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  1. The reason it was controversial is that it came off as an anti-environmentalist essay instead of an anti-statist essay. Cherry picking quotes and drawing broad conclusions from them does not stand out as the best tradition of C4SS.

    I’m also surprised that you, on the one hand, seek alliances with radical Greens, and on the other hand you approve of his pithy dismissal of them. Those who turn Gaia into a religious totem would have good company, I’d think, among the many demographics in the pan-secessionist alliance who base their politics and worldview on pre-rational constructs.

    It would also be difficult to understate the resonance I feel with Shawn Wilbur’s comments. I neither believe people who say markets are simply everything that happens in the world that is good nor those who say commerce is a blessing. Just because I believe in a “free market” doesn’t mean that’s the only thing I look forward to, and sometimes I feel like people like Spangler and D’Amato have radically different visions of “free market” than I do – they see genuinely free markets as some sort of global utopian bazar, whereas I see genuinely free markets as small, local affairs. What bugs me is that the group I contribute so much money to is something Wilbur couldn’t even stomach, as he continues to churn out remarkable content without any help from me.

    What D’Amato dredges up, besides the ire of greenies like me, is the fact that we don’t have a coherent idea at C4SS of what we are advocating besides opposition to the status quo. Top that with the fact that, though we say we all like free markets, we have different visions of how the world those markets end up realizing, and you have a recipe for some serious dissatisfaction. There’s more than a few of us regular contributors who are seriously mulling over authoring a joint letter addressing some of our gripes.

  2. I wasn’t necessarily endorsing the actual content of D’Amato’s article. I just thought it made an interesting argument, that’s all. My seeking alliances with radical Greens has nothing to do with my personal views on environmentalism. There are a lot of factions I might seek alliances with on certain things whose general outlook I might not care for or simply be indifferent to. My efforts to build bridges with sectors of the radical right are well known. But as a pro-abortion atheist, I hardly fit the right-wing stereotype.

    Environmentalism is a subject I’m mostly agnostic on. It was never anything that interested me much or that I found very compelling. I’m not really a back to nature type. I prefer large cities with lots of air pollution, concrete, and a high crime rate, so the Green lifestyle never appealed to me much. A lot of the eco-doomsday types strike me as the “Left Behinders of the Left.” And I simply have no opinion that I’m committed to on subjects like global warming or peak oil. That said, a lot of different kinds of ecological radicals seem very strident in their anti-System views, and that’s good enough for me.

    This is one aspect of my thinking that people constantly seem to be confused by, even thoughtful people. It’s often assume that I personally endorse every idea of those I might seek alliances with on one hand, and that every personal opinion I express is some kind of policy statement for the kind of movement I wish to build. That’s really not the case at all. I conceive of the anarcho-pluralist/pan-secessionist movement as effort to overturn present day Leviathan states and replace them systems organized more or less on the model of traditional anarchist principles like voluntarism, mutualism, decentralism, and federalism. That’s all. The rest of it is just fleshing out the details, or simply personal opinions on wider matters, or exploration of the philosophical principles on which such efforts might be based.

    I like C4SS, regardless of what many of its participants might think of me. I do agree with you that “the vision thing” is problematical with them, but that’s true of most anarchist factions which is one of the reasons I do what I do.

  3. Fair enough. The only thing I’d say is that, in linking to an essay without making clear your position on its thesis, don’t you invite that confusion? I’ll gladly admit my assumption of your stance regarding the article is erroneous, but I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t make the same mistake in the future. I guess this is why you seem at times to go overboard in compiling your positions in laundry list format, just to preclude such assumptions.

  4. LOL, I dunno. If I issued a disclaimer concerning every article I link to that contains ideas I might disagree with, I’d probably have to put a disclaimer with every other thing I post here.

