/Vital Center compact in favor of neoliberalism, and the resulting growth of class divisions and poverty. I would agree that the Democratic Party is a center-right neoliberal party on economic questions.
But if we define “conservatism” in the popular American sense of “limited government,” then government has continued to grow even in the face of neoliberal hegemony, although I would attribute this to the perpetual expansion of the military-industrial complex, bureaucratic profligacy, and fiscal hemorrhaging generally rather than “socialism” (as “conservatives” claim).
Also, I’d really have to disagree that the reactionary-populist, “movement conservative” Republican “base” represents either the mainstream society or the political establishment. It’s true that this sector of the Right has gotten more militant and adopted ever more shrill rhetoric over the years, but this is largely due to its desperation driven by its ongoing marginalization and dwindling numbers. It represents a perspective that was arguably mainstream forty years ago, and now seems extremist only because the wider society has moved so far leftward (in a cultural sense) in the meantime. For instance, same-sex marriage would have been considered a fringe issue only a decade ago, but it’s now well on its way to becoming normalized.
What we have is a situation where U.S. politics has moved towards ever greater corporatism, militarism, and statism for decades, even as the culture itself has made a dramatic leftward shift. Much of the responsibility for this can be laid at the feet of the Left who somewhere along the line decided that class-based, anti-imperialist, or civil libertarian politics was no longer worth the bother or at least needed to take a backseat to cultural extremism to the point that transexuality is rapidly becoming the Left’s flagship issue.
A principal difficulty with the Randian “let them eat cake” model of libertarianism is that extreme inequality of wealth, whatever one thinks of it from the perspective of “social justice,” normally produces abhorrent political outcomes. It invites either the ascension of the demagogue promising to uplift the poor, or the rule of the elite through sheer brute force and repression. Historically, anarchists have debating the relative merits of laissez-faire and individualism versus non-state socialism and anarcho-communism, and that debate should continue, but the plutocratic apology that mainstream libertarianism often falls into is a non-starter.
By Jeffrey Cavanaugh
A few days before the dramatic events in Ferguson, Missouri, demonstrated so dramatically what decades of institutionalized inequality can do to a population, the economists at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Servicesissued a report highlighting the dangers growing inequality holds for America’s long-term economic growth.
More a research note summarizing findings on the topic than the presentation of new scholarship, the economists working for one of the premier institutions of American financial capitalism undoubtedly state that inequality is a clear and present danger to both the health of American society and the U.S. economy.
This is somewhat interesting. Each of the three guests are like a parody of their respective ideologies. But the host seems to understand the need to move past sectarian left/right silliness in favor of a greater unity against the system. It would have been nice to have seen someone from N-AM, NATA, or ATS come on after the first three and pull all of it together: “Governments, corporations, imperialism, and the establishment parties are all the enemy. Left and Right unite against the system. Anarchist communities for anarchist, libertarian communities for libertarians, socialist communities for socialists.”
Check this out. Pretty soon we’re going to have to start paying publicists’ fees to these “watchdog” people.
“People seem good while they are oppressed, but they only wish to become oppressors in their turn: life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.” - Bertrand Russell, Letter to Ottoline Morrell, 17 December, 1920
h/t J. Ryan Moore
Even America’s smallest towns can be instantly turned into occupied territories as local police agencies quickly transform themselves from peacekeepers intooccupying military forces. The small town of Ferguson, Missouri, is living proof of that.
The London Guardian covers the story:
“Michael Brown was shot dead by an officer from a police force of 53, serving a population of just 21,000. But the police response to a series of protests over his death has been something more akin to the deployment of an army in a miniature warzone.
“Ferguson police have deployed stun grenades, rubber bullets and what appear to be 40mm wooden baton rounds to quell the protests in a show of force that is a stark illustration of the militarization of police forces in the US.
“‘I’m a soldier, I’m a military officer and I know when there’s a need for such thing, but I don’t think in a small town of 22,000 people you need up-armor vehicles,’ Cristian Balan, a communications officer in the US army, who was not speaking on behalf of the US military, told the Guardian. ‘Even if there’s an active shooter–are you really going to use an up-armor vehicle? Do you really need it?’
A domestic police state is the logical outcome of imperialism.
The facts surrounding the murder of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old resident of Ferguson, Missouri, gunned down by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer, are not entirely known – but enough is known that it’s quite justified to characterize it as cold-blooded murder. Thanks to Brown’s family, an autopsy has revealed that of the six shots fired by Wilson, five were survivable, but the sixth – which entered through the top of his head – was not. Although the evidence is not yet conclusive, the forensics – and the testimony of eyewitnesses – point to the fatal shot being fired as he was falling to the ground with his hands up in the classic posture of surrender.
