The American Dream is slipping further away from the vast majority of Americans than it has in a quarter century. Now 90 percent of US households are poorer than they were in 1987, according to both a new study and the head of the Federal Reserve.
This is important stuff regardless of your politics if you’re against the system. It’s an indication of what dissidents from all over the spectrum can expect in the future.
Kevin Carson takes down the Progressive’s favorite economist, though I appreciate Sean’s effort to provide some nuance in his introduction.
By Kevin Carson
Center for a Stateless Society
Paul Krugman, in denouncing the excessive market power of Amazon (“Amazon’s Monopsony is Not OK,” New York Times, October 19), proclaims that the Robber Baron Era ended when “we as a nation” put an end to it.
There’s a powerful story in the book of 2 Samuel about the prophet Nathan confronting King David after he arranged the death of Uriah the Hittite and took his wife Bathsheba for himself. Nathan told David of a rich man, with enormous herds, who had a guest to feed. The man, to spare himself killing one of his own many livestock, instead stole and slaughtered the pet lamb of the poor man next door (which, the Bible says, he fed from his own plate and loved like a daughter). Upon hearing this David became outraged and swore “As the LORD liveth, the man who hath done this thing shall surely die.” And Nathan replied: “Thou art the man.”
If you ignore all of the personal attacks, this is actually a very interesting discussion of libertarian economics from two years ago on the Libertarian Alliance blog featuring Paul Marks, Ian B, Roderick Long, Kevin Carson, Bill Green and others.
Contrary to what many seem to believe the conflict between proprietarian or free market libertarians and communal or socialist libertarians is not new and dates back to (at least) the early to middle nineteenth century. My own “solution” to the conflict is the one suggested by Voltairine de Cleyre, i.e. institutional and territorial separation of those with irreconcilable views on what the optimal form of economic organization would be.
By William T. Hathway
Once again in election season the drums of patriotism are being beaten. Politicians on the stump and their Madison Avenue flacks are exhorting us to rally around the tattered flag. Their drumming sounds feeble and hollow, though, like cheerleaders trying to rouse the fans while our military team goes down to defeat, bringing the economy with it.
The drummers persist because their patriotic noise drowns out the voices of those asking disturbing questions: Why are we playing this losing game to begin with? Why are we bankrupting the country with endless war? How can we love a nation that slaughters millions of our fellow human beings? These questions endanger the game, and the game must go on.
We live in a world full of prejudices and inequality, where racist and sexist parties like Britain First can exist and where people will back these parties. In a world that has these many different types of prejudices, we call the people opposed to them ‘Egalitarians’ or ‘Feminists’ or ‘Humanitarians’, but do they actually fight for true equality?
While misogyny is an unbelievably huge problem, I would argue that misandry is a really big problem too, and one that is not recognised by many people. I was discussing this with a male feminist the other day and he stated “The only people who have a problem with misandry are either those who have experienced it, or those who don’t know it isn’t a problem.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I felt greatly offended by this statement. He first stated that some people are affected by this problem, only to then disregard it completely. I find his reasoning tantamount to claiming that Ebola isn’t a problem as it affects fewer people than cancer. This is a ludicrous statement, but this is just one person’s (foolish) opinion.
New York Times
Hundreds of young women streamed into Wellesley College on the last Monday of August, many of them trailed by parents lugging suitcases and bins filled with folded towels, decorative pillows and Costco-size jugs of laundry detergent. The banner by the campus entranceway welcoming the Class of 2018 waved in the breeze, as if beckoning the newcomers to discover all that awaited them. All around the campus stood buildings named after women: the Margaret Clapp library, the Betsy Wood Knapp media and technology center, dorms, labs, academic halls, even the parking garage. The message that anything is possible for women was also evident at a fenced-in work site, which bore the sign “Elaine Construction,” after a firm named for one woman and run by another.
It was the first day of orientation, and along the picturesque paths there were cheerful upper-class student leaders providing directions and encouragement. They wore pink T-shirts stamped with this year’s orientation theme: “Free to Explore” — an enticement that could be interpreted myriad ways, perhaps far more than the college intended. One of those T-shirted helpers was a junior named Timothy Boatwright. Like every other matriculating student at Wellesley, which is just west of Boston, Timothy was raised a girl and checked “female” when he applied. Though he had told his high-school friends that he was transgender, he did not reveal that on his application, in part because his mother helped him with it, and he didn’t want her to know. Besides, he told me, “it seemed awkward to write an application essay for a women’s college on why you were not a woman.” Like many trans students, he chose a women’s college because it seemed safer physically and psychologically.