  5. This is an interesting discussion. I was raised in a very greenie/eco-activist family, and have always had an instinctive reverence and respect for the natural world – I effectively became a deep-ecologist at age 9 (although I didn’t know what that meant at the time), and still retain a lot of sympathy with that general philosophical outlook, despite many legitimate criticisms that one may level at it. This non-anthropocentric framework appears to be the general tendency that D’Amato takes issue with, although like many critics of environmentalism, he exaggerates its importance in the contemporary environmental movement to an almost hyperbolic degree. This to me seems paranoid – it’s only a few steps away from the kind of Alex Jones hysteria in which Al Gore is seen as some kind of Linkolian eco-fascist and the Obama administration is secretly plotting to exterminate 80% of the population in the name of Gaia. However, this is just a similarity that occurs to me, and I’m not suggesting that D’Amato is in any way sympathetic to the conspiracy-theorist crowd.

    D’Amato appears to find the green movement troublesome because he feels that it is innately incompatible with libertarian notions of individual rights and anti-statism. This is a gross oversimplification that libertarians seem to constantly fall prey to. The fact is that, historically, the green movement has had a statist, authoritarian, centralist wing as well as an anti-statist, anarchistic, decentralist wing. There is no mention of Arne Naess, the founder of deep ecology, who endorsed a political pluralism that earned him the hatred of authoritarian eco-leftists; Edward Abbey, a strident anarchist; Kirkpatrick Sale; Teddy Goldsmith, who was a confirmed decentralist and sympathiser with the ENR; etc, etc.

    It is perhaps fair to say that the libertarian preoccupations with individual rights and free-markets would not be of much interest even to the decentralist wing of the green movement, but this is an issue of different priorities, rather than any innate contradiction. D’Amato is evidently concerned with these specific issues, but he does not explain why these possess any more intrinsic validity than the ecologists’ elevation of the natural world.

    Furthermore, he tests the limit of Godwin’s Law by conflating and oversimplifying numerous issues in order to strengthen his argument that ‘green = statist’. The link between ecology and Nazism, for instance has been recycled ad nauseam, but needs to be heavily qualified. While National Socialism did have a current of Romantic agrarianism and environmental conservationism, this was not particularly strong or significant; it was always subjugated to the overriding concerns with racialism, militarism, and statism. D’Amato also attempts to make some rather feeble links between ecology and Marxism, on the basis that Mikhail Gorbachev once set up some wishy-washy green NGO.

    Clashes between greens and libertarians seem to me to be pretty much pointless and redundant, considering that there is no real intrinsic contradiction between their core values; tendencies like our own, in which eco-freaks comfortably rub shoulders with hardcore libertarians, prove that.

  6. Luke, your comment is among the very best I’ve seen on this matter. I especially like this:

    It is perhaps fair to say that the libertarian preoccupations with individual rights and free-markets would not be of much interest even to the decentralist wing of the green movement, but this is an issue of different priorities, rather than any innate contradiction. D’Amato is evidently concerned with these specific issues, but he does not explain why these possess any more intrinsic validity than the ecologists’ elevation of the natural world.

    Exactly.

  7. Thank you for your kind words, Jeremy. What irks me about criticisms of D’Amato’s sort is that they are excessively simplistic, and tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yeah, sure, there are a lot of statists going around claiming that higher taxes and stronger government will save the ecosystem, but people like D’Amato seem to take issue with the ‘saving the ecosystem’ part as well as the ‘higher taxes and stronger government’, and then engage in creative oversimplifications in order to support the hypothesis that one necessarily leads to the other.

    The way I see it, decentralized and anarchistic political systems seem far more compatible with environmental preservation than centralized authoritarian ones; D’Amato and his fellow-travellers will only serve to cloud that essential issue.

  8. “The way I see it, decentralized and anarchistic political systems seem far more compatible with environmental preservation than centralized authoritarian ones; D’Amato and his fellow-travellers will only serve to cloud that essential issue.”

    Hear hear! State and federal interests sell out local interests all the time; and in the places where I’m from that means clear cut logging and mining that disrupts the local economy and way of life. Worse yet is when local “leaders” initiate these deals on behalf of their “people.”

    I’ve found that many from the right (not necessarily anarchists) argue that the above example is a demonstration of market efficiency and is therefore justifiable. *Everything* is to be fed to the capitalist machine in the name of “efficiency” I suppose?

