john-rae-quote-war-is-after-all-the-universal-perversion-war-stories

Coming Home Reply

By William T. Hathaway

(Warning: This one is not for the easily offended.)

RADICAL PEACE is a collection of reports from antiwar activists, the true stories of their efforts to change our warrior culture. In this chapter a mother tells of her son’s return from combat. She wishes to remain anonymous.

My son spent a year fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq in Delta Force. It was the worst year of his life … and of mine. As he told me later, there were times he thought he’d never come home. That was also my constant fear. For 365 days, every time the phone rang I thought it would be a voice from the Pentagon telling me with well-practiced condolence that my son had died a hero.

Jim had joined the army after college. I think he was trying to finally win his father’s approval. The old man was a West Pointer who had served a long military career, including two tours in Vietnam, and retired a colonel. He probably would’ve made general if it hadn’t been for his drinking. He never showed much interest in Jim and me, preferring the camaraderie of his soldier buddies.

We divorced when Jim was in high school. The colonel didn’t ask for visitation rights, and Jim was crushed when it became obvious that his dad didn’t care about seeing him.

Jim and the colonel had little in common. Jim wasn’t the military type — he didn’t go in for rough sports or violent movies. He was a sensitive boy who liked to read. He and I had similar interests and could communicate well together, much better than most mothers and teenaged sons. More…

Where Are the “Markets Suck” Libertarians? Reply

This post certainly raises some interesting theoretical questions

By Jason Brennan

Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Some libertarians claim that the good consequences of markets and private property form part of the moral justification of these institutions. However, others endorse absolutist or near absolutist deontological political philosophies. They hold that by following certain procedures we can come to acquire stringent and robust libertarian property rights, rights that cannot be overridden or outweighed by almost any competing moral concern. They think that the consequences of private property markets–in terms of promoting welfare, positive liberty, cultural progress, etc.–form no part of the moral justification of markets.

Where are the “markets suck!” libertarians? For instance, are there libertarians out there who accept Murray Rothbard’s theory of natural law, but who also accept something like Naomi Klein’s view of markets? Are there libertarians who think that justice requires strict libertarian property rights, but who accept Brian Barry’s contention that libertarianism will starve 10% of the population? Are there at least some libertarians who think that libertarianism is required by justice, but who think that almost all people would be better off in a highly regulated, tax-and-transfer social democracy?

Note, I’m not asking if there are libertarians who say that justice requires libertarianism even if markets suck. I’m asking if there are any libertarians who actually think something like, “Let’s have markets, even though Marx was right about markets.”

This isn’t a rhetorical question. I’d genuinely like to know if there are such people, especially prominent activists, writers, or published academics.

If there aren’t such libertarians, it’s a bit puzzling, isn’t it? After all, if you sincerely believed, say, Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s argumentation ethics argument for libertarian self-ownership (with all that Hoppe thinks this leads to), you would be a libertarian even if you rejected Austrian economics, even if you thought that libertarian economic systems led to massive market failure, even if you thought that the economy works the way Corey Robin thinks it does.

Consider, in contrast: David Estlund thinks that epistocracy would probably lead to better consequences than democracy, but he thinks epistocracy is ruled out on deontological grounds. G. A. Cohen at one point said that mainstream econonomics is basically sound, but still said that capitalism was unjust on deontological grounds.

Note: I have not criticized and am not insinuating any criticism of Rothbard or Hoppe here.

An Interview with William S. Lind Reply

There are some good nuggets in this. Listen to the interview at Traditional Right.

As an anarchist, I am sometimes asked why I am interested in the work of “right-wing reactionaries” such as Lind, an unreconstructed Hapsburg monarchist. First of all, it’s not a terrible idea to be informed about and familiar with a wide variety of opinions and beliefs, not the just ones closest to one’s own milieu. Lind, for example, is a fascinating theorist of fourth generation warfare.