Yet regardless of the circumstances surrounding his death, the significance of this event lies in the reaction to it – from the people of Ferguson, and, most importantly, from local, state, and federal authorities. From the former – anger: from the latter – repression.
Last week, Gavin McInnes, CCO of Rooster and co-founder of VICE, was forced to take an indefinite leave of absence (a.k.a. getting fired) for posting an offensive article in Thought Catalog titled, “Transphobia Is Perfectly Natural”. In this article, he argues that transgender men and women are mentally ill individuals who mutilate their bodies. He then goes on to condemn society for supporting them, which he perceives as “enabling” their behaviour.
Clearly this article was intended to elicit a reaction, rather than present a cogent scientific argument. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to see from a rabble-rousing troll, perched beneath a murky bridge, feeding on liberal outrage. I’ve read stuff like it a thousand times before on websites like Reddit. It’s an unfortunately common point of view. So common that when I see it, I’ll normally just roll mine eyes and continue along with my day.
Great interview with Dr. Gabb by Dan and Caitie Greene.
This interview is spot on in terms of identifying what is wrong with the mainstream libertarian movement.
Ron Paul Institute
“I thought I was losing my capacity to be shocked — but events in Missouri over just the last couple of hours have crossed a frightening line, one that makes me pray that this assault on fundamental American values is just the aberration of one rudderless Heartland community, and not the first symptoms of nation gone mad with high-tech weaponry to keep its own citizens in line.”—Journalist Will Bunch
The difference between what happened in Boston in the wake of the Boston Marathon explosion and what is happening now in Ferguson, Missouri, is not in the government’s response but in the community’s response.
This is what happens when you ignore the warning signs.
This is what happens when you fail to take alarm at the first experiment on your liberties.
This is what happens when you fail to challenge injustice and government overreach until the prison doors clang shut behind you.
Consider that it was just a little over a year ago that the city of Boston was locked down while police carried out a military-style manhunt for the suspects in the Boston Marathon explosion. At the time, Americans welcomed the city-wide lockdown, the routine invasion of their privacy, and the dismantling of every constitutional right intended to serve as a bulwark against government abuses.
Fast forward 14 months, and Americans are shocked at the tactics being employed to quell citizen unrest in Ferguson, Missouri—a massive SWAT team, an armored personnel carrier, men in camouflage pointing heavy artillery at the crowd, smoke bombs and tear gas—where residents are outraged and in the streets in response to a recent police shooting of one of their own: a young, unarmed college-bound black teenager who had the misfortune of being in the wrong time at the wrong place.
If you want to know what U.S. politics will look like a few decades from now, perhaps much sooner, imagine a U.S. election with the present day bourgeois technocratic “progressives” of the Democratic Party representing “conservatism,” and the “cultural Marxist” freak show representing “liberalism,” and there you have it. Most of my work has been about developing a new radicalism that’s to the left of the left of the left. If the Democratic Party represents the center-left, and “cultural Marxism” represents the hard left, then to the left of that would be tendencies like ATS and N-AM. We are to “cultural Marxism” what Maoism is to social democracy.
I tell you, this Robert Lindsay is really on it.
Liberal Republican Party: Corporatism, neoliberalism, imperial foreign policy and an emphasis on the upper classes combined with cutting edge Cultural Left and Identity Politics, some environmentalism and a generally more sane and sober view of things. Some gays, Blacks or Hispanics who wants to wallow in their identity and stick it to the workers and the poor quite happily join this party. Neoliberalism + genderqueer. What could go wrong? Obviously from a progressive point of view, this is nearly worthless, as the Left is about economics, not the accommodation of every weirdo, freak or dysfunctional minority who comes down the pike.
The Conservative Republican Party: Corporatism and neoliberalism, albeit in a much stronger form than the Liberal Republicans push, a radical near-Libertarian out and out dismantling of government, combined with the usual rightwing nuttery such as ludicrous paranoia of Communism, socialism and the economic Left, crazy conspiracy theory, exaggeration, lies, constant propaganda, racist dog whistles for bigoted White people, homophobia, misogyny and sexism, puritanism, Fundamentalist Christianity, jingoism, xenophobia, paranoia and hatred of the state itself.
