Is Something Really Wrong with Kansas? 4

ABSTRACT: The widely believed claim that many voters in American elections are voting against their economic interests (“lower income Republicans versus affluent Democrats”) in favor of their social or cultural values is not supportable by the data concerning class voting patterns. American voters are polarized on both a class and cultural basis. Economic polarization takes place on a national level, and cuts across regional and local boundaries, with rich Americans overwhelmingly voting for the Republicans and poor Americans leaning strongly towards the Democrats. Cultural polarization represents intra-class conflict within the middle class, primarily the upper middle class, with affluent people in wealthier states voting for the Democrats and persons with a comparable class position in the poorer states voting Republican. Furthermore, the “red-state/blue-state” electoral map represents conflict not between states per se as much as conflict between ideologically polarized Congressional districts, local communities, counties and neighborhoods

In recent years a stereotype has emerged in American politics. The picture

presented by much of the media is one of lower income persons voting Republican and

upper income persons voting Democratic. In other words, many people have started

voting against their own economic interests in favor of their cultural values, with upper

income, urban, educated, cosmopolitan elites voting for liberal social policies, and lower

income, rural, religious voters favoring conservative policies. This image is often

depicted on electoral maps as the “red state/blue state” divide with the socially

conservative red state poor and working class pitted against affluent but socially liberal

residents of the blue states.  This picture is widely accepted, but is it true? Is it an

accurate depiction of the class and cultural divisions among voters? The evidence

indicates that it is not. The available data shows that the voting patterns of the poor are

reliably Democratic. Instead, the red state/blue state divide is symptomatic of cultural

conflict among middle to upper-middle income persons, and of intra-class conflict

among the affluent or wealthy.

 

A leading and perhaps most well-known proponent of the “poor conservatives

versus rich liberals” thesis is Thomas Frank, who outlined his views in the popularized

work What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.

Frank provides a straightforward summary of his views:

 

If you earn over $300,000 a year, you owe a great deal to this derangement.

Raise a glass sometime to those indigent High Plains Republicans as you contemplate your good fortune: It is thanks to their self-denying votes that

you are no longer burdened by the estate tax, or troublesome labor unions,

or meddling banking regulators. Thanks to the allegiance of these sons and daughters of toil, you have escaped what your affluent forebears used to call “confiscatory” income tax levels. It is thanks to them that you were able to

buy two Rolexes this year instead of one and get that Segway with the special gold trim. (Frank, 2004, p. 2)

 

According to Frank, Republicans have been able to successfully appeal to the social

conservatism of blue collar workers and the rural poor on cultural controversies like

abortion, gay rights, immigration, the role of religion in public life, gun control and

affirmative action. Frank sees this as a “bait and switch” tactic on the part of the

Republican Party, whereby working class voters are pushed to vote according to their

cultural values, and are then given economic policies that are harmful to their own

interests. Frank describes what he regards as the consequences of this arrangement:

 

Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to

make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw

those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation.

Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism;

receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before

in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.(Frank, 2004, p. 7)

 

Liberals who agree with Frank’s analysis will argue that working class Republican voters

are under the grip of what the Marxists call “false consciousness,” meaning such voters

are distracted by what the Left would consider to be religious superstition, irrational

prejudices like racism or homophobia or conservative economic propaganda generated by

corporate-funded think tanks and media outlets. Allegedly, such distractions prevent

working people from perceiving and voting for their rational economic self-interest.

 

Even some conservatives will agree with Frank’s general thesis, but from a polar

opposite perspective. These conservatives will argue working class Republicans really do

perceive their economic interests accurately, and that it is perfectly legitimate for workers

to desire tax cuts in order to increase their take-home pay and deregulatory policies that

ostensibly accelerate economic growth and therefore job creation and rising living

standards. (Gelman, Park, Shor, Bafumi, Cortina, 2008, p. 16) An even more extreme

argument is offered by the neoconservative commentator David Brooks, who suggests

that because the red state/blue divide appears to be driven more by cultural and social

issues than by class or economic ones, that perhaps the idea of “class,” which he derides

as “Marxist” in nature, is not applicable to American society at all.  Brooks sees

Americans divided on the basis of cliques rather than classes, with these cliques being

comparable to the various teenage subcultures one might find at a high school, such as

“nerds, jocks, punks, bikers, techies, druggies, God Squadders,” etc. (Brooks, 2001)

 

The methodology utilized by commentators like Frank and Brooks is

problematical. Frank relies very heavily on anecdotal evidence gathered from his

experiences with Republican-leaning, working-class Kansas communities of the kind that

he grew up around. He provides examples like a friend’s father, a man with liberal

economic views but whose Catholic religious beliefs led him to the pro-life Republicans. (Frank, 2001, p. 4) Much of Frank’s work includes sweeping political, cultural and historical analysis with very little in raw statistical data provided as supporting evidence.  Likewise, many of Brooks’ arguments are anecdotal in nature, relying on his personal experiences of living in an upper class liberal community and his ventures into conservative working class towns and conversing with the locals.

 

 

What Does the Data Show?

 

The most comprehensive and up to date analysis of the available data concerning

voting patterns in relation to class position, income, occupation and cultural background

is provided by Andrew Gelman, David Park, Boris Shar, Joseph Bafumi and Jeronimo

Cortina. This group of scholars published their research in 2008 under the title Red State,

Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote The Way They Do. Contra Frank,

these researchers found that the image of “working class conservatives versus affluent

liberals” is a false one, arguing instead that “lower-income Americans don’t, in general,

vote Republican-and, where they do, richer voters go Republican even more so.” With

regards to Kansas, for instance, that particular state has leaned Republican by ten percent

greater than the national average for sixty years, and the real source of Republican

strength in Kansas is the middle to upper classes. (Gelman, 2008, pp. 14-15)

 

Political scientist Larry Bartels argues that it is only in the South that the trend of

whites without college education voting Republican has emerged.(Bartels, 2006) Even

so, Gelman, Park, et.al. found that in the 2004 presidential election the “poor vote” went

to Democratic candidate John Kerry in all of the Southern states except Texas!(Gelman, 2008) Bartels maintains that there is no identifiable pattern of white working class voters

favoring cultural issues over economic ones. Jeffrey Stonecash argues that “the last 40

years shows a growing class division in American politics, with less affluent whites more

supportive of Democrats now than 20-30 years ago. Indeed, even in Kansas less affluent

legislative districts are much more supportive of Democrats than affluent

districts.”(Stonecrash, 2005)

 

The evidence indicates that the rich are overwhelmingly Republican in their

voting preferences. Republican candidate George W. Bush only won thirty-six percent of

the vote from those earning less than $15,000 annually in the 2004 election. Among those

earning over $200,00 Bush obtained sixty-two percent of the vote. (Gelman, 2008, p. 9)

As mentioned, Bush’s home state of Texas was the only southern state where Bush won

the “poor people” vote in the 2004 election. Yet even in Texas there was a significant

class division in voting patterns. In Zavala County, the poorest Texas locality, Bush won

twenty-five percent of the vote. However, in the wealthiest Texas community, Collin

County, Bush won seventy-one percent of the vote. The capital city of Austin is located

in Travis County, where the mean income of $45,000 is solidly middle class, and where

Bush received fifty-three percent of the vote. (Gelman, 2008, p. 12)

 

Voting patterns indicate that poor voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, as are

racial minorities. This is not to say that there are no significant cultural differences

among the poor. After all, “the poor” can include everything from rural Alabama whites

who belong to the Ku Klux Klan to black street gang members in the inner city areas. Yet

there is no evidence that such differences play significant roles in American electoral

politics. Many poor people do not vote at all. Those who do are, by a wide margin,

consistently Democratic-leaning.  The growing gap between socio-economic groups

that has escalated over the past thirty years has been widely documented, but this

growing divide between rich and poor is not the source of the red state/blue state divide.

 

The evidence supports the conclusion that the red state/blue state divide has its

roots in cultural conflict within middle to upper-middle income groups. As Gelman

summarizes:

 

There is still a rich-poor divide in voting, in popular perceptions of the

Democrats and Republicans, and in the parties’ economic policies. But

voting patterns have been changing, and the red-blue map captures some of

this. The economic battles have not gone away, but they intersect with cultural issues in a new way. In low-income states such as Mississippi and Alabama, richer people were far more likely to vote (Republican)…But in richer states

such as New York and California, income is not a strong predictor of individual votes. (Gelman, 2008, p. 17)

 

In the poor states, the pattern of wealthy people voting Republican and poor people

voting Democratic is very reliable. In states where the mean income is more in the

middle, the pattern begins to blur somewhat, and in the wealthiest states, income is not a

determining factor in voting patterns. While the middle to upper classes in wealthier

states are just as likely to favor the Democrats as poor people, the same socio-economic

groups in the poor states are more likely to favor the Republicans. To break it down

further on a regional basis, Democrats only win the “rich vote” in the most liberal

states. For instance, in the 2004 election the Democrats won the vote of those with an

income of over $200,000 annually in only four states: California, Connecticut,

Massachusetts, and New York. Middle class support for the Democratic Party is the

strongest in the Northeast, parts of the upper Midwest/Great Lakes region, and on the

West Coast.  To break it down to the level of local communities, affluent to wealthy

urban people tend to lean towards the Democrats, even though the majority of affluent

people are Republicans. The wealthiest states are also those which are the most

urbanized. (Gelman, 2008, p. 19-20)

 

A key question that arises from these observations concerns the matter of why

voting patterns are more divided on the basis of income in poor states. These patterns are

relatively new. For instance, in the 1976 presidential election, the Democrat Jimmy

Carter won the South, and the Republican Gerald Ford won California, New Jersey and

parts of New England. In the 1976 election, the level of correlation between the wealth of

a state and partisan sympathies was relatively small. Why do affluent people in poor

states hold such greater differences in their political allegiances than poor people when

compared to affluent people in wealthier states? Gelman and associates offer four

primary explanations:

 

  1. Division between races is the most evident in poor states in the South. This racial division overlaps with a class division. Because of the relationship between race and class position, economic policies such as social welfare programs that involve transfer payments from rich or affluent persons to the poor are seen as race-based entitlements for African-Americans.

 

  1. Wealthier people in the poor states attend church more regularly or frequently than poor people, and are also more likely to belong to conservative religious denominations than persons with comparable levels of wealth in richer states.

 

  1. Geography and history. The wealthier states have a much larger number of unionized workers, more large cities, and stronger immigrant communities, thereby creating a more liberal political and cultural atmosphere in these states. A direct correlation exists between cosmopolitanism and Democratic voting patterns.

 

  1. Middle to upper income persons have greater freedom and ability to choose where they will live and whom they will associate with. For instance, affluent persons with liberal social or cultural views tend to migrate towards urban enclaves such as Portland, Seattle, Madison, Minneapolis, San Francisco or Montgomery County, Maryland where such views are most prevalent. (Gelman, 2008, p. 22)

 

Political polarization in the United States occurs on two levels, the economic and the

cultural. A divide exists not only between rich and poor, but between affluent Americans

holding different cultural values.  Analysts differ as to the causes of this polarization.

Political scientists Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal attempt to

explain contemporary American political polarization as an outgrowth of growing income

inequality.  Between the 1920s and the mid-1970s, patterns of wealth distribution in the

United States were comparable to those of other nations with relatively similar levels of

economic, industrial and technological development. However, economic inequality has

grown immensely in the United States in the last thirty-five years, and at a much greater

rate than what can be found in other comparable nations. McCarty, Poole and Rosenthal

also point out that this wealth gap has appeared within the individual American states,

and not among them. The growth of wealth inequality has transpired on a class rather

than sectional basis. (McCarty, Poole, Rosenthal, 2008)

 

Since the mid-1970s, many of the more underdeveloped areas of

the U.S. have improved their economic standing. Wealthy people in wealthy states have

been have been getting rich at a quicker pace, while poor people in poor states have been

rising out of poverty at a quicker pace. This is no doubt attributable to a variety of causes,

including the growth of the industrial base of the so-called Sunbelt, the effects of tax cuts

and deregulation policies implemented by several administrations, and the expansion of

the welfare state as a barrier to total poverty. Economic inequality has also grown in

Democratic states and decreased in Republican ones. Concerning economic policies that

primarily affect individuals, Republicans will generally favor the affluent while

Democrats will favor the low-income. However, Gelman and associates point out that

there is deviation from this pattern when it comes to policies that affect regions, states or

local communities. In some instances, Democrats will favor more affluent communities

while Republicans will favor poor localities. Gelman observes that “one might see certain

policy areas where Democratic officeholders, as friends of the rich areas, become friends

of the rich people, for example, in supporting the federal tax deduction for state income

tax (which benefits taxpayers, especially upper-income taxpayers, in New York and

California).” (Gelman, 2008, pp. 61-62) Also, interstate social transfer payments are

greater from Democratic states to Republican states rather than vice versa. The richest ten

states receive only eighty cents in federal spending for every dollar paid in taxes while

the poorest ten states receive $1.60. (Gelman, 2008, p. 62) The evidence indicates that

while economic inequality is indeed growing, this expanding class divide is not expressed

in regional divisions and cannot explain the conventional “red state/blue state” political

polarization.

 

 

The Voting Patterns

 

It has been mentioned that in the 2004 presidential election, the “rich people vote”

(persons earning more than $200,000 a year) went overwhelmingly for the Republicans,

with the votes of this group going to the Democrats in only four states. In the same

election, the Democrats won the middle income vote (between $15,000 and $200,000) in

California, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and all of the northeastern

states from Maryland upward. The Republicans won the “poor people” vote (less than

$15,000) only in Bush’s home state of Texas, Indiana, and the sparsely populated western

states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and the Dakotas.

 

It is much more striking to observe the voting patterns with regards to church

attendance. In the 2004 election the Republicans won the votes of those who attend

church at least once a week in forty-eight of the fifty states! The Democrats won the votes

of regular churchgoers only in Maryland and Massachusetts. Among semi-regular

churchgoers, the Democrats won fourteen states: California, Minnesota, Wisconsin,

Illinois, Arkansas, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New

Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The Republicans won the

votes of non-churchgoers only in ten states: Texas, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, Kentucky,

Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

 

According to the World Values Survey, the United States is unique in that it is the

only one of the world’s wealthier nations with a high level of religiosity. (Inglehart,

2005)) Some observers attribute this to the fact that many Americans are descended from

immigrants who were often from the poorest and most religious sectors of the countries

from where they came. The comparatively high level of economic inequality in the U.S.

makes the nation more likely to display characteristics more common to poor countries

like a greater amount of religious practice or belief. Still another explanation is America’s

tradition of separation of church and state. The lack of an established national church

opens up the “religion market” to competition among a wide variety of denominations

and sects that must rely on the voluntary participation and contributions of adherents in

order to remain active. (Gelman, 2008, pp. 76-77)

 

It would certainly appear on the surface that the “red/blue divide” simply reflects

the polarization between the religious and the non-religious and that this polarization is

played out in terms of party loyalty and voting patterns.  The reputation of the Republican

Party as the “Party of God” is a relatively new phenomenon. The identifiable pattern of

religious people voting Republican by a significant margin did not appear until the 1992

presidential election when the incumbent George H. W. Bush obtained twenty percent

greater support among those who church attendance was consistent than among those

who were not regular church goers. (Gelman, 2008, p. 84) While Ronald Reagan

received the enthusiastic support of the newly organized “religious right” in the 1980 and

1984 elections, the data shows that the impact of the religious vote in those two elections

was actually less significant that it had been in the election between Gerald Ford and

Jimmy Carter in 1976 (Gelman, 2008, p. 86)

 

The overall level of religiosity in the United States has decreased significantly

since the early 1960s. The number of people who say they never or rarely attend church

when responding to surveys has grown from only a few percent of Americans in 1960 to

twenty-five to forty percent, with the variation being dependent on such factors as

geography, class position and income levels. Additionally, American society has become

more liberal with regards to a wide variety of issues including race relations, gender

roles, sexuality, and abortion. This social liberalization has coincided with an increased

secularization of public educational institutions. Even some religious denominations have

followed the wider trend of liberalization by, for instance, accepting women and gays

into the ranks of the clergy. Not surprisingly, this process of greater liberalization and

secularization of society at large and greater liberalization within religious institutions

themselves has produced a conservative backlash. Religious conservatives have become

more politically active since the 1970s, and some religious people with more traditional

views have sought out more conservative denominations in response to the increased

liberalism of their former denomination. All of this is well-known.  It is also well-known

that the “red states” tend on average to possess more devoutly religious people that the

“blue states.”

 

However, there are problems with interpreting the “red/blue” conflict as purely

religious in nature, though it may be tempting to do so from a surface look at the data.

Class and geography are also important parts of the wider picture. For instance, lower-

income people are much more likely to claim the importance of religion to their own

lives, attend church, pray or engage in other religious practices regularly, or to describe

themselves as “born-again” Christians.  The class division between the religious and the

non-religious is also greatest outside the “Bible Belt” of the southern states. These are

fairly predictable statistics.  What is more interesting is to observe the relationship

between income levels and church attendance within individual states. In the poor states,

the higher one’s income, the likelihood of regular church attendance increases. In the

richer states, the higher one’s income, the less likely one will be to attend church

regularly. In other words, in poor “red” states, more affluent people are more likely to

attend church than poor people, but in the wealthier “blue” states it is the other way

around. (Gelman, 2008, pp. 83-84)

 

With regards to denominational affiliation, mainline Protestants have traditionally

tended to vote Republican, but these have started to move away from consistent support

for the Republicans as the party’s conservative wing has become dominant and the older

Rockefeller-Eisenhower Republicans have been eclipsed. Catholics have traditionally

supported the Democratic Party, but the Catholic vote has been less consistently

Democratic as the party has become more liberal on social questions such as abortion and

gay rights. Prior to the 1980s, “evangelical,” conservative, or fundamentalist Protestants

were primarily a Democratic constituency. Yet the evangelical vote has shifted by a wide

margin to the Republicans since the liberalization of the Democratic Party and the advent

of the “religious right.” (Gelman, 2008, p. 86)

 

 

What Does the Data Mean?

 

The red state/blue state divide and the division between religious and non-

religious voters did not appear until 1992.  As Gelman, et.al. explain:

 

Part of the story is Bill Clinton, who repelled many religious conservatives

who saw a connection between his adulterous lifestyle and his support for

liberal social causes. (Reagan had been divorced, but that was long in the past, and he sided with the Religious Right on many issues.) There was also the growing strength of the evangelical movement as followers of Pat Robertson

and other gained influence in state Republican parties…On the other side, Democrats became more committed to liberal positions on abortion and gay rights…With the closer alignment of moral issues to the political parties, voters have sorted themselves on these attitudes. (Gelman, 2008, p. 87-88)

 

 

Within this political framework and alignment of political parties with particular social

causes and sets of cultural values, a voter who is both affluent and religious will

unsurprisingly vote for the Republicans. A voter who is poor and religious could vote

either Democratic or Republican. The data also shows that wealthy, non-religious people

are about evenly divided between the two parties. In other words, support for the

Republicans comes primarily from middle to upper class people who are also religious.

Support for the Democrats comes from the non-religious and lower-class religious

people. Contra the Marxist view of religion as the “opium of the masses” whereby the

working classes are distracted from pursuing their material interests because of religious

or cultural values or biases, the evidence indicates that it is the affluent whose politics

are most influenced by their cultural norms. Gelman, Park, Shor, Bafumi and Cortina

offer this assessment of their research:

 

Voters consider cultural issues to be more important as they become

more financially secure. From this perspective it makes perfect sense

that politics is more about economics in poor states  and more about

culture in rich states. And it also makes sense that, among low-income

voters, political attitudes are not much different in red or blue states,

whereas the cultural divide of the two Americas looms larger at high

incomes. For predicting your vote, we suspect that it’s not so important

whether you buy life’s necessities at Wal-Mart or the corner grocery, but

that it might be more telling if you spend your extra income on auto-racing

tickets or on a daily gourmet coffee. We can understand differences between

red and blue America in terms of cultural values of upper-middle-class and

rich voters. Religious attendance is associated with Republican vote most

strongly among high income residents of all states. This does not mean that

lower-income Americans all vote the same way-far from it-but the differences

in how they vote appear to depend less on religious values. (Gelman, 2008, pp. 89-92)

 

As an illustration, the data from the 2004 election demonstrates that the relationship

between income and church attendance was a predictable indicator of how one would

vote in heavily Democratic states, heavily Republican states and “battleground” states

alike. In all three types of states, high income persons who attend church were likely to

vote Republican, while in strongly Democratic states there was no demonstrable

relationship between income and voting patterns.

 

 

Why Is the South Different?

 

The Southern states present two distinct anomalies. The first of these is Bartels

observation that it is only in the South that the phenomenon of white voters lacking

college education voting Republican emerges. (Bartels, 2006) Even so, it has been

established that lower-income voters in the South overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

What makes the South distinct is the proportionately high number of blue-collar whites

who vote Republican, generally lower-middle class persons with annual earnings in the

$20,000-$40,000 range. Even more interesting is that prior to the civil rights revolution of

the 1960s and 1970s, the Democratic Party was so deeply entrenched and

institutionalized in the South that the Southern states essentially comprised a one-party

region. Indeed, the South was known as the “Solid South” in national electoral politics

because the region’s Democratic loyalties were so predictable. It was not until the

passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the subsequent Voting Rights Act that white

voters in the South began to drift towards the Republicans. These pieces of legislation

had been passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by the

Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson. (Lamis, 2005)

 

This explains the shift of the South to the Republicans generally but what about

working class whites in the South? It was this class of whites that proved to be the most

resistant to civil rights in the South. Upper-income whites were more accommodating to

the institutionalization of civil rights, as it was these whites who stood to gain the most

from the economic transformation of the South during the postwar era from a

predominately agricultural society to a modern industrial society, which necessitated at

least some degree of social modernization as well. Furthermore, upper-income whites

were more able to insulate themselves from the perceived “negative” effects of civil

rights, such as racially integrated public spaces and institutions (schools, parks, pools,

golf courses, theaters, etc.) Many of these whites simply formed private schools and

recreational associations for themselves that remained de facto segregated, and often

resided in neighborhoods where the price of housing was cost prohibitive for blacks. In

other words, upper class whites could enjoy the economic and political benefits of public

desegregation while essentially retaining segregation for themselves on a private basis.

 

This was not true of the white working class. Urban working class whites

whose resistance to desegregation failed would then relocate to racially homogenous

white neighborhoods in suburban areas outside of cities. Hence, the well-known pattern

of “white flight.” These patterns of a shift from public segregation to private segregation

by upper-income whites and white flight by working class whites tended to push

Southern whites in general towards fiscal conservatism. Simply put, these whites

did not want to pay taxes to support public institutions and facilities that they regarded as

having been “handed over” to blacks. (Kruse, 2005) Consequently, fiscal and economic

conservatives associated with the Republican Party in the Northern states began to regard

de jure or de facto “racial conservatives” in the South as their natural allies and the two

forces began to bend towards one another. (Lewis, 2006) Over time, the openly racial

dimension of this phenomenon would fade into a middle-class oriented fiscal

conservatism that emphasized “color blindness.” It would be an overstatement to claim

that contemporary working class Southern whites who vote Republican in the name of

fiscal and economic conservatism are simply closet racists who hide their real views

behind something more socially acceptable. Indeed, many of them may well be unaware

of the origins of this particular brand of conservatism, and some of these contemporary

Southern white conservative Republicans are transplanted Northerners (or their

descendents) who had little or no personal exposure to the old system of segregation, but

the roots of contemporary Southern white working class political conservatism in

resistance to civil rights is a demonstrable fact. (Lassiter, 2004; Hall, 2005)

 

The other anomaly to be found in the South is the greater attachment of upper-

income persons to organized religion over lower-income persons. This phenomenon

defies the usual pattern not only in the United States, but world wide. In most societies,

the higher one’s class position, the less likely one will be to practice formal religion. The

American South reverses this pattern. Thus far, it does not appear that enough research

has been done on this situation to make a thorough understanding of its origins or causes

available. One possibility may be the fact that the South was for all practical purposes a

feudal society with a rigid racial caste system and a primarily agrarian economy until the

post-World War Two era. The use of religion as a means of social control by the

traditional Southern white ruling class is well-known. For instance, each of the major

U.S. Protestant denominations split into northern and southern factions over the issue of

slavery prior to the Civil War. Hence, the existence of such contemporary denominations

as the Southern Baptists and Southern Methodists. White fundamentalist preachers were

often defenders of the segregationist status quo during the civil rights era as well.

 

If indeed religion was used as a force for social control, it is understandable that a

tradition of greater than usual attachment to religious institutions would develop among

privileged Southern whites. Likewise, it would certainly be understandable that lower-

class persons would experience greater alienation from religious institutions in such a

situation, leading to an inversion of the usual norm where it is the lower classes that are

more religiously devout than the upper classes. Similar situations have emerged in other

nations. For instance, the radical labor and peasant movements in Spain during the pre-

Franco years included many otherwise culturally conservative persons who developed a

militant anti-clericalism in response to the role of the Catholic Church in Spain as

accomplices to a highly oppressive ruling class. (Bookchin, 2001)

 

The American South displays characteristics concerning the relationship between

personal religiosity, class position and political affiliation that are in some ways similar to

what is often found in Latin American countries. The American South is also more

similar in its history to Latin America than other regions of North America. Both the

South and most of Latin America have a feudal or quasi-feudal past as agrarian societies

with a rigid class structure with organized religious institutions being very much on the

side of the ruling class. In Latin America, the lower-classes tend to be very religious on a

personal level, while formal displays of religious piety through such things as regular

church attendance are more common to the middle classes. The upper layers of the

Church hierarchy in Latin America tend to be very conservative. Voting patterns

in Latin American countries are such that the lower classes typically vote for the Left,

while the middle classes will vote for the center-right Christian Democratic parties, and

the upper classes will vote for the “hard Right.” (Yglesias, 2007) This fairly closely

mirrors class voting patterns in the southern states in the U.S.  It is also true that

evangelical religion in Latin America takes on different forms depending on the class

position of the participants. Middle to upper class Latin American evangelicals will often

espouse social or political views similar to those of the U.S. “Religious Right.” The

Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt was an example of this. On the other hand, lower class

evangelicalism in Latin America tends to take on a “social gospel” flavor much like

African-American religion in America or past expressions of left-wing evangelicalism

that emerged in American populism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth

century. (Freston, 2008) The American South and Latin America are similar to one

another in unique ways in that both regions have both a fairly recent quasi-feudal,

agrarian past and democratic governments. This would set both regions apart from the

rest of North America, Europe, Asia, Africa or the Middle East. There appears to be

unique and similar dynamics working in both regions that give these two regions

characteristics that are difficult to find elsewhere.