Also, as an anarchist, I regard authoritarian leftism to be one of the primary and most insidious enemies of anarchism. For example, what’s most funny about the anarchists who identify as antifa is the fact that they claim all this solidarity with communists against fascism, without recognizing that historically there’s been just as strong a rivalry between communists and anarchists as between fascists and anarchists. The Marxists expelled the anarchists from the First International, the Bolsheviks suppressed the anarchists in revolutionary Russia, the Communists back-stabbed the anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. It’s always been this way. I know of no exceptions. I recognized this very early in my “career” as an anarchist, and early on developed the view that anarchists needed to carve out a political identify for themselves that was independent of the conventional Left (social democracy and Leninism). To the degree that anarchists identify with other ideologies or political currents, it should be about recognizing libertarian, decentralist, anti-statist or anti-authoritarian tendencies wherever they appear whether left, right, religious, indigenous, etc. Obviously, anarchists need to be against fascism but no more so than anarchists need to be against communism.

Much can be learned about authoritarian leftism by studying the work of its critics on the far right (because they have spent much more time than most thinking about the question). During the Cold War, one could probably find out more about the true nature of Communism from Readers Digest than from most leftist publications. Likewise, the real nature of totalitarian humanism can be understood more easily through studying the works of critics such as the paleoconservatives or the New Right.

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Breaking: “The Gist” of Rand Paul’s Controversial Defense Budget Amendment 940 Reply

Good critique of Rand Paul’s flip-flopping unpredictability by Nick Gillespie. I’m glad to see Reason is not merely sucking up to Rand. Still, Reason is considerably to the right of ATS on foreign policy

“More than ever, we need a strong voice to argue that $600 billion is more than enough to secure the safety and security of U.S. citizens and interests.”

Ugh, that might be a little too much.

By Nick Gillespie

Reason

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) submitted a budget amendment calling for increased defense spending in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. As Time originally reported, the amendment called for increasing spending by a total of about $190 billion over those two years, or a 16 percent increase over current totals.

While the specific language of the amendment is not yet available, the senator’s office has sent me the following summary of its provisions:

Background information on Paul Amdt 940:

Sen. Paul has offered an amendment to increase the levels of national defense spending (budget function 050) in both 2016 and 2017.  The levels reflect the projected FY2016 levels, before BCA caps became law.

Amdt. 940 will increase, defense spending by nearly $190 billion over the next two years. This amendment continues to fulfill the President’s OCO request and mandatory defense spending.

In the proposed amendment, Sen. Paul provides an increase in defense spending with offsets from the following accounts:

•             $21 billion from Foreign Assistance accounts (budget 150 function)
•             $14 billion from the National Science Foundation and Climate Change research under the General Science, Space, and Technology (budget 250 function)
•             $10 billion total from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Commerce activities under Natural Resources and Environment (Budget 300 function) and Commerce and Housing Credits (Budget 370 function)
•             $20 billion from Department of Education
•             $41 billion in discretionary spending from the Department of Housing and Urban Development

These reductions would occur in both FY2016 and FY2017.

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Twilight of the Right Reply

I first read Alan Pell Crawford’s Thunder on the Right in the late 1980s, and to this day I continue to think he is one of the very best critics of so-called “movement conservatism.” I have certainly spent more time in recent years criticizing the Left rather than the Right, and I do this for good reason. The Left (as least in its progressive-liberal form, rather than its historic anti-capitalist form ) is a rising force in Western societies, while the Right mostly represents dying forces (e.g. social conservatives, traditional religion, the 1950s model of the nuclear family, “whiteness”). The present day Left is created a whole new authoritarian paradigm in the form of totalitarian humanism. Further, the Left has a much tighter grip on the general anarchist milieu than the Right (which has only a marginal presence, at best).

However, I have always been 100% opposed, and zealously so, to the Republican-oriented “conservative movement.” In fact, having grown up around it and having a strong motivation to oppose it is in part what led me towards radicalism in the first place. In fact, the criticisms of “movement conservatism” offered by Noam Chomsky here, here, and here are largely the same as my own. I included three chapters in my book criticizing “mainstream” American conservatism, all of which are available online. See here, here, and here, along with a critique of what Kevin Carson calls “vulgar libertarianism” (see here).

