20 comments

  1. I have the same thoughts. I’m glad BANA is bringing this issue to mainstream attention, but I am unable to fully get behind their protest on account of them taking the same line that left-liberals and religious-fundamentalists take whenever anything ‘offensive’ arises in the media.

  2. How does Machete differ from flicks like Fight for your Life, Goodbye Uncle Tom, Birth of a Nation and (arguably) 300, which all tapped into the socio-political issues of their day in a similar fashion?

    All this talk of protesting reminds me of the “moral panic” outlook which assumes that people are such passive, unquestioning recipients (and reenactors) of whatever media is thrust before them that they need to be protected from themselves. I know most folk are “creatures of the herd”, but to *that* extent?

    How does this differ from the anti-AR protests that went down on your side of the pond, a few months back?

  3. I’m just glad to see Attack the System being a bit critical of National Anarchists in public. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate ATS and NA when I make a case for anarcho-pluralism. No offense intended, just want to give kudos.

    Yeah, this sort of reinforces the Facebook discussion I had with Andrew about protest as a NA tactic. Protest does not seem like it prefigures a separatist agenda but undermines it by appealing to the very metropolitan mass public that NA wants to get away from. The whole point of NA – as I understand it – is to make such questions and fears as Andrew raises moot. I guess you have to engage where you’re at, but doing it in this way seems awfully unoriginal and less provocative than moral panicky, as MRDA said above. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Luke,

    I see the value of pointing out the hypocrisy of the media elite who attacked Mel Gibson’s Christ movie as dangerous anti-Semitic propaganda, while regarding Machete as innocuous fun, but I just get can’t behind protesting anything related to film, art, music, print, etc. It’s just too close to the kinds of examples you mention. I am for a unlimited right to be offensive.

    MRDA,

    I agree 100% with everything you said. The problem I had with the anti-AR protests was that it involved threats of violence like threatening to kill hotel employees if the conference took place. I’d have no political problem with a peaceful protest against AR, though I wouldn’t personally endorse that either. It’s not even a question of whether or not a group like AR has any good ideas or not. I just don’t like protests of that kind in any form, for any cause, or by any group. It may not meet the technical definition of censorship, but it seems to me to be a push for de facto censorship through private or public pressure.

  5. Anonion,

    I think the part about carrying machetes was intended to tongue in cheek for the sake of making a point. I understand their point of view, but I’m not so keen on press reports about anarchists carrying machetes to protest a movie.

  6. Jeremy,

    “I’m just glad to see Attack the System being a bit critical of National Anarchists in public.”

    It’s not that I think BANA is doing something horrible, or has no valid points. It’s just that such a protest has too much of a “moral majoritarian” flavor to it. I’d say the same thing about an anti-racist protest against the showing of “Birth of a Nation” or feminist protests against “The People vs Larry Flynt.” It’s just a dangerous slippery slope I wouldn’t want to go down. The right to offend is sacred, IMO.

    “Sometimes it’s difficult to separate ATS and NA when I make a case for anarcho-pluralism.”

    I agree that’s a problematical issue, and I should have done more along the way to maintain the distinction. Anarcho-pluralism, as I conceive of it, is a fairly open-ended concept that is strategically helpful and is also accommodating the various differences found among anarchists, as well as other ideologies. I consider N-A to be a legitimate branch of anarchism, which is the main point that separates me from the left-anarchists on the question. Also, I don’t merely tolerate the right of N-As to exist, but consider many issues they bring to the table to be entirely valid and legitimate. But I’m more of a fellow traveler to N-A, just as I’m a fellow traveler to mutualism, syndicalism, anarcho-capitalism, paleo-conservativism, etc. without fully being in any of these camps. Despite my criticism of the left-anarchists and left-libertarians, I don’t think they’re wrong about everything, either. Plus, there’s a lot of diversity within N-A. I know Christian N-As, Catholic N-As, Nietzschean N-As, skinhead N-As, neo-pagan N-As, Muslim N-As, etc.

  7. “Protest does not seem like it prefigures a separatist agenda but undermines it by appealing to the very metropolitan mass public that NA wants to get away from. The whole point of NA – as I understand it – is to make such questions and fears as Andrew raises moot. I guess you have to engage where you’re at, but doing it in this way seems awfully unoriginal and less provocative than moral panicky, as MRDA said above.”

    I think there’s really only two questions that are relevant to anarcho-pluralism as I conceive of it: Who gets what and how do we get there? My presumption has always been that in anarcho-pluralism, the dominant cultural, ideological, and economic tendencies within a local community would be reflected in the norms and institutions of the community. There’s also the question of colonizing specific regions like the Free Staters, Liberty Districts, and Christian Exodus.