 

 

The Big Sort

 

Still another factor affecting voting patterns in American elections is what author

Bill Bishop has called “The Big Sort.” This is a phenomenon where persons with the

financial means of doing so will relocate to a neighborhood, community or even a state

that is more compatible with their cultural interests. This creates a system of cultural self-

segregation among middle to upper income Americans.(Bishop, 2008) To demonstrate

his argument, Bishop acknowledges that in the 1976 Ford-Carter election, the number of

counties in the United States where either candidate won by a landslide (a margin of

twenty percentage points or greater) was significantly fewer in number than the number

of counties where victory was determined by a landslide in the Bush-Kerry election of

  1. Bishop also describes his experience of living in a liberal enclave in the Austin,

Texas area:

 

My wife and I…didn’t intend to move into a community filled with

Democrats, but that’s what we did-effortlessly and without a trace of understanding about what we were doing…In 2000, George W. Bush…

took sixty percent of the state’s vote. But in our patch of Austin, Bush came

in third, behind both Al Gore and Ralph Nader. Four years later, eight out of

ten of our neighbors voted for John Kerry. (Bishop, 2008, p. 1)

 

Like other observers of these issues, Bishop traces the beginnings of the “big sort” to the

cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the subsequent backlash from social

conservatives and religious traditionalists. However, Bishop maintains that the sorting

process really did not begin to manifest itself until the 1990s. During that decade, the

baby boom generation, the first to be heavily influenced by the 1960s-era “cultural

revolution,” entered middle age. The economic expansion of the 1990s and the growth of

the educated population converged to create a situation where large numbers of persons

existed who possessed a combination of affluence, education and a relatively liberal

social outlook. Consequently, both middle aged baby boomers and their younger,

“Generation X” cohorts began to congregate in urban centers “where they would not be

bound by old ideas or tight social ties.” (Bishop, 2008, p. 144)

 

It is also important to recognize that the “big sort” occurs primarily at the level of

local communities, and sometimes individual neighborhoods, rather than at the state

level.  John Tierney observes that in the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush

received the smallest numbers of votes in the states of Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode

Island, Massachusetts, New York and Hawaii. However, all of these states had

Republican governors at the time. Tierney believes such patterns indicate that the “red

state/blue state” divide is a myth, and that most Americans are centrists. (Tierney, 2005)

Jonathan Kandel observes that in the 2000 election, there were only five red states

(Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, Nebraska and Idaho) and one blue state (Rhode Island)

where the candidate of either party won by more than sixty percent. Kandel also observes

that of the eleven states that passed initiatives prohibiting same-sex marriage in 2004, two

of these states (Oregon and Michigan) went for the Democrats in the presidential

election, and many others were competitive in that neither party won the presidency by

more than sixty percent. (Kandel, 2006)

 

Bruce Oppenheimer argues that the division between red and blue states

represents divisions between Congressional districts rather than states, and he attributes

this to partisan redistricting, which groups together voters with similar views and partisan

sympathies and has the effect of creating “safe” districts for incumbents or their parties.

(Oppenheimer, 2005) Yet the most compelling evidence is that offered by Bishop.

According to Bishop, in 1976 only twenty-six percent of Americans lived in what he calls

“landslide counties” where the presidential vote is determined by more than a sixty

percent total for the winner. By 1992, the year that Gelman and associates consider to be

the starting point for the “red/blue” divide, thirty-eight percent of voters resided in

landslide counties. That percentage increased with each subsequent presidential election,

and by 2004, forty-eight percent of Americans were living in landslide counties. (Bishop, 2008, pp. 9-10)

 

 

 

The 2008 Presidential Election

 

Bishop has updated his research to include the 2008 presidential election.  In

2008, the number of Americans living in landslide counties was the same as in 2004:

forty-eight percent. This division has tilted strongly towards the Democrats. In 2004, 94

million lived in Democratic landslide counties, while in 2008 it was only 64 million. In

2008, 53 million Americans were in Republican landslide counties, while in 2004 it had

been 83 million. Among states, the average winning margin was seventeen percent, as

opposed to sixteen percent in 2004, fifteen percent in 2000, and ten percent in 1976. The

number of landslide states increased to thirty-six from twenty-nine in 2004. The number

of states where the election was decided by five or less percentage points was down to

seven, from eleven in 2004. Barack Obama won forty-three percent of the rural vote, up

from Kerry’s forty percent in 2004, and fifty-seven percent of the urban vote, up from

Kerry’s fifty-one percent.  Bishop attributes Obama’s greater vote totals in rural America

over Kerry to the success of his strategy of targeting college towns within rural areas.

Also, the 2008 election demonstrated strong divisions among racial and ethnic groups. In

those counties where Obama won by a landslide, only 1.3 whites can be found for every

minority. Yet in McCain-landslide counties, there are five whites for every minority. (Bishop, 2008)

 

 

The Future

 

The most striking feature of the 2008 election is the fact that while the number of

landslide counties remained the same, on a partisan basis the number of persons living in

a landslide county increased by a third for Democrats and decreased by about the

same amount for Republicans. Bishop attributes this to a higher out-migration rate among

Democrats, who relocate to traditionally “red” areas but bring “blue” values with them,

and consequently influence voting patterns in their new localities accordingly. (Bishop, 2008) However, such a shift in a four year period might also be attributed to much more far reaching demographic, cultural and generational change. In 1997, the conservative writer Peter Brimelow made this prediction:

 

The Republican hour is rapidly drawing to a close. Not because the (Republican base) of the West and the South, of the middle class and urban blue-collar voters, is breaking up in the traditional manner. Instead, it is being drowned—as a direct result of the 1965 Immigration Act…Nine-tenths of the immigrant influx is from groups with significant—sometimes overwhelming—Democratic propensities. After thirty years, their numbers are reaching critical mass. And there is no end in sight.

To estimate the future impact of Immigration, we took the 1988 presidential race, in which George Bush beat Michael Dukakis with 53 per cent of the vote. This figure happens also to be the average vote received by the Republicans in presidential elections since 1968—the largest advantage won by any party over any six elections in American history. And it is the vote received by Republicans in 1994, when they took control of the Senate and House. It can reasonably be regarded as the Republican high-water mark.

Then we lowered this high-water mark by accounting for the shifting ethnic balance that the Census projects will result from immigration, assuming that the ethnic groups continued to vote as they did in 1988. The results are startling…Even if the Republicans can again win their 1988 level of support in each ethnic group—which they have miserably failed to do against Bill Clinton—they have at most two presidential cycles left. Then they go inexorably into minority status, beginning in 2008. (Brimelow, 1997)

 

 

Subsequent events since the publication of Brimelow’s article in 1997 would seem to

vindicate his prognosis. Another work making a similar prediction was published by two

writers associated with The New Republic in 2002. In their The Emerging Democratic

Majority, authors John P. Judis and Ruy Teixeira predicted the rise of a new electoral

majority rooted in educated urban professionals, racial and ethnic minorities, feminists

and educated working women, college students, environmentalists, secularists, gays and

lesbians. Judis and Teixeira refer to this phenomenon as “George McGovern’s Revenge”

as these were largely the groups that comprised the 1972 McGovern coalition that lost in

a landslide to President Nixon.

 

However, there is another constituent group among Judis and Teixeira’s predicted

Democratic majority: the white working class. Observing how the Democratic Party lost

substantial numbers of blue collar white voters during the post-civil rights era over race

issues, foreign policy, crime, the rise of the counterculture and the conservative religious

backlash, gun control and the economic downturn of the 1970s, Judis and Teixeira argued

that these voters began to return to the Democrats because of the recession that occurred

in the early 1990s during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. In other

words, blue collar whites were returning to the Democrats at precisely the same time as

the emergence of the red state/blue state electoral divide. President Reagan won the votes

of unionized white workers in 1980 and 1984. George H. W. Bush lost these voters by

four percentage points in 1988. Clinton won the white unionized worker vote by an

average of twenty-three percentage points in 1992 and 1996. Yet, it is during these years

that the current electoral divide emerges, so clearly the conventional view offered by

Thomas Frank and others of “working class Republicans versus upper class Democrats”

is false and likely rooted in outdated stereotypes left over from the Nixon and Reagan

eras.  Indeed, Judis and Teixeira point out that the composition of the “white working

class” has changed significantly, with nearly fifty percent of white workers being women

by 2000, and a significant number of younger, urban white workers with relatively liberal

views on social issues like abortion, the environment or gay rights. Like Brimelow, Judis

and Teixeira predicted that 2008 would be the year that the new Democratic majority

eventually became dominant. (Judis and Teixeira, 2002, p. 14, 37-66)

 

Gelman and associates demonstrate rather clearly that the primary driving force

in the red state/blue state “culture war” is religion. The primary indicator of whether a

middle class person will vote Democratic or Republican is whether they attend church

regularly or not. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, nearly all

American religious denominations have lost members over the last twenty years.

Catholics and Baptists, the two largest denominations, lost one and four percent of their

membership, respectively. The number of people claiming the generic label of

“Christian” has dropped by half a percentage point. Mainline Protestant denominations

have lost nearly a third of their membership since 1990. Persons claiming no religion at

all and persons with agnostic views of religion have both doubled in the past twenty

years, and collectively, skeptics, atheists, agnostics and other unbelievers are the single

largest religious group in the U.S. at twenty percent, except for Catholics with twenty-

five percent.

 

Adherents of the Jewish religion have decreased by one third. Fringe

Protestant denominations like the Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses or

Seventh Day Adventists have either remained the same numerically or increased slightly,

but these are still very small when compared to American society as a whole. The only

religions that have experienced real growth in the past twenty years have been those from

outside traditional American culture. The number of U.S. Muslims and adherents of

“Eastern” religions like Buddhism or Hinduism have doubled, largely due to

immigration, and adherents of so-called “new age” spiritualities, neo-paganism, and

Wicca have grown by one third. (Grossman, 2009)

 

 

Summary and Conclusion

 

It has been demonstrated that the popular view of the red-state/blue-state “culture

war” divide as one pitting working class conservatives against affluent liberals is false.

This view is rooted in archaic stereotypes that have not been especially relevant to U.S.

electoral politics since the “red-state/blue-state” dichotomy has emerged. Specifically, the

defection of white working class voters to the Republicans in the 1970s and 1980s has

since reversed itself. The only region of the United States where the blue collar class

votes Republican in any significant numbers is in the South, and this is due to that

region’s unique history in matters of race, religion and economics. The present-day red-

state/blue-state divide first begins to appear on the electoral map in the 1992 presidential

election, precisely the time that blue collar whites were returning to the Democrats.

 

Nor is this divide a matter of “rich versus poor.” The United States is indeed

polarized along class lines, but this economic polarization takes places on a national

rather than sectional basis. As the overall pattern of wealth and income distribution in the

U.S. has become more uneven in recent decades, support for the Democratic Party among

working class voters has actually increased. Instead, the “red/blue” conflict represents an

intra-class conflict within the middle class, primarily the upper middle class, with middle

class voters in wealthy states being more culturally liberal than their counterparts in

poorer states. The driving force behind this middle class culture war is religion, with

church attendance being the primary indication of how a middle class person will vote.

Geographically, this cultural polarization transpires more at the local community level

rather than at the state level, pitting rural versus urban areas and conservative

neighborhoods against liberal ones, though differences among states are not insignificant.

 

The most compelling piece of evidence to support the argument that the

“red/blue” conflict represents an intra-class divide within the affluent middle-class is the

fact that electoral maps show that the “poor vote” overwhelmingly goes to Democrats

while the “rich vote” overwhelmingly goes to Republicans, and the middle-class vote

breaks down geographically on the standard “red/blue” pattern. This divide plays out on a

geographical basis to the degree that it does because of the effects of Bill Bishop’s “Big

Sort” whereby middle class persons possess the means of self-segregation along cultural,

religious and ideological lines, and this system of self-segregation occurs primarily on a

local rather than state level. The evidence to support this localized geographical divide

consists primarily of the wide margins by which a political party will often win in a

specific locality. In each of the last two presidential elections, one of the parties beat the

other by a margin of more than twenty percentage points in forty-eight percent of all

American counties. The gaps at the state level tend to be smaller. In the 2008 election, the

overall pattern of “red/blue” division among middle and upper-middle income voters

continued. The number of “blue” states increased, while the number of counties

exhibiting an electoral polarization wider than twenty percentage points remained the

same. This is apparently due to two principal factors: a greater out-migration rate from

blue areas to red areas rather than vice versa, and demographic, cultural and generational

change that indicates the population groups that are inclined to vote Republican are

shrinking, while those inclined to vote Democratic are increasing.

 

Furthermore, it can be predicted with relative safety that, barring completely

unforeseen circumstances, the “liberal” side will be the winning side in the “culture war”

and the Democratic Party will likely be the dominant party in U.S. politics for the

foreseeable future. This is due to a combination of the aforementioned generational,

cultural and demographic changes, large scale immigration, economic downturn, an

increased number of educated urban professionals, changing gender roles that include

expanding roles for women, and declining interest in traditional religious beliefs,

practices or denominational affiliation.  This does not mean that “social conservatives” or

the Republican Party will disappear, far from it, but it does mean that the political Right

is less likely to be as influential in the foreseeable future as it has been in the recent past.

 

 

Bibliography:

 

 

Abramowitz, Alan and Kyle L. Saunders (2005). Why We Can’t We All Just Get

Along?: The Reality of a Polarized America. The Forum, Berkeley Electronic Press.

 

Bartels, Larry M. (2008). Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded

     Age. Princeton University Press.

 

Bartels, Larry M. (2006). “What’s the Matter with What’s the Matter with Kansas?”

Journal of Political Science Quarterly, 2006, 1, 201-226.

 

Bill Bishop, (2008). No, We Didn’t: America Hasn’t Changed As Much as Tuesday’s

Results Would Indicate. Salon, November 10, 2008.

 

Bishop, Bill and Robert G. Cushing (2008). The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-

     Minded America is Tearing Us Apart. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin

Company.

 

Bookchin, Murray (2001). The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868-1936.

London: AK Press.

 

Brimelow, Peter and Edward S. Rubenstein (1997). Electing a New People. National

     Review, June 16, 1997.

 

Brooks, David (2001). One Nation, Slightly Divisible. The Atlantic Monthly, December

2001.

 

Fiorina, Morris P. with Samuel J. Abrams and Jeremy C. Pope. (2004). Culture War? The

     Myth of a Polarized America. Longman.

 

Florida, Richard (2002). The Rise of the Creative Class, And How It’s Transforming

     Work, Leisure and Everyday Life. Basic Books.

 

Frank, Thomas (2004). What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the

     Heart of America. New York: Metropolitan Books.

 

Freston, Paul (2008). Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Latin America. Oxford

University Press.

 

Gelman, Andrew and David Park, Boris Shor, Joseph Bafumi, Jeronimo Cortina (2008).

Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton

University Press.

 

Grossman, Cathy Lynn (2009). Most Religious Groups in USA Have Lost Ground,

Survey Finds. USA Today, March 17, 2009.

 

Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd (2005). The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of

the Past. Journal of American History 91: 1233-1263

 

Hunter, James Davison (2005). Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. Making

     Sense of the Battles Over the Family, Art, Education, Law and Politics. Second

Edition. Basic Books.

 

Inglehart, Ronald and Pippa Norris (2005). Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics

     Worldwide. Cambridge University Press.

 

Judis, John and Ruy Teixeira (2002). The Emerging Democratic Majority. New York:

Scribner.

 

Kandel, Jonathan (2006). The Myth of the Red State/Blue State Divide. Archived at http://www.politicsandgovernment.ilstu.edu/downloads/icsps_papers/2006/JonathanKandel1.pdf.

 

Kimball, David C. and Cassie A. Gross (2005). “The Growing Polarization of American

Voters,” Presented at The State of the Parties: 2004 and Beyond conference, Akron,

OH, October 6, 2005.

 

Kruse, Kevin M. (2005, July). The Politics of Race and Public Space: Desegregation,

Privatization, and the Tax Revolt in Atlanta. Journal of Urban History: 610-633

 

Lamis, Alexander (2005). The Emergence of a Two-Party System: Southern Politics in

the Twentieth Century. The American South in the Twentieth Century. Athens:

University of Georgia Press.

 

Lassiter, Matthew D. (2004). The Suburban Origins of “Color-Blind” Conservatism:

      Middle-Class Consciousness in the Charlotte Busing Crisis. Journal of Urban History

      30: 549-582

 

Lewis, George (2006, February). Virginia’s Northern Strategy: Southern Segregationists

and the Route to National Conservatism.  Journal of Southern History, 72:111-146.

 

McCarty, Nolan with Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal (2006). Polarized America: The

      Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches. Boston: MIT Press.

 

Oppenheimer, Bruce (2005). Deep Red and Blue Congressional Districts: The Causes

and Consequences of Declining Party Competitiveness. In Larry Dodd (Ed.), Congress

      Reconsidered, 8th edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

 

Stonecash, Jeffrey (2005). Scaring the Democrats: What’s the Matter with Thomas

Frank’s Argument? The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary

     Politics, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2005.

 

Tierney, John. (2004). A Nation Divided? Who Says?. The Nation: On Message, June 13,

  1. Sec. 4, Col. 1.

 

Yglesias, Matthew (2007). Religion and Income. The Atlantic. November 11, 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

Updated News Digest May 31, 2009 1

Quote of the Week:

“An intellectual is someone who has discovered something more interesting than sex.”

“That all men are equal is a proposition which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent.”

“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

                                                                                         -Aldous Huxley

The Struggle Against the State by Nestor Makhno

The Empire and Its Ideology by Hans Hermann Hoppe

What Is the Ruling Class? by Sean Gabb

Who Will Stand Up to America and Israel? by Paul Craig Roberts

Obama’s Democratic Authoritarianism by Justin Raimondo

Where Would We Be Without Our Prison-Industrial Complex? by TGGP

Back Into the Cold: Conservative Russia/Revolutionary America by Mark Hackard

Americans Succumb to the Dark Side by Paul Craig Roberts

The Populist Patriotism of Gore Vidal by Bill Kauffman

Who is Oswald Spengler? Austin Bramwell

Military Commissions, Round Three by Joanne Mariner

“Empathy” and International Affairs by Stephen M. Walt

A New Low in Political Correctness? by Sarah Netter

End Medical Slavery by Bill Sardi

The Subconscious Modernism of Graffiti Removal by Ean Frick

Libertarians Against Sprawl by Kevin Carson

Doublespeak on North Korea by Paul Craig Roberts

Is North Korea About to Blow Up the World? No, but lets’s not push by Justin Raimondo

How to Start Your Own Country from The Futurist

Can China Save the World from Depression? by Walden Bello

Jewish Anarcho-Nationalism? from State of Exile

It’s Official: Racism Causes Weight Gain by Harrison Bergeron 2

The Trouble with Prison by Kenneth Hartman

Enriching Our Lives? from Conservative Times

“War on Pot” Overrides “Support Our Troops” by Fred Gardner

The Worst Companies in the World  by Francois Tremblay

America’s Wise Latina Lady by Richard Spencer

How Lew Rockwell Took Over the Libertarian Movement by Gary North

Cheney Made Us Less Safe by Jack Hunter

Muslims Are Good Folks by Charley Reese

Housing: The Bubble Hasn’t Burst (Yet) by Peter Schiff

Middle American Anti-Imperialism by George Leef

The Cheney Doctrine by Pat Buchanan

Colleges Eyes 3-Year Degree Programs by Valerie Strauss

Torture at the Crossroads: Which Way America? by Ron Paul

Setting a Higher Standard for Making a War by Philip Giraldi

The Tamil Tigers Have Been Defeated by Eric Margolis

Gerald Celente on the Economic Apocalypse

When It Rains, It Pours by Charles Pena

MoveOn Remains Silent on War by Tom Hayden

Obama: Preventive Detention is My Policy by Thomas Eddlem

More on That “Bogus” Terrorist Plot in New York by Robert Dreyfuss

Is Israel Planning to Provoke Iran? by Tony Karon

Was Rape an Enhanced Interrogation Technique? by Jacob Hornberger

Downsize the Imperial Presidency by Gene Healy

The Great But Unacknowledged Wisdom of Doing Nothing by Arthur Silber

Feingold’s Constitutional Objection to “Prolonged Detention” by John Nichols

Obama in Netanyahu’s Web by Roger Cohen

Suburban Survivalists by Gillian Flaccus

Another Reason to Secede by Lori Montgomery

Life in Vichy America by Bill Buppert

Christiania Loses Court Challenge

Support Your Local “Domestic Warrior-Heroes by William Norman Grigg

Nationalists Without a Nation by Justin Raimondo

Canadian Anarchist Book Fair Targeted by PIGS 

Big Man Obama and His Diversity Princess by Ilana Mercer

Soviet America?  by Stanislav Mishin

Mark Levin Sucks by Jack Hunter

Sotomayer and the Last of the WASPS by Alexander Cockburn

There is No Authentic American Right by Kevin R.C. Gutzman

Iraq: The Mother of All Corruption Scandals by Patrick Cockburn

The Snitch Faces Human Nature by Razib Khan

When Workers Rights Go Unenforced by David Macaray

A Redneck View of Obamarama by Joe Bageant

Defending Israeli War Crimes by Stephen Zunes

First, Muslims; Next, Maybe You by Steven Greenhut

The Death of Corruption by John Pilger

The End of American Exceptionalism by Eric Black

Becoming Barbarians by Rod Dreher

The Political Theory of Carl Schmitt 2

By Keith Preston

 

Discussion:

 

Carl Schmitt

The Crisis of Parliamentary Liberalism 

The Concept of the Political

The Weimar Republic Sourcebook (p. 331, 334-337, 342-345)

 

          The editors of The Weimar Republic Sourcebook attempt to summarize the political thought of Carl Schmitt and interpret his writings on political and legal theory on the basis of his later association with Nazism between 1933 and 1936. Schmitt is described as having “attempted to drive a wedge between liberalism and democracy and undercut the assumption that rational discourse and legal formalism could be the basis of political legitimacy.”(Sourcebook, p. 331) His contributions to political theory are characterized as advancing the view that “genuine politics was irreducible to socio-economic conflicts and unconstrained by normative considerations”. The essence of politics is a battle to the death “between friend and foe.” The editors recognize distinctions between the thought of Schmitt and that of right-wing revolutionaries of Weimar, but assert that his ideas “certainly provided no obstacle to Schmitt’s opportunistic embrace of Nazism.”

 

          As ostensible support for this interpretation of Schmitt, the editors provide excerpts from two of Schmitt’s works. The first excerpt is from the preface to the second edition of Schmitt’s The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, a work first published in 1923 with the preface having been written for the 1926 edition. In this excerpt, Schmitt describes the dysfunctional workings of the Weimar parliamentary system. He regards this dysfunction as symptomatic of the inadequacies of the classical liberal theory of government. According to this theory as Schmitt interprets it, the affairs of states are to be conducted on the basis of open discussion between proponents of competing ideas as a kind of empirical process. Schmitt contrasts this idealized view of parliamentarianism with the realities of its actual practice, such as cynical appeals by politicians to narrow self-interests on the part of constituents, bickering among narrow partisan forces, the use of propaganda and symbolism rather than rational discourse as a means of influencing public opinion, the binding of parliamentarians by party discipline, decisions made by means of backroom deals, rule by committee and so forth.

 

          Schmitt recognizes a fundamental distinction between liberalism, or “parliamentarism”, and democracy. Liberal theory advances the concept of a state where all retain equal political rights. Schmitt contrasts this with actual democratic practice as it has existed historically. Historic democracy rests on an “equality of equals”, for instance, those holding a particular social position (as in ancient Greece), subscribing to particular religious beliefs or belonging to a specific national entity. Schmitt observes that democratic states have traditionally included a great deal of political and social inequality, from slavery to religious exclusionism to a stratified class hierarchy. Even modern democracies ostensibly organized on the principle of universal suffrage do not extend such democratic rights to residents of their colonial possessions. Beyond this level, states, even officially “democratic” ones, distinguish between their own citizens and those of other states. At a fundamental level, there is an innate tension between liberalism and democracy. Liberalism is individualistic, whereas democracy sanctions the “general will” as the principle of political legitimacy. However, a consistent or coherent “general will” necessitates a level of homogeneity that by its very nature goes against the individualistic ethos of liberalism. This is the source of the “crisis of parliamentarism” that Schmitt suggests. According to the democratic theory rooted in the ideas of Jean Jacques Rosseau, a legitimate state must reflect the “general will”, but no general will can be discerned in a regime that simultaneously espouses liberalism. Lacking the homogeneity necessary for a democratic “general will”, the state becomes fragmented into competing interests. Indeed, a liberal parliamentary state can actually act against the “peoples’ will” and become undemocratic. By this same principle, anti-liberal states such as those organized according to the principles of fascism or bolshevism can be democratic in so far as they reflect the “general will.”