The quote below from Robert Higgs reminds us of why it is the state that is the enemy of all mankind. Regrettably, the Left focuses all of its attention on alleged oppression, whether real or imaginary, sponsored by all sorts of Isms, Archies, and Phobias. Yes, class exploitation really exists. Yes, ethnic rivalries and sectarian religious conflict can have dire social consequences. Yes, in-group/out-group conflicts can severely disadvantage marginal populations. But let’s not forget whose power comes from the barrel of a gun.
“Business corporations, even the biggest ones, do not send SWAT teams to crash into your home at night to kill you or members of your family; they do not compel you to purchase their goods and services on pain of being kidnapped and confined in a steel cage; they do not mount attacks on foreign countries whose leaders displease them; they do not drop atomic bombs on cities; they do not shower neighborhoods with cluster bombs, spray them with poisonous depleted-uranium ammunition, or incinerate them with white phosphorous artillery shells. They do not ram down your throat actions that you regard as abhorrent, forcing you to pay for them or even to participate in them; on the contrary, they strive to please you and win your ongoing patronage.
Why, then, do so-called progressives systematically seek to have the institutions that commit these crimes (and a host of others) oversee and dominate the business corporations, which do not commit such horrendous crimes. For a student of comparative institutions, the so-called progressive agenda flies in the face of reason and humanity. (Not that the so-called conservative agenda does not, mind you; but its absurdities are somewhat different.)”
How the Right has become the Left, and the Left has become the Right.
This fellow Robert Lindsay’s blog is well worth checking out. I said on Facebook recently that if I were a Marxist rather than an anarchist, I’d probably be Robert Lindsay.
Ok, let’s see. You live in France.
You can vote “Right” and vote for protection of workers, state social programs for, pro family policies, environmental protection, promotion of small business at the expense of big business, and national protection of workers from multinational corporate Great White sharks.
Or I can vote “Left” and vote for gay pride parades, six different types of genderqueer, tax cuts for corporations and austerity.
Touch choice, huh?
Things must really be getting out of hand if even the National Review is coming down on the cops.
Imagine if I were to tell you there is a large group of government employees, with generous salaries and ridiculously cushy retirement pensions covered by the taxpayer, who enjoy incredible job security and are rarely held accountable even for activities that would almost certainly earn the rest of us prison time. When there is proven misconduct, these government employees are merely reassigned and are rarely dismissed. The bill for any legal settlements concerning their errors? It, too, is covered by the taxpayers. Their unions are among the strongest in the country.
No, I’m not talking about public-school teachers.
I’m talking about the police.
I apologize for my lengthy prelude to Ms. McElroy’s piece, but things are moving along in a way that merits comment. It would appear that totalitarian humanism is in the process of taking over libertarianism, which is predictable enough as libertarianism left too many gaps open that ultimately allowed totalitarian humanism to crawl in. This is the likely end of any movement that a) fails to embrace a genuinely revolutionary stance, b) fails to challenge the ideological superstructure of the ruling class, d) fails to develop an appropriate class analysis, and d) fails to embrace a hierarchy of priorities that recognizes the overlords of imperialism and their political bureaucracies as the primary targets to be attacked.
h/t Todd Lewis.
The sovereign citizen movement is considered the top threat for domestic terrorism, according to a survey of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
Islamist extremists and militia/patriot groups round out the top three threats to communities in the United States considered most serious by 364 officers of 175 state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities, according to a survey conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
Look for the various contentious issues involving gender identity and sexual orientation to become a major source of conflict on the Left in the future. The key issue for pan-secessionists is to figure out how to siphon libertarian and anti-establishment leaning feminists, gays, transgenders, and other sexual/gender minorities away from the PC statist coalition, thereby dividing and weakening the ranks of the state-centric Left, while simultaneously organizing various categories of socially conservative population into the wider pan-radical alliance. Geography is likely to be the key issue. We organize rural and small town white, conservative Christians around anti-PC and anti-big government issues, and we organize socially conservative minorities, immigrants, etc. in the large cities along side sexual and gender minorities by emphasizing class issues and resistance to the police state.
The New Yorker
On May 24th, a few dozen people gathered in a conference room at the Central Library, a century-old Georgian Revival building in downtown Portland, Oregon, for an event called Radfems Respond. The conference had been convened by a group that wanted to defend two positions that have made radical feminism anathema to much of the left. First, the organizers hoped to refute charges that the desire to ban prostitution implies hostility toward prostitutes. Then they were going to try to explain why, at a time when transgender rights are ascendant, radical feminists insist on regarding transgender women as men, who should not be allowed to use women’s facilities, such as public rest rooms, or to participate in events organized exclusively for women.