Of course, there are strands of the U.S. Right that I might have a more favorable view of including the anti-statist or anti-ruling class strands of the populist right (e.g. sovereign citizens, the militia movement, right-wing secessionists, Alex Jones-style anti-elitists), the “unpatriotic conservatives” so hated by the neocons, the Burke-influenced “traditional Right,” sincerely anti-statist libertarians, the libertarian-populism of “The American Conservative,” and the Nietzscheanism, anti-totalitarian humanism and opposition to U.S. imperialism of the neo-reactionaries, dark enlightenment, and alternative right (even if I find the racialism and neo-monarchism often found in those circles to be a bit, well, “over the top.”).

By Alan Pell Crawford

The American Conservative

 

illustration by Michael Hogue

It is the night of August 15, 1973. I’m at Washington’s Sheraton-Park Hotel, now the Marriott-Wardman. The occasion is the annual convention of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), formed 12 years earlier by, among others, William F. Buckley Jr. While nearly 1,000 YAFers are elsewhere in the building, I, by special invitation, am at a reception hosted by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. Tyrrell—who had been kind enough to help me land an internship that summer at the right-wing weekly Human Events—was then the dashing editor of The Alternative, a magazine for undergraduates with Tory sensibilities.

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The Colour Brown: De-colonising Anarchism and Challenging White Hegemony Reply

This article and the discussion that follows are an interesting discussion of ethnic and national conflict within and between anarchist movements around the world both historically and today.

By Budour Hassan

The appearance of the Egyptian Black Bloc in Cairo’s streets in January 2013 triggered gullible excitement in Western anarchist circles. Little thought was given to the Egyptian Black Bloc’s political vision – or lack thereof – tactics, or social and economic positions. For most Western anarchists, it was enough that they looked and dressed like anarchists to warrant uncritical admiration. Facebook pages of Israeli anarchists were swamped with pictures of Egyptian Black Bloc activists; skimming through the US anarchist blogosphere during that period would have given one the impression that the Black Bloc was Egypt’s first-ever encounter with anarchism and anti-authoritarianism.

But as American writer Joshua Stephens notes, the jubilant reaction many Western anarchists have towards the Black Bloc raises unflattering questions concerning their obsession with form and representation, rather than content and actions. And in this regard, these anarchists are not different from the Islamists who were quick to denounce the Black Bloc as blasphemous and infidel merely because they looked like Westerners. Further, many Western anarchist reactions to the Black Bloc unmask an entrenched orientalist tendency. Their disregard of Egypt and the Middle East’s rich history of anarchism is one manifestation of this.

As Egyptian anarchist, Yasser Abdullah illustrates, anarchism in Egypt dates back to the 1870’s in response to the inauguration of the Suez Canal; Italian anarchists in Alexandria took part in the First International, published an anarchist journal in 1877, and took part in the Orabi revolution of 1881; Greek and Italian anarchists also organised strikes and protests with Egyptian workers. Yet these struggles are nonchalantly shunned by those who act today as if the Black Bloc is the first truly radical group to grace Egyptian soil.

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Did the Early Factory Workers Welcome Their Fate? Reply

The issues raised in this piece from 2012 by Sheldon Richmond are extremely important. Like it or not, libertarians are widely regarded by critics from the Left and Right alike as mere apologists for the nineteenth century model of capitalism. As long as libertarians are regarded as a movement that wants to abolish minimum wages, dismantle the social safety net, and deregulate capitalism while offering no alternatives other than “Let the free market take care of it!” (which sounds an awful lot like “Let them eat cake!” to outsiders), then libertarians will never have more than a minor audience.