    The sort of community I would like to live in is a dense urban environment surrounded by wilderness. In market anarchist terminology, the opportunity cost of not slashing and burning said wilderness is internalized if the people from the community own it. A private property owner in Ancapistan can’t be faulted for preserving wilderness on his own land for his own personal enjoyment. The same consideration should be extended to a community that has decided on local preservation of wilderness within their own boundaries. Furthermore, in a stateless society the costs of environmental degradation would be internalized by those who choose to plunder their natural resources.

    Damn. I hope I live to see this one day.

  9. “The sort of community I would like to live in is a dense urban environment surrounded by wilderness. In market anarchist terminology, the opportunity cost of not slashing and burning said wilderness is internalized if the people from the community own it. A private property owner in Ancapistan can’t be faulted for preserving wilderness on his own land for his own personal enjoyment. The same consideration should be extended to a community that has decided on local preservation of wilderness within their own boundaries.”

    That’s a perfect description of the kind of region I’d like to live in. I think the issue of collective territorial sovereignty is the one that sets the emerging alternative-anarchist current apart from all the rest; the left-anarchists daydream of some kind of global no-borders commie utopia, while the left-libertarians and an-caps obsess over the minutiae of ‘property rights’ and ‘individual rights’, neglecting the fact that humans are *social* animals, not solitary ones.

  10. “I think the issue of collective territorial sovereignty is the one that sets the emerging alternative-anarchist current apart from all the rest; the left-anarchists daydream of some kind of global no-borders commie utopia, while the left-libertarians and an-caps obsess over the minutiae of ‘property rights’ and ‘individual rights’, neglecting the fact that humans are *social* animals, not solitary ones.”

    I would like to think that we “alternative anarchists” represent in the next stage in the evolution of libertarian thought. The classical anarchist movement was the radical wing of the international labor movement. That made sense in those days, because that’s where the action was. Nowadays, labor unions and the labor parties are part of the system and the working class has become a middle class and integrated into the mainstream society. I respect the old guard syndicalist and anarcho-communist groups that are still around for their historic legacy and past contributions, but they’re basically dinosaurs (like a classic rock group that’s still touring and pretending to be rock n’ roll rebels even though it’s members are pushing 70 in some instances.)

    Today’s anarchist movements are a product of the New Left. That made sense back then as well, because the ideas associated with the New Left were cutting edge in their time and things like the Vietnam War were genuine issues. And as much as I rail against what the cultural Left has become, back then there were also serious issues involving serious discrimination and genuine oppression of outgroups like blacks, women, gays, etc. Even the anarcho-capitalists and left-libertarians are products of the New Left despite their deviation from leftist orthodoxy on economic issues. Rothbard and Hess formed the anarcho-capitalist movement largely by practicing entryism into the New Left from the Old Right, and the godfather of left-libertarianism Sam Konkin (who had some very un-PC ideas, btw) was a product of that milieu as well.

    I interpret the role of anarcho-capitalism and left-libertarian in the wider historical development of anarchist thought as essentially an effort to reconcile anarchism with the insights of 20th century economic science. Most classical anarchist economic thinking was implicitly Marxist in nature. I don’t fault them for that because most educated people at the time accepted something similar to either Marxism or old-fashioned utopian socialism in the realm of economic ideas. Much of Marxist economic theory was debunked by the Austrians in the early to mid 20th century and of course this gave intellectual ammunition to the Right to use against the Left (hence, the rise of neoliberalism).

    Left-anarchism as it has existed since the 1960s has retained its old fashioned utopian Marxist outlook. The fact that its primary focus is on cultural politics probably explains in part its lack of economic seriousness. Most of those people are worthless when it comes to the development of any serious economic ideas. Trying to discuss economics with them is like trying to discuss quantum physics in a sixth grade science class.

    Anarcho-capitalism was a serious effort by Rothbard to bring the insights of modern economic science into anarchist thought, and he actually drew heavily on some of the more advanced economic thinkers in classical anarchism, like Tucker and Molinari. He regarded anarcho-capitalism as Tucker’s individualist-anarchism corrected for what Rothbard regarded as Tucker’s too-socialist deviations. The main thing I fault Rothbard for was not taking his critique of the alliance between state and capital (a critique that is generally quite good) far enough. As Carson has pointed out, a Rothbardian outlook applied consistently leads to something remarkably similar to Tuckerism (and Tucker himself was essentially a Proudhonian). Rothbard hinted at such a direction in his New Left phase, but he never really followed things through to the end.