 

            The second excerpt included by the editors is drawn from Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political, published in 1927. According to Schmitt, the irreducible minimum on which human political life is based is the friend/enemy distinction. This friend/enemy distinction is to politics what the good/evil dichotomy is to morality, beautiful/ugly to aesthetics, profitable/unprofitable to economics, and so forth. These categories need not be inclusive of one another. For instance, a political enemy need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly. What is significant is that the enemy is the “other” and therefore a source of possible conflict. The friend/enemy distinction is not dependent on the specific nature of the “enemy”. It is merely enough that the enemy is a threat. The political enemy is also distinctive from personal enemies. Whatever one’s personal thoughts about the political enemy, it remains true that the enemy is hostile to the collective to which one belongs. The first purpose of the state is to maintain its own existence as an organized  collective prepared if necessary to do battle to the death with other organized collectives that pose an existential threat. This is the essential core of what is meant by the “political”. Organized collectives within a particular state can also engage in such conflicts (i.e., civil war). Internal conflicts within a collective can threaten the survival of the collective as a whole. As long as existential threats to a collective remain, the friend/enemy concept that Schmitt considers to be the heart of politics will remain valid.

 

           An implicit view of the ideas of Carl Schmitt can be distinguished from the editors’ introductory comments and selective quotations from these two works. Is Schmitt attempting to “drive a wedge” between liberalism and democracy thereby undermining the Weimar regime’s claims to legitimacy and pave the way for a more overtly authoritarian system? Is Schmitt arguing for a more exclusionary form of the state, for instance one that might practice exclusivity on ethnic or national grounds? Is Schmitt attempting to sanction the use of war as a mere political instrument, independent of any normative considerations, perhaps even as an ideal unto itself? If the answer to any of these questions is an affirmative one, then one might be able to plausibly argue that Schmitt is indeed creating a kind of intellectual framework that could later be used to justify at least some of the ideas of Nazism and even lead to an embrace of Nazism by Schmitt himself.

 

          It would appear that the expression “context is everything” becomes a quite relevant when examining the work of Carl Schmitt. It is clear enough that the excerpts from Schmitt included in the The Weimar Republic Sourcebook have been chosen rather selectively. As a glaring example, this important passage from second edition’s preface from The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy has been deleted:

 

“That the parliamentary enterprise today is the lesser evil, that it will continue to be preferable to Bolshevism and dictatorship, that it would have unforseeable consequences were it to be discarded, that it is ‘socially and technically’ a very practical thing-all these are interesting and in part also correct observations. But they do not constitute the intellectual foundations of a specifically intended institution. Parliamentarism exists today as a method of government and a political system. Just as everything else that exists and functions tolerably, it is useful-no more and no less. It counts for a great deal that even today it functions better than other untried methods, and that a minimum of order that is today actually at hand would be endangered by frivolous experiments. Every reasonable person would concede such arguments. But they do not carry weight in an argument about principles. Certainly no one would be so un-demanding that he regarded an intellectual foundation or a moral truth as proven by the question, What else?” (Schmitt, Crisis, pp. 2-3)

 

          This passage, conspicuously absent from the Sourcebook excerpt, indicates that Schmitt is in fact wary of the idea of undermining the authority of the Republic for it’s own sake or for the sake of implementing a revolutionary regime. Schmitt is clearly a “conservative” in the tradition of Hobbes, one who values order and stability above all else, and also Burke, expressing a preference for the established, the familiar, the traditional, and the practical, and an aversion to extremism, fanaticism, utopianism,  and upheaval for the sake of exotic ideological inclinations. Clearly, it would be rather difficult to reconcile such an outlook with the political millenarianism of either Marxism or National Socialism. The “crisis of parliamentary democracy” that Schmitt is addressing is a crisis of legitimacy. On what political or ethical principles does a liberal democratic state of the type Weimar purports to be claim and establish its own legitimacy? This is an immensely important question, given the gulf between liberal theory and parliamentary democracy as it is actually being practiced in Weimar, the conflicts between liberal practice and democratic theories of legitimacy as they have previously been laid out by Rosseau and others and, perhaps most importantly, the challenges to liberalism and claims to “democratic” legitimacy being made by proponents of totalitarian ideologies from both the Left and Right.

 

          The introduction to the first edition and first chapter of Crisis contain a frank discussion of both the intellectual as well as practical problems associated with the practice of “democracy”. Schmitt observes how democracy, broadly defined, has triumphed over older systems, such as monarchy, aristocracy or theocracy in favor of the principle of “popular sovereignty”. However, the advent of democracy has also undermined older theories on the foundations of political legitimacy, such as those rooted in religion (“divine right of kings”), dynastic lineages or mere appeals to tradition. Further, the triumphs of both liberalism and democracy have brought into fuller view the innate conflicts between the two. There is also the additional matter of the gap between the practice of politics (such as parliamentary procedures) and the ends of politics (such as the “will of the people”). Schmitt observes how parliamentarism as a procedural methodology  has a wide assortment of critics, including those representing the forces of reaction (royalists and clerics, for instance) and radicalism (from Marxists to anarchists). Schmitt also points out that he is by no means the first thinker to point out these issues, citing Mosca, Jacob Burckhardt, Belloc, Chesterton, and Michels, among others.

 

          A fundamental question that concerns Schmitt is the matter of what the democratic “will of the people” actually means, observing that an ostensibly democratic state could adopt virtually any set of policy positions, “whether militarist or pacifist, absolutist or liberal, centralized or decentralized, progressive or reactionary, and again at different times without ceasing to be a democracy.” (Schmitt, Crisis, p. 25) He also raises the question of the fate of democracy in a society where “the people” cease to favor democracy. Can democracy be formally renounced in the name of democracy? For instance, can “the people” embrace Bolshevism or a fascist dictatorship as an expression of their democratic “general will”? The flip side of this question asks whether a political class committed in theory to democracy can act undemocratically (against “the will of the people”) if the people display an insufficient level of education in the ways of democracy. How is the will of the people to be identified in the first place? Is it not possible for rulers to construct a “will of the people” of their own through the use of propaganda? For Schmitt, these questions are not simply a matter of intellectual hair-splitting but are of vital importance in a weak, politically paralyzed democratic state where the committment of significant sectors of both the political class and the public at large to the preservation of democracy is questionable, and where the overthrow of democracy by proponents of other ideologies is a very real possibility.

 

          Schmitt examines the claims of parliamentarism to democratic legitimacy. He describes the liberal ideology that underlies parliamentarism as follows:

 

“It is essential that liberalism be understood as a consistent, comprehensive metaphysical system. Normally one only discusses the economic line of reasoning that social harmony and the maximization of wealth follow from the free economic competition of individuals…But all this is only an application of a general liberal principle…: That truth can be found through an unrestrained clash of opinion and that competition will produce harmony.” (Schmitt, Crisis, p. 35)

 

For Schmitt, this view reduces truth to “a mere function of the eternal competition of opinions.” After pointing out the startling contrast between the theory and practice of liberalism, Schmitt suggests that liberal parliamentarian claims to legitimacy are rather weak and examines the claims of rival ideologies. Marxism replaces the liberal emphasis on the competition between opinions with a focus on competition between economic classes and, more generally, differing modes of production that rise and fall as history unfolds. Marxism is the inverse of liberalism, in that it replaces the intellectual with the material. The competition of economic classes is also much more intensified than the competition between opinions and commercial interests under liberalism. The Marxist class struggle is violent and bloody. Belief in parliamentary debate is replaced with belief in “direct action”. Drawing from the same rationalist intellectual tradition as the radical democrats, Marxism rejects parliamentarism as sham covering the dictatorship of a particular class, i.e., the bourgeoise. True democracy is achieved through the reversal of class relations under a proletarian state that rules in the interest of the laboring majority. Such a state need not utilize formal democratic procedures, but may exist as an “educational dictatorship” that functions to enlighten the proletariat regarding its true class interests. Schmitt then contrasts the rationalism of both liberalism and Marxism with irrationalism. Central to irrationalism is the idea of a political myth, comparable to the religious mythology of previous belief systems, and originally developed by the radical left-wing but having since been appropriated by revolutionary nationalists. It is myth that motivates people to action, whether individually or collectively. It matters less whether a particular myth is true than if people are inspired by it.

 

          It is clear enough that Schmitt’s criticisms of liberalism are intended not so much as an effort to undermine democratic legitimacy as much as an effort to confront the weaknesses of the intellectual foundations of liberal democracy with candor and intellectual rigor, not necessarily to undermine liberal democracy, but out of recognition of the need for strong and decisive political authority capable of acting in the interests of the nation during perilous times. Schmitt remarks:

 

“If democratic identity is taken seriously, then in an emergency no other constitutional institution can withstand the sole criterion of the peoples’ will, however it is expressed.” (Sourcebook, p.337)

 

          In other words, the state must first act to preserve itself and the general welfare and well-being of the people at large. If necessary, the state may override narrow partisan interests, parliamentary procedure or, presumably, routine electoral processes. Such actions by political leadership may be illiberal, but not necessarily undemocratic, as the democratic general will does not include national suicide. Schmitt outlines this theory of the survival of the state as the first priority of politics in The Concept of the Political. The essence of the “political” is the existence of organized collectives prepared to meet existential threats to themselves with lethal force if necessary. The “political” is different from the moral, the aesthetic, the economic or the religious as it involves first and foremost the possibility of groups of human beings killing other human beings. This does not mean that war is necessarily “good” or something to be desired or agitated for. Indeed, it may sometimes be in the political interests of a state to avoid war. However, any state that wishes to survive must be prepared to meet challenges to its existence, whether from conquest or domination by external forces or revolution and chaos from internal forces. Additionally, a state must be capable of recognizing its own interests and assume sole responsibility for doing so. A state that cannot identify its enemies and counter enemy forces effectively is threatened existentially.

 

          Schmitt’s political ideas are more easily understood in the context of Weimar’s political situation. He is considering the position of a defeated and demoralized Germany, unable to defend itself against external threats, and threatened internally by weak, chaotic and unpopular political leadership, economic hardship, political and ideological polarization and growing revolutionary movements, sometimes exhibiting terrorist or fanatical characteristics. Schmitt regards Germany as desperately in need of some sort of foundation for the establishment of a recognized, legitimate political authority capable of upholding the interests and advancing the well-being of the nation in the face of foreign enemies and above domestic factional interests. This view is far removed from the Nazi ideas of revolution, crude racial determinism, the cult of the leader and war as a value unto itself. Schmitt is clearly a much different thinker than the adherents of the quasi-mystical nationalism common to the radical right-wing of the era. Weimar’s failure was due in part to the failure of political leadership to effectively address the questions raised by Schmitt.

 

Ernst Junger: The Resolute Life of an Anarch 10

by Keith Preston

Perhaps the most interesting, poignant and, possibly, threatening  type of writer and thinker is the one who not only defies conventional categorizations of thought but also offers a deeply penetrating critique of those illusions many hold to be the most sacred. Ernst Junger (1895-1998), who first came to literary prominence during Germany’s Weimar era as a diarist of the experiences of a front line stormtrooper during the Great War, is one such writer. Both the controversial nature of his writing and its staying power are demonstrated by the fact that he remains one of the most important yet widely disliked literary and cultural figures of twentieth century Germany. As recently as 1993, when Junger would have been ninety-eight years of age, he was the subject of an intensely hostile exchange in the “New York Review of Books” between an admirer and a detractor of his work.(1) On the occasion of his one hundreth birthday in 1995, Junger was the subject of a scathing, derisive musical performed in East Berlin. Yet Junger was also the recipient of Germany’s most prestigious literary awards, the Goethe Prize and the Schiller Memorial Prize. Junger, who converted to Catholicism at the age of 101, received a commendation from Pope John Paul II and was an honored guest of French President Francois Mitterand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the Franco-German reconciliation ceremony at Verdun in 1984. Though he was an exceptional achiever during virtually every stage of his extraordinarily long life, it was his work during the Weimar period that not only secured for a Junger a presence in German cultural and political history, but also became the standard by which much of his later work was evaluated and by which his reputation was, and still is, debated. (2)

 

Ernst Junger was born on March 29, 1895 in Heidelberg, but was raised in Hanover. His father, also named Ernst, was an academically trained chemist who became wealthy as the owner of a pharmaceutical manufacturing business, finding himself successful enough to essentially retire while he was still in his forties. Though raised as an evangelical Protestant, Junger’s father did not believe in any formal religion, nor did his mother, Karoline, an educated middle class German woman whose interests included Germany’s rich literary tradition and the cause of women’s emancipation. His parents’ politics seem to have been liberal, though not radical, in the manner not uncommon to the rising bourgeoise of Germany’s upper middle class during the pre-war period. It was in this affluent, secure bourgeoise environment that Ernst Junger grew up. Indeed, many of Junger’s later activities and professed beliefs are easily understood as a revolt against the comfort and safety of his upbringing. As a child, he was an avid reader of the tales of adventurers and soldiers, but a poor academic student who did not adjust well to the regimented Prussian educational system. Junger’s instructors consistently complained of his inattentiveness. As an adolescent, he became involved with the Wandervogel, roughly the German equivalent of the Boy Scouts.(3)

 

          It was while attending a boarding school near his parents’ home in 1913, at the age of seventeen, that Junger first demonstrated his first propensity for what might be called an “adventurist” way of life. With only six months left before graduation, Junger left school, leaving no word to his family as to his destination. Using money given to him for school-related fees and expenses to buy a firearm and a railroad ticket to Verdun,  Junger subsequently enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, an elite military unit of the French armed forces that accepted enlistees of any nationality and had a reputation for attracting fugitives, criminals and career mercenaries. Junger had no intention of staying with the Legion. He only wanted to be posted to Africa, as he eventually was. Junger then deserted, only to be captured and sentenced to jail. Eventually his father found a capable lawyer for his wayward son and secured his release. Junger then returned to his studies and underwent a belated high school graduation. However, it was only a very short time later that Junger was back in uniform. (4)

 

Warrior and War Diarist

 

Ernst Junger immediately volunteered for military service when he heard the news that Germany was at war in the summer of 1914. After two months of training, Junger was assigned to a reserve unit stationed at Champagne. He was afraid the war would end before he had the opportunity to see any action. This attitude was not uncommon among many recruits or conscripts who fought in the war for their respective states. The question immediately arises at to why so many young people would wish to look into the face of death with such enthusiasm. Perhaps they really did not understand the horrors that awaited them. In Junger’s case, his rebellion against the security and luxury of his bourgeoise upbringing had already been ably demonstrated by his excursion with the French Foreign Legion. Because of his high school education, something that soldiers of more proletarian origins lacked, Junger was selected to train to become an officer. Shortly before beginning his officer’s training, Junger was exposed to combat for the first time. From the start, he carried pocket-sized notebooks with him and recorded his observations on the front lines. His writings while at the front exhibit a distinctive tone of detachment, as though he is simply an observer watching while the enemy fires at others. In the middle part of 1915, Junger suffered his first war wound, a bullet graze to the thigh that required only two weeks of recovery time. Afterwards, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.(5)

 

At age twenty-one, Junger was the leader of a reconnaissance team at the Somme whose purpose was to go out at night and search for British landmines. Early on, he acquired the reputation of a brave soldier who lacked the preoccupation with his own safety common to most of the fighting men. The introduction of steel artifacts into the war, tanks for the British side and steel helmets for the Germans, made a deep impression on Junger. Wounded three times at the Somme, Junger was awarded the Iron Medal First Class. Upon recovery, he returned to the front lines. A combat daredevil, he once held out against a much larger British force with only twenty men. After being transferred to fight the French at Flanders, he lost ten of his fourteen men and was wounded in the left hand by a blast from French shelling. After being harshly criticized by a superior officer for the number of men lost on that particular mission, Junger began to develop a contempt for the military hierarchy whom he regarded as having achieved their status as a result of their class position, frequently lacking combat experience of their own. In late 1917, having already experienced nearly three full years of combat, Junger was wounded for the fifth time during a surprise assault by the British. He was grazed in the head by a bullet, acquiring two holes in his helmet in the process. His performance in this battle won him the Knights Cross of the Hohenzollerns. In March 1918, Junger participated in another fierce battle with the British, losing 87 of his 150 men. (6)

 

            Nothing impressed Junger more than personal bravery and endurance on the part of soldiers. He once “fell to the ground in tears” at the sight of a young recruit who had only days earlier been unable to carry an ammunition case by himself suddenly being able to carry two cases of missles after surviving an attack of British shells. A recurring theme in Junger’s writings on his war experiences is the way in which war brings out the most savage human impulses. Essentially, human beings are given full license to engage in behavior that would be considered criminal during peacetime. He wrote casually about burning occupied towns during the course of retreat or a shift of position. However, Junger also demonstrated a capacity for merciful behavior during his combat efforts. He refrained from shooting a cornered British soldier after the foe displayed a portrait of his family to Junger. He was wounded yet again in August of 1918. Having been shot in the chest and directly through a lung, this was his most serious wound yet. After being hit, he still managed to shoot dead yet another British officer. As Junger was being carried off the battlefield on a stretcher, one of the stretcher carriers was killed by a British bullet. Another German soldier attempted to carry Junger on his back, but the soldier was shot dead himself and Junger fell to the ground. Finally, a medic recovered him and pulled him out of harm’s way. This episode would be the end of his battle experiences during the Great War.(7)

 

In Storms of Steel

 

Junger’s keeping of his wartime diaries paid off quite well in the long run. They were to become the basis of his first and most famous book, In Storms of Steel, published in 1920. The title was given to the book by Junger himself, having found the phrase in an old Icelandic saga. It was at the suggestion of his father that Junger first sought to have his wartime memoirs published. Initially, he found no takers, antiwar sentiment being extremely high in Germany at the time, until his father at last arranged to have the work published privately. In Storms of Steel differs considerably from similar works published by war veterans during the same era, such as Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and John Dos Passos’ Three Soldiers. Junger’s book reflects none of the disillusionment with war by those experienced in its horrors of the kind found in these other works. Instead, Junger depicted warfare as an adventure in which the soldier faced the highest possible challenge, a battle to the death with a mortal enemy. Though Junger certainly considered himself to be a patriot and, under the influence of Maurice Barres (8), eventually became a strident German nationalist, his depiction of military combat as an idyllic setting where human wills face the supreme test rose far above ordinary nationalist sentiments. Junger’s warrior ideal was not merely the patriot fighting out of a profound sense of loyalty to his country  nor the stereotype of the dutiful soldier whose sense of honor and obedience compels him to follow the orders of his superiors in a headlong march towards death. Nor was the warrior prototype exalted by Junger necessarily an idealist fighting for some alleged greater good such as a political ideal or religious devotion. Instead, war itself is the ideal for Junger. On this question, he was profoundly influenced by Nietzsche, whose dictum “a good war justifies any cause”, provides an apt characterization of Junger’s depiction of the life (and death) of the combat soldier. (9)

 

This aspect of Junger’s outlook is illustrated quite well by the ending he chose to give to the first edition of In Storms of Steel. Although the second edition (published in 1926) ends with the nationalist rallying cry, “Germany lives and shall never go under!”, a sentiment that was deleted for the third edition published in 1934 at the onset of the Nazi era, the original edition ends simply with Junger in the hospital after being wounded for the final time and receiving word that he has received yet another commendation for his valor as a combat soldier. There is no mention of Germany’s defeat a few months later. Nationalism aside, the book is clearly about Junger, not about Germany, and Junger’s depiction of the war simultaneously displays an extraordinary level detachment for someone who lived in the face of death for four years and a highly personalized account of the war where battle is first and foremost about the assertion of one’s own “will to power” with cliched patriotic pieties being of secondary concern.

 

Indeed, Junger goes so far as to say there were winners and losers on both sides of the war. The true winners were not those who fought in a particular army or for a particular country, but who rose to the challenge placed before them and essentially achieved what Junger regarded as a higher state of enlightenment. He believed the war had revealed certain fundamental truths about the human condition. First, the illusions of the old bourgeoise order concerning peace, progress and prosperity had been inalterably shattered. This was not an uncommon sentiment during that time, but it is a revelation that Junger seems to revel in while others found it to be overwhelmingly devastating. Indeed, the lifelong champion of Enlightenment liberalism, Bertrand Russell, whose life was almost as long as Junger’s and who observed many of the same events from a much different philosophical perspective, once remarked that no one who had been born before 1914 knew what it was like to be truly happy.(10) A second observation advanced by Junger had to do with the role of technology in transforming the nature of war, not only in a purely mechanical sense, but on a much greater existential level. Before, man had commanded weaponry in the course of combat. Now weaponry of the kind made possible by modern technology and industrial civilization essentially commanded man. The machines did the fighting. Man simply resisted this external domination. Lastly, the supremacy of might and the ruthless nature of human existence had been demonstrated. Nietzsche was right. The tragic, Darwinian nature of the human condition had been revealed as an irrevocable law.

 

In Storms of Steel was only the first of several works based on his experiences as a combat officer that were produced by Junger during the 1920s. Copse 125 described a battle between two small groups of combatants. In this work, Junger continued to explore the philosophical themes present in his first work. The type of technologically driven warfare that emerged during the Great War is characterized as reducing men to automatons driven by airplanes, tanks and machine guns. Once again, jingoistic nationalism is downplayed as a contributing factor to the essence of combat soldier’s spirit. Another work of Junger’s from the early 1920s, Battle as Inner Experience, explored the psychology of war. Junger suggested that civilization itself was but a mere mask for the “primordial” nature of humanity that once again reveals itself during war. Indeed, war had the effect of elevating humanity to a higher level. The warrior becomes a kind of god-like animal, divine in his superhuman qualities, but animalistic in his bloodlust. The perpetual threat of imminent death is a kind of intoxicant. Life is at its finest when death is closest. Junger described war as a struggle for a cause that overshadows the respective political or cultural ideals of the combatants. This overarching cause is courage. The fighter is honor bound to respect the courage of his mortal enemy. Drawing on the philosophy of Nietzsche, Junger argued that the war had produced a “new race” that had replaced the old pieties, such as those drawn from religion, with a new recognition of the primacy of the “will to power”.(11)

 

Conservative Revolutionary

 

Junger’s writings about the war quickly earned him the status of a celebrity during the Weimar period. Battle as Inner Experience contained the prescient suggestion that the young men who had experienced the greatest war the world had yet to see at that point could never be successfully re-integrated into the old bougeoise order from which they came. For these fighters, the war had been a spiritual experience. Having endured so much only to see their side lose on such seemingly humiliating terms, the veterans of the war were aliens to the rationalistic, anti-militarist, liberal republic that emerged in 1918 at the close of the war. Junger was at his parents’ home recovering from war wounds during the time of the attempted coup by the leftist workers’ and soldiers’ councils and subsequent suppression of these by the Freikorps. He experimented with psychoactive drugs such as cocaine and opium during this time, something that he would continue to do much later in life. Upon recovery, he went back into active duty in the much diminished Germany army. Junger’s earliest works, such as In Storms of Steel, were published during this time and he also wrote for military journals on the more technical and specialized aspects of combat and military technology. Interestingly, Junger attributed Germany’s defeat in the war simply to poor leadership, both military and civilian, and rejected the “stab in the back” legend that consoled less keen veterans.

 

After leaving the army in 1923, Junger continued to write, producing a novella about a soldier during the war titled Sturm, and also began to study the philosophy of Oswald Spengler. His first work as a philosopher of nationalism appeared the Nazi paper Volkischer Beobachter in September, 1923.

Critiquing the failed Marxist revolution of 1918, Junger argued that the leftist coup failed because of its lacking of fresh ideas. It was simply a regurgitation of the egalitarian outllook of the French Revolution. The revolutionary left appealed only to the material wants of the Germany people in Junger’s views. A successful revolution would have to be much more than that. It would have to appeal to their spiritual or “folkish” instincts as well. Over the next few years Junger studied the natural sciences at the University of Leipzig and in 1925, at age thirty, he married nineteen-year-old Gretha von Jeinsen. Around this time, he also became a full-time political  writer. Junger was hostile to Weimar democracy and its commercial bourgeiose society. His emerging political ideal was one of an elite warrior caste that stood above petty partisan politics and the middle class obsession with material acquisition. Junger became involved with the the Stahlhelm, a right-wing veterans group, and was a contributer to its paper, Die Standardite. He associated himself with the younger, more militant members of the organization who favored an uncompromised nationalist revolution and eschewed the parliamentary system. Junger’s weekly column in Die Standardite disseminated his nationalist ideology to his less educated readers. Junger’s views at this point were a mixture of Spengler, Social Darwinism, the traditionalist philosophy of the French rightist Maurice Barres, opposition to the internationalism of the left that had seemingly been discredited by the events of 1914, irrationalism and anti-parliamentarianism. He took a favorable view of the working class and praised the Nazis’ efforts to win proletarian sympathies. Junger also argued that a nationalist outlook need not be attached to one particular form of government, even suggesting that a liberal monarchy would be inferior to a nationalist republic.(12)

 

In an essay for Die Standardite titled “The Machine”, Junger argued that the principal struggle was not between social classes or political parties but between man and technology. He was not anti-technological in a Luddite sense, but regarded the technological apparatus of modernity to have achieved a position of superiority over mankind which needed to be reversed. He was concerned that the mechanized efficiency of modern life produced a corrosive effect on the human spirit. Junger considered the Nazis’ glorification of peasant life to be antiquated. Ever the realist, he believed the world of the rural people to be in a state of irreversible decline. Instead, Junger espoused a “metropolitan nationalism” centered on the urban working class. Nationalism was the antidote to the anti-particularist materialism of the Marxists who, in Junger’s views, simply mirrored the liberals in their efforts to reduce the individual to a component of a mechanized mass society. The humanitarian rhetoric of the left Junger dismissed as the hypocritical cant of power-seekers feigning benevolence. He began to pin his hopes for a nationalist revolution on the younger veterans who comprised much of the urban working class.