The most sensible analysis of the Obama presidency published yet.
The American Conservative
Back in 2008, Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich wrote an article for this magazine making a conservative case for Barack Obama. While much of it was based on disgust with the warmongering and budgetary profligacy of the Republican Party under George W. Bush, which he expected to continue under 2008 Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, Bacevich thought Obama at least represented hope for ending the Iraq War and shrinking the national-security state.
I wrote a piece for the New Republic soon afterward about the Obamacon phenomenon—prominent conservatives and Republicans who were openly supporting Obama. Many saw in him a classic conservative temperament: someone who avoided lofty rhetoric, an ambitious agenda, and a Utopian vision that would conflict with human nature, real-world barriers to radical reform, and the American system of government.
Among the Obamacons were Ken Duberstein, Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff; Charles Fried, Reagan’s solicitor general; Ken Adelman, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency for Reagan; Jeffrey Hart, longtime senior editor of National Review; Colin Powell, Reagan’s national security adviser and secretary of state for George W. Bush; and Scott McClellan, Bush’s press secretary. There were many others as well.
According to exit polls in 2008, Obama ended up with 20 percent of the conservative vote. Even in 2012, after four years of relentless conservative attacks, he still got 17 percent of the conservative vote, with 11 percent of Tea Party supporters saying they cast their ballots for Obama.
They were not wrong. In my opinion, Obama has governed as a moderate conservative—essentially as what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP. He has been conservative to exactly the same degree that Richard Nixon basically governed as a moderate liberal, something no conservative would deny today. (Ultra-leftist Noam Chomsky recently called Nixon “the last liberal president.”)
By Kirkpatrick Sale
In the wake of the Scottish “no” vote on secession last month, former presidential contender Ron Paul has declared that this was inspirational for the cause of secession not only around the world but right here in the United States. It is here, he said, that there is a “growing movement” for secession that is “deeply American:” “Americans who embrace secession are acting in the grand American tradition,” most especially the original departure from Great Britain that Scotland failed to emulate.
This has of course upset the usual crowd of knee-jerk patriots who always argue that secession is illegal or unconstitutional or anti-American, and anyway the Civil War settled all that. But Paul is supported by a new survey by Reuters/Ipsos that shows that 24 per cent of Americans believe that secession is not only legal but something they would support in their own states. That’s a quarter of the land—80 million people, almost 15 million more than voted for Obama in the last election.
By Keith Preston
I recently suggested that the next necessary step in the cultivation of the pan-anarchist movement will be the coalescence of the many scattered factions and tendencies within anarchism and overlapping philosophies into a new “Gray” anarchist macro-tribe that maintains its own political and cultural identity in a way that is distinctively independent of the Left and Right or, perhaps more important for domestic U.S. politics, independent of the Red tribe and Blue tribe. At present, far too many anarchists, libertarians, and anti-state radicals retain too great a loyalty to either the Red or Blue, or the Left and Right. While we will continue to draw from both sides of the conventional political and cultural spectrum as our movement continues to grow, the eventually establishment of our own independent identity is a long-term necessity.
If you vote and live in Washington, D.C. consider Eugene Puryear.
For those anarchists and libertarians who might look askance at endorsing a leftist and a socialist like Mr. Puryear, I would suggest taking a look at his track record. He’s on the right page concerning the biggest issues, i.e. the American imperialist empire and the police state. It’s time that radicals stopped pushing their preferred economic system, favorite social issues, and arcane ideological interests at the expense of actually attacking the system and its most pernicious elements.
Within the context of a pan-radical alliance against the system, the political leadership in the Blue zones would likely resemble folks like Mr. Puryear to a great degree, just like the political leadership in the Red Zones might more closely resemble the Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, or fans of Alex Jones.
This how it should be.
Eugene Puryear is a D.C.-based activist and graduate of Howard University. In nearly a decade of social justice activism, he has been involved in the anti-war movement, helping to organize mass opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and has served as a key organizer around police brutality, prisoners’ rights and abuses in the U.S. criminal “justice” system. He was the co-founder of the Jobs Not Jails Coalition in D.C., organizing around the rights of returning citizens. Eugene is the author of the recent book Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America, which analyzes America’s prison system. He is a socialist and serves on the editorial board of Liberation newspaper.