    Left-libertarianism as a movement predates Kevin Carson’s arrival on the scene. It actually began back in the early 70s with Konkin’s “agorism.” But left-libertarianism has more or less embraced Carson’s economics as an official position. I see the main value of Carson’s work (though certainly not the only value) as a corrective to the shortcomings of Rothbard. Back in the 80s when I was I my most leftist, I was an orthodox syndicalist influenced by Marxist economic thought. People would ask me how an anarcho-syndicalist economy was supposed to work and I would try to look it up and find that there was no definitive body of left-anarchist economic theory. In fact, I first became interested in the anarcho-capitalists largely because they had a much more sophisticated and coherent economic critique of the state than the left-anarchists. I eventually worked out a synthesis of the two perspectives in my own mind, but no serious theoretical, analytical or historical work on the question was available until Carson came along. Whatever else could be said about the left-libertarians, they deserve credit for going out of their way to promote Carson’s ideas and provide him with a forum.

    The core ideas advanced by the New Left and by 60s radicalism generally are now status quo just like the remnants of the Old Left (like the neocons) are now a form of “conservatism.”The Old Left (now represented by such factions as the neoconservatives) is now the establishment Right and the New Left is now the establishment Left (represented by “liberalism”). For years now, my goal has been to develop an anarchist movement that attacks the Left from the left, with the historic rivalry between anarchists and state-socialists being the model to draw on. It just so happens that to attack the Left from the left, it is necessary to adopt a lot of positions that resemble or overlap with the Right. The European New Right is the closest thing I know of to an actual theoretical outlook that attacks the Left establishment while (generally) distancing itself from older manifestations of the Right, e.g. throne and altar, traditional conservatism, bourgeoisie classical liberalism, fascism and Nazism, while retaining the more helpful and insightful elements of right-wing thinking (such as that of the elite theorists and conservative revolutionaries). National-Anarchism is an anarchist derivative of the ENR, of course. The core value of N-A as I see it are its efforts to divorce ethno-cultural particularism from statism and from right-wing movements like fascism, its reconciliation of neo-tribalism with more traditional forms of nationalism, its provision of an alternative to the racist/anti-racist dichotomy and the excesses of some of the left-anarchists and the wider PC establishment in these areas, and its provision of a venue for the expression of indigenous European interests outside the framework of reactionary movements like white nationalism. Generally speaking, I think the N-As are among the most advanced thinkers in contemporary anarchism.

    Still, we don’t want to abandon the genuine achievements of previous expressions of anarchism or allow ideas like neo-tribalism to become too narrow a focus. Many of the economic ideas of the classical anarchists are still relevant, as seen in things like the workers cooperative movements and plenty of other things. The left-anarchists are correct to stand up against the genuine oppression of outgroups. For instance, many of them have zealously defended the Palestinians, and I generally agree with their defense of marginal populations like gays, the transgendered, the handicapped, prisoners, the homeless, sex workers, druggies, squatters, etc. I just don’t think we can put this stuff out in front as the definitive or mascot issues of an anarchist movement that is going to influence the wider society in any effective way. I even agree with the left-anarchists on matters of genuine abuse of immigrants such as medical neglect in detention facilities, or organizing migrant laborers, or supporting resistance efforts against employers. I just think advocating carte blanche mass immigration is unnecessary, theoretically flawed from a anarchist perspective, and destructive on a lot of different levels.

    Anarcho-capitalists and left-libertarians are good on a lot of economic issues, and they are usually quite good on foreign policy, and many of their writings provide a useful and helpful approach to things like legal theory as well. I just don’t agree with their economic determinism and, in the case of the an-caps, their deviations into actual conservatism, or in the case of the left-libertarians, their adoption of PC on cultural issues. We need a theoretical synthesis of the best ideas of all the different anarchist factions, and we need a viable strategy and methodology for implementing these ideas. Ideas are worthless if they can’t be translated into real world action. These are what I see as the essential tasks of the “alternative anarchist” milieu at present.

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