By Sheldon Richman

Center for Stateless Society

Kevin Carson has an interesting post in his occasional “Vulgar Libertarianism Watch” series. This time he critiques Thomas Woods’s comments on distributism, the Catholic-related idea, associated with Belloc and Chesterton, that the means of production should be widely dispersed, rather than concentrated in the hands of a few bureaucrats or capitalists. A distributist economy would presumably be filled with single proprietorships and worker co-ops. Carson quotes from Woods’s article “What’s Wrong with ‘Distributism,’ in which he states that for family reasons, “it is by no means obvious that it is always preferable for a man to operate his own business rather than to work for another.” To which Carson responds,

This makes the unwarranted assumption that working for someone else is the only way of reducing risk, as opposed to cooperative ownership, federation, etc. It assumes, as a basic premise, the very thing that distributism objects to: that capital is concentrated in the hands of a few owners who hire wage labor, instead of widely distributed among the general population who pool it through cooperative mechanisms.

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If All Those State Secession Movements Got Their Way, America Would Look Like This Map Reply

By Nate Cohn

The New Republic

The electoral map divides the country neatly into blue states and red states. But blue states include vast conservative stretches; and most red states harbor liberal enclaves, too. In recent years, as partisan polarization has grown, some political minorities in these disaffected areas have proposed a radical solution: state partition.

It has happened before. Maine, for instance, was once part of Massachusetts. And while none of the current movements really has a shot, the eleven instances mapped here (including that to grant the District of Columbia statehood) have at least attracted the support of elected officials.

What would happen if all of them succeeded? Each new state would get two senators and its share of electoral college votes. We ran the numbers and recalculated the 2012 presidential race.

In this bizarro United States, the GOP would have a structural advantage in the expanded Senate, and Barack Obama would have had a tighter fight against Mitt Romney in the electoral college (which he won, in reality, 332–206).

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The 124 states of America: What would the U.S. look like if all of the secession movements in U.S. history had succeeded? Reply

If only…

By Chris Cilliza

The Washington Post

Secessionist movements are all the rage these days. A handful of counties in Colorado tried to secede from the rest of the state earlier this year.  There’s an attempt to create the State of Jefferson (northern California/southern Oregon) via ballot initiative in 2014.  And there’s plenty more.

What would the U.S. look like if all of the secession movements in U.S. history had succeeded?  Well, Mansfield University geography professor Andrew Shears built a map to answer that question. (It covers secession movements through the end of 2011.)

The War on Drugs is Over and Drugs Have Won Reply

Nobel Laureate economist Gary Becker’s article from the Wall Street Journal from two years ago.

Right now, the War on Drugs appears to where the Vietnam War was in the period between 1971-1973. The war was still going on, but it was obvious it was a doomed effort. Public opinion was starting to turn away from it, and more and more public officials and mainstream figures were speaking against it. Reforms like phasing out the draft were starting to take place.

Likewise, the War on Drugs is still going on, but it is obvious it is a doomed effort. Public opinion is starting to turn away from it, and more and more public officials and mainstream figures are speaking against it. Reforms like decriminalizing marijuana are starting to take place.

By Gary Becker and Kevin M. Murphy

Wall Street Journal

The American "war on drugs" began in 1971. ENLARGE
The American “war on drugs” began in 1971. Stephen Webster

President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs” in 1971. The expectation then was that drug trafficking in the United States could be greatly reduced in a short time through federal policing—and yet the war on drugs continues to this day. The cost has been large in terms of lives, money and the well-being of many Americans, especially the poor and less educated. By most accounts, the gains from the war have been modest at best.

The direct monetary cost to American taxpayers of the war on drugs includes spending on police, the court personnel used to try drug users and traffickers, and the guards and other resources spent on imprisoning and punishing those convicted of drug offenses. Total current spending is estimated at over $40 billion a year.

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Insight into the little-known ‘anarchist’ revolution underway in Rojava (western Kurdistan) Reply

The picture says it all.