Given that elections are coming up soon, I would suggest either one of two possible approaches for anarchists, libertarians, decentralists, secessionists, or dissidents and enemies of the system generally. One of these is to simply not vote at all. Boycotting a corrupt system has the effect of de-legitimizing it. The other alternative is to vote for whatever third parties that might be in the mix.
Ultimately, we should push for an alliance of minor parties for the sake of opening the political system to greater competition, and cultivating minor parties as political vehicles for developing a more seriously radical movement. Preferably, minor parties would agree to stay out of each others’ backyards, and instead focus on building constituencies in regions and localities, and among population groups, where their respective philosophies are likely to find an audience. The leftist and ethnic minority oriented parties should focus on organizing in the Blue zones (mostly the larger cities, majority-minority communities, and liberal enclaves), and rightist and conservative oriented parties should focus on organizing in the Red zones (mostly suburbs, small towns, and rural areas).
An alliance of third parties could subsequently become the foundation for a larger pan-radical alliance for the sake of engaging in pan-secessionist action against the common enemy.
The below is a transcript of the talk I gave yesterday to the TBG annual conference. I may well have spoken too fast, but I was operating on the assumption that I had to get through a 4000 word text in half an hour. John told me afterwards that I would have been allowed to run over, but maybe it was for the best anyway; my voice doesn’t carry whether I speak quickly or slowly. Godfrey Bloom spoke very well on the same kind of link Sean often makes between libertarianism and English reactionism. John’s talk was excellent and I had to suppress my titters when, after John had quoted Susan McClary describing Beethoven as “a rapist incapable of attaining release” just from listening to one of his symphonies, a middle aged man from the audience shouted “Silly bitch!” Oh, yes, and when Gregory Lauder-Frost begins his round-up with “I’ve been told not to talk about mass-immigration, but…” you know you’re in for a treat.
The Privatisation of Offspring
Let me begin with Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s theory of the origin of private property and the family. He starts in North-East Africa about 10,000 years ago from which time onwards there were various migrations: some went east, some west. These migrations happened because there was a deep Malthusian pressure on the existing hunter-gatherer societies of behaviourally modern man. (It was taking about a square mile of land to sustain comfortably a person back then.) So it was that they had to do their best to engage in very strict birth control by forcibly inducing abortions or practicing infanticide. Both of these methods were found to be inadequate, therefore they could either do three things: fight, move, or organise themselves in a different way.
Exclusive: America’s neoconservatives, by stirring up trouble in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, are creating risks for the world’s economy that are surfacing now in the turbulent stock markets, threatening another global recession, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
If you’re nervously watching the stock market gyrations and worrying about your declining portfolio or pension fund, part of the blame should go to America’s neocons who continue to be masters of chaos, endangering the world’s economy by instigating geopolitical confrontations in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Of course, there are other factors pushing Europe’s economy to the brink of a triple-dip recession and threatening to stop America’s fragile recovery, too. But the neocons’ “regime change” strategies, which have unleashed violence and confrontations across Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and most recently Ukraine, have added to the economic uncertainty.
This neocon destabilization of the world economy began with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 under President George W. Bush who squandered some $1 trillion on the bloody folly. But the neocons’ strategies have continued through their still-pervasive influence in Official Washington during President Barack Obama’s administration.
The neocons and their “liberal interventionist” junior partners have kept the “regime change” pot boiling with the Western-orchestrated overthrow and killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the proxy civil war in Syria to oust Bashar al-Assad, the costly economic embargoes against Iran, and the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.
By Welf Herfurth
When one travels there is a lot of time spent thinking while on long transits between cities and places. Personal things and also the odd political thought. And while I was on a bus traveling in Argentina, I saw a news clip about ISIS, who are currently marauding through the Middle East. Somehow their actions and belief system looked familiar. And then it came to me; they are just like the Anti-Fascist groups, also known as Antifa, that terrorise everybody they believe is a fascist in the western world.
Having had personal experience with these so called “defenders of democracy”, it is actually amazing the extent to which the tactics, rhetoric and belief system of these two groups are identical. So let’s have a closer look at these two groups and their actions.