 

In 1926, Junger became editor of Arminius, which also featured the writings of Nazi leaders like Alfred Rosenberg and Joseph Goebbels. In 1927, he contributed his final article to the Nazi paper, calling for a new definition of the “worker”, one not rooted in Marxist ideology but the idea of the worker as a civilian counterpart to the soldier who struggles fervently for the nationalist ideal. Junger and  Hitler had exchanged copies of their respective writings and a scheduled meeting between the two was canceled due to a change in Hitler’s itinerary. Junger respected Hitler’s abilities as an orator, but came to feel he lacked the ability to become a true leader. He also found Nazi ideology to be intellectually shallow, many of the Nazi movement’s leaders to be talentless and was displeased by the vulgarity,  crassly opportunistic and overly theatrical aspects of Nazi public rallies. Always an elitist, Junger considered the Nazis’ pandering the common people to be debased. As he became more skeptical of the Nazis, Junger began writing for a wider circle of readers beyond that of the militant nationalist right-wing. His works began to appear in the Jewish liberal Leopold Schwarzchild’s Das Tagebuch and the “national-bolshevik” Ernst Niekisch’s Widerstand.

 

Junger began to assemble around himself an elite corps of bohemian, eccentric intellectuals who would meet regularly on Friday evenings. This group included some of the most interesting personalities of the Weimar period. Among them were the Freikorps veteran Ernst von Salomon, Otto von Strasser, who with his brother Gregor led a leftist anti-Hitler faction of the Nazi movement, the national-bolshevik Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam who had figured prominently in the early phase of the failed leftist revolution of 1918, the American writer Thomas Wolfe and the expressionist writer Arnolt Bronnen. Many among this group espoused a type of revolutionary socialism based on nationalism rather than class, disdaining the Nazis’ opportunistic outreach efforts to the middle class. Some, like Niekisch, favored an alliance between Germany and Soviet Russia against the liberal-capitalist powers of the West. Occasionally, Joseph Goebbels would turn up at these meetings hoping to convert the group, particularly Junger himself, whose war writings he had admired, to the Nazi cause. These efforts by the Nazi propaganda master proved unsuccessful. Junger regarded Goebbels as a shallow ideologue who spoke in platitudes even in private conversation.(13)

 

The final break between Ernst Junger and the NSDAP occurred in September 1929. Junger published an article in Schwarzchild’s Tagebuch attacking and ridiculing the Nazis as sell outs for having reinvented themselves as a parliamentary party. He also dismissed their racism and anti-Semitism as ridiculous, stating that according to the Nazis a nationalist is simply someone who “eats three Jews for breakfast.” He condemned the Nazis for pandering to the liberal middle class and reactionary traditional conservatives “with lengthy tirades against the decline in morals, against abortion, strikes, lockouts, and the reduction of police and military forces.” Goebbels responded by attacking Junger in the Nazi press, accusing him being motivated by personal literary ambition, and insisting this had caused him “to vilify the national socialist movement, probably so as to make himself popular in his new kosher surroundings” and dismissing Junger’s attacks by proclaiming the Nazis did not “debate with renegades who abuse us in the smutty press of Jewish traitors.”(14)

 

Junger on the Jewish Question

 

Junger held complicated views on the question of German Jews. He considered anti-Semitism of the type espoused by Hitler to be crude and reactionary. Yet his own version of nationalism required a level of homogeneity that was difficult to reconcile with the subnational status of Germany Jewry. Junger suggested that Jews should assimilate and pledge their loyalty to Germany once and for all. Yet he expressed admiration for Orthodox Judaism and indifference to Zionism. Junger maintained personal friendships with Jews and wrote for a Jewish owned publication. During this time his Jewish publisher Schwarzchild published an article examining Junger’s views on the Jews of Germany. Schwarzchild insisted that Junger was nothing like his Nazi rivals on the far right. Junger’s nationalism was based on an aristocratic warrior ethos, while Hitler’s was more comparable to the criminal underworld. Hitler’s men were “plebian alley scum”. However, Schwarzchild also characterized Junger’s rendition of nationalism as motivated by little more than a fervent rejection of bourgeoise society and lacking in attention to political realities and serious economic questions.(15)

 

The Worker

 

Other than In Storms of Steel, Junger’s The Worker: Mastery and Form was his most influential work from the Weimar era. Junger would later distance himself from this work, published in 1932, and it was reprinted in the 1950s only after Junger was prompted to do so by Martin Heidegger.

In The Worker, Junger outlines his vision of a future state ordered as a technocracy based on workers and soldiers led by a warrior elite. Workers are no longer simply components of an industrial machine, whether capitalist or communist, but have become a kind of civilian-soldier operating as an economic warrior. Just as the soldier glories in his accomplishments in battle, so does the worker glory in the achievements expressed through his work. Junger predicted that continued technological advancements would render the worker/capitalist dichotomy obsolete. He also incorporated the political philosophy of his friend Carl Schmitt into his worldview. As Schmitt saw international relations as a Hobbesian battle between rival powers, Junger believed each state would eventually adopt a system not unlike what he described in The Worker. Each state would maintain its own technocratic order with the workers and soldiers of each country playing essentially the same role on behalf of their respective nations. International affairs would be a crucible where the will to power of the different nations would be tested.

Junger’s vision contains a certain amount prescience. The general trend in politics at the time was a movement towards the kind of technocratic state Junger described. These took on many varied forms including German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Soviet Communism, the growing welfare states of Western Europe and America’s New Deal. Coming on the eve of World War Two, Junger’s prediction of a global Hobbesian struggle between national collectives possessing previously unimagined levels of technological sophistication also seems rather prophetic. Junger once again attacked the bourgeoise as anachronistic. Its values of material luxury and safety he regarded as unfit for the violent world of the future. (16)

 

The National Socialist Era

 

By the time Hitler took power in 1933, Junger’s war writings had become commonly used in high schools and universities as examples of wartime literature, and Junger enjoyed success within the context of German popular culture as well. Excerpts of Junger’s works were featured in military journals. The Nazis tried to coopt his semi-celebrity status, but he was uncooperative. Junger was appointed to the Nazified German Academcy of Poetry, but declined the position. When the Nazi Party’s paper published some of his work in 1934, Junger wrote a letter of protest. The Nazi regime, despite its best efforts to capitalize on his reputation, viewed Junger with suspicioun. His past association with the national-bolshevik Ersnt Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam and the anti-Hitler Nazi Otto von Strasser, all of whom were either eventually killed or exiled by the Third Reich, led the Nazis to regard Junger as a potential subversive. On several occasions, Junger received visits from the Gestapo in search of some of his former friends. During the early years of the Nazi regime, Junger was in the fortunate position of being able to economically afford travel outside of Germany. He journeyed to Norway, Brazil, Greece and Morocco during this time, and published several works based on his travels.(17)

 

Junger’s most significant work from the Nazi period is the novel On the Marble Cliffs. The book is an allegorical attack on the Hitler regime. It was written in 1939, the same year that Junger reentered the German army. The book describes a mysterious villian that threatens a community, a sinister warlord called the “Head Ranger”. This character is never featured in the plot of the novel, but maintains a forboding presence that is universal (much like “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s 1984). Another character in the novel, “Braquemart”, is described as having physical characteristics remarkably similar to those of Goebbels. The book sold fourteen thousand copies during its first two weeks in publication. Swiss reviewers immediately recognized the allegorical references to the Nazi state in the novel. The Nazi Party’s organ, Volkische Beobachter, stated that Ernst Jünger was flirting with a bullet to the head. Goebbels urged Hitler to ban the book, but Hitler refused, probably not wanting to show his hand. Indeed, Hitler gave orders that Junger not be harmed.(18)

         

Junger was stationed in France for most of the Second World War. Once again, he kept diaries of the experience. Once again, he expressed concern that he might not get to see any action before the war was over. While Junger did not have the opportunity to experience the level of danger and daredevil heroics he had during the Great War, he did receive yet another medal, the Iron Cross, for retrieving the body of a dead corporal while under heavy fire. Junger also published some of his war diaries during this time. However, the German government took a dim view of these, viewing them as too sympathetic to the occupied French. Junger’s duties included censorship of the mail coming into France from German civilians. He took a rather liberal approach to this responsibility and simply disposed of incriminating documents rather than turning them over for investigation. In doing so, he probably saved lives. He also encountered members of France’s literary and cultural elite, among them the actor Louis Ferdinand Celine, a raving anti-Semite and pro-Vichyite who suggested Hitler’s harsh measures against the Jews had not been heavy handed enough. As rumors of the Nazi extermination programs began to spread,  Junger wrote in his diary that the mechanization of the human spirit of the type he had written about in the past had apparently generated a higher level of human depravity. When he saw three young French-Jewish girls wearing the yellow stars required by the Nazis, he wrote that he felt embarrassed to be in the Nazi army. In July of 1942, Junger observed the mass arrest of French Jews, the beginning of implementation of the “Final Solution”. He described the scene as follows:

 

“Parents were first separated from their children, so there was wailing to be heard in the streets. At no moment may I forget that I am surrounded by the unfortunate, by those suffering to the very depths, else what sort of person, what sort of officer would I be? The uniform obliges one to grant protection wherever it goes. Of course one has the impression that one must also, like Don Quixote, take on millions.”(19)

         

An entry into Junger’s diary from October 16, 1943 suggests that an unnamed army officer had told  Junger about the use of crematoria and poison gas to murder Jews en masse. Rumors of plots against Hitler circulated among the officers with whom Junger maintained contact. His son, Ernstl, was arrested after an informant claimed he had spoken critically of Hitler. Ernstl Junger was imprisoned for three months, then placed in a penal battalion where he was killed in action in Italy. On July 20, 1944 an unsuccessful assassination attempt was carried out against Hitler. It is still disputed as to whether or not Junger knew of the plot or had a role in its planning. Among those arrested for their role in the attemt on Hitler’s life were members of Junger’s immediate circle of associates and superior officers within the German army. Junger was dishonorably discharged shortly afterward.(20)

 

Following the close of the Second World War, Junger came under suspicion from the Allied occupational authorities because of his far right-wing nationalist and militarist past. He refused to cooperate with the Allies De-Nazification programs and was barred from publishing for four years. He would go on to live another half century, producing many more literary works, becoming a close friend of Albert Hoffman, the inventor of the hallucinogen LSD, with which he experimented. In a 1977 novel, Eumeswil, he took his tendency towards viewing the world around him with detachment to a newer, more clearly articulated level with his invention of the concept of the “Anarch”. This idea, heavily influenced by the writings of the early nineteenth century German philosopher Max Stirner, championed the solitary individual who remains true to himself within the context of whatever external circumstances happen to be present. Some sample quotations from this work illustrate the philosophy and worldview of the elderly Junger quite well:

 

“For the anarch, if he remains free of being ruled, whether by sovereign or society, this does not mean he refuses to serve in any way. In general, he serves no worse than anyone else, and sometimes even better, if he likes the game. He only holds back from the pledge, the sacrifice, the ultimate devotion … I serve in the Casbah; if, while doing this, I die for the Condor, it would be an accident, perhaps even an obliging gesture, but nothing more.”

 

“The egalitarian mania of demagogues is even more dangerous than the brutality of men in gallooned coats. For the anarch, this remains theoretical, because he avoids both sides. Anyone who has been oppressed can get back on his feet if the oppression did not cost him his life. A man who has been equalized is physically and morally ruined. Anyone who is different is not equal; that is one of the reasons why the Jews are so often targeted.”

 

“The anarch, recognizing no government, but not indulging in paradisal dreams as the anarchist does, is, for that very reason, a neutral observer.”

 

“Opposition is collaboration.”

 

“A basic theme for the anarch is how man, left to his own devices, can defy superior force – whether state, society or the elements – by making use of their rules without submitting to them.”

 

“… malcontents… prowl through the institutions eternally dissatisfied, always disappointed. Connected with this is their love of cellars and rooftops, exile and prisons, and also banishment, on which they actually pride themselves. When the structure finally caves in they are the first to be killed in the collapse. Why do they not know that the world remains inalterable in change? Because they never find their way down to its real depth, their own. That is the sole place of essence, safety. And so they do themselves in.”

 

“The anarch may not be spared prisons – as one fluke of existence among others. He will then find the fault in himself.”

 

“We are touching one a … distinction between anarch and anarchist; the relation to authority, to legislative power. The anarchist is their mortal enemy, while the anarch refuses to acknowledge them. He seeks neither to gain hold of them, nor to topple them, nor to alter them – their impact bypasses him. He must resign himself only to the whirlwinds they generate.”

 

“The anarch is no individualist, either. He wishes to present himself neither as a Great Man nor as a Free Spirit. His own measure is enough for him; freedom is not his goal; it is his property. He does not come on as foe or reformer: one can get along nicely with him in shacks or in palaces. Life is too short and too beautiful to sacrifice for ideas, although contamination is not always avoidable. But hats off to the martyrs.”

 

“We can expect as little from society as from the state. Salvation lies in the individual.” (21)

 

Notes:

 

1. Ian Buruma, “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993. Hilary Barr, “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

 

2. Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996, pp. 1-7. Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974, preface.

 

3. Nevin, pp. 9-26. Loose, p. 21

 

4. Loose, p. 22. Nevin, pp. 27-37.

 

5. Nevin. p. 49.

 

6. Ibid., p. 57

 

7. Ibid., p. 61

 

8. Maurice Barrès (September 22, 1862 December 4, 1923) was a French novelist, journalist, an anti-semite, nationalist politician and agitator. Leaning towards the far-left in his youth as a Boulangist deputy, he progressively developed a theory close to Romantic nationalism and shifted to the right during the Dreyfus Affair, leading the Anti-Dreyfusards alongside Charles Maurras. In 1906, he was elected both to the Académie française and as deputy of the Seine department, and until his death he sat with the conservative Entente républicaine démocratique. A strong supporter of the Union sacrée(Holy Union) during World War I, Barrès remained a major influence of generations of French writers, as well as of monarchists, although he was not a monarchist himself. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Barr%C3%A8s

 

9. Nevin, pp. 58, 71, 97.

 

10. Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.

 

11. Nevin, pp. 122, 125, 134, 136, 140, 173.

 

12. Ibid., pp. 75-91.

 

13. Ibid., p. 107.

 

14. Ibid., p. 108.

 

15. Ibid., pp. 109-111.

 

16. Ibid., pp. 114-140.

 

17. Ibid., p. 145.

 

18. Ibid., p. 162.

 

19. Ibid., p. 189.

 

20. Ibid., p. 209.

 

21. Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marion Publishers, 1980, 1993.

 

Bibliography

 

Barr, Hilary. “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

 

Braun, Abdalbarr. “Warrior, Waldgaenger, Anarch: An Essay on Ernst Junger’s Concept of the Sovereign Individual”. Archived at http://www.fluxeuropa.com/juenger-anarch.htm

 

Buruma, Ian. “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993.

 

Hofmann, Albert. LSD: My Problem Child, Chapter Seven, “Radiance From Ernst Junger”. Archived at http://www.flashback.se/archive/my_problem_child/chapter7.html

 

Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974.

 

Hervier, Julien. The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Junger. New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1986.

 

Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1980, 1993.

 

Junger, Ernst. In Storms of Steel. New York: Penguin Books, 1920, 1963, 2003.

 

Junger, Ernst. On the Marble Cliffs. New York: Duenewald Printing Corporation, 1947.

 

Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germnay: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996.

 

Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.

 

Stern, J. P. Ernst Junger. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953.

 

Zavrel, Consul B. John. “Ernst Junger is Still Working at 102”. Archived at http://www.meaus.com/Ernst%20Junger%20at%20102.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

The "Purge" Revisted: Anarcho-Leftoids Unite in Hatred Against Keith Preston 15

In his autobiography, Jerry Rubin, the late leader and co-founder of the 1960s era leftist-anarchist court jester faction the “Yippies”, told a story about how during a speech he had remarked that hippie kids should “kill their parents for the revolution.” He was speaking metaphorically, suggesting that the perceived stodgy or overly jingoist values of the pre-60s generation should be overturned, not that hippie kids should procure a knife from the kitchen and off Mom and Pop, Charlie Manson-style. But a menacing photograph of Rubin subsequently appeared on the cover of the National Enquirer with the bold headlines: “Yippie Leader Tells Kids to Kill Their Parents.” And so both a legend and a scandal were born.

I really don’t know what to make of the reaction to my recently published essay, “Is Extremism in the Defense of Sodomy No Vice?” in the circles of what is called “left-libertarianism,” particularly considering that I have been only peripherally associated with that “movement.” Given the rather extensive number of blog posts and comments threads that have appeared in response, perhaps someone in a “man from Mars” position could be forgiven for assuming that Keith Preston must be someone of overwhelming importance, perhaps a presidential candidate or leader of a mass movement of millions, with its own mass army, and who has called for a “night of the long knives” purge of the left-deviationist, homo-erotically-inclined, Ernst Roehm wing of the Left Libertarian Anarcho-National Socialist Workers Party, no doubt to secure my own grip on the Chancellorship. I suppose I should be honored that others consider my pronouncements to be of such significance, though my first inclination is to respond with the immortal words of William Shatner, who said in a comparable context: “Get a life!”

With the notable exception of Kevin Carson’s very gracious “Open Letter,” most of the criticisms expressed either a) do not contain enough substance to merit the dignity of a response or b) originate from individuals who have already rejected my own positions fairly thoroughly, anyway or c) both of the aforementioned. However, there have been a few critics who raise issues worth addressing, and if others find my own ideas to be important enough to merit the volume and kinds of response that has been generated, I suppose I should make the effort to insure that my views are being accurately understood and represented in the discussion that is taking place. So here goes.

Totally Unrepentant: A Reply to Mike Golguski

Mike Golguski is someone I know absolutely nothing about, except that he’s the fellow who renounced his American citizenship and has become officially “stateless” as someone who is not a citizen of any particular nation. If all that is true, then I very much respect him for taking such an action, given that such doings can hardly be in his own personal self-interest. Apparently, Golguski is the one who got the ball rolling in the flood of responses to my “sodomy” piece, and I’ve already posted a response on the No State blog. I want to follow up by addressing Golguski’s final sentence: “Without substantial work at repentance, Keith will not be welcome at my table, nor in my tent.”

I do not care if Golguski does not want me at his table or in his tent. After all, this whole anarcho-libertarian thing is supposed to include something about freedom of association and property rights, and that goes double for a pan-separatist like bad old me. Unlike some of my more vociferous critics, I do not care if others wish to “exclude” me from their midst. What do I find interesting is Golguski’s use of the term “repentance.” This would seem to provide evidence for the claims that I and others far more capable than myself like Alain De Benoist, Tomislav Sunic, Murray Rothbard, Samuel Francis or Paul Gottfried have made that modern “cultural leftism,” “multiculturalism,” “political correctness,” “cultural Marxism” or whatever one wishes to call it is, like orthodox Marxism and American-style liberal-progressivism before it, a type of secularized, pseudo-Christian moralism. As Thomas Sowell has mentioned, ideological leftists often tend to regard their opponents as not being not only in error, but in sin, in the same manner as their ostensible Christian rivals. Suffice to say that as a pagan, a Machiavellian, a Nietzschean, and a Stirnerite, Keith Preston does not “repent” of anything. I am reminded of an incident from well over twenty years ago when I received a letter from a former pastor of the Christian Reconstructionist church I went to as a kid, urging me to repent of the Satanic monstrosities I had inflicted on the world as an adult. I replied with a brief note saying, “Fuck you, Jesus Freak!” or something to that effect. I’d say something similar in this particular context as well.

People, Revolution and Warfare: A Reply to Brad Spangler

Brad Spangler has a post up that seems to be sincere in intentions but is a grotesque misrepresentation of my actual views. The ideas Spangler attributes to me are something like what I would imagine a parody of Keith Preston to be like.

First, as I see it, Preston mistakes the sociopathic proclivity for personal violence commonly encountered among white nationalists for martial prowess and “fighting spirit”. Simply put — every bigot is a bully, and every bully is a coward. If we are to fight, let us fight at the side of the brave. There is no Nazi utopia. The handful of “damaged personalities” who would lay down their lives for a twisted, dystopian vision would undoubtedly be no challenge for a suitably well-armed Girl Scout troop.

I actually agree with everything Spangler says here. The problem is these comments have nothing to do with my actual views. If one wishes to understand the nature of what I have called “martial spirit,” then read “In Storms of Steel” by Ernst Junger, who, by the way, was a close personal friend of the martyred Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam. I also disagree with the view that everyone bearing the label “white nationalist” fits the narrow stereotypes derived from images of George Lincoln Rockwell-influenced, Hogan’s Heroes-imitating, neo-nazis being described here. In fact, one could make the ironic claim that there might just be a little bit of the dreaded “bigotry” involved in such characterizations and generalizations. I will say that I actually agree with Spangler’s analysis of the psychology of those who do fit such stereotypes. I know very few such people, probably because there are very few such people. Occasionally, some of these Hogan’s Heroes types will creep into the periphery of my circle. I tend to regard them as an interesting oddity and curious sociological phenomena and little more. And, yes, most of them are sociopaths and damaged personalities, not unlike many of their counterparts on the Left, which is why they’re useless as political allies.

Secondly, despite wearing the grandiose term “American Revolutionary Vanguard” on his sleeve, that same above statement by Preston betrays an apparently very crude, shallow and underdeveloped understanding of anarchist revolution as simply insurrection. It appears that in Preston’s view, if we can manage to collect enough of those who simply want to kill people and blow things up, we “win”. A more credible understanding is the notion that by attacking the illusionary moral legitimacy of the state we build a revolutionary class consciousness among the victims of statism that can compel them to cooperate in defending themselves against the state. And since you can’t blow up a set of dysfunctional social relationships, Preston is metaphorically flailing about at imagined nails because the only tool he apparently respects is a hammer.

I actually agree that delegitimizing the state is a fundamental part of a revolutionary effort. Where I suspect Spangler and I would disagree is that I think it unlikely that “the masses” will ever become self-proclaimed “anarchists,” and reject abstractions like “the state”, much less “authority,” “hierarchy,” “domination,” yadda, yadda, in some carte blanche sense. Without getting too deep into it, I’ll say that I don’t think the evidence from social psychology indicates that hopes for such an occurrence are warranted. However, there is much precedent of particular states losing their perceived legitimacy, usually do to their perceived violation of long-established cultural, political and historic traditions within a particular society. That is why I advocate a secessionist strategy. Secession has strong roots in American political culture, and we need to assemble a critical mass that recognizes that the present ruling class is illegitimate according to popular norms of what constitutes legitimacy. What I have in mind would simply be a repetition of 1776 and 1861, that is all.

Third, Preston suffers from a failure to understand the realities of multilateral conflict in failing states. I’ll use Iraq as an example. Ba’athists, tribal militias and Islamists commonly do cooperate on the battlefield on a per-project basis when it suits them, despite the gross differences in their visions of what they are fighting for. They create no unifying organization. Preston’s laughable proposal to “purge” an entire family of related movements with no centralized command and control speaks volumes about his understanding of organization. He’s acting as if he seeks some sort of neo-Maoist political coalition unified in thought and action — and any thoughts would apparently be okay, as long as those thoughts gather together a sufficient amount of cannon fodder.

Umm, excuse me, but has anyone ever heard of Lexington and Concord? Fort Sumter? The Durruti Column? Nestor Makhno? I simply advocate political and military alliances against common enemies, not alliances based on ideological abstractions. Nations and armies do this all the time. The issue of internecine fighting among alliance members is obviously a genuinely serious matter. That’s part of the reason why I am a pan-separatist. The anti-imperialist resistance needs its own Peace of Augsburg.

Immigration Uber Alles? A Reply to Charles “Rad Geek” Johnson

Johnson offers the same criticisms as others, with the addition of a rather intense focus on issues related to immigration, reflected in these comments pulled from different blog postings:

Similarly, I wonder what you think about the several paragraphs Keith spends attacking “the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism,” by which he apparently means the plumb-line libertarian position against government border checkpoints, papers-please police state monitoring, and government prohibitions on hiring immigrant workers [?!]. When Keith claims that the anarchistic position is to enforce border checkpoints and police-state monitoring of national citizenship papers, the use of government immigration enforcement to exile from the country those that the American government declares “criminals [or] enemies of America” (?!) and suggests government prohibitions against employing undocumented immigrants, and apparently also government prohibitions against employing any immigrants at all during a strike (?!) — when, in short, he calls, over and over again for the expansion of the state and an increase in the power of government border police, in the name of nationalist politics, and attempts to justify this Stasi-statism by pointing to the majority opinion among those approved to vote in government elections by the United States government (?!) — what do you think of that? Do you really think of that as just a problem of “tone”? Or is a problem with the substance of his position?

The only place in which decentralization is mentioned in the discussion of immigration politics is to suggest that criteria for naturalization — that is, extending the status as politically-enfranchised citizens to immigrants — be spun off to “local community standards.” Once that’s done, though, he has nothing to say about changing how the central state treats people who are or are not counted as naturalized. Nowhere does he suggest dismantling existing centralized definitions of “national borders.” Nowhere does he suggest dismantling or even decentralizing existing agencies of border fortification, border checkpoints, border patrol, immigration-status documentation and surveillance, imprisonment and trial of alleged undocumented immigrants, paramilitary immigration enforcement, forcible deportation, etc. etc. etc. Instead he suggests giving these existing centralized government agencies more to do. He explicitly calls for deployment of the existing centralized government immigration control system: he explicitly calls for “designated checkpoints” to be run by the government, with “an objective screening process,” which is designed to screen out “criminals, enemies of America” (?! how the fuck do you suppose you ban entry to government-defined “enemies of America” in a decentralized fashion?) and people with “certain kinds of contagious diseases”; he calls for deportation of those who don’t have permission slips for their existence from the worthless megamurdering United States government (from where to where? if it’s outside the borders of the U.S.A., we’re not talking about decentralization, are we?); he adds calls for new government prohibitions on “employers … using immigrants as scab labor” and “employer use of illegal immigrant [sic] labor”. How do you suppose you go about enacting and enforcing these government prohibitions and government bans on peaceful, consensual labor contracts, without expanding the size, power, and reach of the State?