UndercoverInfo

Towards the end of last year reports filtered through of an ‘anarchist’ revolution underway in the Kurdistan province of Rojava. It appeared to have all the trappings in place – equality of gender, redistribution of wealth, levelling of hierarchies – and even, purportedly, taking inspiration from the Zapatista revolution of Mexico. More recently there is news of practical support for this revolution from established anarchist organisations in neighbouring Turkey. Over the last three years, especially, the Iraq/Syria region has seen a range of ethnic and religious based militias and alliances (some purely tactical) and while this experiment in Rojava is not without its flaws (see links at end of the article) in the context of the wider region it is arguably unique…

The Kurdish people are a nation who for centuries have existed without a recognised state and who live in regions of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. In their resistance against repression in Turkey they formed the PKK, which is essentially a Stalinist-based guerilla movement. But then, the story goes, their imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, happened upon some books by the celebrated American anarchist, Murray Bookchin, and apparently changed his political views. It wasn’t long afterwards that in parts of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq the guerilla movement there – known as the Movement of the Democratic Society (Tev-Dem) – began to organise differently – in an anarchist way, stressing lack of hierarchy, equality of gender and social revolution. And when Syria collapsed into civil war, the northern Kurdish area of Rojava started to collectivise industry and services in a way probably not seen since the successful, though short-lived, Spanish Revolution in 1936.

However, it was not long after that when ISIS came about and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) took the opportunity to attack the Kurds (though later the Kurds and the FSA formed a tactical alliance). It was also around that time when the Kurdish PYD and its armed militias – the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) – began to implement a programme of what it calls ‘democratic autonomy‘. (It was the YPJ, along with their male counterparts the YPG, who eventually rescued the thousands of Yazidis stranded and encircled by ISIS on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.)

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Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology Reply

As I would have predicted, it would appear that the youth should be our primary demographic target as far as age is concerned.

Pew Research Center

Even in an increasingly Red vs. Blue nation, the public’s political attitudes and values come in many shades and hues.

The 2014 Political Typology:  Polarized Wings, a Diverse MiddlePartisan polarization – the vast and growing gap between Republicans and Democrats – is a defining feature of politics today. But beyond the ideological wings, which make up a minority of the public, the political landscape includes a center that is large and diverse, unified by frustration with politics and little else. As a result, both parties face formidable challenges in reaching beyond their bases to appeal to the middle of the electorate and build sustainable coalitions.

The latest Pew Research Center political typology, which sorts voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values, provides a field guide for this constantly changing landscape. Before reading further, take our quiz to see where you fit in the typology.

Indiana House OKs controversial religious freedom bill Reply

The Republican-controlled Indiana House approved the measure Monday on a 63-31 vote, largely along party lines. Five Republicans joined 26 Democrats in opposing the bill.

The vote likely clears a path for the hot-button legislation to become law. The Senate already approved a slightly different version of the bill last month and Senate author Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said he plans to concur with the House version, possibly later this week.

The bill will then go to Gov. Mike Pence, who said Monday he plans to sign the legislation. More…

Yes, There Really Is A City With No Cops! 3

There are many such prototypes for anarchistic, voluntarist, or self-determined communities all over the world: Marinaleda, Christiania, Twin Oaks, Mondragon, Orania, Emilia-Romagna, and many others. Anarchists do not need to invent other-worldly utopias. We just need to expand the models that we already have. Two, three many Marinaleda’s!!!!!

By Jackson Marciana

CounterCurrentsNews.Com

marinaleda-no-police

Can we have peace in the streets without police patrolling us? One city has proven that we can.

For more than 30 years now, the city of Marinaleda has termed itself a “utopia for peace”. They have absolutely no municipal police, which has saved its citizens $350,000 a year.

Every few weeks, community volunteers clean the streets or do odd jobs without anyone forcing them to. A lot of people have termed the city “socialist” or “communist,” but the city’s high level of voluntary community service shows that while the town does describe itself as socialist, it doesn’t neatly fit into pre-determined pigeonholes, with significant levels of voluntary community service, not compelled by law.