The ISIS fighters believe, like Antifa, that they have the moral high ground when it comes what is right and what is wrong. And whatever is not right in their eyes has to be fought and destroyed. While the ISIS believes in a rather obscure interpretation of the Koran, Antifa believes in a rather obscure interpretation of democracy. Both groups are righteous and fanatical in upholding what they think is right. And whatever doesn’t fit in their dogmatic box has to be eliminated.
ISIS fights a brutal war against the non-believers, beheading people by the hundreds, enslaving and selling women, and killing others by the thousands. We all saw the clips where they themselves celebrate and promote those kinds of activities. Slogans like “Kill all infidels”, “Destroy Democracy”, etc., are well known to be spread by them. All in the name of Allah and his prophets.
Now Antifa might not kill people by the thousands, but I know many political activists that have been beaten and, yes, killed by Antifa activists. Even more notable are their threats, which are an indication of their fanaticism – threats of violence to, and the destruction of property of the people that they deem to be fascists. And all this they promote and celebrate in video clips that everybody can access on the web. Equally, you can have a look at the Antifa slogans like “Death to Nazis”, “Smash Fascists”, “Destroy Racism”, etc. While they are all only slogans, you might think, the truth is that they are not just slogans for Antifa activists but a call to action!
By Janet Biehl
February 3-5, 2012, a a conference was organized in Hamburg, Germany. The theme was “Challenging Capitalist Modernity: Alternative concepts and the Kurdish Question.” The following text was delivered as a speech to the conference.
In February 1999, at the moment when Abdullah Öcalan was abducted in Kenya, Murray Bookchin was living with me in Burlington, Vermont. We watched Öcalan’s capture on the news reports. He sympathized with the plight of the Kurds—he said so whenever the subject came up—but he saw Öcalan as yet another Marxist-Leninist guerrilla leader, a latter-day Stalinist. Murray had been criticizing such people for decades, for misleading people’s impulses toward freedom into authority, dogma, statism, and even—all appearances to the contrary—acceptance of capitalism.
Bookchin himself had been a Stalinist back in the 1930s, as young teenager; he left late in the decade and joined the Trotskyists. At the time, the Trotskyists thought World War II would end in proletarian socialist revolutions in Europe and the United States, the way World War I had given rise to the Russian Revolution. During the war Bookchin worked hard in a foundry to try to organize the workers to rise up and make that revolution. But in 1945 they did not. The Trotskyist movement, its firm prediction unfulfilled, collapsed. Many if not most of its members gave up on Marxism and revolutionary politics generally; they became academics or edited magazines, working more or less within the system.
Bookchin too gave up on Marxism, since the proletariat had clearly turned out not be revolutionary after all. But instead of going mainstream, he and his friends did something unusual: they remained social revolutionaries. They recalled that Trotsky, before his assassination in 1940, had said that should the unthinkable happen—should the war not end in revolution—then it would be necessary for them to rethink Marxist doctrine itself. Bookchin and his friends got together, meeting every week during the 1950s, and looked for ways to renovate the revolutionary project, under new circumstances.
This study of recent anti-imperialist resistance in Kurdistan, looking back to the anarchist resistance in the Ottoman heartland in the period before the formation of the Turkish state, consists of extracts — kindly proof-read in part by Will Firth — from the forthcoming book by Schmidt & van der Walt, Global Fire: 150 Fighting Years of International Anarchism & Syndicalism, Counter-power Vol.2, AK Press, USA, scheduled for release in about 2011.