For instance, how about the several paragraphs that he devotes to arguing that anarchists, of all people, ought to be calling for the expansion of government checkpoints, documentation requirements, and prohibitions against immigrant workers? I don’t know about you, but I’d say that there’s some ideological shortcoming going on when a professed anti-statist goes around arguing for the escalation of police state tactics by government border thugs (because, hey, a majority of government-approved voters want it! well, hell, sign me up!).

I wonder what you think about the several paragraphs Keith spends, in an essay which, according to you, is mainly defending freedom of association and dissociation, attacking what he characterizes as “the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism,” by which he apparently means the plumb-line libertarian position against government border checkpoints, papers-please police state monitoring, and government prohibitions on hiring immigrant workers.

When Keith claims that the anarchistic position is in fact to enlist the United States government to enforce border checkpoints and police-state monitoring of national citizenship papers, to demand the use of government immigration enforcement to exile from the country those that the American government declares “criminals [or] enemies of America” (?!); when he suggests escalating government prohibitions against employing undocumented immigrants, and apparently also creating new government prohibitions against employing any immigrants at all during a government-recognized strike (?!) — when, in short, he calls, over and over again for the expansion of the state and an increase in the power of government border police, in the name of nationalist politics, for the purpose of a systematic assault on free markets and free association, and then attempts to justify this Stasi-statism by pointing to the majority opinion among those approved to vote in government elections by the United States government (?!) — what do you think of all that? Do you think that this is defending the claim that “people can associate however they want in a libertarian world”? Do you think that this propaganda for growing the size, scope, and intensity of government enforcement, is the sort of thing that would make libertarianism more attractive to “regular (?) anti-government” types?

I think it can be assumed rather safely that Johnson cares a great deal about this topic. Here’s what I have written on immigration elsewhere: See here , here (section VII), here , here , and here.

Rather than rehash all the pro and con libertarian arguments concerning immigration, which aren’t going to convince anyone anyway, I’ll simply describe how my own views on this topic have evolved over time. Until I was in my thirties, I was an unqualified “open borders” libertarian. If there was one individual who could be credited with motivating me to modify my views, it would be the late Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, a great irony considering the context of this debate, as Fortuyn was a flamboyantly gay man. Fortuyn argued against allowing mass Third World immigration into the West, and he argued from the Left rather than the nationalist or racialist Right. Simply put, his position that the “liberal” cultural values of the West, such as secularism, civil liberties, women’s rights, gay rights, and, in the case of Holland, tolerance of drug use and consensual prostitution, as well as the wider intellectual culture of the Enlightenment, were endangered by the importation of large numbers of persons from cultures that do not share such values. Fortuyn was mostly critical of Islamic immigration, but he gained the support of many among older Muslim communities in Holland, who believed immigration policy had become so indiscriminate as to allow criminals, terrorists, career welfare recipients and other such elements into the country.  For his efforts, Fortuyn was assassinated, not by a Muslim, but by a fanatical leftoid.  I was in Holland myself when all of this happened, and it was a bit of a wake-up call.

Today, I would consider myself a moderate on the immigration question. I’m not ready to embrace the “immigration is the root of all evil” rhetoric of VDare, yet I am also skeptical of Johnson’s free-for-all approach. I tend to agree with the analysis of Laurence Vance on this question. Most of the proposed policies that I have thrown out in the past concerning immigration are merely ideas for discussion, and nothing I’m particularly committed to. I will formally commit myself to only one policy concerning immigration: That immigration policy itself be taken out of the hands of the federal government and ruling class elites and as Hans Hermann Hoppe says:

More specifically, the authority to admit or exclude should be stripped from the hands of the central government and re-assigned to the states, provinces, cities, towns, villages, residential districts, and ultimately to private property owners and their voluntary associations. The means to achieve this goal are decentralization and secession (both inherently un-democratic, and un-majoritarian). One would be well on the way toward a restoration of the freedom of association and exclusion as it is implied in the idea and institution of private property, and much of the social strife currently caused by forced integration would disappear,…and to solve the “naturalization” question somewhat along the Swiss model, where local assemblies, not the central government, determine who can and who cannot become a Swiss citizen.

From there, vigorous debate can take place concerning how much or how little immigration there should be, and under what circumstances and conditions.

The Night of the Long Knives is Hereby Officially Cancelled: A Reply to Kevin Carson
Kevin Carson is as fine a scholar as any I have ever encountered anywhere, inside or outside the academic world, and across political and ideological boundaries. I consider his works on political economy and organization theory to be revolutionary in nature. He is one of those timeless writers like Hobbes, Carl Schmitt or Robert Nozick whose ideas transcend historical or ideological particulars. When someone of his caliber criticizes me, I’m inclined to pay attention and take what he says seriously. He graciously allowed me to view his “open letter” before posting it and, unlike some of my other critics, actually makes an effort to represent my own views correctly and temper his criticisms with nuance and civility. I’ll respond to what I think are Kevin’s essential points.
I have consistently defended you against the charges of fascism, racism, homophobia, and all the rest of it, that arose in response to your “big tent” strategy of offering solidarity to secessionists of all kinds. I still think you went too far in promoting active solidarity with national anarchist groups and racists.

Because my association with national-anarchists seems to be a particular thorn in the side for many of my critics, I will refer the reader to an essay I wrote assessing national-anarchism back in 2003. It can be viewed here. As for the libertarian credentials of national-anarchism, I will cite this interview from the movement’s founder, Troy Southgate. Beyond that, I will say that in my personal experience with national-anarchists, I have found all of them, to a person, capable of civil disagreement concerning major issues in a way that is completely absent from the “anarcho-leftoid” milieu. In other words, it is the leftoids who are the ones with the problem. Additionally, I know a number of people who consider themselves to be both left-libertarians and national-anarchists, and I know of number of national-anarchists who are sympathetic to many of the economic ideas of left-libertarianism, and I also know left-libertarians who personally disagree with national-anarchism but can approach the issue calmly. Unfortunately it is the leftoid loudmouths who seem to dominate the left-libertarian milieu’s online presence.

When Aster kicked you out of her Salon Liberty, I thought (and still think) she did so on inadequate grounds, and that nothing you’d said up to that point on your strategic approach (as outlined above) warranted such a reaction. As I recall, I said as much on her Salon at the time.

A bit of clarification is in order. When Aster booted me from her “salon” (which I can assure everyone was a long, long, long, long way from being the most tragic thing that ever happened to me), I actually defended her decision privately to others who criticized her. As a proponent of freedom of association, private property rights, the right of exclusion and pan-separatism, I have no problem with someone saying they don’t want me on their discussion list, or in their house, or in their backyard, or in their country club, or wherever. When Aster booted me, I bowed out in a way that, I think, was actually rather gracious. However, Aster has since that time persistently engaged in what quasibill has called “serial slander and cyber-stalking” towards me, at times attempting to do so anonymously but not very competently, and has attempted to draw wedges between me and others with whom I have no real quarrel. Furthermore, Aster’s clique of “friends” has refrained from criticizing her for doing so, but reacted with outrage and joined in her personal attacks when I have retaliated by throwing personal insults in her direction. The reasons for this double standard ought to be obvious.

But since she evicted you, I’ve noticed that your general language toward gays and transgender people has become increasingly “colorful” (i.e., deliberately demeaning) and hostile, by what seems like an order of magnitude or so.

No doubt about it. As this particular faction within left-libertarianism has escalated the personal attacks directed at me, I have retaliated. It’s a two-way street. I make no apologies for that. I reject the argument that the physical or sexual characteristics of others are off-limits when it comes to rhetorical political combat. For instance, the opponents of the Nazi movement during the Weimar Republic period used to refer to Goebbels as “Mickey Mouse” because of his large ears. I have no problem with such rhetoric. If others do, that’s their prerogative, but I simply do not share their conviction. If they wish to disavow or disassociate themselves from me because of it, then I would once again uphold the principle of free association and encourage them to do so.

Also, I should clarify that this war between myself and the anarcho-leftoids long pre-dates my conflict with Aster. I mean, for God’s sake, Aster’s internet postings read like a schizophrenic on an acid trip. Do I really give a damn about such a person? Of course not. The quality and content of my anti-leftoid rhetoric has not changed one bit since I first encountered Aster a couple of years ago. If one takes a look at this old article, and this, this, this, this, and this, one can see what I mean. All of these pieces were written before I ever heard of Aster, and make the same arguments and use similar rhetoric. It is true I had largely avoided such rhetoric in the left-libertarian milieu itself, as there was no need for it, but that changed as Aster and company began to attack me.

Likewise, you have become increasingly dismissive of all who express concerns about racism or fascism–even when they do not endorse thuggish “antifa” tactics–purely out of what seems to be your own increasingly knee-jerk hostility toward the “cultural left.”

I think there’s a point here that can be well-taken, with the qualification that in order to really answer this charge thoroughly I would need some working definition of what “racism and fascism” actually are, given that these terms are typically thrown about so loosely. I do concede that I find professional “anti-racism” hysterics to be a particularly ridiculous lot, and have also frequently been on the receiving end of their attacks, and consequently I have spent an excessive amount of time mocking them.

I recall a scene from the film “Born on the Fourth of July” where Tom Cruise portrays Ron Kovic, a disabled Vietnam vet who becomes a figure in the antiwar movement. In the early part of the film, Kovic is a gung-ho young guy who says he’s going off to fight in the Vietnam War in the name of anti-communism. As he is planning this escapade, a cynical but very sensible friend remarks, “Communists? Where are they? I don’t see them!”

On a more personal level, I get a very strong sense of deja vu whenever this “fascism” question is raised. When I was in the Central America solidarity movement, I used to get a lot of accusations of “communism” thrown in my direction, or else I was accused of being an abettor of “communism.” No matter how much effort I would put into explaining the difference between anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism and Stalinism or Maoism, no matter how much I insisted the issue in Central America was not between “democracy” and “communism” but between imperialism and self-determination, there were always plenty who didn’t want to hear it. I assure everyone, this got to be rather annoying-particularly when it was coming even from Mom!! Now twenty-three years later, the political winds have shifted and most of the serious revolutionaries are on the Right (at least in the U.S.). So I have shifted accordingly. Actually, I haven’t so much shifted as much as I’ve gone from being a “communist” to being a “fascist” simply by remaining in place.

In the advanced industrial democracies where nearly all of us reside, there are no organized “fascist” movements or parties of any significance. The closest thing I know of is the U.S. Republican Party, whose neoconservative ideology seems to share certain traits with fascism, such as jingoistic militarism and nationalism. See here, here and here.  But neoconservatism also has a liberal-universalist dimension to it that would probably make it more compatible with Jacobinism that fascism. Either way, when my critics talk about “fascism,” I don’t think they’re talking about the neocons anyway.

Some might point to an incident like a former member of the Italian Social Movement getting elected mayor of Rome, but this would seem to be about as significant as David Duke getting elected to the Louisiana state legislature some years ago. Italian politics has always had a freakish dimension to it. It had the largest Communist party in Europe in the 70s, and in the 80s the Italians elected a porn star to Parliament. Others might point to something like France’s National Front, but that has black members and a pro-Israel stance, so it’s obviously a long way from what is typically meant by “fascism.” The bottom line is that there’s not going to be a “fascist” mass movement in North America anymore than there’s going to be a Maoist or anarcho-communist mass movement. These ideologies are completely alien to our own society, and regarded as utterly freakish by 99.999% of observers.

As for “racism,” there are few things that have become greater taboos among Western elites than this. In some countries, charges of “racism” will land you in the joint. Even an eminent scientist like Dr. James Watson is not immune from professional retaliation over the issue of “racism.” Nothing destroys a public figure’s career quicker than “racism,” as Don Imus found out. I see no threat of “racism” whatsoever, just as I saw no threat of “communism” when I was in the Central America solidarity movement two decades ago. Indeed, I would argue that in many countries today, so-called “anti-racism” has become a force for obscurantism rather than enlightenment, just as “anti-communism” has played a similarly obscurantist role in the past. On such questions, I would agree with most of the views outlined in Sean Gabb’s book, “Cultural Revolution, Culture War.” Indeed, if one takes Gabb’s analysis and applies it to the United States, one would have the essential views of Keith Preston.

I just can’t see how “racism” is that big of a deal in a society where blacks are thirteen percent of the population, yet where a black man is head of state, and where things like this go on. I’ve spent years around universities and graduate schools, and decades around leftist political groups, so I’m familiar with the arguments concerning “institutional racism” and the major works upholding such themes. I don’t fully discount all such arguments. Likewise, I’ll certainly concede that there are subsets of blacks who aren’t doing so well, whether because of state policies like I’ve written about here, here and here or self-inflicted wounds. Beyond that, I’ve argued for the justifiability of reparations on “forty acres and a mule” grounds, endorsed black secessionist movements, and amnesty for blacks imprisoned for “victimless crimes” and other frivolities. I’ve even characterized the L.A. Riots as a lumpenproletarian class uprising against the police state and capitalism. What else is there?

But while I could respect your willingness to tolerate loathsome people on pragmatic grounds, I can’t remain neutral when you advocate purging the anti-state movement in order to appease those loathsome people. You have “evolved,” if you can call it that, from a willingness to share a tent with racists and homophobes for the sake of defeating Empire as the primary enemy, to promoting an active purge of anti-racists and gays from the anti-Empire movement because the majority of your anti-state coalition might find them offensive. In short, you have “evolved” from tolerating racist and homophobic groups as a means to an end, to withdrawing support from the “cultural left” in order to appease the right wing of your coalition.

Well, the problem is that it’s the “cultural left” faction that’s causing all the ruckus. I rarely, if ever, get these kinds of personal attacks from “the right wing of my coalition,” even among people with whom I have significant differences. The only exceptions are rare nutcases like one fellow whose ideology was some kind of Hitler-Stalin synthesis (“Aryan Communism”). Also, I’ve noticed that it’s the right-wingers who are better at policing their own movements, e.g., not tolerating shitty behavior from favored in-groups while “calling out” everyone else’s real or imaginary offenses, and responding with indignation to every cross word thrown in their direction.

Once again, I’m also being given too much credit in some respects. There is no “anti-Empire” movement in North America beyond scattered individuals and tiny groups. The real anti-Empire movement is in places like Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, and, to some degree, Russia. Also, as I indicated, this conflict between me and the “cultural left” is nothing new. It’s been going on as long as I’ve advocated these positions. For instance, the Infoshop.Org crowd has been attacking me for years now, and in the same manner and for the same reasons. Attack the System came under assault from the cultural left, commies and anarcho-leftoids from the moment we first went online eight or nine years ago. Likewise, the overwhelming majority of the “left-libertarian” milieu in which we are swimming at the moment has always rejected my own pan-secessionist, third-positionist outlook. It certainly didn’t start with my “sodomy” essay, nor did it start with my conflicts with Aster and her cohorts.

If my choice is between “self-hating whites, bearded ladies, cock-ringed queers, or persons of one or another surgically altered ‘gender identity’,” and Nazis, Klansmen and white nationalists, I know which side I’ll take.

There are no Nazis in my circle, except occasional gate-crashers on the periphery. To my knowledge, there are no Klansmen. As for white nationalists, that’s a term that’s about as varied as “socialists.” See here and here . Just as not every socialist is a Pol Potian, every white nationalist is not a Nazi.  Raimondo has a current piece critiquing white nationalism. While I would agree with many of Raimondo’s criticisms, I wouldn’t dismiss someone like Jared Taylor quite as quickly, given that Taylor raised questions that ought to at least get a fair hearing, but that no one is allowed to ask.

I do not ask that you revise your original strategic assessment that the threat of Empire justifies a broad secessionist coalition that includes some (in my opinion) very objectionable people on the right. I do not ask that you share my judgment that such objectionable people alienate more potential support than do those on the cultural left. I ask only that you 1) repudiate the flame-war quality of demeaning rhetoric that you have increasingly adopted toward sexual minorities since your breach with Aster,

I will go further than that and cease participation in the “left-libertarian” milieu altogether, on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” with two exceptions. One exception will be for my relationships and associations with those individual left-libertarians who are also part of the pan-secessionist, national-anarchist, anarcho-pluralist, New Right, left-conservative or other movements that I am also associated with. There are more of these than some might think. The other exception will be for the promotion of left-libertarian scholars whose work I respect (such as Kevin).

As for the issue of my prior rhetoric concerning sexual minorities, I suppose I would respond to that in the same way I might respond to someone who criticized me for calling the cops “PIGS” as I consistently do. There are no doubt some cops who are good people just trying to do a job, and hoping they might actually help out some crime victim, accident victim, missing child, etc. in the process. To those cops, I would say: If you’re a cool cop, then don’t take my “pig” rhetoric personally, because it’s not about you. Likewise, with sexual minorities, if you’re a cool Joe/Jane Sixpack gay guy, lesbian, transgendered person, transvestite or whomever, and you just want to be left alone to do your own thing without anyone messing you, then you’re okay with me. Don’t take it personally, because it’s not about you.

and acknowledge that you allowed a personal grudge to goad you into overreaction on that score.

No, it’s about a whole lot more than that. As I said, the battle between me and the “anarcho-leftoids” began years ago, long before I ever heard of Aster. It is certainly true that the battle has intensified within the left-libertarian milieu itself in more recent times, and that Aster’s persistent attacks on me and my counterattacks have been a big part of that.

and 2) repudiate your call for a purge of anti-racists, gays, transgender people and the cultural left in order to appease the majority.

Again, that’s taking me way too seriously. I have no power to “purge” anything except a turd out my own ass. I will “re-phrase” what I originally said. In the context of a revolutionary anti-state, pan-secessionist movement, I have no problem with the participation of individuals who happen to be anti-racists, gays, transgender people or who might think of themselves as “cultural leftists.” For instance, I have no problem with these categories of persons being in a revolutionary guerrilla force, militia, cooperative business enterprise, copwatch or neighborhood watch program, alternative media project, non-state social services project or other such alternative or intermediary institutions. I have no problem with them holding leadership positions, or being “equal” members of secessionist organizations or support organizations, just as I have no problem with Mormons, pot-smokers, punk rockers, snake-handlers, Christian Scientists, vegetarians, or persons with tattoos and piercings being engaged in similar participation. I have no problem with them having separate organizations to promote their own interests or simply for fraternal purposes. In fact, I would encourage them to do so. Nor do I have any problem with individual secession movements within a broader pan-secessionist alliance having an explicitly “cultural left” or “sexual minority” orientation. Nor would I have any problem with a secessionist tendency specifically oriented towards racial/ethnic minorities being part of a pan-secessionist alliance. For instance, the Peoples’ Democratic Uhuru Movement advocated an independent black city-state in the majority black section of St. Petersburg, Florida some years ago. Then as now, I supported them in their ambitions.

I would view sexual minorities in the same manner that I would view other marginal social groups like drug users, prostitutes or polygamists, or fringe religious sects like Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Scientologists, or subcultures like Grateful Deadheads, bikers, or heavy metal rockers. I would gladly undertake a lengthy battle with those who wished to engage in the genuine persecution of such groups. In fact, though I started out as a foreign policy radical, it wasn’t until I began to notice the “war on drugs,” and the related police-state and prison-industrial complex, and the police state atrocities at Ruby Ridge and Waco which involved precisely the sort of oppression or marginal religious sects I’m discussing here, that I began to turn my attention to domestic political matters within the United States.

What I do reject is the claim that a revolutionary anti-state, pan-secessionist movement should be built up around such proclivities, or that other people with different value systems should be excluded for not sharing or agreeing with such proclivities. Here’s an illustration: Within the context of the present day secessionist movement in North America, many of the groups involved have something of a “right-wing populist” orientation, such as the League of the South, Christian Exodus, Alaskan Independence Party, and the Republic of Texas. Some of these right-wing secessionists are explicitly Christian, while others are not. Others are oriented towards indigenous peoples of different kinds, such as the Lakota Republic, the Kingdom of Hawaii or the movement for Puerto Rican independence. Some are ideological libertarians, like the Free State Project and United Texas Republic. Others are non-ideological and advocate secession for its own sake, like the movement for Long Island independence. Some seem to be rather centrist (or perhaps “radical middle) in their actual politics, like the proposed New England Confederation. Still others involve people who have their roots on the Left, such as the Second Vermont Republic , Novocadia Independence Party, and Cascadia, and secessionists from the Left often have a very strong green-decentralist-ecologist-bioregionalist orientation. The North Star Republic, which is based in Illinois, is self-described as “Marxist-Leninist.”

Now, in my view, this is precisely what a pan-secessionist movement would and should look like. It makes perfect sense that secessionists in “conservative” regions would generally hold conservative values, and secessionists in “liberal” regions would generally hold liberal values and so forth. However, as we might expect, “left-wing” secessionists like the Second Vermont Republic have been attacked by various forces of liberal-totalitarianism, such as the $outhern Poverty Law Center, for being part of an alliance that also includes factions from the Right. I think Kirkpatrick Sale’s answer to these critics has been both cogent and correct:

Concern has arisen in some quarters in recent weeks regarding secessionist organizations that express values—or are charged with expressing values—that others do not like, and questions have been raised about alliances with such groups. The Middlebury Institute would like to establish a basic response to such concerns and questions.

First, the secessionist movement is made up of organizations of many different kinds that are alike in their advocacy of secession—of secession in general and of secession of their particular part of the planet. That is what makes them colleagues and allies—because in this difficult task of making secession and separatism a legitimate political goal they stand shoulder to shoulder with each other.

Second, it is not up to any organization in the movement (or its friends) to judge the attitudes, philosophies, or beliefs of others. While one would hope to have those compatible with one’s own, it must be understood that different people in different places will have different ideas, desires, goals, and strategies—that, after all, is the whole point of secession. A group is for secession precisely because it does not want to be part of a larger entity whose beliefs and actions it does not like, and wishes to live free on its own terms.

Third, the kind of people who insist on telling others how to live and think so as to have one unanimous right-minded uniformity are dangerous people and precisely the kind that establish national governments and pass laws applicable to entire populations. Fascism is one obvious and ugly form of this, but mass industrial democracy is a similar, if often more benign, form. And it is exactly this that secession and separatism are opposed to.

Fourth, as to the League of the South, it is demonstrable that as an organization it is not racist and would not establish a racist state if they were successful in secession. The Middlebury Institute has offered to be a co-sponsor with the LOS of the next Secessionist Convention this year squarely because it believes it to be an honorable and legitimate—and non-racist—organization sincerely and intelligently devoted to peaceful secession  from the empire.

We accept the fact that there may be people in the LOS who have expressed intemperate and intolerant opinions—but of what group, we ask, could that not be said? (And the scare-mongering charges along these lines by the Southern Poverty Law Center have much more to do with its desire to squeeze money out of people made to be afraid of hobgoblins than by any genuine exposure of misbehavior.] Moreover, even if there are, as individuals, LOS people we could from our point of view deem racist, that would matter not one whit as to whether they were legitimate colleagues in the secessionist movement. It is irrelevant.

People turn to secession because they want their own form of government, on their own terms, and hope to create a state that will live out their beliefs, principles, ideals. It is no more justifiable for one organization to question or criticize or castigate those goals if they work toward a Christian-directed government that outlaws abortion and adultery than if they work for a secular democracy favoring gun-control and same-sex marriages. The beauty of secession is that it looks toward having a world where those and many other kinds of states can exist, free and independent, and not impose its ideas on others or have others’ ideas imposed on it.

Ultimately we in the secessionist movement stand divided, but we stand together. We believe in secession, each of us, and though the ends we work for may be different—and what a thriving, vibrant, multi-variant world that would bring us to—the means we use unites us all.

What Sale is saying here is simple: The purpose of the pan-secessionist movement is to promote pan-secessionism, not to promote any one faction’s cultural particularities, ideological specifics or lifestyle interests, and certainly not to allow outsiders who oppose or are indifferent to secessionism in the first place to dictate who may or may not join a pan-secessionist movement or to dictate what sort of political or cultural values they must hold. Ditto.

Some Predictions

I envision the future political struggle in the United States as something that will constitute an intra-Left struggle that essentially pits whiteys against whiteys, rather than a racial struggle or a Left vs Right struggle. Most of the political groups that now constitute the Right represent cultural, generational or demographic factions that are in decline. I’ve discussed that a bit here. I see two lefts emerging. One of these will be an establishment Left oriented towards political correctness, therapeutism, multiculturalism, what I have called “totalitarian humanism,” globalism and corporate social democracy. In other words, the present-day center-left coalition that is currently seizing the reins of power and consolidating its position. The other will be a kind of revolutionary left that transcends current left/right boundaries. This will happen for a number of reasons:

1) Over the next few decades the inherent problems associated with mass immigration will become painfully obvious. Consequently, the new revolutionary left will take a more skeptical view of multiculturalism.

2) As political correctness becomes more deeply entrenched in institutions, it will be ever more bold about showing its fangs. Hence, many people will get a wake-up call.

3) The present day left-wing coalition of traditional outgroups will splinter. This will happen for several reasons: a-growing class divisions that transcend such boundaries, b-ideological differences among the left (multicultural vs universalism), c-the incompatibility of some of the left’s constituent groups (socially conservative blacks and homosexuals, for instance),d-the decline of the traditional Right as a common enemy and unifying force for the center-left, e-the economic bankruptcy of state-socialism

4) A decisive factor will be the increased opposition to Zionism, the Israel Lobby, AIPAC, however one wishes to term it in the years ahead. The cat is out of the bag on this issue, and there is nothing that is currently more divisive among the Left than the Israel question. Recent anti-Zionist demonstrations I have observed have featured leftists, nationalists, anarchists, national-anarchists, Communists, anti-Zionist Jews, anti-Semites, libertarians, gays, transgendereds, minorities, racists, feminists, male chauvinist pigs, Greens and Muslims under the same political banners. I suspect such a “third position” left is the future of the Left, as left-liberalism becomes ever more status quo. Indeed, I suspect the PC Left will become with increasing frequency the enforcement arm of PC statism. These “anti-racist” and “antifa” hoodlums, for instance, maybe even some reading this right now, may well be the secret police of the future.