    But there’s also the issue of anarcho-pluralists with cultural values that are a minority in their own community of origin, and the issues that different factions in anarcho-pluralism bring with them. BANA, for instance, obviously promotes a viewpoint that is a minority viewpoint within the Bay Area itself. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that per se. Sometimes going against the tides can help get you on the map. BANA also obviously has a lot of issues they address beyond the wider idea of anarchism, secession, or whatever. If “white rights” or whatever is their thing, that’s fine by me. But I’d say the same thing about other factions. If there was a left-libertarian counterpart to BANA in some conservative community (Lakeland, Fla, for instance or my own hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia) who signed on the the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist project and then went off and did there own projects promoting atheism, abortion, homosexuality, feminism, etc. in a conservative community, and protested Confederate museums as supposed bastions of racist scumbaggery, I’d also welcome such a group as comrades, even though I obviously wouldn’t share all of their ideas or endorse all of their tactics.

    I even endorse groups that I agree with on practically nothing else. For instance, James Dobson could be an anarcho-pluralist if he would get over his attachments to the federal government’s Republican wing and start advocating a decentralist or secessionist outlook. I’ve endorsed groups that use some rather extravagantly racist anti-white rhetoric at various points, like the People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement. I’m white, but I don’t take any of that personally. I generally agreed with their efforts to create an African-American separatist city-state in the black sections of St. Petersburg, Fla. I’m critical of the US-Israel relationship, but I know pro-Zionists who are sympathetic to my wider outlook. I’d have no problem with a secessionist movement in some liberal region like Connecticut that simultaneously advocated policies I don’t agree with, like gun control.

  8. I think you might be missing my point, though. Where does *protest* fit into that? What is the goal of protest? To convince enough people to sympathize with your position. It’s essentially a democratic construct that sees mass acceptance as the lynchpin.

    What I am saying is that separatism has nothing whatsoever to do with that. It’s about the fact that you shouldn’t have to convince a majority of your neighbors – instead, you should be able to live and let live by going your separate ways. It just seems like walking backward to go forward.

    When I brought this up to Yeoman himself, I wasn’t very happy with his response: that you basically have to go along with the culture war dichotomy and it’s silly little media-friendly stunts to protect your traditions and values and all that. Well, fuck. If I thought that, I’d join the GOP and listen to Rush. That’s what I mean by unoriginal.

    On the other hand, I don’t think Andrew is an idiot; I think he sees immediate dangers in stuff like the immigration issue that elevate it above a more general advocacy for separatism. In fact, I guess it’s my disagreement on that judgement that is at the heart of this, though it frustrates me that even the pan-secessionists I disagree with don’t seem to be able to transcend the system and build something new and different.

  9. “I think you might be missing my point, though. Where does *protest* fit into that? What is the goal of protest? To convince enough people to sympathize with your position. It’s essentially a democratic construct that sees mass acceptance as the lynchpin.”

    There were many goals with this campaign: 1) send a message that we will not tolerate attempts by Hollywood to intimidate people of European descent. 2) To talk to the public about these issues. 3) Financially hurt the film. 4) Give our people experience on the street and engaging with the public in a rational manner on why this issue is important. Many people in our circles have little or no experience of street activism and it is my goal to have people learn how it is done and be able to take that skill into future campaigns either in the streets, on the soapbox and in the homes, of our nationality. These are skills that will benefit the activists for the scope of their entire career. And besides that it is a lot of fun!

  10. From the ATS Statement of Purpose:

    “We reject the “culture wars” of mainstream American politics as a rivalry within the upper-middle class which is irrelevant to our revolutionary struggle. Anarchist participation in the “culture wars” is an unnecessary distraction from the struggle at hand. Irreconcilable cultural differences are best handled through individual autonomy, voluntary association, pluralism and peaceful co-existence where possible. Otherwise, secession, local sovereignty, community self-determination, and mutual self-separation should be the rule.”

    This doesn’t prove anything about what BANA should or should not do. They can and should handle their own affairs, and I admire their commitment to peaceful agitation. It only reinforces my ambivalence (at best; outright perplexity at worst) about what exactly is trying to be accomplished.

    I still don’t understand – and it’s not important that I do, frankly, because we don’t share the same values anyway – why anybody should care to “send a message” if their express goal is to achieve a separation sufficient to render the message irrelevant. One of the reasons I harp on this is because I’d like to see different ARV-allied groups trying different tactics instead of the same old stuff. I do disagree with the racial emphasis, of course, but that goes without saying and need not be belabored.

    Andrew, maybe I’m being short-sighted. What do you think about the idea that Keith and others have been discussing with respect to how to move an activist agenda forward in an anarcho-pluralist framework? Whatever I think of your ends or means, you guys are at least _active_, so we could potentially learn from your experience.

  11. “I think you might be missing my point, though. Where does *protest* fit into that? What is the goal of protest? To convince enough people to sympathize with your position. It’s essentially a democratic construct that sees mass acceptance as the lynchpin.”