On the surface, the Spanish town appears indistinguishable from any other in the area.

The city is located in Spain’s poorest and most southern Andalusian province. While the city might be a utopia for peace, it is situated in a region with employment so high that it could be characterized as anything but utopian. Unemployment and poverty are through the roof, at a staggering 37%, with 55% of youths unemployed. But that is actually somewhat lower than the average for surrounding cities.

But let’s not get hung up on the dismal economy of the city, because that isn’t really the point. What we should pay attention to is that even with rampant poverty, the city is not overflowing with violent crime.

Police are not present and police are not needed.

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Ithaca College’s Microaggressions Bill Labels Students ‘Oppressors’ for ‘Belittling’ Speech Reply

The university system is the primary institution in North America where the hard Left has achieved dominance as opposed to other institutions (government, business, religion, military) where the Left has to share power with other political currents. The contemptuous disregard for individual rights and freedom of opinion combined with the equally contemptuous disregard for due process found in such settings is an indication of how the hard Left would go about operating the state if all competing centers of power were removed and the Left were totally unconstrained. How is the present contempt for freedom of expression exhibited by the cultural Left any different from Article 55 of the 1976 Constitution of Communist Albania?

Article 55: The creation of any type of organization of a fascist, anti-democratic, religious, and anti-socialist character is prohibited. Fascist, anti-democratic, religious, war-mongering, and anti-socialist activities and propaganda, as well as the incitement of national and racial hatred are prohibited.

One could easily imagine the contemporary Left creating an Article 55 of their own:

It is the ambition of the state to create a society that is a safe space free of bigotry and exclusion.In keeping with the anti-oppression policies of the state, the creation of any type of organization of a fascist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, ageist, ablist, transphobic, Islamophobic, looksist, weightist, or classist character is prohibited. Fascist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, ageist, ablist, transphobic, Islamophobic, looksist, weightist, or classist activities and triggering propaganda, as well as the incitement of microagressions and indirect oppression are prohibited.

Do you think they wouldn’t do this? Just watch them.

By Will Creeley

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Early last week, the Ithaca College Student Government Association passed a resolution to create an anonymous, online system for students to report “microaggressions” on campus. FIRE has closely monitored the bill’s progress, as its language presents obvious problems for freedom of expression at the private New York college.

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“You can’t bomb bad ideas out of people’s heads” 1

An interview with Ayaan Hirsa Ali.

As intelligent as this woman obviously is, she seems to have bought into the neocons’ “clash of civilizations” thesis that views the primary dividing line as being between the liberal West and reactionary Islam, and that’s hardly the case. It’s not surprising that she thinks this way given her life story (not to mention her marriage to Niall Ferguson). But the primary dividing line is between Islam and the East, or at least between Sunni fundamentalism (“Islamism”) and the array of forces in the East that are aligned against it.

The “West” (which is really just a euphemism for the Anglo-American-Zionist-Wahabist” axis) has a love/hate relationship with the “Islamists.” For decades, they’ve tried to use these groups as a weapon against the former Second World, secular Arab nationalism, the Middle Eastern Left, and the Shia. For example, groups like the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS are largely outgrowths of the mujahideen that the AAZW axis fueled as weapon against the Soviets in the 80s. It’s basically a Frankenstein’s monster effect where the monster is created as a weapon against an enemy but the weapon gets out of control and becomes an antagonist in its own right (which is hardly surprising).

The AAZW have cultivated groups that hate them as much as anyone for the sake of short term geopolitical convenience only to have it all blow up in their faces, and produce a terrorist blowback and Sunni fundamentalist insurgency against Western imperialism and its puppets. Meanwhile, the Sunni insurgents face another axis of opposition in the East that includes the Russians, Chinese, Indians, Arab nationalism, Christian Arabs, the Arab Left, Syria, the Iranians, the Shia generally, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PKK, and a wide variety of other forces that are neither Western AAZW puppets or “Islamists.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images

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It’s Official: Rand Paul Has Joined the Empire Reply

If we needed more proof that Rand Paul is worthless as far as being any kind of genuine opposition leader, this is it.