As for the relevance of all this to my wider pan-secessionist, anarcho-pluralist outlook, see here, here, here, and here.  In American political conflagrations of the past, the various out-groups of the era tended to end up on both sides of the fence. For instance, there were blacks and Indians on both sides on the American Revolution, Indians, Germans, Jews and Irish on both sides of the Civil war, even a few black Confederates. There were blacks, civil rights liberals and segregationists in the New Deal coalition. I suspect a pan-secessionist movement, for instance, a movement where, say 30 states and 50 major cities attempt to leave the U.S., would include gays, transgendereds, blacks, Jews, Hispanics, etc. on both sides of the fence, but for the most part it would be a white vs white conflict.

The Question of Empathy

As a final word, I will note that some have criticized my alleged “lack of empathy.” While I in no sense consider myself to be a liberal-humanist-humanitarian, I have been involved in the past in a good number of efforts on behalf of the genuinely downtrodden. In fact, I suspect some would be shocked by some of the activities of bad old Nazi/fascist/racist/bigoted/terrorist  Keith Preston in this regard. However, I prefer to keep such things separate from my wider political agenda (as it’s mostly irrelevant). There also reasons of prudence why such things should not be broadcast too loudly. Lastly, perhaps the one aspect of my Christian upbringing that I retained was the view that actions of piety or virtue are best done in secret rather than in the public square.

Updated News Digest May 24, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“The exception is more interesting than the rule. The rule proves nothing; the exception proves everything: It confirms not only the rule but also its existence, which derives only from the exception. In the exception the power of real life breaks through the crust of a mechanism that has become torpid by repetition.”

                                                                                                   -Carl Schmitt

“The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people.”

                                                                                                  -George Bernard Shaw

Barack Obama: From Antiwar Law Professor to Warmonger in 100 Days by Alexander Cockburn

The Humanitarian Face of the State, With Fangs by Lew Rockwell

Why Liberals Love Obama by Justin Raimondo

The Limits of Race by Paul Gottfried

Beheading on a Bus: Why Do Psychiatrists Excuse a Killer? by Thomas Szasz

To Serve and Protect (Themselves) by Thomas Knapp

Gangsters in Blue by Kevin Carson

Tracking the Fall of Empire Chalmers Johnson interviewed by Scott Horton

American Death Squad by Justin Raimondo

Challenging the Lobby by Murray Polner

Obama Steers Toward Endless War with Islam by Michael Scheuer

Secession is in the Water by Tom Wrobleski

Picking on AIPAC? by Philip Giraldi

Vermont Patriots: Alternative to Empire by Thomas N. Naylor

Torture and Empire by Stephen Walt

The Unlikely Survivalist by Susan Carpenter

Why I Became a Wobbly by Mike Ballard

Arrogant and Ignorant: U.S. Aggression Against Pakistan and Afghanistan by Eric Margolis

Secession and Nullification Are All Around You by Patroon

Own It by Ilana Mercer

British Surveillance State Attacked-with Axes!! by Ben Leach

Richard Neuhaus: The Failures of a “Public Intellectual” by David Gordon

Torture: The Plot Sickens by Alan Bock

Unexceptional Americans: Why We Can’t See the Forest or the Trees by Noam Chomksy

Bipartisan Disaster by Jack Hunter

The Toll Booth Economy by Michael Hudson

Bibi’s Next War by Pat Buchanan

Work is Hell by Michael D. Yates

Whiteout by Jared Taylor

Meet the Climate Change Lobby by Marianne Lavelle

Opening the Conservative Mind by Paul Gottfried

Gitmo: A Prison Built on Lies by Andy Worthington

White Pride is Uncool by Steve Sailer

Zero Tolerance in the Workplace by David Macaray

The Limits of Bacevich by Richard Spencer

Oil and the American Nightmare by Grant Havers

Bacevich, Consumption, and Empire by Dylan Hales

War and Torture by Robert Rodriquez

Throw the Bums Out by Taki Theodoracopulos

Josef K: Citizen of the USA by Ray Mangum

Police Violence: How Many Kicks to the Head Does It Take? by Ben Rosenfeld

Thoughtcrime and Doublethink in England by Ray Mangum

 Brazil’s Black Market Economy More Than One Quarter of GDP

Economic Advice to My Children (And You)  Jim Rogers interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Biden and the Balkans Nebojsa Malic interviewed by Scott Horton

Armed Citizens Are Free Citizens by Karen De Coster

 The Decline and Fall of the Globalist Empire by Joe Schembrie

Obama, Accessory After the Fact by Glenn Greenwald

We Are the “Enemy of the State” by Mike Gaddy

The Coercive Education Industry by Myron Weber

How the Tamil Tigers Were Beaten

When a Cop is Charged with Assault by William Norman Grigg

Former South African Deputy President Pisses Off Gays

Supporting Police Abuse by Bill Anderson

Texas Builds Border Wall to Keep Out Unwanted Americans 

Woman Handcuffed for Not Holding Escalator Handrail by Karen De Coster

Jesse Ventura on the Lying Torturing U.S. Government 

Economists and the Zimbabwe Solution by Bill Anderson

Same Old Boss, But Talks Pretty from Social Memory Complex

The State is Still the Main Evil from Free Association

Did Bibi Box Obama In? by Pat Buchanan

Remember the Victims of the Therapeutic State from Free Association

Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney by Paul Craig Roberts

Neocons Happy with Obama from Free Association

Race Difference, Immigration, and the Twilight of the European Peoples by Richard Lynn

Just Say No to Government by Jack Hunter

Workers Shut Down Wal-Mart Warehouse from Dead End

10th Division by Ilana Mercer

Ron Paul is Under Lindsey Graham’s Skin by Patroon

White Like Us by Richard Spencer

Women and Immigration  by TGGP

Is Waterboarding Torture? by Jack Hunter

Russia Rejects the U.S. Dollar 

Thoughts on White Nationalism by Dylan Hales

Radicals Battle PIGS in Greece

Celebrity Worship   by Taki Theodoracopulos

Kudos to Clinton and Canada by TGGP

An Empire of Desire by Mark Hackard

Weimar Hyperinflation: Could It Happen Again? by Ellen Brown

Obama’s Animal Farm by James Petras

Barack Obama and Black Power by Malik Zulu Shabazz

The New Bubble is the Biggest Ever by Gerald Celente

The Successor to the Dollar by Jim Rogers

Modern Survivalism  by Jack Spirko

Blowing Smoke on Gitmo by Ivan Eland

A New Libertarian Classic by Jeffrey Tucker

The Virtues of Gorbachevism by Eduoard Husson

An Introduction to Revisionism by Jeff Riggenback interviewed by Scott Horton

Cheney: Support for Israel Feeds Terrorism by Ray McGovern

The Empire is Bankrupting America by Jacob Hornberger

War President: They’re All War Presidents by Glenn Greenwald

Facts and Myths About Obama’s Preventive Detention Proposal by Glenn Greenwald

Choose the Right Gun by Charley Reese

How Long Does It Take? by Alexander Cockburn

The Morality of Torture by Laurence Vance

Obama, Torture and John Walker Lindh by Michael Teitelman

No More Commie or Fascist Highways by Walter Block

King Abdullah’s 57-State Solution by Rannie Amiri

Bartering is Booming by Kevin Simpson

Obama to Honor Confederate Dead by Lew Rockwell

PIG Assaults and Maims Innocent Man  

PIG Causes Deadly Crash While Driving 109 Miles an Hour

Making Secession Into a Mass Movement Reply

Recently, ATS/ARV associate Jeremy Weiland put forth some questions that are well worth considering. Here goes:

– Is opposition to the state something that can genuinely serve as a rallying point for broad-based revolutionary change? What kind of language would this need to be articulated in?

“Anti-statism” in the more abstract sense that libertarians and anarchist theoreticians conceive of it is not something that can be a “rallying point” for the average person. Most people are not ideological or philosophical by nature. Most people do not have the aversion to authority that is implicit in libertarian ideologies. No movement calling itself “anarchist” is ever going to be a mass movement, nor will the dogmatic libertarianism of the anarcho-capitalists. Simply trying to convert “the masses” to anti-statism of the kind that, for instance, Tolstoy or Alexander Berkman or Rothbard preached will be no more successful that an attempt to convert them to Scientology. However, a rebellion against a state that has lost its perceived legitimacy is far more probable, and has many precedents throughout all sorts of cultures. The particular rhetoric employed should be strongly rooted in the cultural, political and historical traditions of the particular society in question. Therefore, for the U.S., the rhetoric of secession, self-determination, “sic semper tyrannis,” and appeals to the legacy of 1776  are appropriate because it resonates well with the political education of the ordinary person. These things seems familiar, while exotic ideologies simply seem weird. Of course, that doesn’t mean that leaders, activists, organizers, intellectuals, writers or particular groups cannot be influenced or motivated by such ideologies.

– What would a single issue, cross-ideological coalition look like, and what would keep disparate parties united in action? I’ve seen arguments on either side about this matter, but it seems we’re merely speculating.

I agree that at this point in the game it’s merely a matter of speculation. However, I do not think it would be different from similar coalitions that have existed in the past. For instance, the movement to oppose the extension of slavery into the western territories of the pre-Civil War period included racists and nativists who opposed slavery because they did not want the black population to expand westward, and it also included abolitionists who wanted to see an end to slavery for it’s own sake, and believed that containing it in the South would bring its eventual demise. The New Deal coalition included Northern blacks and civil rights activists, and Southern segregationists. These kinds of political coalitions of seemingly opposite groups are not as uncommon as many seem to think. Because the center-left is likely to be dominant for the forseeable future, the question is what kind of political re-alignment would need to take place in order to effectively challenge the hegemony of the center-left? My guess is that it would not be any kind of “conservatism” as presently understood, though it could include issue-oriented factions that are currently part of the official “conservative” milieu. Most probably, the future of radicalism is with some kind of anti-liberal left. For instance, something like Norman Mailer’s “left-conservatism,” which is in many ways polar opposite from conventional “conservatism.”

– Similarly, is it possible to promote a program for political change that is motivated by radically different political / ethical / philosophical constructions and analyses? Can we agree on the means and not the ends, or do we have to be agreed on both, or maybe just the latter?

Thus far in the secessionist movement, there are everything from socially conservative Christians to left-wing environmentalists, and some of the latter have anarchist backgrounds. So the seed is already being planted.

– What is the relationship between political belief and identity, and how does coalition deal with this effectively? Seems like a lot of the talk in the thread centers around whom one “rejects” or “is happy to work with”. Well, what does that mean, and to what extent does either affect our sense of what “side” we’re on, and therefore what the constellation of possible coalitions actually is?

Those who spend so much time discussing whom they “reject” tend to be ideologues who wish to maintain a level of purity and enforce a set of cultural values in a such a way that simply doesn’t work when it comes to practical politics. American politics operates on the basis of shifting coalitions of divergent political interest groups, which is why you find everything from the Log Cabin Republicans to the disciples of Rev. Pat Robertson among the Republicans, and everything from the traditional labor unionists and the gay lobby among the Democrats. Many of my harshest critics in the “anarchist” and “left-libertarian” milieus are not really the kinds of folks I would envision as being leaders or constituents for a pan-secessionist movement, anyway. The reason I participate in those forums is not to convert them en masse, but to reach those isolated individuals who may be sympathetic to what I’m saying, because it is an individual of that type that might very well play a leadership role at some future point.

How do we evaluate progress towards the goal of decentralizing power? This to me is a crucial problem: the coalition must be useful to these different interests. How much of this anarcho-pluralist idea depends on actual subsidiarity vs. the symbolic dissolutions of the state and other centralized institutions as such? The former seems much more fundamental but more slippery; the latter serves as a definite milepost, but could be superficial as well.

Well, how do we evaluate the success of the expulsion of the forces of King George III during the American Revolution? How do we evaluate the success of the attempted secession of 1861? For any one faction to remain in a political coalition, the faction’s leadership and members must believe they have more to gain by staying put than by leaving. At the same time, it is the nature of coalitions that some factions are more successful at achieving their objectives within the context of the coalition than others. Among Democrats, pro-NAFTA neoliberal business interests were successful than anti-NAFTA union interests. Among Republicans, neocons have been more successful than traditionalist conservatives and right-libertarians.

For example, let’s say that the panarchist lobby achieves a significant amount of local autonomy for communities in America. How would this be regarded if it did not involve the formal dissolution of the U.S.?

The end result could either be that the U.S. is broken up entirely (like the Soviet Union) or the U.S. could remain in some kind of defanged, confederated form (like the Article of Confederation). I suppose how well this would be regarded would depend on one’s perspective. Hard-core anarcho-capitalists and “purist” anarchists of other kinds would probably say this is still too much government. Perhaps these could take things further still in their own local areas.

How would we be able to TELL that the decentralization meets the coalition’s requirements? Or would we require a formal renunciation of central authority to validate our mission? I see a great deal of possible confusion occurring because preserving but weakening the central state could serve some coalition interests and not others. I go back and forth on how important it is to smash the state vs. rendering it irrelevant.

Again, the devolution of power could take on a radical decentralist flavor within the context of the wider U.S. as a nation-state (the Bill Kaufmann/Norman Mailer vision) or involve dissolution into independent political units (the Kirkpatrick Sale/League of the South vision). Within the present secessionist movement, there are proponents of both perspectives: for instance, the differences between the Second Vermont Republic and the Free State Project, as the latter does not advocate formal secession.

It seems to me like the more diverse the cross-ideological coalition, the fuzzier the end goal is. What does it mean for a particular ideological / ethnic / lifestyle group to have sufficient autonomy, and are there any attendant formalities to achieving that condition? Otherwise, how do all parties determine their particularist interests are being met by the general mission?

I suppose each party would have its own standards as to how it judges it success as a coalition member. I don’t think there can be any generally agreed upon guidelines for that. The same is true of the various members of the Democratic and Republican coalitions. How does the NRA evaluate its success as a member of the GOP coalition? How does the NAACP regard its success within the Democratic Party?

There’s another problem of achieving the big sort on terms that make sense to the anarcho-pluralist project. How quickly could an even “bigger sort” occur, and how would we handle the quite likely situation where breaking up national state power does not coincide with the self-segregation of different political tendencies into distinct, homogeneous communities?

Well, if another “big sort” occurs, there can be another round of secession or division. It’s very likely the breakup of the central regime will lead to both some communities being organized along ideologically distinctive lines (like the Free State Project or Christian Exodus) while anothers may be the ideologically mixed administrative systems that we have now.

Decentralizing power right now with the current demographics would very likely just yield hundreds of little status quo Americas over the short and medium term.

So what? The purpose of decentralization is to create a marketplace of governments and communities that collectively acts as a constraint on what any one tyrant or political interest group can impose. What you’ve described here would also be the de facto end of the empire.

How do we build popular support for a position that, essentially, breaks up existing communities filled with the non-ideologically motivated population? If I don’t give a shit about decentralizing power, I don’t see why I’d be interested in picking up and moving just because some dick comes to power in my community.

My guess is that a pan-secessionist movement would be a coalition of regional and local movements representing the prevaling cultural and ideological currents in their respective regions and communities. Secessionism in large cities might have an African-American orientation. In Oregon or Vermont it might be green-oriented. Secession movements in the South, Texas or the Western states might have a more conservative/libertarian/populist approach. It could vary even more at the local level. For instance, I think a secession movement in Texas that had a generally conservative outlook would need to strengthen its positions by providing assurances that it would not rule tyrannically over liberal enclaves in places like Austin. This is one of the reasons why I think something like “states’ rights” by itself is not enough. Something like a Swiss cantonal system would be a means to autonomy for dissident communities within a seceded area. An even more serious problem would be something where multiple factions claim the same territory: for example, Aztlan Nation and the Republic of Texas both claim Texas, and the League of the South and some of the “new Afrika” groups claim the South. Christian Exodus has its sites on South Carolina, but I’ve also seen articles by gays in South Carolina who are sympathetic to secession. So a regional confederal system, perhaps one that is polycentric in nature, may be necessary in order to handle such differences.

With regards to the first question I asked, “How do we define success”, there’s a different way of asking it that may be more useful: has there ever been a successful revolutionary / secessionist movement that only articulated a negative platform? Is merely being against the state enough, or do we also need to unite around being “for” something as well? In other words, is there historical evidence for the kind of ideologically-neutral anti-statism you’re proposing, or is there perhaps a need to articulate a positive agenda?

I think there needs to be a few overarching principles that serve as points of unity, like the legitimacy of secession, the legitimacy of decentralism or separatism as means of handling severe cultural and ideological differences, or recognition that the empire is a failure and that communities of scale are more beneficient. The thing to do is to promote and work to popularize these ideas in the wider political culture, just like proponents of gay rights, pro-life, gun control, gun rights, etc. do all the time. Beyond that, I would say that individual regional, local or private forces in a wider pan-secessionist movement could have whatever internal beliefs or practices they wished. As far as actual examples of revolutions with anti-statism as a primary item in the platform, there are a couple that have come close, like the American Revolution and the Anarchist uprising in Catalonia. I don’t think the idea of pan-secessionism is purely negative in content. It includes the positives of “self-determination” of distinctive cultures, regions, and communties; independence of subjugated populations from an oppressive overarching state, human scale institutions that maximize accountability to those whom they are supposed to serve; achievement of political peace among otherwise hostile ideological or cultural groups; and the proliferation of many different kinds of communities that allow an individual greater freedom of choice in terms of associations and lifestyles. A realistic pan-secessionist movement would likely have a number of other generally shared secondary ideas as a complement to the primary ideas. For instance, if pan-secessionism were rooted heavily in the lower classes and the less formally educated, then an economic outlook combining a variety of libertarian and populist themes would likely be present, as well as a social or cultural outlook that is generally disinterested in so-called “political correctness,” as the latter is generally the ideology of the left-wing of the educated, upper-middle class.

Of course, you do enounter the issue of groups that will not join a coalition that also includes other groups that they strongly disagree with. But these kinds of groups will necessarily have to fall by the wayside. The way to compensate for this is to focus on where we can get the greatest numbers. That’s why I’ve advocated synthesizing secessionism with populism and an emphasis on certain socio-economic classes, demographic and political groups. Generally speaking, I suspect a movement of this type that grew large enough to achieve something approaching actual success would include more lower class people than upper class, more lower educated than academic elites, more young than old. Also, while “right-wing populist” currents would likely be present in such a movement, I’m not yet convinced they would be the dominant current. Much of the populist right represents forces that are in decline and losing ground politically. I think the more relevant question for the future would be: If the center-left is likely to be the dominant ideological paradigm for some time to come, what would the opposition to the center-left from a more radical left look like? Some evidence indicates that the prevailing currents might well originate from what might be called the “independent” Left or even ethno-nationalist elements among the racial minority groups, given that research has shown that there is actually more support for genuinely radical ideas like secession among self-identified “liberals” and racial minorities. With regards to the former, I would say the real source of class conflict in modern American society is between the lumpenproletariat and the New Class. With regards to the racial minorities, I am no way suggesting that we regurgitate the “anti-racism” hysteria of the Left. I am simply saying that a future pan-secessionist political/military alliance might include secessionist movements of an African-American or Hispanic nature as core players. I am not making any PC suggestions here. I’m just recognizing that racial minority secessionists might be part of a pan-secessionist coalition in the same manner as particular nations in a military alliance. The emerging “alternative Right” might also grow into a “true left” (i.e., radical, revolutionary) opposition force at some point in the future. There is also the need for such a movement to identify those groups most under attack by the state, and with the least to loose by rejecting the state, or who lack political representation within the state, and cultivate these as constituents for a wider movement. This is what I tried to do in essays like this one.

Essentially, I see the dominance of center-left liberalism being eventually challenged by a political re-alignment that draws from the populist right, radical middle, independent left, minority nationalists, lumpenproletarian class, urban underclass, rural neo-peasantry, petite bourgeoisie, de class elements and eco-radicals. These groups would then break down into different issue-oriented groups, cultural factions and so forth. I suspect their will also be some big splits among the Left’s constituent groups in the future: genuine eco-radicals vs liberal enviros, elite vs lumpen racial minorities, upper middle class feminists vs poor and working women, etc. For instance, I recall seeing an exit poll after the Bush-Kerry election in 2004 that indicated that twenty-five percent of self-identified homosexuals actually voted for Bush. As the economy worsens and class divisions continue to widen, and as the police state continues to tighten its grip, I suspect there will be plenty of homos, lesbos, trannies, et.al who will put their own material and political survival first. For instance, I’ve seen occurrences of anti-Zionist demonstrations including Muslims and anti-Zionist Jews, left-anarchists and national-anarchists, homos/trannies and Communists, as part of the same demo, and I suspect there will be more of that in the future. So it’s not like the Left’s favored “oppressed” groups all have the same interests or politics. Collectively, all of these things might comprise constituent groups for a pan-secessionist movement that evolves into a mass secession movement like the secession of the colonies in 1776 or the attempted secession of the Confederacy in 1861

On the other side, would be neocons, jingoists, American nation-state -based nationalists, imperialists, globalists, liberal internationalists, neoliberals, totalitarian humanists, cultural Marxists, multiculturalists, elite members of traditional outgroups, the political class, the state-capitalist economic elite, the New Class, war and police state profiteers, Zionists, and others with a stake in maintaining the status quo.

Is Extremism in the Defense of Sodomy No Vice? 21

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

-Barry Goldwater

“With respect to libertarian eccentricity, the dream of an absolute private freedom is one of those visions that issue from between the gates of ivory; and the disorder that they would thrust upon society already is displayed in the moral disorder of their private affairs. Some present here will recall the article on libertarianism in National Review, a few years ago, by that mordant psychologist and sociologist Dr. Ernest van den Haag, who remarked that an unusually high proportion of professed libertarians are homosexuals. In politics as in private life, they demand what nature cannot afford.”

-Russell Kirk

“Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you, but human history is not entirely summarized by the bold struggle for the “right” to poke your veiny ding-dong through disco-bathroom glory holes. Not every act is political. Some are just silly and ugly and stinky.”

-Jim Goad

For all of my adult life, I have been fascinated by the ideas of classical anarchism, classical liberalism and modern libertarianism, including the works of Jefferson, Paine, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rothbard, Hess, Szasz, Chomsky, Bookchin, and other such thinkers. For roughly the same amount of time, I have never failed to be completely underwhelmed by most of what I have found in organized anarchist, liberal or libertarian circles.

I became a radical roughly twenty-three years ago, after having been awakened to the nature of U.S. war crimes and state-sponsored genocide in places like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, East Timor, Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere. Early on, I noticed most of the other people in the anti-imperialist movement were Communists, left-wing Christians, and pro-state liberals. Maybe it was because I grew up among Birchers, Falwellites, Wallaceites, and Reaganites, but I never cared much for the Big Brother statism of the Left on domestic issues, however much I might have agreed on foreign policy. So, to make a long story short, I became an anarchist.

From the time that I first encountered the organized anarchist movement, I was a bit puzzled by the overwhelming obsession with “racism” to be found in those circles. It might have made sense if anarchists were predominantly blacks or Hispanics or Asians, but, then as now, probably ninety-eight percent of anarchists were white, at least in North America. I personally helped found two separate anarchist student groups at one point. How many “people of color” did we ever attract? I recall two. One was a young black woman with an upper middle class background whose father was a colonel in the U.S. military. Another was an immigrant from Sri Lanka from the northern Virginia suburbs. For several years, I was the local representative of the anarcho-syndicalist labor union Industrial Workers of the World. I attended several national events of the IWW. How many non-whites did I ever meet? I recall one, a black middle class schoolteacher from Brooklyn. I was on the national committee of the U.S. section of the International Workers Association (which also includes the CNT of Spanish Civil War fame). How many non-whites did I ever meet? Two, both of them Cuban exiles. I was at the founding conference of the old “Love and Rage” anarcho-communist faction. How many people of color? Two blacks, an Caribbean immigrant and a gay ex-Trotskyist who had recently converted to anarchism. I attended two separate continental anarchist gatherings in the late 1980s, both of them attended by several thousand people, mostly countercultural youth, but very few non-whites. This pattern has continued ever since.

While organized left-anarchism (and its “free market” variation of “left-libertarianism”) might have a grossly disproportionately low number of racial minorities, one thing that also becomes immediately apparent in such circles in the grossly disproportionately high number of “sexual minorities,” e.g., gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendereds, transvestites, transsexuals, and butch-women, along with the occasional hetero female feminist.  And this is the likely explanation for the rather pronounced hostility to myself found in many left-anarchist and left-libertarian circles.

The ironic thing is that those who attack me the most fervently are those whom I agree with most of the time. I’ve taken Theodore Adorno’s “F Scale” test and come up with the rating of “liberal airhead.” I’ve taken this “political compass” test and come up as a “left libertarian.” So if my critics are to be believed, I’m a liberal airhead-left libertarian-neo fascist. Oh, well, so be it.

I admit that I am often baffled though amused by the rantings of my political enemies. I have tried to figure out where the “fascist” label assigned to me originates from. Am I an advocate of totalitarian government? No, I am a loud critic of the state. Am I an advocate of a Mussolini-like corporatist economy? No, I’m the author of a prize-winning essay attacking such things. Am I an apologist for imperialist war? No, I am an outspoken opponent of the U.S. empire. Do I favor a police state? No, my published writings are filled with denunciations of the state, the law, the cops, the prison system, the war on drugs, and victimless crime laws, even to the point of advocating virtual insurrection against such things. Do I support jingoistic nationalism? No, I’m right alongside Noam Chomsky in my “anti-American” sentiments.