    I don’t know that it has to be either/or. One can agitate for a separatist community that reflects one’s own values, but still participate in protest activities even in a community where one is in the minority. For instance, the Green Panther group can agitate for a “stoner homeland” in northern California’s marijuana country while still protesting pot busts in Texas while at the same time recognizing that in a decentralist system a conservative region like Texas might well be the last to repeal its pot laws. In Richmond, I might favor “class struggle” by the lower proletarian and lumpen proletarian classes against the influence of upper middle class civic organizations like the Fan District Association over the city government, while at the same time favoring an alliance with conservative, middle-class oriented, even old WASPish upper middle class political or civic organizations in Chesterfield or Hanover counties or Colonial Heights for the sake of building a regional secessionist movement against the federal government.

  12. “What do you think about the idea that Keith and others have been discussing with respect to how to move an activist agenda forward in an anarcho-pluralist framework?”

    What we are doing is pluralist. We have people from all sorts of backgrounds advocating about issues of importance in our community. I do not care if people do not support these positions 110%, we put this out there and get people debating about it, that a small handful of people can do this and garner as much attention as we do shows how much not doing anything isn’t getting you anywhere.

    We have the initiative to make our demands known, that is more important to me than the keyboard commandos tacit approval. In my opinion, as long as BANA and our affiliates have the initiative on these campaigns our detractors are just being reactionary.

  13. “I still don’t understand – and it’s not important that I do, frankly, because we don’t share the same values anyway –

    –> why anybody should care to “send a message” if their express goal is to achieve a separation sufficient to render the message irrelevant.” <–

    By that statement you show that you do not have a full understanding of what political activism and community organizing entails.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_organizing

  14. Keith and Andrew make fair points. I guess I’m really into prefigurative politics and should remember it’s on the margins as far as anarchist activism is concerned.

  15. I’m not interested in trying to dissuade any particular political sect or tribe from doing what they do internally or in terms of their principal areas of focus. BANA focuses on issues of Euro-American rights, something like the NOI focuses on African-American issues, our comrade Raven Warrior focuses on American Indian/Native Peoples issues, Free State Project has its own focus, so does Christian Exodus, Second Vermont Republic, lots of other things. What I am interested in is finding issues that radicals of all types can generally agree on, even those who are polar opposites on other issues. In the 1960s, the big issue was the Vietnam War. Political battles were largely defined by your position on the war, even though there were certainly plenty of other conflicts going on in society at the time. What would be the contemporary equivalent of the Vietnam War? I don’t know that we’re at that point yet, but my guess is that it will be the economy given that class divisions are widening so and there’s no apparent end to that.

    A relevant model might be the radical movements of the 19th century. The “labor question” was the big thing back then, though there were all sorts of social movements involved with all sorts of things. The 19th century radical movements had anarchists, communists, socialists, nationalists, utopians, religious radicals, etc. Maybe as class issues become more prominent in future US politics, a similar pattern will emerge.

  16. I’m not interested in telling any group what they should and should not be doing, either. I do think there’s a culture war dimension to the action that doesn’t seem in perfect alignment with the ARV Statement of Purpose. But so what.

    My larger point, to put it in terms that address your last comments, is that in the 19th century new tactics were conceived that “prefigured” the concerns and agenda of the activists in question. For example, the labor union – a new, totally revolutionary institution that provided the basis for, and demonstration of, the political aspirations of the activists. Labor unionism was a move to transcend the context of the employer-employee dichotomy – it’s just taken for granted now as a dimension of the labor universe, but back then it was a newly introduced counter-institution. When labor unioninism was first adopted it was as an alternative to the contemporary norms of political involvement.

    I guess I’m really interested in discovering the outside-the-box concepts that are going to break open a new space for creativity, energy, and a swarming of the old, tired institutions that putter along on the inertia of status quo complacency. The more we can find a mode of activism that is itself a representation of our organizational ethics, instead of a way of articulating our position in the context of the old political order, the more dynamic and compelling we’ll be – and the more we’ll learn about the radical vision we’re proposing.

  17. I agree with RJ. Although I myself saw little to even inspire a race-war in that movie (or I don’t recall, as alot of it was boring), it was still a typically violent suspense film. There wasn’t even that many a crowd there to see it, although I saw the matinee. At least it had a plot, though — many films of that type don’t even have one…

    If Yeoman really wants to protest Machete, how about having a protest against Hollywood and what it’s become in the first place? If you need to know, start looking for the book Sex Stupidity and Greed; Inside the American Movie Industry by Ian Grey, published by RESearch. There it pretty much exposes the rather sub-standard entertainment that doesn’t match all the previous artistic panache of the movies I remember in the past. (Me being a grumpy mid-40s guy.)

  18. “If Yeoman really wants to protest Machete, how about having a protest against Hollywood and what it’s become in the first place?”

    That reminds me of the scene in “Bulworth” where Warren Beatty’s character says to a bunch of Hollywood moguls: “You make family movies, or you make dirty movies, but what impresses me is that most of your stuff just isn’t very good. I always wondered how so many smart people could spend so much money and put out such bad product.”

    http://www.videodetective.com/movie_trailer/BULWORTH/trailer/P00007792.htm

  19. Keith, your quote pretty much describes Hollywood in a nutshell. Hollywood has had the same kind of hubris and cynicism that big business (in general) always had.

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