Introduction: Second-Generation Anarchism in Anatolia: The Kurdish National Question
Anarchism in Turkey  — once a significant radical force that contested Ottoman imperialism over its Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek, Arab, African and Jewish subject peoples — began to re-emerge in the late 1970s. However, this flowering was forced to take root in hostile soil as since the formation of the Turkish state in 1923, Turkish left politics had been dominated by the Communist tradition and by nationalist and socialist groups seeking independence for Kurdistan, which is split between Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria (the most notable such group being the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, formed in the mid-1970s, and the Turkish Communist Party — Marxist-Leninist, or TKP-ML,  both of which are basically Maoist). Kurdish separatists have also been a factor in Iran and Iraq. However, in the 1970s, things began to change; the American anarchist Sam Dolgoff mentioned meeting a Turkish anarchist student in the United States in 1979 in his memoirs, and by the 1980s, accordng to Anarchism in Turkey — produced by the Turkish anarchist group Karambol Publications  — anarchist groups and periodicals began to emerge, expanding in the 1990s. The “anarchists first participated in the May Day celebrations with their black flag in 1993 in Istanbul and again in 1994, in Ankara and other centres, creating “big interest in the media,” which gave “special coverage to the anarchists and announced that ‘at last we have our anarchists.’” Among the new generation of Turkish anarchist groups are Firestarter, founded about 1991, an Anarchist Youth Federation (AGF), the Anatolian Anarchists (AA), the Karasin Anarchist Group (KAG), and moving into the 2000s, the “Makhnovist” KaraKizil (BlackRed) group and its affiliated Anarchist Communist Initiative (AKi), the latter being an anarkismo.net founding organisation.
The PKK could play a key role in the battle against Islamic State, but their roots as Marxist guerrillas leaves the west wary. Channel 4 News looks at how the group is pursuing a Kurdish Spring.
After over 30 years of an anachronistic Marxist-Leninist insurgency against the Turkish state, militants of the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) say they are rejecting nationalism, Maoist military strategies and even the idea of a nation state – adopting instead the teachings of an obscure US academic.
After PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was arrested and imprisoned in 1999 he began re-evaluating the hardline Marxist-Leninist strategy he had followed since founding the group in 1978 and the subsequent violent guerrilla war launched in 1984 that led to thousands of deaths.
In prison Ocalan discovered the writing of Murray Bookchin, an anarchist academic and contrarian from New York, whose theories of “social ecology” and “libertarian municipalism” remained obscure even within his own political current until his death in 2006.
Combining these ideas with teachings from Fernand Braudel and Friedrich Nietzsche, Ocalan announced the new direction he believed the PKK should take.
As the prospect of Kurdish independence becomes ever more imminent, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party transforms itself into a force for radical democracy.
Excluded from negotiations and betrayed by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne after having been promised a state of their own by the World War I allies during the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds are the largest stateless minority in the world. But today, apart from a stubborn Iran, increasingly few obstacles remain to de jure Kurdish independence in northern Iraq. Turkey and Israel have pledged support while Syria and Iraq’s hands are tied by the rapid advances of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS).
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has been active in the Kurdish parts of Turkey since the ’70s. It has a sometimes sordid history: Its politics were Marxist-Leninist, and its willingness to kill prisoners and civilians earned a rebuke from Amnesty International. Its leader, Abdullah Öcalan, has been under arrest since 1999, but its armed struggle with the Turkish state continued until a ceasefire was reached last year.
I was vaguely aware of all that, and I may even have read at some point that Öcalan had recently rejected his old Leninist outlook and terrorist tactics, proclaiming a newfound devotion to democracy. What I did not realize was what brand of democracy had attracted Öcalan’s interest. Somehow, he became smitten with the American left-anarchist Murray Bookchin. He appears to be particularly interested in Bookchin’s idea of devolving power to cities governed by neighborhood assemblies.
I just called Bookchin an anarchist, but by the time he died Bookchin had rejected that label, calling himself a “Communalist” instead. But I’m not writing this post to discuss Bookchin’s ideas—the curious reader can check out my obit for him here and Reason‘s interview with him here—so much as just to express my astonishment to see Bookchinism bubbling up in the PKK, of all places.
ROAR has more on Öcalan’s evolution here. Bookchin’s partner Janet Biehl discusses these developments here. Some left-anarchists greet the PKK’s conversion with a mixture of interest and skepticism here. Kevin Carson is enthusiastic here. The most blistering critique of Bookchin ever written is here. A latebreaking correction to my Bookchin obit is here.
Yes! The Bookchinites of Kurdistan are making their mark.
ERBIL, Iraq — The body of Zanyar Kawa is making its final journey to Sulaymaniyah, in northeastern Iraq. The slain fighter died 500 miles from his hometown battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, in Kobane, a Syrian town near the Turkish border.
Though an Iraqi Kurd, Kawa did not die serving the Iraqi Kurdish security forces, known as the peshmerga. Rather, he was killed fighting alongside guerrillas associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which seeks self-determination for Kurds in Turkey and across the region. Both Turkey and the United States consider the PKK a terrorist organization.