Am I an apologist for Hitlerism or Nazism? No, I’ve attacked Nazism repeatedly. Do I promote theocratic fundamentalist Christianity? No, I am an atheist. Am I a social conservative? No, I support legalized abortion, euthanasia, drug decriminalization, abolition of laws prohibiting consensual adult sex, and repealing vice laws.  Do I lack concern for the oppressed, disadvantaged or downtrodden? No, I’ve written, spoken and even appeared on television upholding the rights of the homeless, the disabled, the sick and diseased, runaway teenagers, students, prisoners, psychiatric inmates, prostitutes, drug addicts, and others whom many people don’t give two shits about. I have written repeatedly in favor of forming non-state defense organizations for these kinds of marginal populations. I favor abolition of compulsory school attendance laws. I am opposed to the drinking age. I am opposed to state-licensed or state-regulated marriage. Am I some sort of reactionary “family values” conservative, moral traditionalist? No, for years I worked for a Greek family that owned a collection of strips joints and all-night bars and many of my female friends are strippers, hookers, lesbians and biker chicks. For all of my life since about age sixteen, I’ve been associated with marginal subcultures: one percenter motorcycle clubs, hippies, anarchists, rock ‘n’ rollers, gutter punks, ex-cons. I am for the abolition of the prison system. I am opposed to capital punishment. I would put more restrictions on the power of the police than ACLU would. I am opposed to statutory rape laws. I am for upholding the right of unconventional religions to practice unmolested by the state, for instance, Mormon sects that practice polygamy or sequestered cults whose members can be subjected to abduction and forcible “deprogramming” by others. I am for the right to practice alternative medicine. I’m even skeptical of laws requiring driver’s licenses. Unlike the left-wing “civil libertarians” who think the proper response to the police state is to file lawsuits, I am for forming civilian militias for the purpose of chasing the PIGS away. Hell, I’ve even defended street gangs on the basis of freedom of association and more broadly as a form of class-based insurgency. Indeed, my views on most social issues are well to the left of the Democratic Party, often to the left of the Green Party.

Am I an anti-Semite? I’m very critical of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and I generally agree with the analysis of this question advanced by Mearsheimer and Walt and by James Petras. I generally think that American Jews who favor Israel’s interests over keeping the U.S. out of foreign wars should simply put their money where their mouth is and go live in Israel, take their right-wing Christian Zionist cohorts with them and leave the rest of us alone. I suppose some would say this makes me an anti-Semite. Certainly Norman Podhoretz would think so. However, probably fifty percent of my primary intellectual influences have been Jews. These include Thomas Szasz, Noam Chomsky, Murray Rothbard, Murray Bookchin, Milton Friedman, David Friedman, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Sam Dolgoff, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Friedrich von Hayek, Paul Goodman, Hannah Arendt, Arthur Koestler, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, Paul Gottfried, and Norman Mailer. So there would seem to be some problems with the “anti-Semite” label. With regards to Israel, do I care that Israel exists? Of course not, just as I do not mind that China or Japan exist, though I am quite strongly in favor of Palestinian independence, just as I am in favor of independence for the Tibetans. What I do oppose is the hijacking of American foreign policy by the Israel Lobby. I think the arguments of those who claim that severance of the U.S.-Israel relationship would result in genocide of the Israelis at the hands of the Arabs are absurd. If anyone in the Middle East is likely to be genocide victims, it is the Palestinians. But assuming such an argument has merit, I’d say, okay, fine, then we can simply establish a West Israel in one of the New York City boroughs, or in West Palm Beach, or in Hollywood and be done with it.

Am opposed to black people? Like most white Americans, I’m mostly indifferent to blacks. I live in a majority black city, with a black dominated municipal government, and I’ve done so for twenty-two years. I guess if I thought blacks were that awful, I would have relocated to whiter pastures by now. I’ve had plenty of blacks among my co-workers, fellow students, business associates, and neighbors. I even had a couple of black roommates when I was in my twenties. I can’t say that on average I’ve regarded them any higher or any lower than my white associates in the same situations. Hell, of all the women I’ve had, I’d say about a third of them were something other than white (Indian, Asian, black, Hispanic, American Indian, Arabic-the whole fucking Crayola box). Fuck, one of my grandmothers is Cherokee, for god’s sake. So there would seem to be some problems with the “racist” label being applied to myself as well. Politically, I have advocated reparations to blacks for the purpose of economic development of politically sovereign black homelands in North America, the creation of independent black municipalities in sections of large cities and metro areas where blacks are dominant, and legal amnesty for most black prisoners (and most other prisoners, for that matter). These are essentially the same positions as the Nation of Islam, Republic of New Afrika, and the People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement. What I do oppose are efforts to abridge freedom of association, micromanage race relations by the state, or create a new racial caste system based victimological ideology in the name of compulsory integrationism.

A favorite cause of many contemporary left-anarchists and left-libertarians is pro-immigration. Virtually every website, zine, or blog of this type is littered with pro-immigration propaganda. I happen to think this is an issue reasonable and honest anti-statists can disagree on, as it involves population transfers among states, and it is states that create the conditions under which population migration occurs. The reasonable pro-immigration position might be something like that articulated by Craig Biddle:

“Open immigration does not mean that anyone may enter the country at any location or in any manner he chooses; it is not unchecked or unmonitored immigration. Nor does it mean that anyone who immigrates to America should be eligible for U.S. citizenship—the proper requirements of which are a separate matter. Open immigration means that anyone is free to enter and reside in America—providing that he enters at a designated checkpoint and passes an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases. Such a policy is not only politically right; it is morally right.”

Indeed, Rasmussen research has shown some interesting results concerning immigration:

Sixty-six percent (66%) of likely voters nationwide say it is Very Important for the government to improve its enforcement of the borders and reduce illegal immigration. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 32% of America’s Political Class agrees.

An even more dramatic gap appears on the question of legalizing the status of those immigrants now in the country illegally. Voters nationwide are evenly divided on the question of whether it is even somewhat important: 48% say it’s important, and 45% say it’s not.

However, among the Political Class, 74% say legalizing the status of these residents is important, and only 17% disagree.

So it seems that we have the interesting spectacle of anarchists aligning themselves with the political class against “the people” when it comes to immigration. It is not that “the people” are overcome with xenophobia and racist “hate.” As the Rasmussen study points out:

One major misunderstanding has clouded the debate over immigration. Most pundits assume that those angry about the issue are angry at the immigrants. In fact, data shows that the anger is directed primarily at the federal government. Rather than being angry at immigrants, 56% continue to favor a welcoming immigration policy that would let anybody move to the United States except national security threats, criminals and those looking to live off the U.S. welfare system.

So it would appear that the majority of Americans take a rather magnanimous, tolerant view of immigrants. I would argue that the mass immigration problem that we currently have in the Western nations is the fault of perverse incentives created by our own ruling classes, who are addicted to easily exploitable Third World immigrant labor, and who use liberal-multiculturalist ideology as a smokescreen, and whose class of court intellectuals, liberal academicians and media hacks generate propaganda for such on their behalf.

I would probably take a position not dissimilar to Biddle’s, with the qualifications that “antidiscrimination” (prohibition of freedom of association) legislation be repealed, that immigrants be ineligible for state entitlement programs and tax-payer funded services, that employers be prohibited from using immigrants as scab labor, that employer use of illegal immigrant labor be barred, that immigrants convicted of serious crimes (like rape, robbery and murder, not drug possession or vending without a license) be deported, and that naturalization policy be decentralized according to local community standards. These measures, combined with large-scale efforts to create alternative economic institutions operating independently of the capitalist class which demands immigrant labor and, if necessary, the formation of volunteer citizen militia to better safeguard border areas would likely reduce immigration to manageable levels. I am actually quite wary of the proposals by some to create a “war on drugs” or “war on terrorism” police state crusade against illegal immigration. Nor do I “hate” or personally resent the masses of Latin American immigrants into the United States or Islamic immigrants into Europe. In a purely legal sense, I don’t think illegal immigrants should be dealt with any more harshly than ordinary trespassers, shoplifters, traffic offenders, or vagrants camped out on someone else’s property.  My priority political issue is to oppose U.S. imperialist aggression against other societies where many of the Left’s much beloved “people of color” actually live. But just because I do not wish to see people in other lands slaughtered does not mean I wish for Western civilization to commit economic, political and cultural suicide, just as my opposition to the statist persecution of homeless drug addicts does not mean I’m going to invite them all to move in with me, either. As Murray Rothbard said: “It’s the only civilization we’ve got.”

Yet the propaganda of pro-immigration leftists-anarchists-libertarians would have us all believe that opening the borders to any terrorist, criminal or welfare colonist who wants to jump a fence somewhere would be just fine. Why bother screening for communicable diseases immigrants from countries where public health standards are just about zero? What’s the big deal about tuberculosis, anyway? Why not allow a few hundred million Asian, African, Latin American or Eastern European immigrants to come on over and sign up for public assistance? Why not allow foreign states to empty their prisons of violent criminals and send them to America as Fidel Castro did during the boatlift of 1980? If al-Qaeda wants to open a branch office on Main Street, USA, then who are the rest of us to say otherwise?

What is odd is that the anarchist and libertarian groups who push such ideas are almost all white. Check out a group photograph of any anarchist sect and you will rarely find a “person of color.” So what is the source of the extreme “anti-racism” hysteria and equally over-the-top “immigrants’ rights” perspectives held by many of these people? Perhaps they are simply regurgitating what they have picked up from the media, the entertainment industry, their public school teachers and university professors, or their ex-hippie parents. Perhaps they come from right-wing subcultures, and such views are a means of giving the finger to their Christian fundamentalist, redneck racist or bourgeoisie Republican parents? Clearly, there is no issue of self-interest involved. Or is there?

So what of the homosexuals? When I was about fourteen, I was in a fundamentalist church, and I heard a hysterical Jim Jones-like preacher advocating the death penalty for “sodomites,” saying something to the effect that “if Jack and Fred want to make out on a street corner, then we should fry Jack and Fred.” I recall being baffled by the intensity of this fellow’s rhetoric and emotions. Then as now, I really couldn’t give a good goddamn if two queers want to poke each other in the anus or not, just as I don’t care if some hetero dude wants his girlfriend to shove a strap-on up his fucking rectum. For that matter, I don’t particularly care if others wish to engage in S&M or coprophilia or just about any other sort of sexual freakiness they prefer. In fact, as one who grew up among the so-called “religious right,” including some of its more extreme branches, like the Christian Reconstructionists and the Bob Jones people, I could never really understand what the point behind all the hooey about “the homo-sex-shuals”  really was. When I was in my mid-teens, there were two gay guys who bought the house next door to my parents. I don’t recall that it was any kind of issue. My first real exposure to homosexuals was in a state correctional facility when I was in my late teens. While I didn’t exactly go out of my way to befriend them, I thought they were basically harmless. When I was in my early twenties, one of the guys who lived on my floor during college was a stereotypical “flaming gay” and I had no problem with him. Since then, I’ve had plenty of gay co-workers, neighbors, a gay professor, and other such associates, and I’ve never had any problem with them. As mentioned, the many leftist, liberal, libertarian and anarchist political groups I’ve been associated with over the years have included many homosexuals, and I’ve never had any problem with that. A few years ago, there was an openly gay anarchist who lived at a nearby commune who was an occasional guest at my residence.

So what is the source of the problem? I used to think it was ridiculous when members of the religious right and other social conservatives accused the gay rights movement of demanding “special rights.” Having taken a harder look at the “gay rights” phenomenon, I’ve more or less changed my opinion. Among those who have attacked me the most fervently as a “fascist,” those who can be personally identified are, with few exceptions, gay militants of one type or another. This has been true in my local community, on the internet, and in hate mail that I have received.

What is it that I do or say that is so offensive to gay militants? Have I called for the reinstatement of sodomy laws, or for vigilante violence against homosexuals, or for the closing of gay-oriented clubs or businesses? Have I called for severe social or economic discrimination against gays? Have I even criticized homosexuality as a lifestyle or practice? I’ve done nothing of the sort. Have I belittled the cultural or intellectual achievements of homosexuals? No, I haven’t. For instance, I’ve gone out of my way to promote the work of Justin Raimondo, not because Raimondo is gay (who cares?), but because Raimondo is one of the very best critics of U.S. imperialism to be found. One of the very best critics of the police state is Glenn Greenwald, a gay man. One of my favorite political writers is Gore Vidal, who is a homosexual. Have I called for the legal prohibition of transgender surgery as some reactionary conservatives have done? No, I haven’t. Would I care if gays could legally marry? No, though I don’t think the state should be involved in marriage in any capacity. I am not even carte blanche opposed to the adoption of children by same-sex couples, though I think the preference should be for hetero couples, all other variables being equal.

The source of the hostility seems to come down to two things: My advocacy of political decentralization ordered on the principal of individual liberty, freedom of association, private property and community sovereignty, and my advocacy of political alliances against statism, state-capitalism, and imperialism that transcend cultural boundaries and divisive social issues and, yes, alliances that might sometimes include people who disagree with homosexuality for religious, cultural, moral or philosophical reasons.

As a big tent, pluralistic anarchist, I would favor the proliferation of a wide assortment of lifestyles and communities in a libertarian system. For instance, on the economic issues that divide libertarians, I would advocate a plurality of economic arrangements. I would say there can be competing systems of property rights, perhaps determined on a geographical basis, of the kind Kevin Carson has suggested, reflecting Lockean, Georgist, or Proudhonian systems of property. There can be anarcho-capitalist private defense agencies, anarcho-communist kibbutzes, anarcho-syndicalist workers’ councils, mutual banks, geoist land trusts, and all the other kinds of economic institutions different kinds of libertarians favor. When it comes to issues that libertarians differ on, there are many. These include capital punishment, abortion, immigration, environmentalism, animal rights, childrens’ rights, property theory, theories of criminal punishment and many others. I’d say let these be determined according to community standards at the local level.  There can be agrarian or primitivist colonies where modern technology or even industrial civilization of any kind is banned. There can be separatist enclaves for feminists, homosexuals or “people of color,” where men, heteros or whiteys are forbidden. There can be anarcho-puritan communes that bar guns, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, porn, S&M, prostitution, religion or meat-eating. On the other hand, there can be hedonist associations, modeled on places like the Red Light Districts of Amsterdam and Frankfurt (where I’ve visited numerous times) where virtually anything goes.

Of course, I’ve applied the same principles to the cultural right as well as the cultural left, and this is where the real source of the conflict between myself and others in the anarchist milieu begins. Hans Hermann Hoppe has gained much criticism for statements like this:

“…the anarchistic upshot of the libertarian doctrine appealed to the countercultural left. For did not the illegitimacy of the state…imply that everyone was at liberty to choose his very own nonaggressive lifestyle? Did this not imply that vulgarity, obscenity, profanity, drug use, promiscuity, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, polygamy, pedophilia or any other conceivable perversity or abnormality, insofar as they were victimless crimes, were no offenses at all but perfectly normal and legitimate activities and lifestyles?”

“the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism-will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”

In fact, I have been one of the critics of this kind of culturally reactionary libertarianism. See here, here, here and here. I think the proper response is the one articulated by Walter Block:

“Say what you will in support of this statement – it is stark, it is well written, it is radical, it gives a well deserved intellectual kick to the teeth to some groups who richly deserve it — it is still exceedingly difficult to reconcile it with libertarianism. For, in the free society, there will always be the likelihood that different groups will tend to amalgamate in certain geographical areas, and even have restrictive covenants that enforce just requirements, and limitations on free speech. In places like parts of Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, for example, there is little doubt that such sentiments will be the order of the day. But there will likely be other areas of the country, for example, the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, Ann Arbor, Cambridge, Mass, Greenwich Village in New York City, heck, the entire Big Apple for that matter, where pretty much the opposite outlook will legally prevail. That is, in these latter places, positive mention of free enterprise, capitalism, profits, etc., will be severely punished by law. Why libertarianism should be equated with the former views and not the latter is a mystery. Surely, the libertarian philosophy would support the rights of both groups to act in such manners. As for homosexuality, it is entirely possible that some areas of the country, parts of Gotham and San Francisco for example, will require this practice, and ban, entirely, heterosexuality. If this is done through contract, private property rights, restrictive covenants, it will be entirely compatible with the libertarian legal code.”

I would go still further than Block, and advocate entirely separate homelands for those with irreconcilable political differences, for instance, neo-nazis and their equally thuggish “antifa” opponents. As I’ve written before:

Leftists whose main issues are “racism, sexism and homophobia” could create their own homelands complete with a constitution that required that a majority of the seats in the highest body of the provincial government be given to people of color, feminists and homosexuals. There could be “anarchist” city-states organized on the basis of “consensus-based direct democracy” complete with marathon debates over “process” along with “communist” city-states ruled hierarchically by the “vanguard party”. Recall the dichotomy between demo/hedo/homo/art-fag Athens and commie/fascist Sparta. In the white separatist states, there could be sub-communities established for “Aryan” white nationalists and Jewish white nationalists (yes, there is such a thing). Their could be collections of towns and villages for the followers of “moderates” like Jared Taylor and Michael Levin on one hand and “extremists” like the Aryan Nations or the World Church of the Creator on the other. In the black separatist states, there could be sub-communities for Garveyites, adherents of Black Israel, Black Muslims, black separatist Christians and Marxists like the Republic of New Afrika.

Of course, I don’t think it’s generally necessary to take things to these kinds of extremes. For the most part, I think cultural differences can be handled the same way religious differences are presently handled. Different groups could simply have their own institutions. For instance, with regards to education, there might be Afro-centric schools, “traditional American” schools, Catholic schools, fundamentalist-evangelical schools, Hasidic schools, liberal-leftist-politically correct schools, libertarian-anarchistic Summerhill-type schools, “white supremacist” schools, Islamic schools, and, yes,  even “homo-centric” schools.

I take it as a given that there will always be groups as well as individuals with irreconcilable political, ideological, cultural, religious, racial, ethnic, economic and other kinds of differences. One of the virtues of libertarian ideas like decentralization, freedom of association, a wide dispersement of economic resources and so forth it that these things allow such differences to be accommodated without bloodshed or oppression. For instance, just as some leftists might prefer a way of life that priorities homosexuality, feminism, “green-consciousness,” racial and ethnic integrationism, hedonism, communalism, therapeutism or vegetarianism, so might some other people prefer a way of life that prioritizes religious devotion, ethnic preservationism, social conservatism, cultural traditionalism, asceticism, racial separatism, racial, religious or cultural homogeneity, “morality,” “family values,” private property, hunting, meat-eating or tobacco farming. There is no reason why there needs to be a civil war between such factions, or that such factions even be under the same political roof. There can be separate schools, churches, cultural organizations, intermediary institutions, media outlets, non-state social services, economic enterprises, common law legal systems, defense organizations, neighborhoods or, if necessary, entirely separate towns, counties, cantons or provinces for such competing factions.

Seems fair enough to me. After all, freedom of choice and freedom of association are two-way streets. Just as some people may wish to live a homosexual or hedonistic lifestyles, others might wish to live a “racist” or religious lifestyle. But what I have come to call “homo-totalitarians” typically respond in one of two ways. Some are outright political totalitarians who wish for an all-powerful central government to eradicate the associational, religious, economic, privacy and property rights of others with antidiscrimination laws, direct subsidies to homosexual organizations, the use of gay marriage laws to require taxpayers to finance state-funded benefits for same-sex couples, granting homosexual pairs preferential consideration so far as the adoption of children is concerned, criminalizing speech that is critical of homosexuality, the use of tax-funded public schools for the dissemination of pro-gay propaganda under the guise of “sex education” and “teaching tolerance”, enacting hate crimes (thought crimes) laws granting homosexuals legal protection above and beyond that of ordinary crime victims and many other such privileges.

Still others argue less for political totalitarianism of this kind and instead prefer a censorious intellectual culture where dissent from PC orthodoxy on homosexuality is forbidden. We have seen previews of what this would look like in the phenomenon of “political correctness” that has infested certain sectors of society, particularly the academic world and the media. What this amounts too, at minimum, is reacting to those with un-PC views on “gay rights” with hysteria, shrillness, rudeness, slander, vilification, and threats.

Within the context of libertarianism, some have argued that those with un-PC views pertaining to homosexuality, “racism” and a few other things should be written out of the libertarian milieu so as to uphold some standard of cultural leftist purity. Isn’t this interesting? To demonstrate the lunacy of such a proposal, one only need to ask what might happen if other supposed “minority” groups engaged in such special pleading? Should Mormon libertarians demand that libertarians refrain from criticizing Mormon theological beliefs or practices of the Mormon church? Should drug-using libertarians demand that drug use be off-limits so far as disapproval or disagreement from other libertarians is concerned? Should vegetarian libertarians demand that other libertarians refrain from criticizing or ever expressing disapproval of vegetarianism? What if people with tattoos and body piercings asked for similar favoritism? But this is precisely what “homo-totalitarian” libertarians expect. Anyone who comes near the libertarian milieu who has perfectly fine libertarian credentials but who disagrees with homosexuality for whatever private reasons should not only be shunned but personally attacked, according to the logic of these folks. Now, homo-libertarians have every right to criticize the views of anti-homo-libertarians. Hell, I’ve even criticized them on occasion. For instance, if homo-libertarians want to go picket a lecture by an anti-homo-libertarian like Hans Hermann Hoppe, then of course they are well within their rights, just as conservative Christian libertarians are well within their rights to organize boycotts of Disneyland for holding “Gay Day” or whatever the fuck it is. Yet, this kind of thing would seem to me at least to go against the “live and let live” spirit of libertarianism, and it is utterly baffling to me at least that others would regard such matters as equally pressing or even more pressing with concerns like, oh, well, overthrowing an empire that has killed eight million people worldwide.

This hypersensitivity to criticisms of homosexuality found in many anarchist and libertarian circles helps, I think, to explain the otherwise inexplicable “anti-racism” hysteria and enthusiasm for the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism, not to mention the most ridiculous renditions of feminism, found among these people, virtually all of whom are white, overwhelmingly male, and mostly from middle class backgrounds. Anti-racism, anti-xenophobia and feminazism are simply surrogates for homosexualism. The wider “gay rights” movement has gone out of its way to attach itself to the legacy of the black civil rights movement. They do this because they know that most Americans recognize the treatment given to black Americans prior to civil rights was unfair, and thereby proclaim themselves to be a comparable victim group. Therefore, they promote the most extreme and lunatical forms of “anti-racism” and immigrationism, and loudly proclaim any kind differentiation of persons or groups along racial, ethnic, national or gender lines to be the ultimate in human evil, no matter what its purpose, and then subsequently proclaim themselves to the equivalent of an oppressed ethnic group deserving similar favoritism. Apparently, their rallying cry is to paraphrase Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in the defense of sodomy is no vice.”

I’ve wondered why there is so much acrimony between myself and many of these left-anarchist people, given that I agree with them the vast majority of the time. Some of it is no doubt attributable to what Thomas Sowell has called a “conflict of visions.” This has to do with broader philosophical differences beyond preferred political systems, economic policies, particular laws, positions on single issues and so forth. It is a conflict that emerged during the Enlightenment and has endured ever since. Says Sowell:

The great evils of the world-war, poverty, and crime, for example-are seen in completely different terms by those with the constrained and unconstrained visions. If human options are not inherently constrained, then the presence of such repugnant and disastrous phenomena virtually cries out for explanation-and for solutions. But if the limitations and passions of man himself are at the heart of these painful phenomena, then what requires explanation are the ways in which they have been avoided or minimized. While believers in the unconstrained vision seek the special causes of war, poverty and crime, believers in the constrained vision seek the special causes of peace, wealth, or a law-abiding society. In the unconstrained vision, there are no intractable reasons for social evils and therefore no reason why they cannot be solved, with sufficient moral commitment. But in the constrained, whatever artifices or strategies restrain or ameliorate inherent human evils will themselves have costs, some in the form of other social ills created by these civilizing institutions, so all that is possible is a prudent trade-off.

Recognition of these facts can sometimes require that hard choices be made. For instance, the need to balance being kind and generous to immigrants with cultural, civilizational, political and economic survival. The need to establish political priorities that aim to minimize the greatest harms (like imperialist war, mass imprisonment of harmless people, and severe economic failure that will severely damage tens of millions) as a primary consideration, as opposed to focusing primarily on upholding to the letter the interests and preferences of marginal fringe groups, like “sexual minorities,” regardless of other considerations.

Some years ago I sat in on a conversation of university professors discussing the mystery of the “origins of racism.” But the origins of racism are no mystery. Conflict of this type has existed as long as there have been human beings. The mystery is those rare instances where peace between races has been achieved. On another occasion, a liberal associate was highly offended by my defense of a man who had been arrested for shooting and killing a criminal who had been burglarizing his home, and my associate was giving me the usual drivel about “the sanctity of human life” and “criminals are victims of socio-economic oppression,” as though the interests of the crime victim counted for nothing.  I responded with a quote from Adam Smith: “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.” I once had a political science professor, a Princeton graduate, who said in all seriousness that the real issue in the gun control debate is whether “having a gun makes you feel safe” versus  “knowing that someone else might have a gun makes you feel unsafe,” as though mere subjective emotions and states of mind are the real basis for public policy debates, irrespective of actual facts and tangible reality. Many years ago when I was in the Central America solidarity movement, I once criticized what I felt was the overuse of civil disobedience by antiwar protestors. To me, it seemed counterproductive to ritualistically sit down in the street and blockade traffic in a way that had zero effect on actual U.S. foreign policy, but resulted in hundreds of people being carted off to jail, and resources squandered on fines, bail, lawyer fees and court costs. I was told by a very intelligent man with a decades long history of involvement in such activities that the purpose of civil disobedience was to “make a personal statement” that one is taking a stand on this, that or the other thing. In other words, it was all about the individual protestor, not the actual cause itself.