By Ryan McMaken

Mises Institute

Time reports that Rand Paul has come out in favor of a sizable boost to defense spending,

[U]nder Paul’s new plan, the Pentagon will see its budget authority swell by $76.5 billion to $696,776,000,000 in fiscal year 2016.[1]

Paul, positioning himself for a run in the presidential primaries, is echoing his fellow republicans who seem to be under the impression that defense spending is an endangered species in Washington, DC.

In fact, in January, the always-hawkish Heritage foundation proposed new increases to the defense budget and claimed that “the state of the U.S. military continues to degrade due to recent spending decisions. The several years of uncertainty in the defense budget, the unprioritized cuts, and the magnitude and pace of the reductions have led to a weaker and smaller force today.”

Any serious look at defense spending, however, reveals that spending is basically on a par with spending levels (in real terms) seen during the height of the Vietnam War and during the Reagan military buildup. To claim that defense spending now is experiencing cuts of a large magnitude is disingenuous and requires quite a few splitting of hairs to come up with the number necessary to make the case.

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The Utopia of Rules Reply

Kevin Carson reviews David Graeber.

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

David Graeber. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (Brooklyn and London: Melville House, 2015).

This book is, properly speaking, not a book at all, but a collection of essays loosely clustered around the common theme of bureaucracy. Of the material in the book, only the long introductory essay “The Iron Law of Liberalism and the Era of Total Bureaucratization,” and the third essay (from which the book gets its title) appear in print for the first time. After his general outline of the problem in the Introduction, the collected essays serve as a series of alternative possibilities for (or different facets of) an anti-bureaucratic Left.

Introduction: The Iron Law of Liberalism and the Era of Total Bureaucratization

Graeber begins in the Introduction by arguing that bureaucracy is a lacuna in the liberal theory of history. In the classical form of that theory, stated in the nineteenth century, society was in transition from the feudal (or militant) stage, based on status, to a new liberal (or industrial) order based on contract and markets. Why, then, was bureaucracy so sharply on the rise in the nineteenth century and afterwards?

Graeber’s answer is that the dichotomy between “states” and “markets” (at least in the common identification of the latter with a society based predominantly on the cash nexus and commodity exchange) is a false one. Rather, societies in which money exchange is the primary form of economic organization have historically been creatures of the state (an argument he developed at length in Debt). And given the artificiality of the cash nexus economy, and its nature as an artifact of state power, it follows that maintaining a capitalist society on a stable basis requires an enormous ongoing exercise of state power.

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Radical Potential: Our Blatant Opposition to the Status Quo Reply

James C. Wilson

Center for a Stateless Society

This election cycle’s crop of uninspiring presidential hopefuls, now including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, must be a relief to those favoring mass disillusionment with electoral politics. No candidate, Rand Paul included, represents a convincing alternative to the status quo. Contrast this with the current president, whose appeals to “hope” and “change” convinced many Americans of his sincerity in 2008 – appeals that largely proved to be a rhetorical device.

While Obama did little to end the unpopular Bush era policies that he campaigned against, and actually expanded some, important lessons can still be learned from his successful manipulation of popular frustrations.

Obama ran against an establishment Republican at a time of soaring deficits, prolonged expensive wars, an increasingly intrusive national security state and a recently failed economy. While the US economy may have slowly improved, many of the frustrations that Obama exploited to get elected are still present.

The threat of warfare in the Middle East still looms over the horizon; the security state has been caught spying on innocent civilians; the administration’s drone program is killing large numbers of people, mostly civilians; the militarized police still harass and kill unarmed minorities; an entire generation is burdened with debt; and Americans are still overworked and underpaid. Unsurprisingly, the notion of “business as usual” has taken on an extremely negative connotation for many Americans.

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