If we see anarchism as a movement to oppose statism, capitalism, imperialism, aggressive war,  and authoritarianism, and to uphold individual liberty, decentralism, voluntarism, federalism, mutual aid, cooperativism, syndicalism, communitarianism, pluralism, human scale, institutions, intellectual freedom, free inquiry, free speech, and freedom of association, then the attacks of my critics don’t really make sense. But if we see so-called “anarchism” as a movement of homosexuals seeking political, institutional and cultural privilege, while hiding behind the rhetoric of egalitarian-universalist-humanism, then such attacks begin to make a great deal of sense. To my enemies, I would respond by citing the immortal words of Jim Goad:

I don’t care about your precious personal lifestyle choices. I really don’t. And your entire dingbat philosophy, the whole tectonic plate upon which San Francisco rests, is based on the false presumption that people such as me are somehow upset about the manner in which you flap your genitals around. Egads.

It isn’t what you do, it’s the way you do it. Not the meat, but rather the motion. It’s not what you’re saying, it’s your lousy voice. It isn’t your private cock-slurping, it’s your public megaphone-mouth. It ain’t how you move beneath the sheets, it’s the way you wave the picket signs around. The problem isn’t your self-consciously “decadent” personal lifestyle, it’s your warped social instincts.

It has nothing to do with the widespread sidewalk displays of ass-rimming…or the women who look like Lou Costello…or even the concept of white people who hate the concept of white people… It’s the attitude.

As for the rest of us in the anarchist milieu, I say it’s time for a purge, if not an outright pogrom. Does the spectacle of a bunch of white college students crying about “racism, racism, racism” and pretending that they’re Black Panthers do anything to actually increase the number of Actually Existing People of Color in our ranks? It hasn’t yet after decades of trying. The typical convert to anarchism is an angry, young, white, male from an upper strata working class to upper middle class socio-economic background, one who possesses above average levels of intelligence and education, and an interest in history, philosophy, political science and related fields. Do we really attract more people into our ranks by having so many self-hating whites, bearded ladies, cock-ringed queers, or persons of one or another surgically altered “gender identity” in our midst? Is this really something the average rebellious young person wants to be associated with? Could we not actually attract more young rebels into our ranks if all of this stuff was absent? I believe we could. For instance, I’ve been amazed at how fast the “national-anarchist” movement has grown in the short amount of time it has been around. And it is largely due to the efforts of Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard to purge libertarianism of precisely this kind during the late 1980s and early 1990s of thing that eventually made possible the Ron Paul movement and the post-paleo movement that has followed it. Does the average young rebel really want to join an “anarchist” movement that is only going to tell him what a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic sinner he is? No, he can go to church or take university humanities courses for that.

As for the feminism thing, I suspect the absence of such “feminist” elements will actually increase the number of actual female participants in our ranks. In my experience, right-wing political groups and even fundamentalist churches tend to have at least as many women participants as left-wing groups, if not more. I mean, let’s be real. What confident, intelligent, secure, emotionally stable woman with a keen sense of individuality wants to join a movement of pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hair? I really doubt that many of our stereotypical angry young male anarchists really, in their heart of hearts, want to belong to such a movement. I recall a conversation with a female friend of mine, a 23-year-old bisexual anthropology student. I was criticizing the “gay rights” movement as having no real message other than: “We suck cock, and we deserve merit badges for it.” Her response: “Yes, exactly. That’s a perfect description.” As for homosexuals, let them be evaluated according to what they actually contribute to our movement rather than simply for their status as homosexuals. We need the likes of Justin Raimondo or the late Alisdair Clarke. I’m not so sure we need some of these others.

So where do we go from here? I suggest that those of us who want to have a non-leftoidal anarchist movement simply go about building one, and ignore the personal attacks that will continue to be thrown our way. As Andrew Yeoman of Bay Area National Anarchists suggests:

My goals are (in no particular order) are consistent with a pragmatic libertarian anti-capitalist holistic ethnocentric worldview.  This is why I advocate for 1) less government authority and the repealing of many laws, 2) greater autonomy for the self-determination of all peoples, and 3) believe it or not, greater cooperation between powerless political factions.  With caveats I will work with people who I disagree with on most issues because the philosophy I live by is to organize with different but like minded tribes.  This tenet is continuously emphasized by National Anarchists like Troy Southgate.  Disagreeing with me on issues is fine, but you will never tell me or my tribe how we shall live our lives.

And this:

National Anarchism is a political tendency that allows different communities to form a political structure according to their own values.  That’s it.  That’s the solution to the irreconcilable differences between me and other anarchists, different lifestyles, religions, and even races that have historically had problems living together (above and beyond mere class conflict).

Before we can have an anarchist revolution, we need to have a revolution within anarchism itself. We need to convey the message to other radical tendencies and to the public at-large that anarchism as a political ideology is not simply some freak show that exists to provide group psychotherapy to a bunch of psychologically damaged personalities. In recent years, an “alternative Right” has developed in the U.S. consisting of paleoconservatives, paleolibertarians, post-paleos, anarcho-capitalists, “left-conservatives,” and Ron Paulistas. New tendencies within anarchism have also emerged like national-anarchism, tribal anarchism, and anarcho-pluralism. Out of all of these strands, perhaps we can build a new “revolutionary Right” that in essence becomes the “true left,” a new radicalism that eventually replaces PC leftoidism as the dominant outlook of radical youth, and then begins the process of becoming an actual popular movement to displace the dominance of liberalism in American society.

Updated News Digest May 17, 2009 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”

“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always civilized and tolerant.”

                                                                                              H. L. Mencken

Why is the US making itself impotent fighting wars that have nothing whatsoever to do with is security, wars that are, in fact, threatening its security?  The answer is that the military/security lobby, the financial gangsters, and AIPAC rule.  The American people be damned.”

                                                                                            -Paul Craig Roberts

Secede! Bill Buppert interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Did Somebody Say Secession? by Jack Hunter

How Dare Anyone Question the Fed? by Thomas Woods

Who Rules America? by Paul Craig Roberts

It is Getting Very Serious Now by Chuck Baldwin

Do You Feel Safer Now? from No Third Solution

Intellectual Property: A Libertarian Critique by Kevin Carson

The Great American Bank Robbery (of US) by Thomas N. Naylor

Twelve Axioms of American Foreign Policy Towards Israel by Thomas N. Naylor

The New Neocons  by Justin Raimondo

Hillary and the Sleeping Dragon by William S. Lind

A Practical Path to Secession by Bill Buppert

King of the Hate Business by Alexander Cockburn

Local Barter Clubs Proliferating by Hazel Henderson

Money Talks  by Tomislav Sunic

Workers Power and the Ultra-Right by Ean Frick

Apostle of Catastrophe Kirkpatrick Sale interviewed by Derek Turner

Pentagon Gluttons by Charles Pena

Pelosi the Ennabler by Robert Scheer

The Inside Fight Over Torture by Nick Baumann

New General, Same War by Robert Dreyfuss

10th Amendment Showdown by John Bowman

Obama’s Latest Effort to Conceal Evidence of Bush Era Crimes by Glenn Greenwald

Saving Israel from Itself by John J. Mearsheimer

The Hidden Hand of Dick Cheney by Juan Cole

Torture Cannot Be Justified to Save Lives by Klint Alexander

Surprise! by Harrison Bergeron 2

On Cops and Gangs by Manuel Lora

The Cure for Layoffs: Fire the Boss! by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis

PIGS Kill Teenager Over Expired License Tags 

Employees Occupy Their Company in Rochester 

Where Were All of the Business Schools When Wall Street Needed Them Most? by Thomas N. Naylor

PIGS Attack Stuffed Animal with Taser 

The Shell Game of Democracy by Ray Mangum

Judicial Restraint by TGGP

Wanted: A Fighting Party by Pat Buchanan

Savage Nation by Derek Turner

Remembering the Great Screaming Lord Sutch by Ray Mangum (check it out!

Bull Markets in the Cocaine Game by Mark Easton

The U.S. Descends Deeper into the Third World 

PETA Founder Comes Up With Another Howler by Francois Tremblay

The Fascist Federation vs Free-Market Aliens by John Bowman

The Rule of the “Experts” by Justin Raimondo

Saigon Again? by Philip Giraldi

What a Horrible Weapon the Taser is… (especially in the hands of the PIGS) by William Norman Grigg

We Face Economic Destruction by Murray Rothbard

Understanding the Long War by Tom Hayden

Saberi’s Plight and American Media Propaganda by Glenn Greenwald

It’s Time to End the Cold War by James Bissett

Obama’s Empire by Sheldon Richman

The Case Against World Currency Schemes by David Gordon

Obama Can’t Fix the Military Commissions by Denny LeBoeuf

Becoming What We Seek to Destroy by Chris Hedges

The Bubble to End All Bubbles by Gerald Celente

Bill Would Turn Bloggers Into Felons by John Cox

Mohawks March on Canadian Border by Michael Peeling

The Bomb Iran Faction by Gary Leupp

Obama Chooses a Reliable Dictatorship by Wajahat Ali

Why Isn’t Obama Turning to Credit Unions? by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Pseudo-Science and Wrongful Convictions in the War on Drugs by John Kelly

Who Killed 120 Civilians? by Patrick Cockburn

New York Governor Does the Right Thing by Anthony Papa

Jon Stewart and Truman, the War Criminal by Paul Krassner

Savage Nation by Derek Turner

A Hypocrisy That Can Win by Richard Spencer

Ron Paul Republicans by Jack Hunter

Social Solidarity is Overrated by Richard Spencer

The Economics of the Meltdown interview with Tom Woods

Michael Savage is Our Business by Marcus Epstein

Star Trek and Humanity by Razib Khan

Glen Beck Discusses Anarchy with Penn Jillette hat tip to Francois Tremblay

Bakunin on Order hat tip to Brad Spangler

 Where Russia Went Wrong by Michael Hudson

The Limits of Liberalism by Lance Selfa

Obama Channels Cheney by Dave Lindorff

Obama and Latin America: No Light, All Tunnell by Robert Sandels

The Banker Boys Are Alright: Time to End the Bailouts by Dean Baker

It’s Time for Another Stock Market Correction interview with Jim Rogers

A Sucker’s Rally by Gary North

The Bitterly Clinging Obama by Vin Suprynowicz

Death of a Civilization by Dave Deming

Four Traits of the Really Successful Investors by Chris Clancy

1984: The Book That Killed George Orwell by Robert McCrum

Christians for Torture by Laurence Vance

U.S. Out of Pakistan and Afghanistan by Ron Paul

The Social Benefits of Saving by Hans Hermann Hoppe

Gangbangers in Blue by William Norman Grigg

Jesse Ventura Wants Cheney on a Waterboard from Larry King Live

Support Your Local Police? by Laurence Vance

Tax Revolt in California by Gary North

What Did Nancy Know? by Justin Raimondo

Twenty Years After the Fall by Eduoard Husson

The Politics of Excusing Torture in the Name of National Security by John Dean

Obama Administration Statements on Iranian Nukes Not Backed by Intelligence by Jeremy Hammond

The Sematics of Torture by John McQuaid

Obama: A Careerist, Not an Ideologue by Pat Buchanan

National Bankruptcy by Peter Schiff

Child Abusers in Uniform? from No Third Solution

The Tragedy of Classical Liberalism by Gus diZerega

For Reproductive Anarchy by Roderick Long

Anarcho-Communists for Private Property? by Roderick Long

Film Crew Arrested for Filming PIG from Rad Geek

How the Left Killed Hollywood Drama by S.T. Karnick

Is College Worth It? by Tom Piatak

You Can’t Do This on Television or Can You? by Dylan Hales

Cultural Continuity and Revolution 

Neo-Slavery Re-Emerging as a Business Strategy by Brenda Walker

Obama Picks Up Where Bush Left Off by Mike Whitney

A Real History of Rupert Murdoch by Bruce Page

The Black Shirts of Guantanamo by Jeremy Scahill

Vaginas from Outer Space! by Kim Nicolini

PIGS Assault Pastor

Can Star Trek‘s Non-Violent Utopia Happen?

A Special Kind of Feminist

You’ve Got to See This One to Believe It

Updated News Digest May 10, 2009 1

Quote of the Week:

“There’s the populist wing of the libertarian movement, and then there’s the Washington crowd that’s still trying to sell libertarianism, or their version of it, to elites. These people want to go along and get along. As long as they can abort their babies and sodomize each other and take as many drugs as they want to, they are happy. They don’t care who is being killed in Iraq and how many Iraqis are dying. That’s their hierarchy of values.”

                                                                                                          -Justin Raimondo

Joke of the Week:

“Watching Keith Preston shows me beyond the shadow of the doubt that life isn’t worth living as a cold manipulator.”

                                                                                              -Anonymous Lunatic

The Tyranny of Tolerance by Hal G.P. Colebatch

Soft Totalitarianism by Thomas Jackson

“Hate Crimes” Prevention Bill Will Suppress Speech by Paul Craig Roberts

The Left Attacks the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle by Matthew Yglesias

Torture and Mr. Obama by William Blum

Obama’s War Budget by Jeff Leys

The Marijuana Dilemma: Free Market Decriminalization vs Bureaucratic Legalization by Daniel Flynn

When Norman Mailer Ran for Mayor of NYC by John Buffalo Mailer

Obama’s Afghan-Ignorant Policy by Michael Scheuer

Ignore AIPAC at America’s Peril by Philip Giraldi

The Great Depression of 2009 by Gerald Celente

Exempting Israel From Criticism by Paul Craig Roberts

Is Obama Taking on the Israel Lobby? by Justin Raimondo

Obama Must Break from Past Israel Policy by Jonathan Steele

National-Anarchists Smash Shop Windows in San Francisco by BANA

Dead Souls by Alexander Cockburn

Jailed for Caring by Neve Gordon

Why the Left Hates Decentralization by Thomas Woods

The Case for All-Black Schools by Jeff Severns Guntzel

Andrej Grubacic on Anarchism for the 21st Century 

“They Had Swords”: Anarchist Mayhem in San Francisco 

Anarchist Common Action General Assembly Meets in the Pacific Northwest 

IWW Starbucks’ Workers Organizing Efforts Extend to Chile 

American Exceptionalism (And Why American Extremists Tend to Be Anarchists Rather Than Communists and Fascists) by Seymour Martin Lipset

Bush POWs Treated Worse Than Americans Captured by the Chinese by Glenn Greenwald

Afghans to Obama: Get Out, Take Karzai With You by Patrick Cockburn

The Torturer’s Apprentice by Richard Neville

To Power a Nation: Nuclear Bombs or Sunshine? by Manuel Garcia, Jr.

Pork and Baloney: Obama’s Defense Budget by Winslow T. Wheeler

Pakistan in Crisis by Deepak Tripathi

Stanford Alumni Call for Investigation of Condoleeza Rice by Marjorie Cohn

Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown? 

The AIPAC Spy Case by James G. Abourezk

Afghan Ayatollahs Push Marital Rape Law by Patrick Cockburn

Dropping the AIPAC Spy Case by Gary Leupp

Economy on the Ropes by Mike Whitney

Is the GOP Finished Yet? by Pat Buchanan

The Mexican Flu by Jack Hunter

I Committed Treason Last Week by Kevin D. Annett

Remembering Isabel Paterson by Stephen Cox

The Case Against the State from LiberaLaw

“Communism” vs Communism by Milan Valach

We Are Brainwashed to Believe We Are in a Classless Society by Francois Tremblay

Doing Tax Resistance from the Picket Line

Dialectical Anarchism by Roderick Long

Against Rothbard and Keynes, for Marx by TGGP

The Copyright Nazis’ Latest Venue: Newspapers by Kevin Carson

Liberty Creates Order by Sheldon Richman

The Ruling Class Nature of the Federal Reserve by Sheldon Richman

Moral Nihilism and Existentialism from Back to the Drawing Board

Victim of Amerika  by William Norman Grigg

Want to Get Out of Debt? 

Hero of Gun Rights by Jeff Snyder

Texas Highway Robbery-by the Cops!! by Gary Tuchman and Katherine Wojtecki

Armed Student Saves Lives 

The Taliban Are Coming! The Taliban Are Coming! by Eric Margolis

The Federal Government is Increasingly Totalitarian by Mark Crovelli

Survivalism: It’s Just Common Sense by Tim Elliot

Money Must Not Be State Provided by Mike Rozeff

Waterboard an A-rab for Jesus by Laurence Vance

Ron Paul, Surveillance and the GOP by James Bovard

“Democracy at Gunpoint” Strategy Guarantees Defeat by William Pfaff

A Nation of Men, Not Laws by Nat Hentoff

A Vietnam Warning  by Robert Dreyfuss

At What Point is a Traitor a Patriot? by Bill Buppert

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republicans

Jon Stewart: Wimp, Wuss and Moral Coward by Justin Raimondo

Congressional Retards Call for a Ban on “Indecent” Viagra Commercials by Butler Shaffer (and the proper response)

AIPAC Stooge Jane Harman: Fuck That Bitch article by Glenn Greenwald

How to Survive the Depression and Worse Jack Spirko interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Student Loan Debt: The Next Big Crash?

U.S. Policy Breeds Revolution in Pakistan Eric Margolis interviewed by Scott Horton

How Israel Avoids a Palestinian State by David Bromwich

Nukes and National Independence: The French Example by Edouard Husson

A Conspiracy to Prevent Torture Prosecutions? by Thomas R. Eddlem

Taking Liberties With the “Justice” System by Andy Worthington

Another Cheney Cover-Up? by David Corn

The New Face of the Senate? 

French Mutualism Beyond Proudhon  by Shawn Wilbur

How Good People Turn Evil, and Why the State is the Problem by Francois Tremblay

The Forces of the American Occupation (of America) from Rad Geek

From a Slave to His Former Master, in 1865  from Roderick Long

Can Christians Serve in the New World Army? by Chuck Baldwin

The New Racism by Pat Buchanan

Casualties of Obama’s War by Patroon

Stuff White People Like by Robert Weissberg

Can Local Government Work for the Poor? from IFPRI Forum

Another Federalist of the Left? from The Volokh Conspiracy

The End of Arrogance: Decentralization and Anarchist Organizing by the Curious George Brigade

Bush is a Felonious Torturer by Judge Andrew Napolitano

Should a Christian Join the Military? by Laurence Vance

Empire Contributed to Economic Crisis by Ivan Eland

Rangoon’s Renaissance by Doug Bandow

Obama Readies Troops as Afghans Die by Jeremy Scahill

Give Up Your Empire or Live Under It Jacob Hornberger interviewed by Scott Horton

Why We Fight: U.S. Troops Die for Rapists by Ted Rall

Taking Up Where Clinton-Gore Left Off by Gordon Prather

The President and His Troublesome Allies by Tony Karon

U.S. Foreign Policy Caused the Taliban Problem by Jacob Hornberger

The Torture BITCH by Justin Raimondo

Happy Days  by Peter Schiff

A Woman Dumber Than John McCain? by Ilana Mercer

Fuck the PIGS from Rad Geek

A Full Court Press for Pakistan War by Chris Floyd

Marilyn Chambers, R.I.P. by Warren Hinckle

In Praise of Revolutions  by Serge Halimi

Hilary and Latin America by Mark Weisbrot

Recessions and Labor Unions by David Macaray

Mothers and War by Ron Jacobs

A Break from the Past in the Drug War? by Kevin Zeese

Party of Rush by Robert Fantina

A Hymn to Political Incorrectness (and another one!)

Reflections on Urban Sociology by Chris Rock

Updated News Digest May 3, 2008 Reply

Quote of the Week:

“In spite of the unceasing efforts made by men in power to conceal this and to ascribe a different meaning to power, power is the application of a rope, a chain by which a person will be bound and dragged along, or of a whip, with which he will be flogged, or of a knife, or an ax with which they will cut off his hands, feet, ears, head—an application of these means or the threat they will be used. Thus it was in the time of Nero and of Ghenghis Khan and thus it is even now, in the most liberal of governments.”

                                                                                                              -Leo Tolstoy

 

“”One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words socialism and communism draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, Nature-cure quack, pacifist and feminist in England… “We have reached a stage when the very word socialism calls up, on the one hand, a picture of airplanes, tractors and huge glittering factories of glass and concrete; on the other, a picture of vegetarians with wilting beards, of Bolshevik commissars (half gangster, half gramophone), or earnest ladies in sandals, shock-headed Marxists chewing polysyllables, escaped Quakers, birth control fanatics, and Labour Party backstairs-crawlers. “If only the sandals and pistachio-colored shirts could be put in a pile and burnt, and every vegetarian, teetotaler and creeping Jesus sent home to Welwyn Garden City to do his yoga exercises quietly. As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.”

                                                                                                     -George Orwell

The Drug War: A Bonanza for the Enemies of Freedom by Kevin Carson

Prosecute ‘Em by Jack Hunter

New Issue of Synthesis

What Happened to the Peace Movement? Scott Horton interviewed by Lew Rockwell

Farewell, US Hegemony by Andrew Bacevich and Tom Engelhardt

America’s Shame by Eric Margolis

Is the State Necessary? by Kirkpatrick Sale

National-Anarchist Portraits: Andrew Yeoman

Taking Secession Seriously-At Last by Kirkpatrick Sale

H.L. Mencken Speaks Wow!!

Shrink the State: A Leftist Aim by Chris Dillow

Secession Is Our Future by Cliff Thies

Let a Thousand Nations Bloom from Free Guptastan

Revisionism: A New, Angry Look at the American Past from TIME, 1970

Why We Fight the Power by Roderick Long

Neocons on the Danube by Paul Gottfried

Credit Card Deform by Sheldon Richman

Don’t Know Much About Capitalism by Thomas Woods

African Anarchism in Zimbabwe by Larry Gambone

Is GDP Decreasing? by Francois Tremblay

Outside the Gates: Turkey and Europe by Mark Hackard

Debt as a Way of Life by Richard Spencer

The Taliban’s Road to Kabul by Patrick Cockburn

Death at Work in American by Joann Wypijewski

Zionist Lobby Targets Another Tenured Professor by Doug Henwood

The Nuremberg Truth and Reconciliation Committee by Jeremy Scahill

Will Iceland Be Handed Over to a New Gang of Kleptocrats? by Michael Hudson

Israeli Fascism by Uri Avnery

Why the U.S. Still Hates Cuba by Frederico Fuentes

Obama’s Sins of Omission by Andrew J. Bacevich

The Secessionist Option: Why Now? by Ian Baldwin

George Washington on Entangling Alliances 

James Madison on War 

Most Women Oppose Preferences in Hiring Blacks by TGGP

Unsubstantiated Blanket Statements by Ean Frick

“Get Your Hands Off My Country” 

Military Moronity by William S. Lind

The Secessionist Bookshelf by Bill Buppert

Anarchy and the Law of the Somalis by Dick Clark

The Fed Has Wounded You Gerald Celente interviewed by Lew Rockwell

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? by Charles Pena

The Case for Prosecuting Bush by David Henderson

Some Might Call It Treason by Philip Giraldi

Calamity Jane by Justin Raimondo

The U.S. is Addicted to Imperialism Eric Margolis interviewed by Scott Horton

Get Out of Iraq George McGovern interviewed by Scott Horton

The U.S. Should Cut Military Spending by One Half by Benjamin Friedman

We Are All Torturers in America by Naomi Wolf

The Greatest Gay Rights Song Ever Written -here’s the lyrics

Secession: The True Bioregional Way by Kirkpatrick Sale

The Ten Core Values of Survivalism 

The Greatest American President of All by Thomas Woods

Is is Time to Bring Back the Lone Star Republic? by Kelse Moen

Is a Hyperinflationary Depression Ahead? John Williams interviewed by Howard Ruff

The Rich Capitalist Who Co-Founded Communism by Robert Service

The Lobby Wants War by Justin Raimondo

Obama Looks Unimpressive on Civil Liberties After 100 Days by J.D. Tuccille

The Dark Core of the Empire by Jacob Hornberger

Tortured by the Past by Frank Snepp

The Obama-Netanyahu Showdown by Robert Parry

What This Country Needs is a Good Pirated Version of Kindle E-Books by Kevin Carson

Really Small Firm Size by Shawn Wilbur

Help Arthur Silber

Fair Taxers-Friends or Foes? by Dylan Hales

Obama and “Two States” by Ellen Cantarow

The McCarthyism That Horowitz Built by Dana Cloud

The Cocaine Powder/Crack Sentencing Disparity by Jasmine Tyler and Anthony Papa

Obama Disses Tea Partyers by Red Phillips

The Flu Hysteria Agency by Bill Anderson

The Evil of Eminent Domain by David T. Beito

Secede, Georgia! 

Is Neocon Foreign Policy Finished? by Ivan Eland

Dictatorial Powers Unchallenged by Andy Worthington

Bibi’s Holocaust-or Ours? by Gordon Prather

Freedom of Expression, Dissenting Historians and the Holocaust Revisionists by David Botsford

Thought Police Muscle Up in Britain by Hal G.P. Colebatch

Why Many Chinese Don’t Want Freedom by Richard Bernstein

Economic Policy and Growth by TGGP

Jon Stewart the Hypocrite by Francois Tremblay

May Day 2009 by Rad Geek

The Shadow of the Panther by Hugh Pearson

Remembering Gustave Landauer-He Was Killed 90 Years Ago Today 

Strictly Personal  by Chuck Baldwin

The Road to Weimar America by Robert Stacy McCain

“Do You Take This Pony?” by Evan McLaren

Thoroughly Modern Marxism by Richard Spencer

Is the GOP Too Conservative? by Jack Hunter

The Swine Are Loose by Ilana Mercer

Technofascism, Not Socialism by Thomas Naylor

Dissing the Declaration by Harrison Bergeron 2

Kabul’s New Elite by Patrick Cockburn

The Israel Boycott is Biting by Nadia Hijab